Maps and Neighborhoods


From its legendary beaches to the historic streets of Old Town and the Gaslamp District to its mountains and deserts, San Diego’s geography parallels the diversity of its population.

There are over one hundred recognized neighborhoods in San Diego. For additional information see a full list of San Diego Neighborhoods and a guide to San Diego's unique regions.

Many USD graduate students choose to live near the university, the beach, or downtown. As you get to know each neighborhood, consider each location’s proximity to public transportation, parking, laundry facilities, and shopping.

Explore San Diego online or in person to find out which neighborhood is right for you!

For additional information about the crime rates, schools, and real estate in each neighborhood, check out Neighborhood Scout.

Near USD

Linda Vista

Close to USD, many students choose to live on the south side of Linda Vista Road (directly across from USD) since it offers affordable rent within walking distance from campus. Linda Vista is a diverse neighborhood with a large Asian immigrant population on the north side of the neighborhood. See more information about Linda Vista.

Benefits: Close to USD
Public Transportation Access: Bus

Mission Valley/Fashion Valley

Located 5 minutes east of USD (by car), this area is one of the main commercial centers in San Diego and features two shopping malls, Qualcomm Stadium (home of the San Diego Chargers football team), big-box retailers like Target and Ikea, and many condominiums and apartment buildings. See more information about Mission Valley

Benefits: Very close to USD/great access to shopping and public transportation 

Public Transportation Access: Trolley/Bus


Just north of Linda Vista and similar in cost to the Linda Vista area, Clairemont is popular with local college students. This area offers more of a suburban feel with many houses for rent as well as a variety of apartment complexes. See more information about Clairemont.

Benefits: Cheap rent
Public Transportation Access: Bus

Old Town

This is one of the oldest parts of San Diego with some apartments and houses in the hills bordering the Mission Hills area. Located 5 minutes south of USD (by car), this area draws many tourists looking to shop and sample San Diego-style Mexican food. See more information about Old Town.

Benefits: Very close to USD/Public Transportation center
Public Transportation Access: Trolley/Coaster (train)/Bus

Beach Areas

Mission Beach/Mission Bay

Located 15 minutes west of USD (by car), Mission Beach/Mission Bay is a popular place for USD graduate students to live. Mission Beach/Mission Bay offers apartment living close to the beach. See more information about Mission Beach.

Benefits: Great location/proximity to USD undergraduate students
Public Transportation Access: Bus

Pacific Beach (PB)

Located 15 minutes west of USD (by car), PB, as Pacific Beach is known, is a mix of commercial and residential spaces and is home to the most extensive nightlife (bars and clubs) of all of the San Diego beaches. The northern portion of this neighborhood consists mainly of small bungalow-style houses that students often rent to share with roommates. See more information about Pacific Beach.

Benefits: Most popular beach community/Many places to live
Public Transportation Access: Bus

Ocean Beach (OB)

Located 10 minutes west of USD (by car), Ocean Beach is the sleepiest of the San Diego beach communities. Ocean Beach is home to hippy boutiques, an antique district, an eclectic farmer’s market, and has a relaxed atmosphere reminiscent of the northern California city of Berkeley. See more information about Ocean Beach

Benefits: Best rent value at the beach/laid-back bohemian neighborhood
Public Transportation Access: Bus

Point Loma

Located about 15 minutes southwest from USD, Point Loma is a peninsula adjacent to San Diego bay, and just north of the San Diego International Airport. There are several distinct neighborhoods in the Point Loma peninsula. The commercial and retail hearts of the peninsula are called Point Loma Village and Liberty Station. Most neighborhoods in Point Loma consist primarily of single-family homes, many of which rent the “in-law” unit. The southern one-third of the Peninsula is entirely federal land, including Naval Base Point Loma, Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, and Cabrillo National Monument. See more information about Point Loma.

Benefits: Many up and coming eateries, by the water, walkable, great views of downtown and the harbor
Public Transportation Access: Bus

La Jolla

Located 15-20 minutes northwest of USD (by car) the “Beverly Hills of San Diego”, La Jolla offers several great beaches, upscale shopping, restaurants and homes with beautiful views of the ocean. Expect San Diego’s most expensive rent and home prices. La Jolla is close enough to commute to USD without difficulty. See more information about La Jolla

Benefits: Beautiful beaches/scenery
Public Transportation Access: Bus


Downtown/Gaslamp Quarter

Located 10 minutes south of USD (by car), downtown is home to Petco Park (home of the San Diego Padres baseball team) as well as hundreds of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shops and boutiques, and condominium high-rise buildings. Within downtown there are a number of distinct districts and neighborhoods that cover a range of tastes and preferences. See more information about Downtown San Diego

