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    • CommentAuthorjstech
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2012 edited
    I'm moving to San Diego in May, and I'm trying to figure out where to live. Here are my priorities:
    1. Pleasant bike commute to work, not longer than ~10 miles. Work will be at the north end of Towne Centre Drive:
    2. Walkable neighborhood, with easy access to grocery, restaurant, shopping, bars, etc. I've been car-free for the past four years in Baltimore, and I want to continue.

    3. Fun, younger neighborhood--I'm 28 and single.

    So far, I've been thinking about Pacific Beach and maybe Del Mar. Being close to the beach is appealing, certainly, but I'm open to ideas. What do you think?
    • CommentTimeFeb 12th 2012 edited
    @ jstech: click on the link below. I hope this will help you with what you are looking for. Else, other members will contribute in this discussion.
    jstech:I'm moving to San Diego in May, and I'm trying to figure out where to live. Here are my priorities:
    1. Pleasant bike commute to work, not longer than ~10 miles. Work will be at the north end of Towne Centre Drive:

    2. Walkable neighborhood, with easy access to grocery, restaurant, shopping, bars, etc...

    There's nothing necessarily wrong with PB or Del Mar, but they don't fit your bill. Here's my suggestion:

    I don't know how to do fancy mapping stuff, but i used the "get directions" feature in google maps to draw you a region surrounded by the blue lines. Look for an apt inside this region & you'll be good. Inside this zone are 3 hospitals, 2 malls, many finance businesses, Motorola & many other tech companies, plus UCSD. So lots of young & single people with all the grocery stores and restaurants to match. This area is also relatively flat so you won't break a sweat going to work. Plenty of bus routes for when you don't want to ride. UC Cyclery is in the same plaza as Trader Joe which is where the SD Bike Club meets up every weekend to go on their rides.

    If you go further north of this area (Del Mar for example), the highways and canyons prevent you from conveniently going to only have 1 way - climbing up the Torrey Pines hill from Del Mar to La Jolla (big climb). If go further south of this area, it's all boring suburb-like residential housing with some pretty big hills along Genesee Ave. (south of Nobel Dr) If you go east of this region, you'll see that anything east of I-805 is no man's land. Finally going further west from this zone becomes very expensive (the ritzy part of La Jolla) and hilly (going down to sea level).

    The Pacific Beach neighborhood is not close to your work. It's also inhabited by 22-25 year-olds who think the entire neighborhood is just one giant frat party. Why only up to 25? Because nobody can stand living there for more than a year or two. I'll admit it's a great part of SD with all its beaches, bars, restaurants, young people, etc. But it's a place you want the option to visit & leave rather than live in it. If you live in the zone from my google map, you'll have easy access to ride down to PB anytime or go anywhere south - all the way down to downtown. Hope that helps. Let us know if you have anymore questions.
    • CommentAuthorAlanKHG
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2012 edited
    Unfortunately, what you're looking for quite simply does not exist in San Diego. Sorry. I was in the same situation (I'm guessing with the amount of time before you start your job, you're finishing a degree?) and looking for the same sort of living situation a year and a half ago.

    Traditional walkable neighborhoods in San Diego are limited to the areas of older development, which mean along the coast and around Balboa Park. Most of the coastal neighborhoods are the domain of the old and rich, where most businesses close by 7pm and you're unlikely to encounter anyone between the ages of 18 and 50.

    If you want fun, younger, walkable neighborhoods, Ocean Beach and the neighborhoods around Balboa Park (Hillcrest, University Heights, Normal Heights, North Park, South Park, Golden Hill) are basically your only options. Parts of those neighborhoods are within 10 miles by freeway (congested during rush hour, of course) of Towne Center Drive. However, acceptable bike routes are 15 miles or more long, as San Diego north of the 8 was developed by terrible people who couldn't possibly imagine people wanting to get around by any other means than an automobile.

    deprotinator outlined an area known more-or-less as University Towne Centre or the Golden Triangle for you. It has young people, chain restaurants, giant apartment complexes, freeways, and malls, and is somewhat walkable but barely bikeable, as all the roads have the same number of lanes and speed limits as a freeway. Basically, living there is like living at the mall. I wouldn't live there.

