Living in North Park

North Park is a charming neighborhood nestled between downtown San Diego and the semi-rural outskirts to the northeast.

There is a refreshingly laidback yet cosmopolitan vibe to North Park thanks to its eclectic mix of cultures and thriving arts scene.

Beyond its trendy ambiance and SoCal lifestyle, is North Park actually for you? We'll discuss the pros and cons of living in North Park in this guide.

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Pros and Cons of Living in North Park




High Cost of Living

Dining Options

Limited Parking

Central Location

Traffic Congestion

Things to Do

Crime and Safety


North Park is Dirty

Public Schools


Pros of Living in North Park

North Park is Walkable

North Park is one of San Diego's most walkable neighborhoods, with an 85 Walk Score. This means that it's easy to get around the neighborhood on foot, thanks to its many sidewalks, small streets, and old buildings.

North Park was designed for pedestrians, with wide sidewalks and slow-moving traffic. Measures to slow traffic and wide sidewalks enhance pedestrian safety. The diverse array of businesses, restaurants, and public spaces constantly entices walking.

The biggest concentration of breweries in San Diego is situated within 2 square miles. They are so close together that you have to walk between them.

So put your shoes on and take a stroll through a neighborhood that still has a pedestrian-scale feel to it.

Where to Eat in North Park

North Park has a diverse food scene with options for every foodie, from traditional Mexican street food to high-end California cuisine. Jumpstart your day with a coffee and pastries at hipster cafes such as The Republic.

Other foodie options include:

  • Authentic Street Food - Over 20 taquerias serve classics like Tacos al pastor, Carne asada tacos, and Pescado tacos. North Park is also known for Salvadoran fares like pupusas and tortas.
  • Brewery restaurants - 13 breweries fuel top gastropubs such as Haven, False Idol, and Polite Provisions.
  • High-end restaurants - Restaurants such as Jeune et Jolie, Urban Solace, and George's at the Cove mix California cuisine with global influences.

Regardless of whether you're in the mood for tacos, craft beer, or farm-to-table cuisine, North Park has a variety of restaurants to please every palate.

Central Location

With its central location, North Park provides convenient access to many popular San Diego destinations.

North Park's location makes it:

  • Convenient access to popular destinations like Balboa Park the San Diego Zoo and Gaslamp Quarter all only 4 miles away.
  • Quick freeway access in a 10-15 minute drive to Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, and La Jolla, which makes the location perfect for beachgoers.
  • Proximity to historic neighborhoods such as Rolando Village, City Heights, South Park, and College Area, which are close by and offer more amenities.
  • Access to the Old Town Transit Center (less than 4 miles away) and 10 MTS bus lines.

Things to Do in North Park

North Park offers plenty of weekend activities ranging from shopping and live music to cultural events and dining, ensuring an exciting experience.

The top attractions include:

  • Live music from indie bands and touring acts at venues like Odeon, Merrow, and Casbah.
  • Tailgate Park plays host to more than 200 annual events including markets, concerts, and fitness classes.
  • Independent Theaters such as The Ken Cinema and Tower Bar screen films and host pub trivia.
  • Over 300 independent shops on University and 30th offer vintage clothing, records, crafts, and more.
  • Pack your pantry with fresh produce, baked goods, and prepared foods from local farms and kitchens at North Park's Sunday farmer's market.

Weekends in North Park promise to never be boring thanks to many opportunities for shopping, music, culture, and enjoyment.

North Park Nightlife Spots

Looking to spend the night out on the town without the hassle of downtown?

The following are some of North Park’s diverse range of nightlife options:

  • Craft beer fans can access 13 breweries within a 2-mile radius.
  • Dive bars such as Live Wire, Berry's, and Winston's offer cheap drinks in a timeless atmosphere.
  • Casual venues like BlindBurro, King's Street Cafe, and Coin-Op Game Room offer dining, live entertainment, and games.
  • Late-night eateries satisfy inevitable munchies after the last call.
  • Dog-friendly patios where pups party alongside patrons. North Park has a variety of bars to suit your taste, whether you're looking for craft beer, a dive bar, or a late-night bite.

Education Excellence in North Park

In addition to its eclectic mix of cultures, North Park is home to many high-performing schools dedicated to educating students.

