Cardiff-by-the-Sea is a charming seaside community in northern San Diego County. Tight-knit and walkable, Cardiff (as the locals call it) is the kind of place where neighbors talk to each other as they stroll down to the eateries with their dogs.
One of the main reasons people tend to be attracted to living in Cardiff is because the homes are not cookie-cutter. Here you’ll see Spanish style homes with tiled roofs, Cape Cod styles with siding, and Craftsman with wraparound porches.
Because it’s right above the Pacific, Cardiff single family homes start at around $1.5 million. However, there are some condos to be had for just under $600K. Its competitive market means that there are often multiple offers on homes. This also makes Cardiff a good investment- prices have risen by 2% last year, and low inventory plus its location makes it unlikely for housing prices to dramatically fall. In fact, San Diego in general continues to have rising home prices, with prices up 4.5% over 2018.
Cardiff’s home to two elementary schools. Cardiff Elementary, which is ranked number 777 in all of the thousands of California elementary schools. Ada W. Harris Elementary is likewise highly ranked. There are also a number of private schools in the area, such as Bishop’s and La Jolla Country Day. Both of these are in La Jolla, but only a 20 minute or so drive away through morning traffic.
Speaking of driving, Cardiff is in the northern part of San Diego County. Commuting should be a factor in deciding where to buy a home. It’s a good choice to live here if you work around University City (UTC), La Jolla, or places to the north like Carlsbad. Commute times to these places are usually about a half hour, even with traffic. If you work downtown, there’s also the option of taking the commuter train for a quicker route.
Cardiff is home to many great eateries, most concentrated along South Coast Highway 101. Pacific Coast Grill features a patio right on the sand. Its menu is mostly seafood, but also includes some other proteins like ribs. They also have vegetarian and gluten-free menus if you ask. Ki’s Restaurant is nearby and has a locally sourced, casual dining menu that includes a variety of dishes, including sushi.
If you’re more in the mood for pizza and beer, check out the aptly named Best Pizza and Brew on Aberdeen (also within walking distance). Their “two slices of pizza plus a beer” is one of the best values in town. They also serve up buffalo wings and salad and have gluten-free and vegetarian options. If want to venture out a little further, Chiko, a Chinese-Korean fusion place that’s a short drive up Highway 101 to Encinitas, offers inspired Asian dishes.
Cardiff is known as “the Riviera of the West” for a reason, and that reason is Cardiff State Beach. With surfing, swimming, or just beach lounging available, it’s a popular spot for locals and their dogs, as long as the dogs are leashed. If you’re parking there, you’ll need to purchase a pass by the hour, or a year pass that’s good at all state parks. Pipes Beach is most popular with surfers and tends to be less populated; it is, however, known for having a host of squirrels and seagulls who will take your food, so use caution. People also like to frequent San Elijo State Beach, which has campsites for tents and RVs that can be reserved in advance. Another popular surfing spot is Cardiff Reef, on the south end of this beach right where the cliffs stop.
Cardiff by the Sea, despite its high home prices, is a laid-back coastal community. There are plenty of activities and attractions year-round. The town prides itself on their annual event, the Cardiff Kook Run, which is so named after a statue of a man surfing. Popularly called the Kook, the statue regularly gets dressed up in various outfits by locals. The Kook Run is a 5K or 10K that’s held every February; there’s also a kid’s option.
The local Patagonia store is the hub of the Cardiff community. The store sells surf and swim equipment and attire, along with other exercise gear and clothing. It also hosts or lists a number of local events, such as a monthly Board Swap, where people can sell or buy surfboards; film screenings; yoga classes; and even book signings.
No matter what kind of home you choose, as long as you’re surfer-friendly and like the beach, you’ll enjoy living in Cardiff by the Sea.