It is no wonder why more than 16,000 people are moving to the suburbs of San Diego County every year. Between the unbeatable weather, rich history, and vast array of famous attractions, who wouldn’t want to join the ranks of these lucky Southern Californians?
With living options ranging from beachfront properties and city apartments to gated neighborhoods and large custom homes, there is a place for just about every taste and lifestyle.
If you are one of the lucky ones who will be making your way to this beautiful county soon, the next step will be choosing the city where you will plant your roots.
To ensure you have everything you need to know about the area, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide and list of all of the cities in San Diego County. Read on to see which of them will make the perfect home for your needs.
As with many parts of the western United States, the history of San Diego County is full of ancient Native American tribes who have lived there for thousands of years. A few of the most well-known groups in this area include the Kumeyaay, the Cupeño, and the Luiseño. They lived there for centuries until the mid-1500s when the first Spanish conquistadors arrived.
After looking at what is now known as Mission Bay, a Spaniard decided to name the region after Saint Didacus, who more commonly went by the name San Diego.
Once the Mexican declaration of independence from Spain was passed, this area remained a part of Mexico until 1848. At that time, the Mexican-American War came to an end thanks to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and shortly thereafter become part of the state of California in 1850.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the last war that directly affected the San Diego area. Before the turn of the century, the Spanish-American War of 1898 brought the need for a navy to be established. It was closely followed by both World Wars, leading to a total of seven naval bases being built around the county during those times.
Since then, the area has grown into a thriving region, playing key roles in the tuna fishing industry, aerospace manufacturing, home to multiple universities, and much more.
Area Geography & Climate
Over the years, San Diego County has been broken into smaller pieces that have been re-established as new counties. At one point, it was the only county along the Mexican border, extending all the way over to the Colorado River. Though it used to cover a much larger geographical area, San Diego County still stands as one of the top ten largest counties in the state.
With a coverage area of about 4,526 square miles, the county has a lot more to offer than just sandy beaches along the coast. In fact, on the eastern side, you’ll find yourself in a portion of the Sonoran Desert. And between the two, you’ll find a vast array of rolling hills, shallow canyons, and even mountain with snowy tips during the winter time.
There is little to be said about the county’s climate beyond the notion that it offers some of the most comfortable and coveted weather in the entire world.
You will experience dry, hot summers and mild winters near the desert areas. But the closer you get to the Pacific Coast, a light t-shirt and shorts are commonplace for most locals thanks to temperatures averaging between 45°F and 80°F all year long.
Who Lives in San Diego County?
The area grew very slowly during its first decade, though it spiked briefly around 1849 due to the Gold Rush. From 1848 to 1860, the San Diego population rose from 650 to a mere 731 residents. But as you might have guessed, it didn’t take much longer for people to recognize the great weather and immense opportunity the region had to offer.
With cities like San Diego, Chula Vista, and Oceanside at the helm, the county is now home to more than 3.3 million people. Though the demographics vary greatly by city and region, a quick look at the averages paints a clear picture of the diversity in this part of the nation.
Caucasians make up the majority of most areas with an average of about 46% for the county. Between the local Spanish and Native American history, it’s no surprise that Hispanic individuals come in second as more than 33% of the population. Behind them are Asian / Pacific Islanders at 12%, followed by African Americans who make up 5%.
And while English is the primary spoken language, about 23% of citizens in San Diego County are bilingual. Many of these individuals speak Spanish or Asian dialects, as well as a handful of Pacific Island languages.
Top Cities in San Diego County
Some of the largest San Diego County cities include San Diego, Chula Vista, Oceanside, Escondido, and Carlsbad, all of which are home to at least 100,000.
San Diego gives residents the big city feel with a population eclipsing 1.3 million. Lovingly referred to “America’s Finest City”, it fits the bill with white, sandy beaches, fun activities, and beautiful weather.
People living in Chula Vista know it as the lemon capital of the world. Between its family-friendly neighborhoods and comparably low cost of living, it’s a popular place in the county to raise children.
Everything about Oceanside screams California living. Beautiful beaches, great places to eat, and oceanview neighborhoods all come standard with this San Diego suburb.
Escondido is marketed as the “City of Choice”. On the outskirts of the big city, you’ll experience less traffic and fewer people, but still retain the beauty and experience of living in southern California.
There’s nothing bad to say about Carlsbad. As one of the fastest growing cities in California for many years, it has charm in all the right places with most residences offering a view of the ocean with a quick look out your door or window.
A Tourism and Vacation Hot Spot
It’s not difficult to find a wide variety of fun things to do around San Diego suburbs. In the heart of San Diego, you’ll find popular attractions like Sea World, Balboa Park, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo.
If you find yourself in Escondido, a visit to the breathtaking Safari Park may in order. While a weekend in Oceanside gives you access to the weekly Sunset Market, as well as the longest wooden pier along the entire west coast.
