Business professionals, athletes, students, and families are all able to find comfort and adventure in the beautiful Southern California city of Chula Vista, CA. Whether you’re moving for a career, more opportunity, or education, Chula Vista has something to offer everyone. Chula Vista, meaning ‘beautiful view’ in Spanish, is the site of more than 52 square miles of breathtaking landscapes that include the coast of San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean, canyons, foothills, and more than 60 parks and sports fields. With an annual average high temperature of 72 degrees and an average 261 sunny days annually, it’s easy to see why so many choose to live here.
Located just seven and a half miles south of San Diego and seven and a half miles north of the Mexican border, Chula Vista is home to major attractions such as Aquatica, Sea World’s large water park; the Living Coast Discovery Center; and the fantastic San Diego Bay. The city is also the hub of one of the country’s most culturally diverse and healthiest economic regions. So whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, parent, retiree, or young professional, you’ll find countless options of things to do, see, and try in your next chapter in Chula Vista, CA.
Living in Chula Vista, CA: What to Know Before Moving to Chula Vista
The second-largest city in the San Diego metro area, Chula Vista, CA, is home to about 268,000 residents. Coined the ‘Lemon Capital of the World,’ Wallethub ranked Chula Vista as the safest city in the San Diego metro area and the third safest in California.
In 1887, to encourage new settlers, the San Diego Land & Town Company built ten new houses in just two years. Today, new residents, unfettered by high California living and housing costs, relocate to Chula Vista for the perfect year-round weather, plethora of outdoor activities, and beautiful Southern California landscape.
Pros and Cons of Living in Chula Vista
- Outdoor activities and natural landscape – With over 52 square miles of the coastal landscape, canyons, trails, and dozens of parks, golf courses, and marinas for boating and ocean tours, Chula Vista is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise.
- Safety – Chula Vista is San Diego County’s safest city and the third safest city in California.
- Weather – Those who seek the iconic sunny and comfortable weather of Southern California will certainly find it in Chula Vista.
- The high cost of living index – Like all of California, the cost of living index in Chula Vista is higher than in other parts of the country.
- Air quality – Chula Vista’s air quality score is lower than the US average. According to a health study by bestplaces.net, residents of Chula Vista have a 72.5% chance of developing a respiratory disease.
- Long commutes (and getting longer) – The US average one-way commute time is 26.4 minutes; in Chula Vista, the average commute time is 28.7 minutes, and that number has been increasing each year.
- Property Tax: The average property tax rate in Chula Vista is 0.767%. The property taxes on a home priced at the median home value of $486,900 would be $3,686 annually.
- Sales Tax: The combined state, county, and city sales tax rate for Chula Vista is 8.75%. The US average sales tax is 7.25%.
- State Income Tax: California income is taxed on brackets ranging from 1% to 12.3%, depending on your income. Residents earning between $53,980 and $275,737 taxable income pay a tax of 9.3%. And millionaires beware – those with a taxable income of $1 million or more pay an additional 1% surcharge.
California is known for its pricey housing. According to Zillow.com, the median home price in Chula Vista is $486,900, more than double the US average home price of $231,000. Renters, which account for 38% of the Chula Vista population, also pay higher rent than average. As of October 2019, apartmentlist.com reports an average monthly rent of $1,644 for a one-bedroom and $2,133 for a two-bedroom.
According to homesnacks.net, there are several neighborhoods in Chula Vista where your dollar can go further, the cheapest of which includes East Lake, Otay Ranch, and Fenton Street.
Cost of Living
Even though the Chula Vista cost of living is high, it’s lower than many coastal California cities. Bestplaces.net uses a cost of living index to evaluate housing, groceries, utilities, transportation, and healthcare costs. The national average index score for any of these categories is 100.
In Chula Vista, CA, the overall cost of living index score is 163.5, quite a bit higher than the US average of 100, and only slightly lower than the index score of 168.6 for the state of California as a whole. Some of the higher individual expenses include housing, with a score of 282.5, grocery at 108, utilities at 103, and transportation with a score of 141.2. Health costs are below average at 89. According to the EPI Family Budget Calculator, a family of four would need to earn at least $97,547 per year to live a moderate lifestyle in Chula Vista.
