Where to Live When Stationed in San Diego

San Diego is home to numerous military bases, but chances are if you are a submariner in San Diego you will be working out of Naval Base Point Loma (NBPL).  There are occasional shore duty billets on North Island and elsewhere, but this post will be mostly focused on Point Loma! There are countless of places to live in San Diego, and they are pretty much all good! It comes down to figuring out what your priorities are and being able to snag up a place. The rental and buying markets are both very competitive and expensive throughout all of San Diego.

San Diego recently had the honor of being named the least affordable city to live in America. Get ready for some sticker shock with median home prices (source: Realor.com) and commute times (source: Google, at time of writing) that can vary.

Base Housing

Photo courtesy of Liberty Military Housing

With the astronomical cost of living in San Diego, Base Housing might offer your best bang for your buck for San Diego BAH. Many of the Base Housing options in San Diego are located outside of bases. Waitlists can be long, so get on the list as soon as you have hard copy orders if this is something that interests you! Here are some of the most popular base housing communities:

  • The Village at NTC is the closest base housing to NBPL and is open to E1-E6 ranks. In addition to being very close to base, you’re nestled in Liberty Station with easy access to Trader Joe’s, restaurants and breweries, a movie theater and more.
  • Miramar is a bit of a hike, but this might be a good option if you’re interested in the security of being inside a Marine Base with easy access to the Commissary and Exchange, this might be the option for you.
  • Chesterton is a centrally located option for senior enlisted (E6-E9). A close-knit community of single-family homes with spacious yards.
  • Silver Strand
  • Murphy Canyon is a popular base housing for families with children.  Officers are in Canyon View and Enlisted are in Santo Terrace, Orleck Heights or Aero Ridge. Amenities are ample with playgrounds, a pool, clubhouse, and more.
  • Admiral Hartman is another popular choice for officers and senior enlisted. While lacking many of the amenities that Murphy Canyon has, it is close enough to walk/bike to the beach, has large back yards, and kids can walk to the highly rated Sessions Elementary school.

For more info check out Facebook groups like San Diego PCS Pay-it-forward, San Diego Military Housing Go To Guide.

Point Loma

Photo courtesy of Zillow

If your number one priority is a short commute, Point Loma is your place! Here are some of the neighborhoods within the Point Loma area:

Loma Portal

  • Median Home Price: 1.2M
  • Commute to NBPL: 14 min
  • Vibe: you will be able to find apartments for rent in this section of Point Loma. This area is home to the “alphabetical author streets” from Addison to Zola. You can also find elaborate decorations along Garrison Street during the holidays. While all areas of Point Loma experience jet noise, this area is peak of the “Point Loma pause” being directly under the flightpath of Lindberg airport.

Point Loma Heights

  • Median Home Price: $2 M
  • Commute to NBPL: 12 min
  • Vibe: This largely residential area includes both single and multi-family homes, with subdivisions of Loma Pallisades, Loma Alta, Point Loma Highlands, and Ocean Beach Highlands. Pick the right spot and you might have a view of San Diego Bay from up on your hill!

Sunset Cliffs

  • Median Home Price: 2.3M
  • Where to enjoy the perfect sunset in San Diego
  • Commute to NBPL: 11 min This is pretty much the closest you can live to Naval Base Point Loma.
  • Vibe: the name of this area says it all! Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is a great place to watch a dreamy Pacific Sunset while standing atop breathtaking cliffs. You’re close to base and not too far from coffee shops, grocery stores and more.

Ocean Beach

  • Median Home Price: $850 K
  • Commute to NBPL: 16 min
  • Vibe: Home to surfers, skaters and the chilliest of dog beaches, OB has a gorgeous beach and pier with a funky bohemian vibe.

Central San Diego

Photo courtesy of San Diego Union-Tribune

Central San Diego encompasses Mira Mesa/Miramar, Kearny Mesa, Clairemont and Mission Valley. These areas offer an easy commute to anywhere in the San Diego area, with a heavy food corridor that lays claim to the best ramen, Korean BBQ, sushi, Pho, curry, and Thai in the area. These neighborhoods tend to have older builds with a heavy military presence:


  • Tierrasanta
  • Median Home Price: $925K
  • Commute to NBPL: 25 min
  • Vibe: Many people are drawn into Tierrasanta by the popular military housing and end up loving it so much they invest in a longer-term home in this suburban neighborhood.
  • Fun fact: Tony Hawk grew up learning to skate in this neighborhood!

Mira Mesa

Kearny Mesa

  • Median home price: 769K
  • Commute to NBPL: 25 minutes
  • Vibe: home to the Convoy Pan Asian Cultural and Business Innovation District, you will find a variety of markets and restaurants specializing in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese and Thai food. There isn’t as much housing here as some other neighborhoods, but it is home to a number of businesses.

Mission Valley

  • Median Home Price: $553K
  • Commute to NBPL: 20 minutes. Close proximity to all the major highways in San Diego makes this area highly accessible.
  • Vibe: Lots of apartment complexes nestled amongst box stores, shopping malls and restaurants. High convenience factor!