Benefits: Urban, action packed environment
Public Transportation Access: Trolley/Bus

Little Italy

Located 10 minutes south of USD (by car), Little Italy has been developed into a hip area full of Italian restaurants, coffee shops, galleries, and a farmer’s market. See more information about Little Italy

Benefits: Near both downtown/San Diego harbor, great public transportation access
Public Transportation Access: Trolley/Bus

North Park/University Heights/Normal Heights

Located 15 minutes southeast of USD (by car), these neighborhoods have become hip areas full of new casual restaurants, bars and cafes situated along University Avenue and El Cajon

Boulevard, two mid-city thoroughfares. Both areas are very walkable and offer many houses and apartments for rent. See more information about North Park.

Benefits: Great rent value/area is improving every year
Public Transportation Access: Bus


Located 10 minutes south of USD (by car), Hillcrest is often described as San Diego’s most European neighborhood. Hillcrest is located just north of downtown and offers many shops and restaurants at walking distance from the famous Hillcrest street sign and is the site of the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park. It is also home to a large gay and lesbian community. Rent here is less expensive than downtown but expect to pay a premium to live in San Diego's most walkable neighborhood. See more information about Hillcrest.

Benefits: Great restaurants, foreign/independent movie theater
Public Transportation Access: Bus

City Heights

Located 20 minutes southeast of USD (by car), City Heights is San Diego’s most ethnically diverse neighborhood, occupied by many recent immigrants and resettled refugees. See more information about City Heights

Benefits: San Diego’s most affordable rent/Great ethnic restaurants from all over the world

Public Transportation Access: Bus


Located 15 minutes southeast of USD (by car), this quaint, mostly residential area also features a small strip of great restaurants, a popular bar (the Ken Club) and the famous Ken Theater, which shows one film for a week at a time. See more information about Kensington

Benefits: Very nice, Spanish style houses

Public Transportation Access: Bus

East of USD

College Area/La Mesa

Located 20 minutes east of USD (by car), these areas surround San Diego State University (SDSU) and therefore feature many student friendly shops, restaurants and services. Rent prices tend to be affordable. See more information about La Mesa.

Benefits: Close to SDSU, great public transportation access
Public Transportation Access: Trolley/Bus

North of USD 

Kearny Mesa

Located 10 minutes north of USD (by car), Kearny Mesa is home to the majority of Asian supermarkets, restaurants and banks in San Diego. Kearny Mesa is also the home of several new and used car dealerships. See more information about Kearny Mesa.

Benefits: Close to USD/Great ethic restaurants, markets, shops
Public Transportation Access: Bus 

Mira Mesa

Located 20 minutes north of USD (by car), Mira Mesa is home to large Filipino and Vietnamese populations. See more information about Mira Mesa.

Benefits: Close to industrial center
Public Transportation Access:  Bus

Sorrento Valley

Located 20 minutes north of USD (by car), Sorrento Valley is less than ten minutes from the beach and is known as the technology/telecommunications industry center of the city. See more information about Sorrento Valley.

Del Mar/Solana Beach

Located 20-25 minutes north of USD (by car), these upscale beach communities are located along the I-5 freeway. During the summer, Del Mar hosts popular horse races. Rent here is as expensive as La Jolla. See more information about Del Mar and Solana Beach.

Benefits: Beautiful landscape close to the ocean
Public Transportation Access: Coaster (train)/Bus


Located 30 minutes north of USD (by car), these two north county beach towns are far less crowded than the San Diego beach areas and feature charming downtown areas and easy beach access. These are great places for day trips. See more information about Encinitas and Carlsbad.

Benefits: Quaint, laid back beach communities.
Public Transportation Access: Coaster (train)/Bus 

South of USD


Located 20-25 minutes southwest of USD (by car), this island community offers spectacular views and a peaceful, bike-friendly small town atmosphere with easy beach access. Great for day trips/picnics. Rent is typically very expensive.  See more information about Coronado.

Benefits: Beautiful, relaxed atmosphere a short distance from USD and downtown.
Public Transportation Access: Bus

Chula Vista/San Ysidro

Located 25-35 minutes south of USD (by car), often referred to as part of the “South Bay,” these cities are the gateway to Tijuana, Mexico. Chula Vista continues to grow and now is a relatively large city with many new condominium and housing developments. See more information about Chula Vista.

Benefits: Affordable rent/ great public transportation access
Public Transportation Access: Trolley/Bus