Beautiful beaches line almost the entire 70 miles of San Diego coast, giving you plenty of opportunities for fun in the sun and access to the ocean. Surfers find their happy place in local spots such as Black’s Beach in La Jolla, Swami’s State Beach in Encinitas, or along Sunset Cliffs next to the Point Loma neighborhood in San Diego.
Cities In San Diego County Demographics
|City/Town/Community||Population||% Male||% Female||Median Age||Total Housing Units||Median Household Income||Average Household Size|
|Alpine CDP, California||14,795||48.8||51.2||41.8||5,569||90,540||2.7|
|Bonita CDP, California||13,082||50.0||50.0||41.8||4,246||93,625||3.3|
|Bonsall CDP, California||4,341||52.2||47.8||48.0||1,705||72,411||2.7|
|Borrego Springs CDP, California||2,077||49.1||50.9||58.8||2,718||38,264||2.0|
|Bostonia CDP, California||17,600||49.9||50.1||32.9||5,904||48,995||3.1|
|Boulevard CDP, California||439||52.2||47.8||68.0||273||-||1.9|
|Campo CDP, California||2,971||55.8||44.2||32.4||1,272||57,634||3.1|
|Camp Pendleton North CDP, California||7,443||69.9||30.1||21.5||1,562||38,969||3.2|
|Camp Pendleton South CDP, California||12,770||56.7||43.3||22.2||3,364||43,087||3.6|
|Carlsbad city, California||113,147||48.8||51.2||42.6||47,119||102,722||2.6|
|Casa de Oro-Mount Helix CDP, California||20,196||49.0||51.0||44.2||7,336||87,953||2.8|
|Chula Vista city, California||264,101||48.9||51.1||34.6||85,426||70,197||3.3|
|Coronado city, California||24,053||52.6||47.4||38.1||10,760||99,641||2.4|
|Crest CDP, California||2,767||51.1||48.9||43.8||1,059||80,250||2.8|
|Del Mar city, California||4,338||51.7||48.3||50.7||2,838||122,563||2.0|
|Descanso CDP, California||1,592||53.0||47.0||46.5||767||82,813||2.5|
|El Cajon city, California||103,314||50.7||49.3||33.8||33,600||49,445||3.1|
|Encinitas city, California||62,595||50.0||50.0||42.9||26,321||103,842||2.6|
|Escondido city, California||150,783||49.9||50.1||33.4||47,213||58,834||3.3|
|Eucalyptus Hills CDP, California||5,798||45.2||54.8||40.8||1,990||88,125||3.3|
|Fairbanks Ranch CDP, California||3,024||46.8||53.2||50.9||1,245||137,929||3.2|
|Fallbrook CDP, California||31,121||48.7||51.3||37.0||11,028||56,468||3.0|
|Granite Hills CDP, California||2,873||47.4||52.6||52.7||1,068||117,863||2.9|
|Harbison Canyon CDP, California||4,199||51.8||48.2||42.9||1,529||83,616||2.9|
|Hidden Meadows CDP, California||3,382||52.0||48.0||52.9||1,604||85,556||2.5|
|Imperial Beach city, California||27,270||49.3||50.7||31.9||10,111||49,950||3.0|
|Jacumba CDP, California||176||73.9||26.1||72.4||130||26,636||1.4|
|Jamul CDP, California||5,895||47.6||52.4||48.3||2,068||114,037||3.1|
|Julian CDP, California||878||50.1||49.9||60.2||759||66,250||2.0|
|Lake San Marcos CDP, California||4,924||44.3||55.7||58.8||2,771||63,599||2.1|
|Lakeside CDP, California||21,827||51.5||48.5||39.2||7,865||69,912||2.9|
|La Mesa city, California||59,479||48.1||51.9||36.7||25,040||59,629||2.5|
|La Presa CDP, California||36,225||50.0||50.0||34.5||11,012||61,568||3.4|
|Lemon Grove city, California||26,645||49.4||50.6||35.6||8,868||60,309||3.1|
|National City city, California||60,715||50.0||50.0||32.5||17,349||43,168||3.5|
|Oceanside city, California||174,811||49.7||50.3||37.5||66,715||61,778||2.8|
|Pala CDP, California||977||48.8||51.2||26.7||330||67,500||3.7|
|Pine Valley CDP, California||1,878||49.5||50.5||38.5||744||103,173||3.1|
|Potrero CDP, California||465||46.9||53.1||33.3||133||26,847||3.5|
|Poway city, California||49,874||48.6||51.4||40.0||16,418||102,338||3.1|
|Rainbow CDP, California||2,041||47.5||52.5||50.3||693||66,528||3.0|
|Ramona CDP, California||21,871||50.9||49.1||37.7||7,162||68,485||3.2|
|Rancho San Diego CDP, California||21,651||49.5||50.5||42.8||7,936||87,942||2.8|
|Rancho Santa Fe CDP, California||2,428||46.9||53.1||51.2||1,214||105,469||2.8|
|San Diego city, California||1,390,966||50.3||49.7||34.3||533,973||71,535||2.7|
|San Diego Country Estates CDP, California||10,633||49.4||50.6||44.5||3,786||105,087||3.0|
