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San Diego's neighborhoods conjure up too many stereotypes to count. You've got hipster areas, preppy places, neighborhoods where college kids thrive, and of course, ghettos.
It seems as if there's a neighborhood for everyone in San Diego.
And while the city consistently ranks as one of the best places to live in the country thanks in part to a strong economy and tons of entertainment, it's not all rainbows and sunshine in San Diego. Some neighborhoods aren't as great as others.
So the question arises, which San Diego neighborhoods are the worst, and which are the best?
Today, we'll use science and data to determine which San Diego hoods need a little tender loving care - the sore thumbs of the San Diego area if you will. Realistically, you can't expect all the neighborhoods to be amazing, although Del Mar Heights ranks way above the rest.
We examined 84 of San Diego's neighborhoods to find out the worst places to live. These places don't quite measure up to San Diego's reputation.
So what's the worst neighborhood to live in San Diego for 2022? According to the most recent census data, San Ysidro looks to be the worst neighborhood in San Diego.
Read on to see how we determined the places around San Diego that need a pick-me-up. And remember, don't blame the messenger.
Once you're done, you can look at the bottom of the story for a complete chart of every neighborhood we looked at from worst to best. Looking for places to avoid outside of the city? You can also check out the worst suburbs of San Diego.
For more California reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In California
- Cheapest Places To Live In California
- Most Dangerous Cities In California
The 10 Worst Neighborhoods In San Diego For 2022
If you like to watch traffic on the Interstate, San Ysidro might represent your ideal spot. Most of the neighborhood exists as a triangle formed by I-805, I-5, and Highway 905. However, if asphalt and carbon monoxide fumes don't rev you up, you might want to look somewhere else.
The main problem here stems from the economy. The unemployment rate stands at 9.2%. Meanwhile, even those locals who score jobs struggle to earn enough to make ends meet. Just look at the median home price, which equals$252,665...a tough mortgage when the median income only hits $46,562.
Rank Last Year: 1 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $252,665 (10th worst)
Median Income: $46,562 (14th worst)
More on San Ysidro: Data
A name like "Palm City" promises a tropical paradise. And, in terms of pleasant green space, this neighborhood delivers. It's dominated by a large park, highlighted by Fenton Pond. Meanwhile, a quick ride down I-5 will take you to San Diego Bay and great ocean views.
Sounds ideal. Unfortunately, day-to-day life in Palm City comes with significant challenges, turning this into the number 2 worst place to live in San Diego in 2022. The unemployment rate runs an elevated 8.1%. Meanwhile, the $216,300 median home value makes it difficult for many locals to afford, thanks to a median income of just $56,621.
Rank Last Year: 2 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $216,300 (8th worst)
Median Income: $56,621 (25th worst)
More on Palm City: Data
Tucked into the intersection of the I-5 and the I-15, Memorial sits southeast of downtown San Diego, and only a few blocks away from the bay. This proximity to the heart of the city doesn't do much to bolster the local economy, however.
Instead, "Memorial" might refer to a funeral eulogy spoken for the lost careers of the neighborhood's residents. The unemployment rate stands just below 10%. Meanwhile, the median income comes in at a paltry $30,176. At the same time, median home prices approach $300,000, making it impossible for many of the locals to become homeowners.
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $299,864 (20th worst)
Median Income: $30,176 (worst)
More on Memorial: Data
Oak Park sits along Bayview Heights Drive, about 15 minutes away from the tourist attractions along the ocean. Not too far a drive from the seaside. But, metaphorically, Oak Park might as well be 1,000 miles away from paradise.
The main problem here is the economy. A sluggish job market leaves 6.1% of the population without employment. Meanwhile, the median income might seem relatively robust at $50,064. But compare that to the median home price of $244,475 and it becomes difficult to stretch those paychecks.
Still, there are charms to life in Oak Park. If you don't want to take a ride to the ocean, you can head over to Chollas Lake Park for a little peaceful reflection.
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Median Home Value: $244,475 (9th worst)
Median Income: $50,064 (18th worst)
More on Oak Park: Data
Mount Hope gets its name from a cemetery. If you're superstitious, that's probably a bad sign. The Mount Hope Cemetery itself dates back to the 19th century, with the graves of a few noteworthy people, such as famed crime novelist Raymond Chandler.
What about the living residents of the area? Mount Hope doesn't provide such a peaceful resting place. In fact, many of the locals probably stay up all night worried about their finances. The unemployment rate stands at 8.0%, while the median income hovers at $37,060.
All this comes with rather expensive standard of living, with a median home value of $288,200.
