Naval Base San Diego, California

32nd Street Naval Station

Sunset on the Pacific
Sunset on the Pacific
Downtown San Diego
Downtown San Diego
San Diego Park
San Diego Park



Sunny Days: 266
51100 Affordability
95100 Schools
66100 Diversity
81100 Safety

Naval Base San Diego

The City

Naval Base San Diego is located on the Pacific coast in San Diego, California, about 15 minutes from Downtown San Diego and 3 hours from Los Angeles, California. The base supports over 20,000 military members and serves as the home-port of the Pacific Fleet. Being stationed in Southern California provides many opportunities for every sort of family. The location boasts beautiful beaches, outdoor fun, and plenty of close attractions to keep you busy through your time here.

On Base Housing

San Diego Naval Station housing is managed by Lincoln Military Housing. There is no family housing at the 32nd street naval complex. There are limited housing options on base in nearby Point Loma, Coronado NAB and Coronado NAS North Island. Most families live in base housing communities that are scattered throughout the San Diego area. These base housing neighborhoods are typically not gated, and are surrounded by civilian neighborhoods. Forty-eight communities serve the San Diego area Naval and Marine population and consist of apartments, duplexes, and single family homes. Most neighborhoods are roughly 15-30 minutes away from the base. While there are definitely some options for Officers, most of the communities are for the Enlisted Ranks and serve E1-E9.

Off-Base Neighborhoods

In-City Options

If you are looking to rent or buy while in San Diego, it is essential to define your priorities. In general, San Diego housing is costly. If you are ok with smaller living spaces (condo, apartment or townhouse) and enjoy the urban lifestyle, you have a lot of options in fun neighborhoods like Downtown, North Park, South Park, Coronado, and Hillcrest. If you want/need more space, a yard, or a good school district; you will need to move farther out from Central San Diego. People speak highly of the school districts in East Lake and Poway. Coronado is a beautiful place to live, but the housing is very expensive. Check out the outside San Diego cities/neighborhoods section for popular and less expensive options.

Downtown Apartments/Condos



There are no schools on the NB San Diego military base, because family housing is spread throughout the city. The San Diego Unified School District (SDUSC) is vast, and covers the entire city of San Diego, and much of the area around MCAS Miramar. South of San Diego is the Chula Vista district. The district rates an A on so families that make it work living in the city appreciate the quality of the school options.

Through the School Choice program, students can apply to attend any school in the district beginning in November, regardless of where they live, but acceptance is based on space available. The San Diego schools follow two different types of school calendars. Some schools are traditional, with a school year that begins in August and ends in early June. The year-round school schedule begins in late July and runs until the following July, with long breaks in January and April. Pay attention to which calendar your child's school will use, especially if you have more than one child!

Cost of Living and BAH and Housing Costs


San Diego (and Southern California in general) has an extremely high cost of living. Housing is expensive, and San Diego BAH rates are designed to match the average rental costs in the area. San Diego BAH varies depending on rank and whether or not you have dependents. To determine your BAH at Naval Base San Diego, use our BAH calculator.

The San Diego area is not an extremely affordable area to live in or buy a home in. With the median home price of $575,000, the local markets are quite a bit higher than the national average and an increase in rate is inevitable. However, if you don’t mind paying what some refer to as a “Sunshine Tax,” San Diego is a beautiful place to live, work, and play.

Base Amenities

Because the San Diego area includes several different military bases, you will find that the resources are often spread out. Military families stationed in the area can attend events or use amenities at any location, including the 32nd Street complex, MCAS Miramar, Coronado NAB, Coronado NAS North Island, and NB Point Loma. There is a large Commissary at 32nd Street with a fresh meat and seafood counter. There is also a smaller Commissary on NAS North Island. There are gyms and swimming pools on each base, and a large family gym in Admiral Hartman housing. There is a bowling alley at 32nd Street and North Island, with a Movie Theater nearby each location. The main medical facility for military families in San Diego is the Naval Medical Center in Balboa Park, called either NMCSD or more commonly Balboa Hospital.

Area Attractions

For The Kids (and the grownups)

There is seriously so much to do in Southern California. Individuals, couples, and families are all sure to enjoy their time here. From museums to beaches, San Diego has it all. Start in Balboa Park, an open green space near downtown San Diego, where you can find art and history museums, a Shakespeare Theater, a Japanese Garden, and lots of food trucks.

MUSEUMS: San Diego is sporting some serious military museums and memorials. Among the most popular are the USS Midway Museum, The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum, and the San Diego Air & Space Museum. The USS Midway Museum is housed on the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier. One could spend days here exploring the history through tours, interactive exhibits, and a wide variety of events and activities. The USS Midway is even host to the virtual exhibition, The Wall of Gratitude, in which you can submit a photo of your Service Hero and have them honored with their brothers and sisters in service. The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum is the only Marine Corps Aviation museum in the nation and worth a visit. Admission and parking are free to see all this unique museum has to offer. The San Diego Air & Space Museum offers an extensive collection of aircraft and spacecrafts from all over the world as well as simulators and special interactive activities for the kiddos. Admission is free for active military.

BEACHES: The San Diego area is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in America, 70 miles of beaches to be exact. Some local favorites are Mission Beach, La Jolla, and Del Mar. Enjoy surfing, bike-riding, or just some relaxation. All of the beaches offer something a little different and you could spend a while exploring all beach life here has to offer.

FOR THE KIDS: If the beaches happen to get boring for the kiddos, there are tons of other things to occupy their time and energy. San Diego is home to the famous San Diego Zoo which you are probably aware of, it’s also home to the 100-year-old Birch Aquarium and the San Diego Zoo Safari. Other excellent attractions for families include; Legoland, Belmont Park, Sea World, and Aquatica. Aside from theme parks, favorite activities include whale watching, seeing the sea lions at La Jolla, or catching a baseball game at Petco Park. With so many options in San Diego it’s hard to not have a good time while stationed here.

