Del Mar

Quiet, high-end beach community
Price: 650 - 950 USD
Del Mar's sleepy shoreline neighborhoods are located approximately 10 minutes north of campus, assuming you can avoid the massive traffic jam of biotech employees leaving La Jolla and heading back to their palatial beach houses. Carmel Valley, its smaller and more suburban neighborhood, is around 15 minutes away from UCSD down Interstate 5.

A little more laid back than the UCSD scene, Del Mar is a quaint carbon copy of La Jolla minus the heavy business traffic. Restaurants, surf shops and clothing stores line the main roads on the way to an assortment of generally tranquil beaches, but there isn't a glut of small businesses because of the more relaxed and people-friendly professional atmosphere.

Carmen Valley, on the other hand, is a little slice of "Desperate Housewives" - filled with plenty of wealthy families with little better to do than gossip about which of their neighbors is sleeping with which of their neighbors' wives. Mostly residential, you'll find plenty of spacious, single-family homes, but also smaller (yet still pricey) apartment complexes and condominiums. A single room will cost you between 550 USD and 700 USD per month, but be prepared to shell out 2000 USD to 2500 USD per month for a two-bedroom apartment.

Students looking for a quiet place made for studying and sleeping will appreciate the strictly enforced noise policies and heavy police presence, even on weekends. In a neighborhood chock-full of retirees and families with young children, peace and quiet is taken very seriously. Anyone who believes the Residential Security Officers on campus have too much free reign over students, on the other hand, might want to consider a stay elsewhere.

For those looking for a good time, the Del Mar Fairgrounds are usually the place to go, with the San Diego County Fair and spirited horse races providing a pleasant distraction from the more PTA-oriented activities. The Del Mar Plaza, located off 15th Street, is a nice place to grab a bite or do some shopping while looking out on a beautiful ocean view. If the coffee-junkie scene is your thing, you're in luck: You'll find a shop on just about every corner. The big downside, however, is the lack of major public transportation. In order to get anywhere in the surrounding areas, you'll need a car - and this includes going to and from campus.

If you're more of the studious type - or a surfer - then Del Mar or Carmel Valley just might be the place for you. Looking for a party? There's usually a rousing game of Bingo going on at the local retirement center. Be sure to keep the noise down while you're at it, though - the kids are sleeping.
From Matthew L'Heureux, UCSD - The Guardian, Monday, April 30th 2007 -

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