The 10 Safest Neighborhoods In San Diego: 2022's Ultimate List

Jessica Stone
by Jessica Stone

Located in Southern California, San Diego is the second-largest city in the state and can be one of the best places for both personal, business, or even military relocation. However, moving to a completely new city can be a challenge, especially when trying to determine the best areas to call home. Safety is always a top priority, so it’s wise to research what the safest neighborhoods in San Diego are.

The safest neighborhoods in San Diego are Nestor, Egger Highlands, Miramar, Scripps Ranch, and Alta Vista. Rancho Penasquitos, Rancho Bernardo, Carmel Valley, and Sabre Springs also boast low crime rates. North City is another one of the safest neighborhoods in San Diego, with only 76 violent crimes per 100k residents.

With over 100 unique and colorful neighborhoods in the city of San Diego, the choice of where to settle down is often especially difficult. Regardless of who you are or where you’re moving to, safety is essential. Therefore, check out these top 10 safest San Diego neighborhoods to help you make your decision.

A Glimpse Of San Diego

If you’re planning on relocating to San Diego, you’ll get to enjoy easily one of the most laid-back and picturesque places in the state of California. If San Diego is where you plan to call home, you’re in luck.

The city offers some of the best weather in the country, along with 70 miles of pristine beaches. It also showcases a spectacular collection of world-class, family-friendly attractions, a diverse food scene, among many others. With so much do to and see in this wonderful city, it’s not hard to understand why San Diego is nicknamed “America’s Finest City.”

Also, the diverse landscape of California allows San Diego residents to embark on a variety of outdoor adventures. You can spend the mornings soaking up the sun at the beach and then head to the slopes in Big Bear for later in the day. Or, you can drive about two and a half hours to Palm Springs to relax by the pool in the desert heat and enjoy top-notch resorts.

But, with a population of nearly 1.5 million residents and its classification as the eighth-largest city in the nation, San Diego does have some crime. However, statistics show that San Diego is safer than 32% of all the cities in the country.

The city’s crime rate is considered “one of the lowest in the nation for its size,” and both violent crime and property crime sit below the national average. Put simply; San Diego is one of the safest populous cities in the United States.

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What Are The Safest Neighborhoods In San Diego?

With San Diego’s reputation as a city with relatively low crime rates, you will have no trouble finding a safe neighborhood for you and your family. In order to help you narrow down your search a bit, we put together a ranking of the safest areas in the city. While you can certainly ask a long-time resident of San Diego about its safe neighborhoods, analyzing statistics will give you the most unbiased answer.

To determine the safest places across America’s Finest City, we took a look at the reported FBI crime data. More specifically, we examined the property crime, violent crime, and total crime rates for each of San Diego’s roughly 100 communities. Those with the lowest crimes per 100K people in 2021 earned a spot on our list of the safest neighborhoods in San Diego, California.

  • Nestor
  • Egger Highlands
  • Miramar
  • Scripps Ranch
  • Alta Vista
  • Rancho Penasquitos
  • Rancho Bernardo
  • Carmel Valley
  • Sabre Springs
  • North City

Let’s dive deeper and explore these communities in detail, along with their characteristics, amenities, crime rates, and livability.

1. Nestor Tops The List Of Safest Neighborhoods In San Diego

  • Violent Crimes Per 100,000 People: 5
  • Property Crime Per 100,000 People: 36
  • Population: 16,126
  • Total Crime Below National Average: 98%

Nestor is a residential neighborhood of roughly 16,126 residents that is located in the southern section of San Diego. It neighbors Palm City and Ota Mesa West on the east, San Ysidro to the southeast, Tijuana River Valley to the south, Egger Highlands to the north. It is a part of the Otay Mesa-Nestor community planning area.

What once began as a farming community of predominately Japanese Americans was annexed to the city in 1957. Although it is among San Diego’s lesser-known areas, it is considered one of the more affordable neighborhoods in the city. Housing is mostly comprised of single-family homes, and some are priced below the $500,000 mark, a rarity in San Diego.