Weather & Natural Disasters
As one of California’s southernmost cities, Chula Vista’s climate is semi-arid. Rather than having four traditional seasons, you’ll experience a minimal rainy season that spans January to March; an overcast spring and early summer, coined ‘May Gray’ and ‘June Gloom’; followed by a fire season from late September to early November. Even given the unique climate, bestplaces.net gives Chula Vista a 9.3 out of 10 comfort index, placing it among some of the best weather in California.
The two warmest months in Chula Vista are August and September, with average high and low temperatures of 79 and 66, and 78 and 63, respectively. Temperatures cool down in December and February with average high and low temperatures of 67 and 45, and 68 and 47, respectively. You’ll enjoy an average of 261 days of sunshine every year and only about 11 inches of rainfall, with the majority of it falling from January to March. Fortunately for many, Chula Vista never gets snow.
The largest natural disaster threat posed to Chula Vista is wildfires. Due to the dry heat and drought, this area is particularly susceptible to fire breakouts, especially in the canyons and open-air parts of the city. The second greatest threat is earthquakes. Ten known earthquake fault lines run through this area. While Chula Vista doesn’t see enough rain to solicit major flooding, localized and urban flooding can occur with minimal rainfall, causing property and other kinds of damage. You can learn more about natural disaster threats in this area by visiting Chula Vista’s disaster preparedness website.
Economy & Job Market
While the unemployment rate in Chula Vista is 3.6%, it’s lower than the US average of 3.9%. According to bestplaces.net, the median household income in Chula Vista is $66,110, quite a bit higher than the US average of $53,482.
According to the City of Chula Vista website, the top industries include tourism; health, wellness, and sports; research & development; advanced manufacturing; and IT. Jobseekers should have luck finding a job in the management, computer systems, architecture, healthcare, and education sectors.
Some of the major employers in Chula Vista include UC San Diego, Sharp Healthcare, UTC Aerospace Systems, Care.com, and Subway.
If you’ll be looking for work in Chula Vista, scan online job boards such as linkedin.com, simplyhired.com, indeed.com and more, or work with an executive recruiter. Whichever search method you use, be sure your resume is polished and up to date.
Traffic & Transportation
The major thoroughfares in Chula Vista include State Routes 54 and 905 running east to west, and Interstates 5 and 805 running north to south. While many cities the size of Chula Vista tend to have lots of public transportation options, Chula Vista’s are slightly limited. The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System includes a system of bus and trolley routes. The transit score is 36.
Considered a ‘car-dependent’ city, walkscore.com rates Chula Vista 42/100 for walkability and 41 for bike-ability. Although the bike score appears low, the city’s ‘bikeway master plan’ includes nearly eight miles of multi-purpose bike paths, plus about 75 miles of roadway bike lanes and 34 miles of class 3 bike lanes. The city also has a ‘pedestrian master plan’ to encourage a pedestrian-friendly city.
Only seven and a half miles north, the Santa Fe Train Depot in downtown San Diego offers metro-link, Amtrak, and light rail to connect you throughout Southern California and beyond.
If you drive, though, prepare yourself for longer-than-usual commute times and traffic. You’re likely to encounter congestion on nearly every major route, but I-805 is one to avoid northbound in the morning and southbound in the evening. Your best bet? Try to live as close as possible to your work or a public transportation line.
What to Do
If you love outdoor activities, then you’ll love Chula Vista. From water sports to fishing and hiking to golf, you’ll find a great array of outdoor activities.
Some of the most popular attractions include Aquatica San Diego, an aquatic theme park; the Living Coast Discovery Center, a large environmental education center; the San Diego Bay, a gorgeous water playground and lively bayfront with shopping, dining, and entertainment; and the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center, a 155-acre year-round professional training facility for Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
Residents of Chula Vista enjoy over 60 parks and trails like Otay Lakes County Park, Mount San Miguel Mountain Park, Mother Miguel Mountain Trailhead, and Windingwalk Park, to name a few. When you’re ready to get out into the water, Chula Vista Water Sports is a great source for fun.
And for the rare rainy day in Chula Vista, you’ll find several art and history museums nearby, from the Heritage of the Americas Museum nearby in El Cajon, CA to Bonita Museum and Cultural Center in Bonita. You can also take a short 15-minute drive north to San Diego and spend the day at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Museum of Art and Natural History, and walk the beautiful grounds of Balboa Park.