  • Median home price: $834-981K
  • Commute to NBPL: 25-30 min
  • Vibe: Clairemont Mesa West is home to the “Mount streets” and highly rated Holmes Elementary School, this is a great spot for families with school-aged children. Target and Chick-fil-A are within a 5-minute drive from of this gem.

Bay Park

  • Commute to NBPL: 20 min
  • Median Home Price: 1.4M
  • Vibe: larger homes than the areas closer to the coast, with good schools and quiet neighborhoods despite their central location. Very close to Mission Bay and Seaworld!

Bay Ho

  • Median Home Price: 1.2M
  • Commute to NBPL: 25 min
  • Vibe: A quiet family-friendly neighborhood with a mix of older and re-modeled homes, some of which have amazing views of the water.

Pacific Beach

Photo courtesy of Airbnb
  • Median Home Price: $935K
  • Commute to NBPL: 25 min
  • Vibe: a favorite spot for single sailors, this surf town has ample restaurants and nightlife.


Photo courtesy of San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diego’s downtown core includes North/South Park, Banker’s Hill, University/Normal Heights, Downtown proper, Little Italy, Gaslamp, Golden Hill. Living downtown can be expensive, but has convenient restaurants, bars and nightlife. Here’s a breakdown:

Little Italy

  • Median Home Price: 687K
  • Commute to NBPL: 25 min
  • Vibe: home to historic buildings, luxury high-rises and of course, delicious places to eat pasta and pizza. Very central to downtown San Diego life.

North Park

  • Median Home Price: 880K
  • Commute to NBPL: 25 min
  • Vibe: a favorite neighborhood for single sailors and married sailors without kids, this neighborhood is very walkable to a variety of restaurants, craft breweries and nightlife.

South Park

  • Median Home Price: 1.3M
  • Commute to NBPL: 25 min
  • Vibe: Adjacent to Balboa Park, you will find some single-family residences and small apartment buildings. An easy walk to green spaces of Balboa, restaurants, taverns, art galleries and craft breweries.

Banker’s Hill

  • Commute to NBPL: 20 min
  • Median Home Price: 1.1M
  • Vibe: Named for the affluent residents, this area is home to grand historic homes, trendy farm-to table and sushi restaurants and a rustic foot bridge.

University Heights

  • Median home price: 1.1M
  • Commute to NBPL: 25 min
  • Vibe: home to excellent schools, tech businesses and a mix of apartments, condos and single family homes, University heights is close to Mission Valley for shopping and Balboa Park for experiencing nature, with its own variety of shops and restaurants.

Inland North County

Photo courtesy of Redfin

Inland North County includes Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Penasquitos, Scripps Ranch, Carmel Mountain and Poway. This area is a very suburban, single family home centric, very expensive, but very nice – fair smattering of military, tend to be officer or senior enlisted.

Scripps Ranch

  • Commute to NBPL: 38 min
  • Median Home Price: 1.1 M
  • Vibe: considered a high-end suburb, this neighborhood borders Miramar Marine Base

East County

Photo courtesy of San Diego Real Estate Hunter

This area includes the towns of El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, College area, Lakeside, and Santee.  Warmer and less expensive than coastal areas, offering many single-family homes.

La Mesa

  • Commute to NBPL: 30 min
  • Median Home Price: $777.5K
  • Vibe: home to many seasonal festivities in the village along La Mesa Blvd, “the Jewel of the Hills” is family-friendly with affordable homes and schools in the La Mesa-Spring Valley School district.

Lemon Grove

  • Median Home Price: 699K
  • Commute to NBPL: 25-30 min
  • Vibe: With convenient proximity to major highways and shopping centers, Lemon Grove offers affordable housing and schools in the Lemon Grove School District.

El Cajon

  • Median Home Price: 725K
  • Commute to NBPL: 30-35 min
  • Vibe: about as far East as most commuters to Point Loma are willing to go, you may be able to get a bit more space out this way, and be in close proximity to wineries, breweries, spacious parks and more.


Photo courtesy of LA Times

While the bar is high for owning a home in Coronado, some rentals are within reach for military families using BAH. These aren’t highly advertised and take some leg work to find. Some tricks of the trade for finding a home in Coronado include advertising the Coronado Eagle & Journal, and posting a ‘wanted’ ad in the Coronado Rentals facebook group.

  • Median Home Price: $2M
  • Commute to Point Loma: 25 min. You’ll be driving over the bridge every day, but it’s largely the opposite of the way traffic is going. Watching sunset while you come home over the bridge might just make it worth it!
  • Vibe: A beach town with many retired military and vacationers, you will enjoy easy walks to dining, coffee shops, and boutiques, as well as highly rated public schools.


  • North Coastal County – If you’re looking for beachy suburbia and don’t mind a long commute and high rent, check out La Jolla, Torrey Pines, Del Mar, Carmel Valley, Solana Beach and Encinitas.
  • South County – This area includes Chula Vista, National City, Otay Mesa/Ranch, Imperial Beach, Spring Valley, Barrio Logan. Typically most working in Point Loma find this area too long of a commute, but it offers more affordable homes and easy access to big shopping centers.

Did we miss any hidden gems? There are SO many places to live in San Diego!! Where have you lived in San Diego? What did you like or dislike about it?

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