Downtown San Diego

Downtown San Diego

Today we’re talking about all of the great neighborhoods in downtown San Diego! Keep reading to check out what each area has to offer and if you’d like to take a look at any available properties, just reach out.

Little Italy

Little Italy is one of my favorite areas in downtown San Diego. This neighborhood has grown over the last few years and has become a very walkable, trendy area with some of the best restaurants in San Diego including Kettner Exchange, Juniper & Ivy, and The Crack Shack,  just to name a few. There are also great breweries, wine tasting rooms, and coffee shops to visit in Little Italy. It’s also home to Waterfront Bar & Grill, which is one of the oldest bars in San Diego! Legend has it that Wyatt Earp himself was a frequent guest at Waterfront Bar & Grill.

Local parks include Amici Park and Waterfront Park, which host concerts and other events throughout the year. Little Italy is a great neighborhood for younger people as there is a good nightlife presence and it is very centrally located in downtown. Forbes Magazine even ranked it one of the best places for Millennials to live in the US!

Columbia District

This area is mostly a commercial district, but in recent years it has expanded to include residential housing and other amenities as well. Savina is one of the new luxury condo buildings in this area that has become popular as the Columbia District continues to grow.

Marina District

The Marina District is home to the San Diego Convention Center, San Diego’s Embarcadero, and Seaport Village. Seaport Village is a large attraction for this area, with fourteen acres of walkable cobblestone streets lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes to enjoy.

Looking for a great view of the city? Be sure to stop into the Manchester Grand Hyatt in the Marina District for a panoramic view of the city! Then visit Café 222, one of my favorite breakfast and brunch spots in the area. It’s a mustptry! And if movie nostalgia is your thing, you’ll want to stop by Kansas City Barbecue, which is where many bar scenes from the movie Top Gun were filmed!

Cortez Hill

Cortez Hill is another great area of downtown San Diego! Mostly residential, it has more of a cozy, neighborhood feel than other areas of downtown. It’s also a very historic area, with beautiful architecture including the St. Joseph’s Cathedral and the California Western School of Law, which has been in Cortez Hill since 1973. Also, because Cortez Hill isn’t in the heart of downtown, parking isn’t as difficult to find in this area.

Core District

This area is home to many government buildings, the San Diego Civic Center, and the Symphony Towers. Keep in mind there is not much, if any, residential space in this area of downtown. On any given day, you’re likely to see lots of business professionals rushing out for lunch during the day and theatre lovers heading to the Civic Center in the evening. Horton Plaza also used to anchor this neighborhood of downtown, but we’ll have to wait for the revitalization work to be done to see what will go up in its place!

Gaslamp Quarter

The Historic Gaslamp Quarter is probably the most popular area of downtown San Diego. This area is frequented by many tourists and is often the place to be on any given weekend. Because of this, there are plans underway to turn the busy 5th Avenue into a pedestrian-only street, making it an even more walkable neighborhood. There are many restaurants, bars, clubs, shops, and more to enjoy year-round here. We also host San Diego Comic Con every year, along with other seasonal events that turn Gaslamp into a hub for both visitors and locals alike.

East Village

East Village is another one of my favorite neighborhoods in downtown San Diego! This neighborhood is home to the beautiful Petco Park, which opened in 2004. Since then, the area has grown and expanded because. You can even live in a condo that has a birds-eye view right into the ballpark from your balcony! How cool is that? I would love to own one of these one day.

East Village is also home to some unique restaurants, art galleries, and coffee shops, with more popping up each year. This is a very walkable neighborhood that is great for people of any age or lifestyle!

That concludes my living in Downtown San Diego tour! Which neighborhood would you like to live in? Let me know in the comments below. And thanks for stopping by!

The Best Suburbs in San Diego

The Best Suburbs in San Diego

Today we’re diving into the best suburbs in San Diego. If you’re thinking of making a move to San Diego County like my recent clients, Amy and Mike, be sure to keep reading and watching for help deciding which suburb is right for you!


Known as “the city in the country” Poway offers something for everyone. Be sure to visit the charming Old Poway Park that has an old train you can ride, beautiful trees, museums, and shops that can make for a day of family fun. Poway is probably best known for the Poway Unified School District, which is an award-winning school district not just in San Diego, but in the State of California. Poway homes can range from small two-bedroom homes to huge estates, so there are a variety of real estate options in this area!