Some prominent features in Nestor include the South Bay Salt Works, a salt factory, and one of the area’s longest-running businesses, the South Bay Drive-In, Nestor Park, and Berry Park. Both parks offer plenty of open areas and greenery for children to play, while the South Bay Drive-in is a thriving and memorable experience for residents of all ages.

With a crime rate that is 98% lower than both the city and national average, Nestor takes the top spot as the safest neighborhood in San Diego.

2. Egger Highlands Ranks High On List Of Safest Neighborhoods In San Diego

  • Violent Crimes Per 100,000 People: 25
  • Property Crime Per 100,000 People: 73
  • Population: 9,877
  • Total Crime Below National Average: 96%

Also located in the southern portion of San Diego, the Egger Highlands neighborhood is home to approximately 9,877 residents. The community borders Nestor and Palm City to the east, Chula Vista to the northeast, Imperial Beach to the southwest, and San Diego Bay to the north. It is named after the Egger Family, who donated much of their land to house the region’s first Roman Catholic church in 1946.

Egger Highlands’ location offers a convenient commute to the military bases, downtown, the airport, shopping, and various beaches. The area also has a number of nearby beaches with parks for residents to enjoy. The Tijuana River Valley Park is one such location that has trails for walking, hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Overall, Egger Highlands is a quiet, friendly neighborhood with exceptionally low crime.

Based on statistics, Egger Highlands takes the second spot on our list of the safest neighborhoods in San Diego.

3. Miramar

  • Violent Crimes Per 100,000 People: 40
  • Property Crime Per 100,000 People: 506
  • Population: 2,024
  • Total Crime Below National Average: 79%

Home to a relatively small population of 2,024 residents, Miramar is another particularly safe neighborhood in San Diego. It is situated in the northern part of the city and features residential areas and commercial and light industrial districts. Many of Miramar’s residents reside on the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar (formerly known as Naval Air Station Miramar). The military base houses the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, the aviation element of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

Before the area become a military base back in 1950, it was a small, remote community centered around a railroad station. However, there are no surviving buildings from the early days of Miramar. With a total crime rate that is 79% lower than the national average and 76% lower than the city average, Miramar earns the title of the third safest neighborhood in San Diego.

4. Scripps Ranch

  • Violent Crimes Per 100,000 People: 76
  • Property Crime Per 100,000 People: 515
  • Population: 36,364
  • Total Crime Below National Average: 75%

The Scripps Ranch neighborhood is located in the northeastern part of San Diego, south of Poway, north of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, and east of Interstate 15. It is known as a coastal/inland bedroom community, with roughly 36,364 residents. One prominent feature of Scripps Ranch is its landscaping, which encompasses many mature eucalyptus trees.

The local Miramar Reservoir allows residents to enjoy recreational fishing and boating. At the same time, the Scripps Ranch Marketplace provides all your shopping needs and is one of the biggest centers in the neighborhood. Those who reside in this region also get to take advantage of a quick 20-minute commute to downtown, excellent schools, plenty of job opportunities, and a competitive housing market.

As a result, Scripps Ranch can be the ideal place to raise a family in California.

Based on our calculations, Scripps Ranch takes the fourth spot among the safest neighborhoods in San Diego.

5. Alta Vista

  • Violent Crimes Per 100,000 People: 204
  • Property Crime Per 100,000 People: 487
  • Population: 9,210
  • Total Crime Below National Average: 71%

Another safe neighborhood, Alta Vista, is a relatively small community located in southeastern San Diego. It is bordered by Valencia Park to the north, National City to the west, and Bay Terraces to the east. In general, Alta Vista is a quaint, quiet, and friendly neighborhood. The community is predominately residential, with a few local amenities such as a restaurant and church within its limits.