    Pacific Beach is within an acceptable (if stimulating) bike ride of your work, and has quality grocery stores and restaurants in a walkable neighborhood. However, as deprotinator mentioned, it is a cultural wasteland, full of drunk bros. I wouldn't live there.

    One final option is going multimodal. You could live in one of the neighborhoods around Balboa Park, and then either:
    -bike to the Hillcrest Medical Center, and catch the Hillcrest Shuttle (with a 3-bike rack) up to the UCSD Medical Center in La Jolla
    -bike to the Old Town Transit Center and take the 150 bus up to UTC.
    The Blue Line trolley will also theoretically go to UTC by 2015.

    At least in my field of computer engineering, all the decent jobs in San Diego are in awful office parks way out in the suburbs. Working in one of those office parks, your options are to live at the mall, next to drunk bros or old rich people, or buy a car and drive it a lot every day. I chose to leave San Diego.
    • CommentAuthorgavilan
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2012
    I lived in UTC for a while. It was convenient because it was so close to work but I really didn't like it. It's mostly big malls/shopping centers and residential communities. Not a lot of places to walk to if you just want to take a nice evening stroll and hang out somewhere (unless you like chain restuarants/bars/etc).
    La Jolla would be nice, although it is somewhat 'older'.
    Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas... I've always been interested in those nieghborhoods but Del Mar is expensive and the other ones just seemed a bit too far and a bit too narrow -like all the life happens in a narrow strip close to the beac (I could be wrong).
    I wouldn't mind living in PB and I am over 30. I like the commute from there (I work close in UCSD). I agree that the frat boys are a pain in the ass, but it is lively, you can walk anywhere, you have the beach and you can always live a couple of blocks away from it (parties and drunkenness happen closer to the beach for the most part) and it would be ok. Crown Point is a nice area and you have Mission Bay too. Agree somewhat with 'cultural wasteland', especially if compared with the Mesa.
    Alan's suggestion of going multimodal is a good one. The Mesa seems like a good place to be, but I don't live there so I'll let somebody else that does chime in.
    • CommentTimeFeb 13th 2012
    AlanKHG:At least in my field of computer engineering, all the decent jobs in San Diego are in awful office parks way out in the suburbs. Working in one of those office parks, your options are to live at the mall, next to drunk bros or old rich people, or buy a car and drive it a lot every day. I chose to leave San Diego.
    Nicely put, Alan!

    As a postscript - as he is too modest to spell this out - Alan had a job here that graduates in his field would die for, but he wasn't able to make San Diego work for him as per above, nevertheless: He now lives in Brooklyn, NY.
    1. Pleasant bike commute to work, not longer than ~10 miles.
    2. Walkable neighborhood, with easy access to grocery, restaurant, shopping, bars, etc.
    3. Fun, younger neighborhood

    Hey you guys, don't be such downers. jstech just got a new job in a nice sunny city where he doesn't have to ever deal with snow. Not to mention, his new job is in one of the safest neighborhoods in the whole region. Don't try to scare him away :) Our standards are high here especially when it comes to outdoor activities (like biking). I've both driven and biked all around the area in my map. It's not bad. Sure, there are chains like Subway and Taco Bell, but there are also chains like Trader Joe and Five Guys. Don't forget there's a major university right in the heart of this along with all the young people comes all the malls, coffee shops, etc. But there's also great sushi restaurants, middle eastern, Vietnamese, you name it...and for good prices too. The major thoroughfares are busy, yes. But the lanes are wide and the drivers are generally cooperative (not drunk like in PB or aggressive downtown). Plus there are tons of side streets to ride thru. There's no nightclubs here and only a few bars - true, but that's not one of his priorities.

