Moving to La Mesa: North of the 8 Freeway

Know your Neighborhoods

It’s the perfect place to live if you want to be close, but not too close, to San Diego. The city of La Mesa is fairly evenly split by Interstate 8 (“the 8”) so below we’ll explore the northern half of this diverse suburb. When considering housing options in the area, we recommend starting with Lake Murray, Northmont, and Griffen Park. Each one has a little something different to offer, so make sure you try to gather as much information as you can about each one so you can make an informed decision! Some things to consider when evaluating which neighborhood suits you best include lifestyle, conveniences, schools, market conditions, and affordability. If you’re ready to dive into the north-side of La Mesa, keep reading!

Lake Murray

Are you thinking it’s about time you owned a slice of heaven in La Mesa? Then Lake Murray neighborhood is the place to start! Full of beautiful views and gently rolling hills, you will find homes here that were built in the early 60’s up until the late 70’s. In terms of education in the area, the elementary school is Maryland Avenue School, the middle school is La Mesa Arts Academy, and the high school is Helix Charter. It should be noted that this Charter School is known for being one of the best in the area based on its accountability report card, and famous graduates include Reggie Bush, Alex Smith, and Dennis Hopper. Should you be interested in higher education, San Diego State University is the closest four-year institution, and Grossmont is a nearby community college. The neighborhood offers easy access for commuters since Interstate 8 is accessible from Lake Murray Boulevard and Fletcher Parkway. There are plenty of major shopping centers and supermarkets within a mile, making this a highly sought after neighborhood for convenience alone.

Northmont

On the east side of La Mesa, you’ll find the wide and winding neighborhood streets of Northmont. Bordering El Cajon, this neighborhood is a mixture of apartments, condominiums, and houses all built within the span of the 40’s and 60’s. Residents describe the area as having two-neighborhoods-in-one because of the separation between the high-density housing and the single-family homes, so check out both to see which one is best to suit your needs. While the single-family homes here are generally between 1,000 and 2,000 square feet, the prices can vary greatly depending on updates and add-ons. When it comes to schools, the elementary school for this neighborhood is Northmont, the Middle School is Parkway Middle School, and the high school is Grossmont High School. There is also a nearby option for private elementary and middle school education at Mt. Helix Academy. While Northmont is slightly more closed off from San Diego and La Mesa than other neighborhoods, the trolley runs along Fletcher Parkway and Amaya in the area and the 8 is only a two-minute drive via Severin. There are also two major supermarkets within a mile, so residents can pick up any daily supplies they may need easily.

Griffen Park

Who wouldn’t want to be near the largest park in the greater La Mesa area? If you need space to roam, look no further. The Griffen Park Neighborhood between the Grossmont Center, the 8 freeway, the border with El Cajon, and Amaya Drive. The area is host to single-family homes with 3 to 4 bedrooms at around 1,600 square feet. There are a few modern housing developments, but a large portion is older homes built in the 50’s. Since many of the older homes have had one or two additions since they were built, the neighborhood has lost any “cookie cutter” vibe it may have once had. While there are small windows of opportunity to snatch fixer-upper homes in the area, most potential residents will be digging deep into their wallets to live in this coveted neighborhood. Homes priced on the highest end of the market go for about $800,000. For schools, the neighborhood provides Northmont for elementary, Parkway Middle School, and Grossmont High School, which is the oldest high school in the Grossmont District. If you want easy access to the freeway, Griffen Park Neighborhood is the place to be. Most residents of this neighborhood can access the 8 and 125 freeways within minutes of leaving their home. Within a five minute drive are three supermarkets, and the San Diego Trolley has a station at Amaya.

Cost of Living 

San Diego is infamous for its costly housing market, but how does La Mesa fare? If you want a more cost-effective way to be close to San Diego, then you’re in luck. Based on the cost of living report provided by bestplaces.com, the median 2 bedroom apartment rentals in La Mesa was $1,380 per month and the median home price was $556,000. Compared to San Diego, La Mesa costs almost 10% less to live in. The further away from San Diego you live, the more you will get in terms of bang for your buck. However, it should be noted that the cost of food, transportation, health, and other living essentials are pretty even across the board between the two cities.

Higher Education

While there are no educational institutions located directly in La Mesa, we have a few recommendations for ones in the surrounding areas. We’ll start with the closest, and work our way out while focusing on community colleges first. Grossmont College, located in El Cajon, CA, is a non-profit public two-year college. Two-thirds of their 18,498 student population is part-time, and their in-state tuition, not including room and board, was $1,335 for 2016/2017. Next, we’ll look at San Diego City College, which is only eight miles from the center of La Mesa! This is another 2-year community college that offers undergraduate programs, and has a student population of 16,726 students, with the majority of them being part-time. The in-state tuition is $1,104 not including fees, room and board for 2016/2017. Another community college to consider if you are looking for a larger student population in San Diego Mesa College. With 23,560 students you are bound to have more class and schedule options to choose from. Located just nine miles away from La Mesa, this 2-year community college is considered one of California’s largest and most successful community colleges. Its in-state tuition is $1,104 excluding fees, room and board for 2016/2017.

Think attending a four-year college is more your speed? Well, there are definitely some great options near La Mesa, starting with San Diego State University. This university, located three miles from La Mesa Center, is a public 4-year institution with on-campus housing and has over 34,000 students. The tuition for 2016/2017 was $5,472 and the university is known for its business, management, and marketing programs. Moving farther out there is the University of California San Diego located 15 miles away from La Mesa Center in La Jolla, California. This university is all about the sciences and is ranked #55 in best colleges in the US. It has 34,979 students and in-state tuition is $11, 220 plus fees, room and board for 2016/2017.