Residents can catch live sporting events at any of the several arenas in San Diego, including the San Diego County Credit Union Stadium, the Jenny Craig Pavilion, or the Pechanga Arena. The MLB San Diego Padres play home games at Petco Park. The AHL San Diego Gulls and MLR San Diego Legion, plus Lacrosse, tennis, and soccer, will keep you entertained. As you can see, the options for fun and entertainment are just about endless in Chula Vista!
Schools & Universities
The Chula Vista Elementary School District has 47 schools that serve over 30,000 students. Niche.com ranks the Chula Vista Elementary School District with a B+ and lists it as the #11 out of 23 ‘Best School Districts in the San Diego Metro Area’ and #139 out of 487 ‘Best School Districts in California’. Sweetwater Union High School District serves over 40,000 students.
Some of the top schools in Chula Vista, according to greatschools.org, include Arroyo Vista Charter School, Heritage Elementary School, and Salt Creek Elementary School, all ranking 10 of 10; Discovery Charter, a middle school, is ranked 9; and Mueller Charter School, a middle and high school, is ranked 8 of 10.
If you’ll be interested in post-secondary education, Chula Vista doesn’t have a four-year college, but some of the top schools in the area include San Diego State University, 20 minutes northeast of Chula Vista; the University of San Diego, a private 4-year university 20 minutes northwest; and the Design Institute of San Diego, 25 minutes directly north. Community colleges like Southwestern College and San Diego City College are also available nearby.
Chula Vista is a pretty safe city. According to bestplaces.net, the property crime index for Chula Vista is 27, below the US average of 35.4; and the violent crime index is 16.6, also well below the US average of 22.7. Neighborhoodscout.com’s crime map shows the areas within Chula Vista with the most crime. These areas include the downtown areas of Palomar St and 3rd Ave, Main St and Industrial Blvd, Bay Blvd and J St, and the City Center.
- Gas Service – The San Diego Gas & Electric company is the main provider of gas for Chula Vista. To start your gas service with SDGE, click here.
- Electric Service – The San Diego Gas & Electric company also provides electricity services for the residents of Chula Vista. Click here to set up your account.
- Water Service – Sweetwater Authority is the water provider for Chula Vista. Click here to start or transfer your water service.
- Trash Pick-Up/Recycling Service – Republic Services can handle all of your trash and recycling needs. Schedule services with them by clicking here.
- Internet & Cable Service – AT&T is the primary provider of internet and cable service in Chula Vista. To learn more about their available services in Chula Vista, click here.
Best Neighborhoods in Chula Vista, CA
Eastlake Trail, an established community, founded in 2001, is made up primarily of midsize single-family homes with well-trimmed yards, driveways, and garages. Perfect for families because of highly rated schools, Eastlake Trails borders Otay Lakes Rd to the north and Olympic Pkwy to the south, and sits about 20 minutes east of downtown Chula Vista.
With a population of only about 1,332, this neighborhood has a quieter, more established vibe. The median home sale price is $680,000, according to realtor.com, and the median rental price is $2,019 per month. Eastlake Trails is a bit more affluent, with the income per capita hovering around $30,709, 3% higher than the US average.
If Eastlake Trails is sounding like the neighborhood for you and your family, then you’ll delight in knowing that several of the best schools within the Chula Vista Elementary School District are located right in or near this neighborhood. Arroyo Vista Charter School and Salt Creek Elementary School are both ranked 10 of 10 on greatschools.org, and Eastlake High School and Eastlake Middle School are both ranked 9 of 10.
Since Eastlake Trails is located much more inland and away from downtown, you should plan to drive 15-20 minutes west to access some of the bigger attractions and amenities. However, Eastlake residents do have quick and easy access to hiking trails and the Salt Creek Recreation Center, a 24-acre park with a skating area, walking trails, and tennis and basketball courts, as well as the Eastlake Little League field, which maintains baseball fields for little leaguers.
Located just 1.5 miles north of Eastlake Trails and nine miles east of downtown Chula Vista is the neighborhood of Eastlake Woods. A short 22-minute drive west brings you into downtown Chula Vista, or 25 minutes northwest takes you right into San Diego. Bordered by Proctor Valley Rd to the north and Otay Lakes Rd to the south, Eastlake Woods is nestled up against the foothills and is home to about 1,986 people who live in mostly single-family homes of mixed styles and periods.