    jstech, if you break down and finally buy a car AND commit to driving to work everyday. I'll whole-heartedly recommend you live in Hillcrest/Northpark. My favorite neighborhood in San Diego. If you value beach-living above all else, then go for Mission Beach or Ocean Beach. If you love clubbing and "the scene," then live in PB or downtown. If you're filthy rich, then Coronado is your best bet. According to your priorities above, go with UTC and you'll be more than happy. With all the time and money you'll save by living close to work, you'll have plenty of time/money to spend on whatever endeavors you want to pursue outside of UTC. Don't worry about these guys nitpicking one of the best cities in US. :P Of course we always want to see improvements and wish our city officials would put more emphasis on our hobbies, but relative to the rest of the country, we already have it pretty good. UTC has easy bike access to most beaches in town and many more north of town. It has plenty of bus routes for when you don't want to ride. The streets are wide and the drivers are not total wackos (relative to other parts of town). The people who work and live here are right in your age group. All the modern day conveniences (Whole Foods, Apple Store, bike shop, Best Buy, etc.) are within easy reach. When you get here, give me a holler. I (and maybe some other folks in this forum) will be happy to take you on a bike tour of UTC and all the surrounding neighborhoods.
    • CommentAuthordstone
    • CommentTimeFeb 14th 2012
    While I agree with the comments of deprotinator, I also share much of the pessimism of alanKHG (we actually lived together). I work up at the university and had a similar situation to what you are asking for now. Before coming here, folks (other graduate students) told me the Bohemian neighborhood in town was Pacific Beach- where I lived for my first year until I left for the sake of my work and for the sake of scoffing at one's definition of "Bohemian" (apparently it wasn't clear I meant something along the lines of coffee shops and young idealistic intellectuals prowling the streets until 3 AM- this place actually probably doesn't exist, anywhere, in their defense).

    I lived in the heart of PB and hated it. I now live in La Jolla (near the cove) and it has two distinct features: (1) it possesses stunning natural beauty, and (2) the average age and net worth of its denizens are large multiples of my respective features. I left central PB because it is awful for a student to be attempting serious studies in. La Jolla is boring and old as all get out, but this suits me better than it suited Alan because I am a student. Still, PB, as everyone has said, had excellent walkability, a useful business district, and access to good grocery stores with very good prices within a few blocks of each other. I should add that I also lived in North PB, a very different animal from central PB, and did not mind it at all (there are also a few friends from this forum hanging out up there).

    I plan to move to University Heights/Hillcrest/North Park after my lease in La Jolla lets up. I will likely go the multi-modal route that Alan mentioned- more useful to me than to you because you still have a few extra miles to clean up after getting to UCSD's campus. A generic biking route, which I would also consider, would look like this (I chose the University Heights area and the approximate address you provided for start and end points). The route is flat except for the climbs near the Uptown Mesa (where all the aforementioned neighborhoods lie) and the approach to the UCSD mesa and can be chosen to be pleasant (there is even, gasp, a bike path along the way!). The overwhelming cultural livelihood of the Uptown Mesa is driving (not literally) me there, in comparison to the blandness of La Jolla (there are events catered to un-young people all the time that enjoyable, though) and the smoldering ruins of the cultural wasteland of PB, where no lilacs breed on the dead ground, where there is no winter to keep us warm and kindly free our minds, tabula rasa, from the past memories of inebriated sins with the kind whiteness of snow, that sub-Unreal City. Alright that was completely overblown, but I couldn't resist tossing in some bastardized T.S. Eliot verse (cool story), with all this talk of cultural "wasteland." Anyway-

    Just a final note on UCSD's geographical circumstances- don't be tricked into thinking that the presence of a university means an all around excellent neighborhood will present itself in its vicinity. UCSD was built in its present location because of the historical location of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. It is surrounded by an uber-wealthy neighborhood towards the coastal cliffs (though there is easy coast access)) and UTC everywhere else. UTC is a biker's nightmare and I don't care how people pitch it, it is one of the most terrifying places to bike around. It was designed with the post-1957 vision of freeway-centric (Southern) California and as such is full of effective freeways, meaningless cloisters of condos, and a giant-ass mall. I decided not to live there because of my lack of bike options, and another friend of mine, who now lives with me, left and rides his bike an infinitely larger amount of time than he had before (because the previous amount of time on a bike was 0 seconds). Despite this, it is a major residence of UCSD students, and a shameful excuse for a university neighborhood.