Job Opportunities on the Rise

If you are moving to La Mesa with a job already in place, you’re in a great spot. Should you need to find a job once you get there, you’re also going to be fine. The job market in La Mesa is looking up from previous years. According to bestplaces.net jobs have increased by 2.2% from 2017 to 2018, and the average salary in La Mesa is $54,630. Unemployment is lower than it has been in 10 years, and is lower than the U.S. average. Dataus.io says that the most common occupations in La Mesa include Management, Business, Science, Arts, Sales & Office, and Service. However, the site also says that the areas doing the most hiring include Retail trade, Healthcare & Social Assistance, and Educational Services.

Comfortable Climate

It’s no secret that Southern California has a climate that many seek. Bestplaces.net shows that the comfortable climate that everyone loves so much can be found in La Mesa. In the winter months, the average low is around 44 degrees. In the peak of summer, the average is 84 degrees. If you love the sun, you’ll get plenty of it here. On average La Mesa has 261 sunny days out of the year and 24 days with precipitation days resulting in 13 inches of rain. We would not recommend La Mesa to anyone looking for opportunities to enjoy weekly thunderstorms while curled up with a book at a cafe. We would, however, recommend it for anyone who wants to explore nature, sunbathe, or live a life where checking what the weather is up to is a thing of the past.

Getting Around the City

Of all the charming aspects of living in a suburb of San Diego, the traffic is not one of them. While the traffic is not nearly as bad as Los Angeles, San Diego Magazine says the average commute time one way on Interstate 8 is 40 minutes depending on how early you start your morning. The same goes for the commute home. In La Mesa, residents primarily have personal vehicles with a small percentage carpooling. While the San Diego Trolley does have stops in La Mesa on its orange and green lines, and a bus line running from La Mesa to Fashion Valley, most residents opt for the comfort of their own vehicle.

Entertainment Hot Spots

When you think of La Mesa, instead of thinking “Suburb of San Diego” you should think of restaurants, breweries, parks, shopping and everything in between! The city is full of exciting ways to have fun, and you can bet that there is a little something for everyone. 

For a taste of classic Italian fare with an artistic and trendy atmosphere, Antica Trattoria in north La Mesa is the place to be. The restaurant, described as the local authentic Italian food and wine bar, has been around since 2001 and continues to wow its patrons with classic and seasonal dishes. If it’s about time you gave into your sushi craving, Banbu Sushi Bar and Grill will not disappoint. Named the Diner’s Choice 2017 and 2018 Award winner, this restaurant is not only known for its fantastic sushi, but also for its eco-chic decor and fireside patio seating. Our short list of great restaurants would not be complete without mentioning Casa De Pico Mexican Restaurant. This staple of San Diego Mexican cuisine relocated to Grossmont Center in 2005 and is the perfect experience for anyone in search of an authentic Mexican dish and fiesta atmosphere. With Mariachi bands, heated patio seating, a huge fountain, and attention to detail, a night at Casa De Pico is surely one to be remembered. 

Now for the happier side of things: breweries in La Mesa. While California may be known for its wine culture, there are two breweries north of the 8 freeway in La Mesa that is doing their part to serve their craft-beer loving residents. Helix Brewing Co. is located in the La Mesa Industrial area and has a tasting room showcasing 12 of their 17 beers on rotation. The industrial decor and homegrown vibes are inviting to new and seasoned beer enthusiasts alike. Should you be in the mood for some food, live music, or trivia to go along with your beer, the Bolt Brewery is just a few blocks to the east. With 25 beers rotating through their 20 taps, the brewery keeps things light and fun with their pet-friendly outdoor patio and nightly events.

Sometimes it’s just nice to get away from the bustling city and get closer to nature. We have a few recommendations for those adventure seekers and nature lovers! Lake Murray is the perfect way to spend an afternoon if you are interested in boating, fishing, kayaking, tube floating, hiking, and running. It is located on the northwest side of La Mesa. For something a little closer into town, there are multiple city parks that are great for picnics, walking the dog, and sports including Harry Griffen Park, Briercrest Park, Jackson Park, and Aztec Park. If you are in the market for beautiful views and family-oriented events Mt. Helix Park offers all of that and more.

Since not everyone considers the great outdoors a great time, La Mesa also has a shopping center located north of Interstate 8. Grossmont Center is a shopping mall where you can grab your groceries and a new wardrobe in the same place! Walmart, Target, Macy’s, and other large retailers call the Grossmont Center home and make it easy for residents to get all their shopping done in one go.

Ready to move?

If you are already plotting your course to move north of the 8 freeway in La Mesa, congratulations! This town is full of possibilities and already has a lot to offer for students, families, and job-seekers. While this may be true, we know that packing and moving all your belongings can be a daunting task. Here at A-1 Self Storage, we want to help make that move the best it can be! By renting a self storage unit, you can have the flexibility you need to have a “smooth move” into your next home. If you are moving into smaller accommodations than your previous arrangement, you may find you need to downsize. That doesn’t mean you will need to sell or give your belongings away - simply store them with us and you can keep the things that you love!

We love being able to help our customers with the tools they need for moving their items in and out of their home or self storage unit as well, which is why we offer moving supplies for purchase at our facilities. Our self storage managers are prepared and excited to make your moving and self storage experience great. Come by any one of our facilities or call to start renting today!

A-1 Self Storage

(619) 567-3103

8328 Center Dr La Mesa, CA 91942

Office Hours


9:00am - 6:00pm
9:00am - 5:00pm

Closed all major holidays

Access Hours


7 Days A Week
6:00 am - 10:00 pm

Extended Phone Support Hours
Monday - Friday: 7:30am - 7:00pm
Saturday: 8:00am - 6:00pm
Sunday: 9:00am - 5:00pm