Rancho Peñasquitos/ Torrey Highlands

This is the suburb that I live in and we love this community because there is a ton to do outside! We have lots of hiking and biking trails all over the place, but in particular the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve is great for exploring. Rancho Peñasquitos/Torrey Highlands is a really great place to raise kids if you want to keep them active year-round. Homes are also affordable by San Diego standards; you can find a single-family home starting in the $700,000 range. This community is also very centrally located; it is about a twenty-minute commute to Downtown San Diego and about fifteen minutes to the beach. If you’d like to learn more about this area, click here to watch my Rancho Peñasquitos Neighborhood Tour.

Scripps Ranch

Scripps Ranch has a similar feel to Rancho Peñasquitos. It’s a newer neighborhood with great schools, restaurants, and many families living in this area. If you are a military family making the move to San Diego, Scripps Ranch is also close to the Miramar Military Base. Miramar Lake is also close by, which is a fun area to explore with kids, too.

Chula Vista

Fun fact- Chula Vista is the second largest city in San Diego County! Located just nine miles southeast of downtown, Chula Vista is a great place to live if you work in Downtown San Diego or Little Italy. Chula Vista is very family friendly with lots of attractions, like the North Island Credit Amphitheatre that hosts many concerts throughout the year and Aquatica Waterpark. This is probably one of the most affordable suburbs in San Diego – the median home price for a single-family home in Chula Vista is just $550,000.


Carlsbad is one of my favorite areas of San Diego. They have some awesome restaurants in the Carlsbad Village, beautiful beaches, and an outstanding school district. If you’re into the brewery scene, head just a little east of Carlsbad to Vista, which is home to some of San Diego’s best breweries like Mother Earth and Belching Beaver. Legoland California is also located in Carlsbad, which is a great place to check out with kids.


This is a suburb I haven’t mentioned often on Off the 56, but it’s another hidden gem in San Diego County. Santee is located just eighteen miles east of Downtown San Diego. It’s a very outdoorsy community due in part to the 190-acre Santee Lakes Park that has seven recycled water lakes stocked with fish year round! You can go camping, rent boats, and of course, fish. In addition, Santee also has some small farms and equestrian facilities, which makes it perfect for this who want to lead an active lifestyle. It has a small-town feel, with lots of locally-owned businesses and family-oriented activities. Like Chula Vista, it’s also one of the more affordable areas of San Diego. Santee’s median home price Is about $535,000 for a single-family home.

Carmel Valley

Carmel Valley is a suburb known for its great school districts and beautiful homes. Cathedral Catholic, Torrey Pines High School, and Canyon Crest Academy are always ranked in the top thirty best schools in California. Due to the great school district and the central location near the beach, the median home price is around $1,000,000. If you’d like to learn more about Carmel Valley, watch my Carmel Valley Neighborhood Tour here.

That concludes my list of the best suburbs in San Diego! Other areas to mention that I didn’t cover in this video are all the beach communities, San Marcos, La Mesa, Del Sur, 4S Ranch, Rancho Bernardo, and so many more! If you’re making a move to San Diego, contact me today! I would love to help you find the best neighborhood for you and your family.

Cost of Living in San Diego vs Los Angeles

Cost of Living in San Diego vs Los Angeles

Oh the great Southern California debate! No, we’re not talking about which taco shop is best, we’re talking about whether it’s better to live in San Diego or Los Angeles! Specifically, we’re talking about the differences in the cost of living in these two cities, which is an important consideration if you’re deciding which city to call home in Southern California.


Let’s start with some population stats. The City of San Diego is home to about 1.4 million people and the entire county of San Diego has around 3.38 million people. The City of Los Angeles has 3.9 million residents and the county of L.A. has 10 million people, making Los Angeles about three times as big as San Diego! (Keep this in mind as we go through each factor that differentiates these two cities!)

Cost of Living

Los Angeles is about 8.2% more expensive overall than San Diego. The median home price in Los Angeles is 6.8% higher than it is in San Diego. This may not sound like a huge difference, but it can certainly add up in the long run! If we take a look at housing rental prices, San Diego averages $2,393 per month for a 2-bedroom apartment vs. $2,820 for a comparable unit in Los Angeles. Sales tax is also a little higher In Los Angeles, especially in certain areas of the city, while property taxes are about the same.


The average cost for childcare in San Diego is slightly higher than its northern neighbor. The average cost in San Diego comes to $1,119 per month vs. $1,064 per month in Los Angeles. These prices can vary depending on the neighborhood and what kind of childcare option you choose.


Keep in mind that both cities are very car-centric, so gas prices are something to keep in mind while budgeting. Although gas prices change from week to week, the average gas price in San Diego is $3.53 a gallon and Los Angeles’ average price is $3.64 a gallon.

Internet Prices

We all need WiFi! The average internet price in San Diego is $58 a month, and L.A. is slightly higher at $63 a month.