    I should add that the biking facilities from PB to UCSD are acceptable, though PB's main thoroughfares are still quite the awful story for bikers (this, however, is an improving situation!). Commuting from La Jolla is also quite reasonable.
    • CommentAuthordstone
    • CommentTimeFeb 14th 2012 edited
    One last final word- this is somewhat of a tenuous suggestion, but perhaps consider Bird Rock as a decent neighborhood. It lies north of PB but south of La Jolla. The commute will be just tipping 10 miles (with a large hill included), I would guess, but it is a very intelligently designed neighborhood that recently turned the speedway of La Jolla Blvd into a pleasant pedestrian atmosphere with rotaries. It has great bike facilities, a fantastic strip of businesses, and is one of the few neighborhoods that gives a somewhat more impartial distribution of attention to pedestrians, public buses, and bikes (in addition to, obviously, autos). Its demographic is, unfortunately for you, a somewhat younger, more professional La Jolla, and is thus still quiet by 8 PM. I throw this in because Bird Rock is just so much more fair to bikers than almost any other neighborhood.

    And now a post-script: As others before me have said, it is very difficult to find a neighborhood that fits your bill. However, there will be fantastic other bikers no matter where you live. I live in boring old La Jolla but have excellent moral/bike support through close-by folks whom I've me through the forum like Sigurd, hippyonabike, Crash, OKB, and many others! There are many more I see when I pedal my arse down to the Mesa! Coming to SD was definitely a culture shock for me but I haven't given up all hope (by the way, I haven't even mentioned the OB neighborhood, which perhaps someone else can talk about- alas, it is still quite the distance from your place of work). I come from MD and have lived in urban areas in the NE and have an idea of where you may be coming from (both my brothers live in Baltimore, I should add). There will definitely be a reorientation for you when you arrive. Some, like Alan, chose to go back to the urban areas that are committed to biking facility and biking as a utility. I would too, but my studies keep me here. But I will most certainly have made the most of my time here when I leave, and it was 100% (or more) because I chose to tell Caltrans and all the other highway-centric planning agencies "Go f**k yourself" and go car-free, however more difficult that makes your life. I do not regret, not one bit, being car-free.
    • CommentTimeFeb 14th 2012
    The description of PB as "Bohemian" made my morning. Thanks dstone.
    • CommentAuthorSam
    • CommentTimeFeb 14th 2012
    I know this is a bike forum and all, but I'll chip in on the bus component.

    If I were in your position I'd live somewhere downtown (perhaps East Village area) and use one of the express buses along with my bike. One internship I held (in Philly) which was way out in the boonies - I negotiated an early start time so I could get good bus seats and also get home early enough to enjoy the evening. My commute by bus was 2+ hours roundtrip and I love reading so I didn't mind it. If I were you, I'd live in downtown San Diego which will give me the flexibility to get around really easily. I'd live downtown right now, but it would add a lot of unnecessary mileage for me which I can do without. Having a bus on a bike will give me the added flexibility in case I feel like riding home once in a while or if I have to stay late and miss the bus and so on.

    The job center thing is big. When I moved here I did make ultimately a choice to make less money in order to have a nice bike commute, remain car free, and not have my soul sucked out by working in an office park industrial complex. So the downside is that my peers are going to have certain career options I won't have. But I also spent a lot of my 20s doing a lot of soul searching and figured out that living and working in an aesthetically beautiful place trumped making more money.

    My husband and I moved here for the beaches. However, I don't actually like the beach (the sand gets everywhere). So we live in City Heights (I picked it because it is very dense and I like seeing people outside chatting and socializing when I walk out of our home) and ride to the beach once a week (more because I ride to the OB people's food co-op)
    • CommentTimeFeb 14th 2012
    I'll agree with Sam on the positive side of living downtown. I'm at the edge of East Village, across from City College. rates East Village as one of the most walkable neighborhoods in San Diego. The sheer variety now available throughout downtown is overwhelming in terms of mixed-use, making it good for singles, couples, younger, middle-age, renters, and owners. Being outside the Gaslamp means we don't deal with the traffic and events that make it difficult to be a local.