Eastlake Woods and Eastlake Trails are very similar in many ways, except that the homes in Eastlake Woods are expansive and luxurious, with a median sale price of $933,000, according to redfin.com. If you can find a rental in this neighborhood, which may be difficult considering 83% of the residents here are homeowners, you can expect to pay close to $3,500 per month.
Many school options are the same as for Eastlake Trails. Top high-ranking schools nearby include Salt Creek Elementary School, ranked 10 of 10 on greatschools.org, and Eastlake Middle School and Eastlake High School, both ranked 9.
Residents of Eastlake Woods have quick and easy access to several outdoor recreation centers, including the Salt Creek Recreation Center and the Montevalle Recreation Center. You can hike at the Upper Otay Reservoir Trailhead or the Proctor Valley Natural Resource Center, which offers a two-mile hiking trail with amazing views at the top.
Sitting just west of Eastlake Trails is the neighborhood of Eastlake Greens, named for its proximity to the prestigious Enagic Golf Club at Eastlake. Eastlake Greens is a large, well-manicured golf community dating back to 1992 and features mostly single-family homes of mixed styles and garage parking.
Bordered by Otay Lakes Rd to the north, Hunte Pkwy on the east, Olympic Pkwy to the south, and Eastlake Pkwy to the east, Eastlake Greens is about 22 minutes east of downtown Chula Vista and is home to about 9,000 residents. Here, the average home sells for about $580,000 according to realtor.com, and the average rent is closer to $3,000 per month. Eastlake Greens offers its residents three different community pools, nearby high-ranking schools, and of course, access to the golf course. Golf enthusiasts will love living here!
Some of the schools located near this neighborhood include Arroyo Vista Charter School, ranked 10 of 10 on greatschools.org; Eastlake High School, and Eastlake Middle School, both ranked 9 of 10; and Olympic View Elementary School, ranked 8.
For residents seeking activities besides golf, you’ll find quick access to the Sunset View Park and the Chula Vista Community Park for sports, meeting with friends, or walking your dog. A short 22-minute drive west will bring you into downtown Chula Vista, and 31 minutes northwest takes you to Balboa Park in San Diego.
Just 18 minutes west of downtown Chula Vista and sitting right between Otay Lakes Rd to the north and Otay Mesa Rd to the south is the mixed Mediterranean and contemporary-style neighborhood of Otay Ranch. Offering single-family homes and attached homes, the community of Otay Ranch is home to about 13,364 residents and features more than 26 community pools, several parks, and many recreational centers.
A bit more affordable than the Eastlake neighborhoods, the average price for homes in Otay Ranch is about $534,900, according to zillow.com, and the average monthly rent is $2,675. Otay Ranch is a great neighborhood for young singles or families. 63% of Otay Ranch residents have children under 18, and the average resident age is 35.
Otay Ranch residents sit near several high-ranking schools within the Chula Vista Elementary School District. Nearby schools include Heritage Elementary School, ranked 10 of 10 on greatschools.org; Camarena Elementary School and Eastlake Middle School, both ranked 9; Olympian High School, ranked 9; and Otay Ranch Senior High School, ranked 8.
For things to do in and near Otay Ranch, residents enjoy proximity to the North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre, a 25,000-seat venue and one of the largest in the San Diego area; and Aquatica San Diego, a large water park with rides and wildlife. Residents can also enjoy a weekly farmers’ market, local shopping, and a movie theatre at the nearby Otay Ranch Town Center, or you can take a short 20-minute drive west to go into downtown Chula Vista.
Otay Ranch Village West
Sandwiched between Telegraph Canyon Rd to the north and Olympic Pkwy to the south is the neighborhood of Otay Ranch Village West. Not to be confused with Otay Ranch Village 1 or Otay Ranch, Otay Ranch Village West is a small, safe, family-friendly neighborhood with well-lit sidewalks, single-family homes and apartments, and restaurants within walking distance.
The median list price for homes in this neighborhood is $730,000, according to Realtor.com, and the average rent is about $2,000 per month. Otay Ranch Village West is a short five-mile drive east from downtown Chula Vista.
New residents with families will find comfort and convenience in this neighborhood, as well as easy access to top-ranking schools. Some of the closest schools include Hedenkamp Elementary School, ranked 8 of 10 on greatschools.org; Rancho Del Rey Middle School, ranked 7 of 10; and Otay Ranch Senior High School, ranked 8.