If you’re a moviegoer like me, you’ll appreciate this stat! In San Diego County, movie tickets cost on average $14.12 per ticket and in Los Angeles County prices average $ 16.10 a ticket. Again, this can vary depending on what theatre you choose or the time of day. But you could save about $2 a movie in San Diego!

Job Market

The job market is another important topic to cover. The average salary in San Diego County is $83,000 a year and Los Angeles’ average salary is $70,000. Obviously a lot depends on your profession and industry, but living in San Diego means you could actually be taking home more money than if you lived in Los Angeles.

Generational Stats

This one came as a bit of a surprise to me! San Diego is ranked #3 in the United States for the size of its millennial population; that’s 27% of our overall population in San Diego County! Though Los Angeles is not far behind us, with 25% of their population being Millennials.

Entertainment Industry

If you’re looking to work in the entertainment industry, Los Angeles is the obvious winner! In fact, Los Angeles is ranked the #1 entertainment location in the United States. San Diego, not so much.

Commute Time

Traffic is a hot topic here in Southern California! The average commute time in San Diego County is 22 minutes while Los Angeles has an average commute time of 29 minutes. I thought this gap would be larger, but take it from me- Los Angeles definitely has the worst traffic by far!

Walk Score

Another surprise is that the walk score in Los Angeles is actually higher than in San Diego! San Diego scored a 53 and Los Angeles scored a 68. Walk scores are based out of 100. These numbers of course depend on the neighborhood you live in, but both cities are trying to improve their walkability and public transportation to cut down on those long traffic commute times!

Have you lived in both Los Angeles and San Diego like me? Leave me a comment below and let me know which city you prefer and if any of these stats surprised you!

Things to Know Before Moving to San Diego

Things to Know Before Moving to San Diego

If you’re thinking of moving to San Diego there are definitely a few things to know before taking the plunge. Today, we’re sharing some common misconceptions, facts, and maybe a few secrets about living in San Diego!

The Weather

Many people from other parts of the country believe that San Diego is sunny all the time – which is not true! In fact, we have two months that have special names just to prove it; May Grey and June Gloom. Thanks to our location on the coast, the marine layer brings a heavy layer of clouds during this part of the year, causing many days with gloomy weather and cooler temps. Surprisingly, the warmest time of the year is usually in the fall!

More Weather

San Diego has a reported 260 days of sunshine per year. Pretty awesome, right? But we recommend investing in some good sunglasses before you move here. In fact, investing in sun protection for your whole body is a great idea; think sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and lightweight long sleeve shirts. You should also be prepared to send your kids to school with sunblock as most schools in San Diego are outside and the kids get to play under the sun all year long.

One More Thing About the Weather!

It doesn’t rain a lot here, but when it does rain, people tend to forget how to drive. Even if it’s just a light drizzle, be prepared for extra traffic and a few accidents along the way. We recommend staying home on these rainy days if you can!

Laid Back San Diego

Life in San Diego moves a little slower. Generally, people are more laid back here and not in a rush like in Los Angeles or some of the major cities on the East Coast. This is something to keep in mind if you’re coming from one of those big cities! Service might be a little slower and people may conduct themselves in a more relaxed way than you’re used to. It’s best to just mentally prepare yourself and go with the flow.

Not a Sports Town

This may come as a surprise to some, but San Diego isn’t a big sports town. The San Diego Chargers recently left us for Los Angeles, but we do still have The Padres! However, you’ll quickly learn that most of the Padre’s fans are just going to enjoy Petco Park and have a beer!

Military Life

San Diego is a big military city! In fact, 7.6% of our population consists of military personnel. We are home to many military bases including Camp Pendleton, Coronado, and Miramar. This brings people from all over the country which gives San Diego an awesome mix of backgrounds and cultures.


We might not be on par with New York City, but we have some awesome food here in San Diego County. Our Mexican food in particular is really something special! But we’ve got more than just great Mexican food. Yelp ranked San Diego the #5 city in the US for foodies! And we have over hundred craft breweries in San Diego – Thrillist actually ranked us the #2 Beer City in the US.

San Diego is Spread Out

Before you visit San Diego, you might not realize how big and spread out San Diego County is. The city of San Diego is home to about 1 million people, but the county itself is home to about 3 million people! So before you move or visit, consider what things you want to be close to or what lifestyle you prefer. If you’re a beach person, you might want to be closer to the water. But if you love nature and hiking/biking, you might be happy living more inland.

We hope you enjoyed our Thing to Know Before Moving to San Diego video! Did you learn anything today? Let us know in the comments! And as always, if you’re thinking of making the move, reach out to us. We would love to help find the perfect home in San Diego for you!