    However, my wife works up in the UTC area, and I've done EVERYTHING to figure out a non-driving route for her to work. The best I could do was:
    1) bike only - about 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours, three awkward/dangerous transistions or intersection, two big (for her) hills, and the danger of being on the Rose Creek Bike Path and Rose Canyon Bike Trail after dark;
    2) Bike-and-bus (the trolley gives zero potential for her destination) - over 2 hours total, multiple transfers, significant wait between transfers;
    3) Drive - 15 minutes, almost entirely on the 5, with a hefty parking garage fee.

    My conclusion is that La Jolla/UTC is a car-access island, and so she drives. I don't harangue her about it anymore. So, as much as downtown works for me, I don't think it would work for jstech, given his requirements. You may want to do the thing, and compare it with Google Maps with bike routing on. If you get a chance to do a house hunting trip, post the dates here. As has been mentioned, the forum members are a diverse group of bike lovers, and would recommend rides and volunteer to give two-wheel, unofficial tours. Once you're able to experience the place for yourself, you'll decide what you're comfortable with. Some folks are perfectly happy riding Pacific Hwy, and some wouldn't stray from the Harbor Bikeway. Welcome aboard.
    • CommentAuthormfutch
    • CommentTimeFeb 14th 2012
    I live in Normal Heights and bike to Hillcrest in the morning to take the UCSD shuttle up to campus, often riding the 16 miles to campus one or both ways as an alternative. Additionally, the 41 bus goes right up to UTC from Mission Valley so you could cruise down Bachmann (steep) or Texas (steeper) to get to the bus stop. It would give you a hill to climb at the end of each day, but that's probably better than having to live in UTC...
    • CommentTimeFeb 15th 2012 edited
    I live in Carlsbad, 25 miles north of UTC, and usually do a multi-modal commute: drive, drive and park car part of the way to my destination, bike-Coaster train-bike. I must say the commute along the Pacific Coast Highway from the north is stunning and beautiful.

    There is a Hwy 101 bus runs along the Pacific Coast Highway that goes to UTC. You can either ride all the way or take the bus from Del Mar or Torrey Pines State beach to UTC. From UTC you can either bike or walk to Towne Center drive.

    The Sorrento Valley train station has many shuttles going to Torrey Pines, Sorrento Valley, and UTC area. The station also has bike boxes to park your bike at the station.

    From this station there are few options to go to the UTC area:

    1) Take the MTS shuttle to UTC. Then walk or bike to Towne Center drive

    2) Ride up on the ramp to I-5 south and exit Genesee. That is if you have the nerves of steel to ride uphill on the shoulder of I-5 S. Distance approximately 4 miles but mostly uphill. The return bike ride to Sorrento Valley station can be gnarly as you take the I-5 North exit from Genesee to Sorrento Valley rd that is mostly a fast downhill.

    3) The scenic route that goes to Torrey Pines State beach and park. Approximate distance 11 miles. Here is some of the views. If you can't see it go to the folding bike thread and scroll down to my photos and multi-modal commute.
    • CommentAuthorAlanKHG
    • CommentTimeFeb 15th 2012 edited
    The thing that's insane about San Diego to me is that we're starting to suggest these ridiculous extreme commutes that you often hear people enduring for the sake of affordable housing or open space or good schools or things like that, but we're suggesting it for a young single person with (presumably) a solid professional income that makes just about any housing in the metro area affordable, and all he wants is an apartment in a walkable neighborhood with some reasonable people his age around.

    That's because walkable urban neighborhoods quite simply do not exist anywhere near most of the major job centers (UTC, Sorrento Valley/Mira Mesa, Rancho Bernardo, Kearney Mesa, Otay Mesa) in San Diego County, and there exists neither practical mass transit nor reasonable bike routes for an ordinary person (which means no biking on Interstates or hors cat├ęgorie climbs) to these job centers from the walkable neighborhoods that do exist.