Though, its location does offer convenient access to the freeways, a number of dining options, a hospital, grocery stores, and the Naval Base. The base is a quick 10-minute drive, much of the neighborhood is walkable, and there is little to no traffic. While it is one of the lesser-known areas of the city, Alta Vista is considered the fifth safest neighborhood in San Diego.

Its total crime rate is 68% less than the city average and 72% less than the national average.

6. Rancho Penasquitos

  • Violent Crimes Per 100,000 People: 94
  • Property Crime Per 100,000 People: 661
  • Population: 63,341
  • Total Crime Below National Average: 68%

Rancho Penasquitos is a suburban neighborhood situated in the northeastern part of San Diego. The community gets its name from the county’s first Mexican land grant, Rancho Santa Maria de Los Peñasquitos. Rancho Penasquitos adjoins Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve, a popular open space for locals to hike, bike, and horseback ride on the equestrian trails. Commonly referred to as simply “PQ,” Rancho Penasquitos is home to around 63,300 people.

This area offers much for prospective residents, including highly ranked schools, plentiful outdoor spaces, community events, and all the benefits that come with a planned urban community. While most of PQ is residential, the remaining portions are devoted to open space and parks. The community places an emphasis on preserving the unique natural landscape, which consists of hillsides, canyons, and ridges.

Based on statistics, Rancho Penasquitos earns the sixth spot on our list of the safest neighborhoods in San Diego.

7. Rancho Bernardo

  • Violent Crimes Per 100,000 People: 76
  • Property Crime Per 100,000 People: 699
  • Population: 44,185
  • Total Crime Below National Average: 67%

Situated among the picturesque rolling hills and canyons that lie east and west of Interstate 15, Rancho Bernardo is one of many safe neighborhoods in San Diego. The area is roughly twenty miles north of downtown, is home to close to 45,000 people, and is often referred to as simply “RB.”

Rancho Bernardo is an extensive community with golf courses, shopping centers, and office parks that are characteristic of San Diego’s development. Many major corporations have a presence within the region, including Sony Electronics, Hewlett-Packard, Broadcom, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, and Amazon. The 685-acre business park that houses these corporations, and more, employs approximately 50,000 workers.

Residents love Rancho Bernardo for its sense of community, great school system, a wide variety of housing styles, beautiful landscape, friendly neighbors, and low crime. Rancho Bernardo is considered the seventh safest neighborhood in San Diego. In fact, it is considered safer than 93% of California’s cities.

8. Carmel Valley

  • Violent Crimes Per 100,000 People: 85
  • Property Crime Per 100,000 People: 744
  • Population: 39,559
  • Total Crime Below National Average: 65%

Carmel Valley is a suburban planned community located in the north-western corner of San Diego. This sprawling neighborhood is comprised of residential units, commercial offices, retail stores, restaurants, and hotels. It is considered one of the newer neighborhoods in the city, as it was formed in 1975. Farms were later replaced by master-planned residential communities starting in 1983.

The schools in Carmel Valley are known for providing an exceptional education and rigorous academics. Its access to Interstate 5 and State Route 56 make Carmel Valley a very convenient place for residents and commuters. Here it is possible to work, live, and play, all close to home. Residents enjoy the nearby Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve for twelve miles of scenic trails.

With crime rates that are 61% lower than the city average, Carmel Valley earns its rank as the eighth safest neighborhood in San Diego.

9. Sabre Springs

  • Violent Crimes Per 100,000 People: 101
  • Property Crime Per 100,000 People: 745
  • Population: 14,559
  • Total Crime Below National Average: 64%

Burrowed in the foothills north of Scripps Ranch and south of Carmel Mountain Ranch, the Sabre Springs neighborhood is home to quiet communities, rolling hills, city facilities, and business parks. It is located in the northeastern part of San Diego and is about 19 miles from the city center. Sabre Springs offers many recreational opportunities to its residents, with its position north of Miramar Lake, Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve on its eastern edge.

