Senior Resources » Best Retirement Cities Near San Diego

Best Retirement Cities Near San Diego

The city of San Diego stretches across approximately 200 canyons separated by mesas and nestled among these are some of the best neighborhoods in the area. These neighborhoods are known and loved by locals who live in them. They could not imagine leaving their scenic communities to live anywhere else in California! Within its over 372 thousand square miles, the city recognizes 52 official areas of planned communities, and within these, over 100 identifiable neighborhoods. Here are my favorite retirement cities near San Diego for your consideration!

San Diego beach

Rancho Santa Fe, CA

Known as “The Ranch”, Rancho Santa Fe is a small but affluent community of little over 3000 and is home to one of the most expensive real estate zip codes in California. Established in the 1920s, the planned community was designed to incorporate lush eucalyptus and rolling hills in a rural atmosphere. All this within a short drive to the larger metro area makes this a desirable area to live in and a top retirement choice as well. The land spans approximately 6,200 acres in a hexagon shape and is divided into parcels ranging from 5,000 square feet to four acres of land. Due to its higher elevation, Rancho Santa Fe is one of the only parts of San Diego to experience snowfall. This unique landscape makes The Ranch one of the best small towns near San Diego, CA.

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Fairbanks Ranch, CA

Near Rancho Santa Fe, is the exclusive community of Fairbanks Ranch. Its total area of five square miles is divided into two separate gated communities in the directions of North and South. The community includes amenities such as an equestrian center, 24-hour security, a putting green, and five tennis courts for residents to enjoy.

Granite Hills, CA

East of San Diego along the edges of the El Cajon community is several small towns including; Granite Hills, Harbison County, and the Crest area. These areas share El Cajon as a common neighbor and are a nice places to live, offering living space on the outskirts of a denser part of town while remaining close enough for convenience.

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Located on the Eastern outskirts of El Cajon is the Granite Hills neighborhood. Among the neighborhoods in the El Cajon area, Granite Hills is considered one of the better places to live around. Also near El Cajon and not far East of Granite Hills is the Crest. This part of the area is situated atop a hill directly East of El Cajon. The Crest neighborhood is home to a young population with nearly 37% of its 964 households reporting children living at home. Its views and elevation make it a desirable place to live. You may also hear of the area being referred to as “La Cresta” or “Suncrest” which are both neighborhoods combined to form the area now referred to as Crest.


Harbison Canyon, CA

Harbison Canyon is a community nestled in a canyon once founded by a successful beekeeper named John Stewart Harbison. The community is proud of its heritage and maintains the relics of the Kumeyaay Indians. Locals have remained dedicated to their community and rebuilt homes in the area twice after devastation by wildfire, the latest in 2003.

El Cajon, CA

For residents around the El Cajon area, the Sycuan Casino is a hub of entertainment. There are regular live shows, off-track betting, and bingo. Of course, they also offer all the usual table games and a wide variety of dining options to keep everyone satisfied. Near the casino is the Sycuan golf resort. This is where the adults go to relax after a day enjoying the area’s activities. There are 54 holes of golf, a spa, and all the amenities expected of a golf resort retreat.

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Cottonwood Golf Club offers two courses and its Ivanhoe course has been used for the PGA Tour in the past. It is located The course is situated among picturesque hills and provides a venue for special events. Also located in the area is the Steele Canyon Golf Club, when venturing East of El Cajon there are no shortages of scenic courses to enjoy.

Del Mar, CA

Northwest of the San Diego area is the small town of Del Mar. This coastal community whose name means “of the sea” is an affluent town with nearly 2 square miles of prime real estate. The pristine beaches offer surfing and the nearby horse track offers entertainment for visitors year-round.


Looking for More?

If you’re looking for more great retirement articles, then start here!

Need help with retirement planning? Then visit Bob Carlson’s Retirement Watch.

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Originally published September 20, 2022

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