    Yes, UTC, La Jolla, Mira Mesa, Del Mar, Rancho Bernardo, and the like are all very pleasant places, where (as long as you have a decent income, and don't end up several hundred thousand dollars underwater on your mortgage) the worst thing you'll have to worry about is traffic and the occasional hellacious inferno, and you'll never have to dig your car out from under the snow to drive to the mall. But they're also pretty much untenable to live in without a private automobile for every adult in a household. And the age bracket of folks living there is pretty well indicated by the fact that the La Jolla Playhouse has an under-30 discount much larger than its senior discount.

    You are also very weird if you don't own a car by choice in the northerly reaches of San Diego, which isn't the best thing if you're a single man looking for a date. Your bike ride up and down giant hills in the incessantly hot San Diego weather will also leave you very sweaty at any dates you do manage to get. Hopefully the fact that you're a ridiculously fit hill-crushing machine with buns of steel from all the miles & hills will make up for that.
    • CommentAuthorjstech
    • CommentTimeFeb 18th 2012
    Wow--thanks for all the great input. I admit I've not read every word of every post, but I intend to in the coming weeks, as I narrow down my search. Some quick responses that may inform you more about me:

    I was out in LJ for two months last summer, and I lived in the UTC area at the time (working in the same place--I was participating in a short-term workshop). I agree that it's pleasant enough, but I don't mind a longer commute if it gets me more of what I want, so I've expanded my search. It's definitely on my list, though.

    @Sam, AlanKHG, others who suggested multimodal:
    I've been doing a multimodal commute for the past three years, which has been very pleasant (I too love reading). However, I really want to try for all-bike. My work schedule is flexible, so I'd like to have a flexible commute schedule to go with it, and to me that means no transit and no driving (having to avoid rush hour). Although having transit as Plan B is good too.

    I agree that the coast north of LJ is beautiful--last summer I went riding along the PCH just for the views. That's basically what put Del Mar on the list--I'd be perfectly happy riding down to Torrey Pines Beach and back up every day, looking to the right in the morning, and the left in the evening.

    Bird Rock, duly noted. I biked through here once last summer--I remember the roundabouts. It might be the right blend of PB and La Jolla to give me what I want. I'll definitely look at it more closely.

    All that said, I'll probably sign a year lease (or shorter?), see how things go, and stay open minded about moving. PB is still high on my list, although I'll probably look farther north or inland than I would have otherwise, to avoid the noise.
    • CommentAuthorShady John
    • CommentTimeFeb 19th 2012
    Two assumptions: 1) You don't mind some hills on the way to work, and 2) You have shower facilities at work

    I think your best bet would be North PB around Turquoise/Cass Street, strong second choice would be Del Mar/Solana Beach.

    North PB: The Turquoise neighborhood is much quieter than central PB (Garnet/Grand/Cass/Mission Blvd), safer, lots of young people but also families. A small business district with some restaurants/clubs, easy access to central PB, Bird Rock, the village (la Jolla). Access to a range of beaches/surfing, including Touramline/PB, Windansea, LJ Cove. #30 bus takes you to work, to Old Town Transit ctr, and downtown without transfers. Good selection of apartments/townhomes. You see a lot of people riding bikes for neighborhood transit here (typically beach cruisers). Two reasonable options for riding to work: 1) through La Jolla, up LJ Shores (or Torrey Pines) then through UCSD 2) through PB to the Rose Canyon bike path, then into UTC.

    Del Mar/Solana Beach: Clean and nice, straight shot to work up Torrey Pines hill and through UCSD, but more isolated in North County. Del Mar is full of Olde Money, but also directly adjacent to noveau riche Carmel Valley. Triathlete culture is very strong from Del Mar up through Encinitas. You could take the Coaster from Solana Beach train station into Santa Fe station or Old Town if you want to get into central San Diego, but I don't know how practical this is in real life. A plus of living in Del Mar/Solana Beach is that you have access to some mountain biking in Penasquitos/Del Mar Mesa and elsewhere.