The Best Beaches in San Diego

The Best Beaches in San Diego

If there’s one thing San Diego is known for, it’s our beautiful beaches! San Diego has 70 miles of coastline with a variety of beaches with something for everyone. From North San Diego County, to down by the border- let’s get started!

  • Tamarack Beach – Carlsbad

Tamarck Beach is a great family beach! It is easily accessible, has plenty of parking, and large sidewalks off the sand for easy strolling. This state beach offers swimming, surfing, scuba diving, kayaking, windsurfing, fishing and beachcombing.

  • Beacons Beach – Encinitas

Beacons Beach is known for its very narrow trail with three switchbacks that leads down to the beach. The steep entrance make it less popular for families with small children or tourists, but it’s a great spot for locals! There is a small parking lot on Neptune Avenue between Jasper Street and West Leucadia Boulevard.

  • Moonlight Beach – Encinitas/ Leucadia

Moonlight Beach is a great beach for everyone! There are plenty of volleyball courts, a large playground for kids, bathrooms, and showers you can use to rinse off after an afternoon in the sand and surf. Moonlight Beach is also close to lots of San Diego-favorite restaurants like Leucadia Pizza, Handel’s Ice Cream, and lots more!

Fun fact: Moonlight Beach gets its name from the fact that local residents used to come to this area for midnight picnics in the early 1900s!

  • Cardiff State Beach & Seaside Reef – Cardiff by The Sea

These beaches are great for surfers and families alike! Cardiff State Beach is known for having great surf breaks, so you’ll likely get to watch some surfing while you’re visiting. Not a surfer? You can also explore the tide pools which are always a hit with our families! Both beaches have great parking (one of our favorite features!), bathrooms, and delicious restaurants that aren’t too far away!

  • Torrey Pines State Beach – Del Mar

Torrey Pines State Beach is a popular one and for good reason! Torrey Pines isn’t just a stretch of sand, it also has great hiking trails with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Click here to check out the video we did about this great beach.

Torrey Pines is also close to one of my favorite taco shops in San Diego County, Roberto’s. Be sure to hit Roberto’s on your way home for some delicious Mexican food!

  • Del Mar Beach & Dog Beach – Del Mar

There are only a few dog beaches here in San Diego County and Del Mar Dog Beach is one of the best. You can let your dog run around while you enjoy some sunshine and sand!

Del Mar Beach is a beautiful stretch of sand right off Highway 101. It is one of the busiest beaches for visitors because of its easy access. There are also some great restaurants right on the sand like Jake’s Del Mar and Poseidon’s on The Beach which are both great places to take family and friends from out of town! Keep in mind Del Mar Beach is not a state beach so you must find street parking or pay for parking in a designated parking lot.

  • La Jolla Shores – La Jolla

La Jolla is known as “The Jewel of San Diego”, and you’ll quickly see why! La Jolla is full of beautiful areas to explore including La Jolla Shores and La Jolla Cove. At La Jolla Shores you can swim, snorkel, or surf. There is also a playground as well as fire pits for use. You can also check out the Scripps Pier and the Birch Aquarium at Scripps for a fun family day in the sun.

La Jolla Cove is just south of La Jolla Shores and also full of things to do and see. You can stroll the beach, watch the seals, and walk downtown La Jolla. This is another great spot to take visitors!

  • Pacific Beach – Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach is known for having a young demographic of residents and a lively atmosphere! Pacific Beach has three miles of boardwalk, beautiful Crystal Pier, and Sail Bay at Mission Bay with its own playground and boardwalk as well. There are lots of great bars and restaurants to enjoy throughout Pacific Beach.

  • Mission Beach – Mission Beach

Mission Beach is just located just south of Pacific Beach and is your quintessential boardwalk beach town. Probably known best for Belmont Park, this is a great place for families and visitors to enjoy the sand, surf, and some fun all in one place!

  • Silver Strand State Beach – Coronado

Silver Strand State Beach is another great family beach! This beach is a great spot to run, walk, bike, or rollerblade due to its flat landscape. And apart from this beautiful beach, spending the day on Coronado Island is a great weekend activity or staycation spot! What did you think of our favorite beaches in San Diego? Leave us a comment below with your favorite places to enjoy some sun, surf, and sand!

Free Things to Do in San Diego

Free Things to Do in San Diego

Living in San Diego can be expensive – after all, who WOULDN’T want to live in a place with endless days of sunshine, gorgeous beaches, and the best Mexican food on the West Coast? But there are still plenty of free things to do in San Diego. In this video on Off the 56, Courtney and I share our list of the best free things to do in San Diego from Balboa Park to the Self Realization Center in Encinitas and beyond!