This neighborhood is the ideal choice for nature lovers or anyone seeking the balanced quality of life that San Diegans are pleased to enjoy. Plans to develop this area did not exist until the 1970s. At that point, the Sabre Springs Community Plan drew out a largely residential neighborhood with large open spaces and industrial areas.

Residents love Sabre Springs for its excellent school district, sense of community, walkable nature, convenient public transit, abundant green areas, and plenty of community events. Sabre Springs takes the ninth spot on our list of the safest neighborhoods in San Diego.

10. North City Wraps Up The List Of Safest Neighborhoods In San Diego

  • Violent Crimes Per 100,000 People: 77
  • Property Crime Per 100,000 People: 812
  • Population: 12,743
  • Total Crime Below National Average: 62%

Rounding out our list of the safest neighborhoods in San Diego is North City, a community of approximately 12,743 residents. It is bordered by Rancho Santa Fe and Solana Beach to the north, Carmel Valley to the south, and Del Mar Heights to the west. The name “North City” is almost never utilized by locals, as the community is already included in either Carmel Valley or Rancho Santa Fe. However, the name is used for zoning and statistical purposes by the San Diego Police Department.

Aside from its residential areas, North City contains many amenities, including grocery stores, a diverse array of dining options, cafes, lounges, and even the Del Mar Horse Park within its bounds. It is about 23 miles outside of the city center but just five miles to adjacent beaches.

Based on our calculations, North City is the tenth safest neighborhood in San Diego. It experiences 58% less crime than the city average and is safer than 92% of the cities in the state.

Safest Neighborhoods In San Diego

RankNeighborhoodPopulationViolent Crime Compared To National AverageProperty Crime Compared To National Average
1Nestor16,12699% Below98% Below
2Egger Highlands9,87794% Below96% Below
3Miramar2,024No DataNo Data
4Scripps Ranch36,36480% Below74% Below
5Alta Vista9,21047% Below75% Below
6Rancho Penasquitos63,34176% Below66% Below
7Rancho Bernardo44,18580% Below64% Below
8Carmel Valley39,55978% Below62% Below
9Sabre Springs14,55974% Below62% Below
10North City12,74380% Below59% Below

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Related Questions

What are the most dangerous neighborhoods in San Diego?

As with any large city, crime does occur in San Diego, and you should take all the necessary steps to protect yourself. This includes staying vigilant, being aware of your surroundings, and not flaunting money or jewelry. Also, avoid wandering around on foot at night, and know the particularly unsafe areas to avoid.According to the latest FBI crime statistics, the following are the top ten most dangerous neighborhoods in the City of San Diego:

  • East Village
  • Horton Plaza
  • Marina
  • Little Italy
  • Kearny Mesa
  • Cortez Hill
  • Midtown District
  • Columbia
  • Memorial
  • Mission Valley

All of the communities mentioned above have total crime rates that are exponentially higher than both national and city averages. For example, East Village has a violent crime rate that is a staggering 851% higher than the national average.

Yes, San Diego is considered a “safe” city with a large number of safe neighborhoods. However, these facts show that there are still some pretty dicey areas that necessitate avoidance.

What is the best time of year to visit San Diego?

San Diego enjoys some fantastic weather year-round, so on that front, there’s really no bad time to visit. Although, May and June do see many overcast days, which is why locals dub them “May Gray” and “June Gloom.” Also, there is more rainfall during the winter months, so if you want to spend some days at the beach, this might not be the best time for you to go.

But you can snag some great travel deals from March through May and September through November. These lower rates are because these times are outside of San Diego’s peak summer season.

The most popular time for tourists to visit is June through August because of the combination of lots of festivals and warm weather. July is especially a favorite since you’re done with the June Gloom by then, but you can expect higher hotel rates. This hotel rate spike is largely due to the city’s largest event, Comic-Con.

In August, you’ll find peak season for fishing charters, causing travel rates to be higher this month as well. Therefore, when you’re planning a trip to San Diego, decide what you want to do the most while you’re there. After that, pin down your budget to determine the best time for your visit.

Jessica Stone
Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

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