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Old 07-15-2013, 11:48 AM
4 posts, read 18,432 times
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My husband and I are considering buying a house in Lemon Grove. We are currently renting in North Park and would love to stay in this area but it is simply too expensive to buy a house in this area. Lemon Grove seems to be one of the few areas where we can get a decent home in our price range. We drove around the area and it seemed a lot quieter that I had anticipated. Not much of what I have heard about Lemon Grove is positive. Can anyone share their experience living in LG? Thanks!
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Old 07-15-2013, 12:28 PM
Location: 92037
4,630 posts, read 9,800,104 times
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My SO and I bought here over two years ago and really love it. You actually arent alone compared with some of the new neighbors we have met from adjacent streets that just bought. 3 of the couples we have met the past 6 months are in their mid 20s-30s, married and were priced out of North Park and South Park etc. Our next door and his partner live next to us and lived in Hillcrest. They bought a year before we did and one of their friends just bought in the area too. So there is definitely something happening with new homebuyers in the area vs maybe what you have been hearing.

We used to live downtown in the Gaslamp/Marina District for 6 years before we decided to make the switch and own a SFH. While we LOVED all those urban SD neighborhoods, one thing we certainly werent going to do was drop a half million for a first home in those areas, that we couldnt sacrifice a short drive to get to those areas by car.
I think its great if there are people that want to move to those areas and feel comfortable buying there. But we plan on living here for a long time and wanted to legimitately set roots (eg. buy a first home and eventually move up at some point) LG, for us, while not on the top of our list initially, certainly became more appealing the more we looked into it.

Lemon Grove is a VERY difficult place to put a finger on for a couple of reasons.

1. Its size (only 3.2 sq miles) and its porous borders with La Mesa, and south east San Diego and only 3 exits long on the 94. Its not clearly defined so in some ways, you dont know if you are in or out of it lol

2. The commercial/busy areas dont reflect the general population in the residential areas and any crime rates or crime at all. (eg. transients walking along Broadway = danger, crime infested and 'ghetto')
Perfect example. You are in North Park right now. If you were to look at a heat map of crime, it would likely be red along ECB or University Ave. But start going away from those busy corridors and the red tapers off considerably. Broadway is the equvalant for the most part. But based on that I certainly wouldnt say that North Park is 'dangerous'.

The thing to realize is that its not a city grid street system. So there lots of cul de sacs and small streets that are super quiet and very tight knit. I live on one of these streets and our neighbors are awesome (except one grrrrr). Not a lot of traffic and super quiet if not boring. But only 10 mins drive right into downtown on the 94.

Keep in mind, this is an up and coming city ( including 5 major projects that are coming to completion.) that have been a long time in the making starting over a decade ago. I know I have seen the General Plans and future projects and its very promising.
IN terms of housing. Houses that show well are moving super fast, some even pending within 3 days of list and going over asking. We liked our house so much (even two years ago) that it wasnt listed for two hours before we put the offer in. So there are definitely buyers that are sitting back waiting and ready to pull the trigger.
While I dont think it will turn our to be a 'cool' place, I think it can certainly make for a decent place to live in the price range.

Actually a few city-data friends have been over our place and it was their first time coming into the Grove. They might be able to share some of their impressions as well....ahem

If you want any more info, feel free to PM me and would be more than happy to give you some pointers.

Last edited by shmoov_groovzsd; 07-15-2013 at 12:37 PM..
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Old 07-15-2013, 02:18 PM
Location: San Diego via Orange County via Toronto via Rome Italy
390 posts, read 746,508 times
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Shmoov is the definitive authority on The Grove on the SD forum. I can add some color-commentary as a 3-times-a-week visitor - I live in nearby Mt. Helix but I'm in a band and we practice at our lead singer's place in LG.

Shmoov is right on target - my first impression of LG was in going to the Home Depot on Broadway - let's just say this street is not exactly LG's best face! Our singer's place is in a working-class neighborhood - small 60's/70's homes, down in the "flatlands" not on a hilltop - and my impression is that it's a clean, quiet, well-maintained and friendly neighborhood (except I hear there's one house where this band practices REALLY loudly, but for some reason I never hear them).

So, yeah I wouldn't be overly swayed by people's anecdotal comments or misleading "heat" maps for crime . . . as always . . do your homework, talk to residents, spend some time maybe biking around etc.

One thing I would be concerned with - schools - don't know if that's an issue for you.
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Old 07-15-2013, 02:53 PM
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LG is like most older inner-San Diego suburban areas, it is mostly a quiet, older homeowner area which suffers from some tragic development mistakes along the way typically in the form of poorly designed and overbuilt commercial and apartment areas. Other city services like schools, etc are largely neglected due to demographics, and their rebound will depend mostly on the next generation of home buyers as the current population ages out. Based on this description you can see the connection between Clairemont, LG, Rolando, Allied Gardens, Serra Mesa, etc., all of which mostly consist of the same hastily built 40's, 50s' and 60's tracts, aging populations, and marginal schools, infrastructure and services. The nice part about these areas is that they are generally cheap, with little-to-no zip code cachet, making them affordable alternatives for single family homes vs. condos in more sought-after areas.
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Old 07-15-2013, 03:08 PM
Location: Santaluz - San Diego, CA
4,498 posts, read 9,000,348 times
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Yep. I was going to suggest you go straight to "Mr. Lemon Grove". So I'm glad he answered.