North Park provides:

  • The San Diego Unified School District—the second-largest in the city and rated overall B+.
  • Highly rated schools such as George W. Marston Middle School (8/10) and North Park Elementary (rated 9/10 on GreatSchools).
  • Institutions that place a strong emphasis on the arts, such as Marshall Elementary (City Heights Creative and Performing Arts) and Audubon K-8 (an arts-focused school).
  • Student populations are diverse in terms of race, socioeconomic status, and language.

North Park is more than just a haven for hipsters—it's also the location of many top-notch schools committed to educating the next generation.

Cons of Living in North Park

North Park is Expensive

The cost of living in North Park is on the rise, making it a less affordable option for some people. The median home value in North Park is currently over $800,000, and the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is over $2,200 per month.

Factors contributing to the expense include:

  • Limited homes for sale combined with high demand owing to North Park's popularity, "hip" reputation, and central location.
  • Gentrification as high earners and young professionals displace long-time residents, causing rents to increase.
  • When wealthy people move into a neighborhood, the cost of living goes up.
  • Speculation from investors who buy homes to "flip" for profit, viewing housing as a luxury rather than a necessity.
  • Inelastic demand, where demand for North Park real estate remains strong even as prices rise.


Cost of Living Index

North Park, San Diego


San Francisco, CA


Sunnyvale, CA


Los Angeles, CA


Sacramento, CA


Note: The table provides a general comparison using the latest available data.

As people are unable to afford it and early investors benefit North Park's "cool factor" has fueled rising costs pushing out original residents.

Parking and Traffic Challenges

Parking can be very difficult to find in North Park, especially on weekends and during rush hour. You may have to circle the block for several minutes before finding a spot.

Factors contributing to the issues include:

  • An inadequate parking supply ratio of only 0.18 spaces per household compared to the city average of 0.5.
  • High parking fees of $1.50 to $2.25 per hour and $90 for monthly permits.
  • Bike paths and street parking further restrict the street grid, which is intended for lower density.
  • Weekend jams and traffic bottlenecks on major thoroughfares, particularly 30th Street.
  • Transit options that only partially mitigate the effects of parking shortages and traffic.

While attempts are being taken to improve transit options, active management of curbs and streets will likely be required to ease growing parking and traffic challenges.

Crime and Safety in North Park

While most North Park residents feel safe, the neighborhood does have a higher crime rate than some other parts of San Diego. In 2022, there were over 1,200 property crimes reported in North Park, including car break-ins, burglaries, and thefts.

With a C+ grade for safety from, violent crime is not as prevalent as property crime.

Here is a table comparing crime in North Park, to other similar places in California:


Violent Crime Rate

(per 1,000 people)

Property Crime Rate

(per 1,000 people)

North Park, San Diego



San Francisco, CA



Sunnyvale, CA



Los Angeles, CA



Sacramento, CA



Note: The table provides a general comparison using the latest available data.

North Park's vibrant nightlife significantly contributes to the high rate of property crime. Large crowds frequent bars and clubs, making them prime targets for vandalism and theft. That said, families and children who live in North Park often feel secure.

Is North Park Clean?

Some people say that North Park is dirty, due to litter and graffiti. But others argue that the neighborhood is not as dirty as it's made out to be.

Key facts:

  • Clean streets rating - Based on more than 500 reports, North Park receives an average rating of 3.6 out of 5.
  • Graffiti and litter - Sources mention issues with litter along busy streets. Though it happens infrequently, North Park Community Association works to cover graffiti immediately.
  • Homeless population - North Park has a significant homeless population, which leads to cleanliness issues in some places.

While some criticize North Park for uncleanliness, others find the neighborhood charming despite some rubbish and grime, depending on individual priorities.

Living in North Park, CA - The Verdict

North Park is a great place to live if you're looking for a vibrant, walkable neighborhood with a lot to offer. However, it's important to be aware of the challenges of living here.

Consider whether:

  • The urban vibes match your needs
  • The rising costs represent good value
  • The crime rates are acceptable

Look beyond the hype to North Park's true pros and cons, weighing them based on your needs and preferences.

Are you interested in finding out more about North Park? Our local experts can help you navigate all San Diego housing options based on your needs or budget.

Contact us for custom neighborhood recommendations, including areas in San Diego with similar vibes. Let's discuss your San Diego move!

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