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Living in Naval Base San Diego

Neighborhoods in Naval Base San Diego

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City of San Diego

Singles/Couples/Young Families

It probably goes without saying but living within the city of San Diego is an expensive proposition. Single family home prices push most families well outside the city leaving singles, couples and young families renting apartments, townhomes or smaller homes. There are plenty of popular neighborhoods including:

1) Downtown: very popular for young service people who want to be a walk from the great majority of the bars, restaurants and cafes in the city. Tons of apartment options here with Valentina and Del Oro two of the most highly rated options. Check out the Yelp reviews of the Top 10 apartment buildings in the downtown area.

2) Little Italy: This Downtown neighborhood is a really interesting mix of luxury high rises and beautiful, renovated historic buildings. Along with the variety of housing options you also get amazing authentic Italian eateries, groovy gelato shops and plenty of festivals, farmer's markets and scores of boutique shopping spots. If you're looking for a bit more community and historical character than other downtown spots then check out Little Italy.

3) North Park: another interesting option for young families that want to be downtown but also be in a neighborhood with a more family-friendly vibe, including excellent local public schools. Although home ownership is available in North Park, there are plenty of homes for rent as well as apartment/townhome rental options. Check out Blvd North Park or Winslow for highly reviewed options. Yelp has thorough reviews of The 10 Best Apartment Buildings in/near North Park. For citywide rental options we'd recommend using HotPads. It's an extremely thorough listing site for rentals.

4) South Park Adjacent to Balboa Park and a short walk to all the parks and open greenery of Balboa, this downtown neighborhood is filled with restaurants, bars/breweries, cafes and art galleries. It has smaller homes for families who want to live in a walkable space and plenty of smaller apartment buildings for renters. K1 is a popular apartment rental option (5.0 out of 5.0 ratings on yelp). Valentina by Alta is another highly rated option. Check out the Top Ten Apartments by ratings on Yelp.

5) Hillcrest: if you favor the beach lifestyle then check out Hillcrest. It's just north of Downtown so you get quick access to all the social options there but you also get walkable beach access and a more chill lifestyle than the zaniness of the center of the city. It has its own restaurants and bars and plenty of apartment and townhome options for those looking to rent. Strauss on Fifth and Hillcrest Place Apartments are two of the most favorably reviewed apartment buildings in the neighborhood. Check out the Yelp reviews to get a feel for all your options.

Central San Diego


Central San Diego includes plenty of family-friendly neighborhoods the area is popular in part for the "suburban vibe" and the easy commutes to the bases. It includes a heavy food culture that includes the best ramen, Korean BBQ, sushi, Pho, curry, and Thai in the area. The neighborhoods have older homes and a big military presence.

1) Tierrasanta: Many personnel are drawn to Tierrasanta by the military housing and end up staying in the neighborhood to be in a tight-knit community. There is a mix of housing options including single-family homes for purchase and rent. Families also have lots of Apartment Home rental options that have both plenty of space and tons of amenities like pools, gyms and play spaces for the kiddos. Check out Tierrasanta Ridge Apartment Homes for one of the great family options.

2) Mission Valley: Mission Valley is popular with with military personnel who take advantage of the massive apartment complexes built amidst the tons of big box stores, malls and neighborhood restaurants. If convenience is important to your or your family then you couldn't pick a better spot. You're right next to the area freeways and every thing you could possibly need for shopping and going out is within a mile.

3) Bay Park: Bay Park is popular with growing families due in part to the fact it has bigger homes than neighborhoods closer to the coast. It's also popular because the schools here are excellent, including Holmes Elementary that gets an A on and Marston Middle School that gets an A- on The blocks are quiet and safe, and living here means you're close to Mission Bay and Seaworld!

Inland Empire


The Inland Empire is 60+ miles from Naval Base San Diego so you'd be right in thinking that's a bit far to commute. However, when your family is ready to buy a home then cities like Temecula, in the IE (Inland Empire), are popular. In part this is due to the big volume of military families in the city, plenty who serve at Camp Pendleton, and plenty who make the long commute to San Diego because of the affordability of the housing and the quality of the schools.

Temecula Lifestyle:
Temecula is a suburban city for sure. But it’s distance from LA and San Diego means it’s one of those crossover places that has its own lifestyle rather than just a classic suburban appendage. It has a downtown called Old Town, an historic district that looks like a scene from an old western movie, but its also experiencing growth as the city builds out its infrastructure to support an influx of wfh’ers and work from home most-of-the timer’s. The lifestyle is increasingly more like a rural growth city than a suburban tract development and so locals enjoy more of what’s local than what’s available at a distance. Young professionals would find it boring but families and DINKs looking to buy and have some social life amidst great and more affordable housing like it here. There is tons of outdoor space both in town and nearby so you and the kiddos can live a healthy lifestyle. Palomar Mountain State Park and Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park are in your backyard so a short drive gets you stunning hiking, biking, camping and general outdoorsy play every weekend you’re in the mood.

Temecula also has tons of in-town parks, like Temecula Creek Trail Park, with beautiful open spaces for kiddo and doggo play, and hiking and biking paths for more serious unwinding. The schools are excellent and the town has enough restaurants and pubs to keep the kids full of burgers and the parents full of vino and brews.

Schools in Temecula - Grade A
The schools in the Temecula School District are excellent, receiving an A on Families that bail on LA or San Diego are thrilled to pick Temecula as a less expensive alternative for this very reason. There is some variance in the quality/scoring of the schools, with some weakness on the western side of town so if you care about that kind of think check your neighborhood carefully.

Check out our full write-up on Temecula including a summary of the different neighborhoods in the city.