1) First up is Torrey Pines Gliderport. While this one might not technically be free if you are actually paragliding, it’s a great place to go and enjoy views of the ocean, beach, sunsets, and paragliders.

2) Next on our list is one of our favorite places in San Diego, Balboa Park. While many of the museums do charge admission, there is one day a month where select museums are free for San Diego residents. A few of the museums are actually free all the time! Plus, it costs nothing to stroll around the park and enjoy the picturesque grounds and stunning architecture.

3) Every fall, the Miramar Air Show returns to San Diego. While it does cost money to attend the air show on the MCAS Miramar base, if you live nearby, you can take in the show for free from the comfort of your own car, backyard, driveway, or roof.

4) If you’ve never been to the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, add this to your weekend to-do list! While the park is really more of a street, it’s filled with museums, preserved historic buildings, shops, and restaurants. There’s also a Mission you can explore. Some of the attractions have paid admission, but it’s free to go down and explore the area, particularly when there’s a celebration going on like Cinco de Mayo or Dia de los Muertos. Fun fact: There are only two registered haunted houses in all of California and one of them, the Whaley House, is in Old Town San Diego!

5) Many new residents of San Diego are surprised to learn that San Diegans love to hike and mountain bike! With miles of trails all over the county, this heart-pumping activity is #5 on our list of free things to do in San Diego. Click here to find a trail near you! Some of the most popular hiking trails in the area are the trails that make up the 5 Peak Challenge, in Mission Trails Regional Park. There’s also Los Penasquitos Canyon, Potato Chip, Torrey Pines, and more!

6) La Jolla Cove is a popular destination for tourists and residents alike. It’s free to go and enjoy the antics of the harbor seals that hang around the rocks and cliffs in downtown La Jolla. There are also great tide pools to explore with the family and beautiful beaches where you can swim, surf, snorkel, and more! Just be sure to bring money for parking.

7) Sunset Cliffs in Point Loma is one of the most gorgeous places in all of San Diego. If you’ve never watched the sunset at Sunset Cliffs, you are missing out! While there’s not a ton to do there, it’s definitely an experience that makes you feel blessed to live in beautiful San Diego.

8) The Cabrillo National Monument commemorates the landing of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in San Diego Bay. He is remembered as the first European to set foot on the West Coast of the United States. Also in Point Loma, Cabrillo National Monument is free to visit and explore. There’s a museum there and an old preserved lighthouse. You can also explore the trails in the area which lead to some great tide pools!

9) It’s not summer in San Diego if you don’t take in at least one outdoor movie or concert. Of course, the weather in San Diego is great all year round, but in summer most communities in San Diego offer regular free movie nights or concerts with local bands in a community park. We recommend packing a picnic or bringing some snacks to get the full experience! We should also note that there’s actually still a drive-in movie theatre in Santee, though it’s not free.

10) The Mt. Soledad Veteran’s Memorial is one of the most recognizable sites in San Diego. Situated at the top of Mount Soledad, it features a massive white cross, which you can actually see from the 5 freeway. While paying your respects to our veterans, you can enjoy panoramic 360-degree views over La Jolla, Pacific Beach, and downtown San Diego. Get there early to find parking!

11) Seaport Village is another popular tourist haunt that’s free to explore. Located in Downtown San Diego right on San Diego Bay, it’s full of cute shops and restaurants. They also have an old-fashioned carousel that was hand-carved in 1895. Grab an ice cream cone and take in the stunning views of the Coronado Bridge!

12) Beach bonfires are a popular, free summer activity in San Diego County. Not every beach allows bonfires, but several of the most popular beaches in the county like Coronado, La Jolla Shores, and Mission Beach do allow them. Just make sure to observe the rules about dogs, glass containers, and alcohol while enjoying your bonfire.

13) You may or may not know that Encinitas is home to the Self-Realization Fellowship Center, which was founded by an Indian Monk named Paramahansha Yogananda. It features a gorgeous garden and seaside trails you can enjoy while you meditate.

14) Mission Bay is an amazing place to spend the day. If you have your own kayak or paddleboard, it’s a great place to go and get some exercise in the sun. You can also picnic or walk or bike on the trails around the bay.

15) While few people make the trek out to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park except during the spring “Super Bloom” which is when the desert erupts with colorful wildflowers, this park is free to explore all year long. A nice contrast to all the beaches on the list, this rugged desert landscape has its own harsh beauty. We hope you enjoyed our list of 15 free things to do in San Diego! Do you have any additions? Leave us a comment below!

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