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $288,200 (18th worst)
Median Income: $37,060 (10th worst)
More on Mount Hope: Data
No prizes for guessing where the Midtown District is located. That's right, it's in midtown. The neighborhood sits just north of downtown along I-5, bordering the airport.
Unlike many of the areas on this list, the economy in Midtown is actually very healthy. The unemployment rate hovers at a skimpy 3.2% and the median income comes in at $53,556.
So how did Midtown end up as the number 6 worst spot in San Diego for 2022? Well, there's a catch. Real estate prices. Close access to prime parts of the city have pumped up the housing market, pushing the median home value to $274,430.
Rank Last Year: 6 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $274,430 (15th worst)
Median Income: $53,556 (22nd worst)
More on Midtown District: Data
Turns out, Mission Valley is also great place to earn some money. The area's retail bonanza gives the area an economic boost. The unemployment rate sits at 5.5%. Meanwhile, the median income hovers at almost $75,000.
Unfortunately, the neighborhood also suffers from that San Diego curse: high prices. That makes affordability a stumbling block for the locals. Even the area's high incomes pale in comparison to housing prices. The median home value comes in at $279,720.
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Home Value: $279,720 (16th worst)
Median Income: $74,473 (56th worst)
More on Mission Valley: Data
We talked about Mount Hope Cemetery before. Here's the other side of the graveyard, marking part of the northern border of Mountain View. Maybe it's a curse.
There is no lack of amenities in the area. You've got plenty of stores and restaurants. You can also head over to Mountain View Park or the Willie Henderson Sports Complex for a patch of green.
But it's hard to make a living in Mountain View. The unemployment rate comes in at 10.6%. The median income sits at a measly $30,582. At the same time, those San Diego real estate prices have a grip here too. It's not as bad as other parts of the city, but the median home price still equals $198,900.
Rank Last Year: 10 (Up 2)
Median Home Value: $198,900 (6th worst)
Median Income: $30,582 (2nd worst)
More on Mountain View: Data
Kearny Mesa is located about 15 minutes north of downtown, sandwiched between the I-805 and the I-15. Named for a fort that used to dominate the region, the area now features its own executive airport and a diverse cultural landscape. This is highlighted by the Convoy District, a haven for Asian restaurants and shops.
Nice place to grab a delicious meal. Not a great place to live.
A lack of money isn't the problem, with a median income of $79,000. Instead, cost of living once again shows up to spoil the party. Want to buy a house in Kearny Mesa? Well, you'll likely need to pay more than $300,000.
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $328,900 (32nd worst)
Median Income: $79,000 (59th worst)
More on Kearny Mesa: Data
We've seen it before. Great location. Excellent amenities. Good economy. And yet, mentioned here on this list. Once again, we can blame the same culprit...affordability. The high cost of living makes East Village the number 9 worst place to live in San Diego for 2022.
East Village has an unmatched location. Just off of downtown and close to the water, the neighborhood serves as home to both San Diego City College and Petco Park, home of the Padres baseball team. The economy is strong, with a 5.1% unemployment rate and a $59,134 median income. So far, so good.
But then there are the home prices. At $370,033, they are out of reach for most normal people.
Rank Last Year: 8 (Down 1)
Median Home Value: $370,033 (40th worst)
Median Income: $59,134 (32nd worst)
More on East Village: Data
Methodology: How we determined the worst San Diego neighborhoods in 2022
To figure out how bad a place is to live in, we only needed to know what kinds of things people like and then decide what places have the least amount of those things. We threw the following criteria into this analysis in order to get the best, most complete results possible. We used this set of criteria for each neighborhood in San Diego:
- High unemployment (Less jobs)
- Low median income (Less pay)
- Low population density (No things to do)
- Low home values (No one's willing to pay to live here)
- High crime (Estimated)
Then, we ranked each neighborhood in San Diego, California for each of these criteria from worst to best.
Next, we averaged the individual rankings for each criteria into a "Worst Score".
The neighborhood with the lowest "Worst Score" ranks as the worst neighborhood of San Diego.
Read on below to learn more about these terrible places around San Diego to live. Or skip to the end to see the list of all 84 neighborhoods ranked from worst to best.
This list is a scientific analysis based on real data and is completely unbiased. Hold on to your pants.
Summary: The Worst Neighborhoods Around San Diego
Well there you have it -- the worst of the neighborhoods in San Diego with San Ysidro landing at the bottom of the pack.
As we mentioned earlier, the neighborhoods in San Diego aren't all bad. Del Mar Heights takes the cake as the best place to live in San Diego.
We ranked the neighborhoods from worst to best in the chart below.
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