I've been over to Shmoov's house and as he mentioned, that's my first time that I ever went to Lemon Grove. If he didn't live there I probably wouldn't have passed through there. Like sschibuola, who personally knew someone and that was the reason they went, that was the case with me too.

Before going there, I often times heard from people it was very sketchy. Sometimes I'd comment that I had a friend that lived over there and they would make that grimacing face like, "oh, why did he choose to live there". Then they would make the comment or hint that it was super sketchy. Then I'd ask them if they had ever been there and they would admit they had not.

Stuff like that bothers me. While I drove out there I drove around quite a bit to get a feel for the area. Yep, as sschibuola mentioned there are indeed some sketchy areas. But there are also some nice areas as well. It did look like there were mostly families that were established but I did notice some houses where I could clearly see renovations going on or that have already been completed. I saw buildings that were nice and new. It didn't seem widespread in nature but I know from other cities that I've purchased in that it takes a bit of time to truly gentrify because many of these families probably have been living in these houses forever. And they probably won't move until someone dies and then their kids sell their folks property.

As I drove down several blocks it seems like some people do take pride in their yards and "curb appeal" and LOTS didn't care at all so there is really no consistency. So I think you have to be ok with that. I think the ones that don't care probably will never care. And I doubt they will substantially improve their lots/house until the day they die.

I've only been to Shmoov's house there. I haven't been inside any other houses there but I was amazed with his house and what his $$$ bought him. His house was in immaculate condition and all renovated. His lot was beautiful with a nice lawn and I'm sure there aren't many places in San Diego where you can buy that quality house for that money. Great curb appeal!

It seems to me even if you decided not to stay in the house or moved once you have kids, I'd still keep the house because it seems like it would make a GREAT investment/rental property. The rental prices in that area seem decent considering how close you are to downtown. I've told Shmoov on more than one occasion if he ever decided to move, I'd recommend he keep the house and just use it as an investment property. I can't see it having ANY problems with renting it out.

Like sschibuola mentioned, I have NO clue at all on the school district there so that's something you'd have to research. I'm sure the motivating factor driving new buyers to that area is going to be mostly $$$ driven. I doubt you will have people selecting that area on many factors besides affordability. But that could always change in the future as the area gentrifies.

As far as safety I totally would NOT worry about it. The area looked peaceful to me and it was quiet. Really I find almost all of San Diego totally safe. This is a really safe city for the most part. Sure, there might be homeless in various areas but these people seem to keep to themselves unless they are mentally unstable and even then it doesn't really seem to be a safety issue.

I think the main attraction is going to be price but also the location is great as you're not far from downtown if you need to be close to there. I'd take some time driving around in the area. I'd also PM Shmoov and take him out to lunch one day and I'm sure he can give you extreme insight on Lemon Grove. They don't call him "Mr. Lemon Grove" for nothing! Ha, ha.

Seems to me Lemon Grove would be a good area for a starter home from a family that didn't have any kids and have to worry about school districts, etc. I think many people here in San Diego get too wrapped up in zip codes. The few zip codes that everyone desires just keeps going up and that trend will probably continue heading into the future.

I doubt you'd have any safety issues there. If you found a house that you liked, I'd suggest the same due diligence as with any house and go over several different days and times of day (morning, noon and night) and see how the area is and also how that particular neighborhood is.
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Old 07-15-2013, 06:54 PM
Location: La Mesa Aka The Table
9,401 posts, read 10,327,886 times
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Lemon grove is,the final Frontier in home ownership here in San Diego imo.Until recently i spent 16 years of my working life in Lemon Grove and everything mentioned above is dead on accurate.Lemon Grove can get seeded but there aren't any seeded parts,if that makes sense.The cool thing about Lemon Grove is you get a lot of property for the price.
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Old 07-16-2013, 09:59 AM
4 posts, read 18,432 times
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Thank you so much for all of your responses! They are extremely helpful and encouraging. I think more exploring of the area will be in order for us.
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Old 07-16-2013, 12:04 PM
Location: 92037
4,630 posts, read 9,800,104 times
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Really great points here.

So long as you are ok, with the negatives mentioned and you have the flexibility like earlyretirement mentions (no kids, not worried about schools yet etc.) its hard to make the argument against.

Lets just say , IMHO its worst days are behind it. How long it will take to gentrify or change is a crystal ball question in terms of years to take shape. There definitely is a tipping point though where gentrified neighborhoods really start becoming noticed. Much of it has to do with local Govt's willingness to make the changes and the inflow of new comers to the area.
This is what I have seen over the past decade in areas like North Park, University Heights etc.
When it hit, it really gained momentum. Not saying it will EVER happen in LG in the same way, but there is something to be said with upward trends in neighborhoods, especially in a high COL San Diego.

Hard to argue the urban merits when LG has buses, trolley line and quick freeway access to SD proper within a short distance.

Last edited by shmoov_groovzsd; 07-16-2013 at 12:21 PM..
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Old 07-24-2013, 02:41 PM
Location: 92037
4,630 posts, read 9,800,104 times
Reputation: 1954
This is a bit of a stretch as 'next South Park' but cant blame the Mayor and city using South Park (one of my favorite neighborhoods) as a goal and neighborhood to look up to. Years and years away but far from the negative stereotypes LG has at the moment.

IMHO really is a testament to how great South Park is and its vibe.

Mayor: Lemon Grove 'the next South Park' | UTSanDiego.com

The comments at the bottom of the article are interesting.
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