Living in Otay Ranch Village West means having quick and easy access to dining, shopping, and activities. Horizon Park is a small community park located right within the neighborhood, or you can travel just 10 minutes east to Otay Ranch Town Center for some shopping or to catch a movie. Residents can grab a bite at one of the several restaurants on E Palomar St in Otay Ranch Village 1, or spend some time at the Heritage Park & Community Center. Those looking to get into downtown Chula Vista or visit the ocean just have a short 5-6 mile drive west.
Rolling Hills Ranch
Set against the picturesque backdrop of the rolling San Miguel foothills is the tranquil and open Chula Vista neighborhood of Rolling Hills Ranch. This community, located about 20 minutes east of downtown Chula Vista, features a mix of single-family homes and attached homes with ample living space.
Bordered by Aqua Vista Dr to the north, MacKenzie Creek Rd to the south, and with Proctor Valley Rd running right through the middle, Rolling Hills Ranch is home to about 2,533 residents. According to redfin.com, the median home sale price is $845,000, and the average monthly rent is $2,443.
Nearby schools include Salt Creek Elementary School, ranked 10 of 10 on greatschools.org; Eastlake High School and Eastlake Middle School, both ranked 9; and Olympian High School, also ranked 9.
Residents of Rolling Hills Ranch can enjoy quick and easy access to MacKenzie Creek Park, which has tennis and basketball courts and a soccer field, and Montevalle Recreation Center, which has a dog park, more sports courts, and a large multi-use gymnasium. Sky Zone Trampoline Park is also nearby, as well as the Shops at San Miguel Park for shopping and dining. Hikers will enjoy being close to the San Miguel Mountain Trailhead, which sits just to the north of Rolling Hills Ranch.
Rancho Del Rey
Situated just four miles east of downtown Chula Vista is the large neighborhood of Rancho Del Rey. Comprised of mostly single-family homes, townhouses, and condos, Rancho Del Rey is home to about 8,360 residents and borders Street to the south and Otay Lakes Rd to the north. You’ll find beautiful homes of mixed styles and periods and plenty of room and space, so the neighborhood doesn’t feel too dense. According to zillow.com, the median home value is $578,600, and the average monthly rent is $2,733.
Several high-ranking schools near Rancho Del Rey include Casillas Elementary School and Clear View Elementary School, both ranked 9 of 10 on greatschools.org; Discovery Charter School, ranked 9; and Bonita Vista Senior High School, ranked 8 of 10.
Rancho Del Rey offers its residents several options for things to do nearby. The aquatics and recreation center at the nearby South Bay Family YMCA has a pool, and tennis and basketball courts. The local movie theatre, Regal Rancho Del Rey, sits right in the heart of the neighborhood. For those looking to get outside the neighborhood, you can take a short 15-minute drive west to the Chula Vista Center for shopping and dining or relax at any one of the several bayfront parks on San Diego Bay or the beaches at Silver Strand State Beach. You can’t beat the proximity to the Pacific Ocean. San Diego is also only a half-hour drive northwest.
Located just south of Rancho Del Rey and only six miles southeast of downtown Chula Vista is the slightly more urban neighborhood of Sunbow. Living in Sunbow puts you right in the middle of Chula Vista’s action.
With a population of about 8,064, Sunbow borders Telegraph Canyon Rd to the north and Olympic Pkwy to the south. The median list price for a home here is $649,000, according to redfin.com, and you can expect to pay a little over $2,000 a month for rent. New residents who are more interested in renting than buying may find more rental options in Sunbow, as there are many more apartment complexes here and 38% of the population is renters.
Schools in Sunbow include Parkview Elementary School, ranked 9 of 10 on greatschools.org, and Hedenkamp Elementary School, ranked 8. Otay Ranch High School, about 4 miles north, is ranked 8 as well, and Eastlake Middle School, 7 miles north, is ranked 9.
Sunbow is convenient to almost anything you’d want to do as I-805 runs just west of the neighborhood. You can bring your kids and dog to Sunbow Park or Greg Rogers Park. You can drive a short four miles south to spend the day at Aquatica San Diego or catch a concert at the North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre. To get into downtown Chula Vista, you only have to drive four miles west. If a safe, traditional southern California neighborhood with a good location is what you’re looking for, Sunbow may be the place for you.
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