|San Marcos city, California||93,493||49.7||50.3||35.1||30,491||70,417||3.2|
|Santee city, California||57,376||47.6||52.4||38.3||20,311||81,430||2.9|
|Solana Beach city, California||13,362||47.1||52.9||46.1||6,665||103,864||2.3|
|Spring Valley CDP (San Diego County), California||30,439||48.5||51.5||35.3||10,341||62,734||3.1|
|Valley Center CDP, California||9,842||48.9||51.1||40.1||3,321||84,742||3.3|
|Vista city, California||99,496||51.1||48.9||32.8||31,683||59,833||3.2|
|Winter Gardens CDP, California||22,237||51.2||48.8||39.2||7,953||64,124||2.9|
List of Cities in San Diego County
|Chula Vista||National City|
|El Cajon||San Diego (county seat)|
|Imperial Beach||Solana Beach|
Communities in San Diego County
|Borrego Springs||Harbison Canyon||Rainbow|
|Boulevard||Jacumba Hot Springs||Rancho San Diego|
|Campo||Jamul||Rancho Santa Fe|
|Camp Pendleton North||Julian||San Diego Country Estates|
|Camp Pendleton South||Lake San Marcos||Spring Valley|
|Casa de Oro-Mount Helix||Lakeside||Valley Center|
|Crest||La Presa||Winter Gardens|
|Eucalyptus Hills||Oak Grove|
Unincorporated Counties in San Diego County
|Agra||Glen Oaks||Mount Helix|
|Alpine Heights||Glenview||North Jamul|
|Bankhead Springs||Guatay||Pala Mesa|
|Banner||Hacienda del Florasol||Palm Grove|
|Barona||Harmony Grove||Palomar Mountain|
|Barrett||Harrison Park||Pauma Valley|
|Barrett Junction||Hellhole Palms||Phelps Corner|
|Blossom Valley||Holcomb Village||Pine Grove|
|Boulder Oaks||Hulburd Grove||Ranchita|
|Boulder Oaks||Indian Springs||Rancho del Campo|
|Buena||Irvings Crest||Ridgecrest Estates|
|Calexico Lodge||Jamacha Junction||Riverview|
|Cameron Corners||Jesmond Dene||Riverview Farms|
|Casa de Oro||Johnstown||San Felipe|
|Clover Flat||La Cresta||San Luis Rey Heights|
|Dehesa||Laguna Junction||San Onofre|
|Del Dios||La Jolla Amigo||Santa Ysabel|
|Deluz||Lakeside Farms||Scissors Crossing|
|De Luz||Lakeview||Shady Dell|
|De Luz Heights||Las Flores||Stallion Oaks|
|Desert Lodge||Lincoln Acres||Suncrest|
|Doghouse Junction||Live Oak Springs||Sunnyside|
|Dos Cabezas||Los Terrenitos||Tecate|
|Dulzura||Los Tules||The Willows|
|Eagles Nest||Lynwood Hills||Tierra del Sol|
|Engineer Springs||Mesa Grande||Warner Springs|
|Fallbrook Junction||Mesquite Oasis||Winterwarm|
|Fernbrook||Morena Village||Whispering Pines|
|Four Corners||Mortero Palms|
San Diego County State Parks
|Anza-Borrego Desert State Park||Moonlight State Beach|
|Torrey Pines State Reserve||Carlsbad State Beach|
|Cuyamaca Rancho State Park||South Carlsbad State Beach|
|Palomar Mountain State Park||Leucadia State Beach|
|San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park||San Elijo State Beach|
|Old Town San Diego State Historic Park||Cardiff State Beach|
|Border Field State Park||Torrey Pines State Beach|
|Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve||Silver Strand State Beach|
|San Onofre State Beach|
San Diego County Lake
|Lake Cuyamaca||Barrett Reservoir|
|Lake Hodges||Natural Rock Tanks|
|Santee Lakes||Little Laguna Lake|
|Sweetwater Reservoir||Big Laguna Lake|
|Upper Otay Reservoir||Big Lake|
|Lower Otay Reservoir||Twin Lakes|
|Lake Wohlford||Jean Lake|
|El Capitan Reservoir||Lost Lake|
|Sutherland Reservoir||Swan Lake|
|Lake Henshaw||Lake Miramar|
|Lake Murray||Lake Poway|
|San Vicente Reservoir||Dixon Lake|
We Know It’s a Tough Choice
Are you trying to decide which San Diego County city you should live in? Hopefully, a few of these details at least sparked a few ideas to lead you in the right direction. To learn more about other cities and suburbs in the area, be sure to check out our blog!
And whenever you’ve found the answer to your living situation, we’re here to help! Move Central has over ten years of experience assisting with moves all around San Diego County zip codes. We can help with everything from packing and transport to storage and unpacking.
Give us a call today at (858) 230-8281 and let us know what we can do for you!