The San Diego Backcountry real estate market is hopping—and for good reason. This area allows you to live a rural small town mountain lifestyle and still be a short drive away from the modern arteries of the city. When house-hunting in a new area, it can be challenging to know which neighborhood is the one for you. I will note that because the market is so limited, and the area is relatively small, most people shop for the house, not the location. If you live in the Julian zip code, your kid will attend the Julian school systems. The only thing that really changes from neighborhood to neighborhood is water districts and HOAs. Every neighborhood has something to offer and its own unique feel.
As far as crime and safety, here’s what you need to know. Don’t go into downtown Julian after 9:00 p.m. Nothing happens. The only reason I don’t walk out in the dark is because of the mountain lions. Crime is not really an issue. The catch is, there are a lot of new people moving to the area, so this is a very fluid situation. The overall safety of the town could change over the next few years. Personally, I don’t avoid neighborhoods; I avoid people who have earned a bad reputation. Don’t worry, my list is small. Occasionally, there are a few rogue incidents with no associated pattern. All in all, the chance of something bad happening is slim to none. I have always felt safe in this community no matter where I am. We watch out for each other. The neighborhood watch program is actually in place. I mean it. If there’s a strange car, all the neighbors will be staring it down. I do think it is important for newcomers to know that none of the neighborhoods on county-maintained roads have a high enough housing density to qualify for a posted residential speed limit of 25 MPH. Although the speed limit is technically 55, it is customary to drive 25 MPH or under. I played in my neighborhood's streets all the time growing up. Just keep in mind, if you are looking at a house on a street with a double yellow line, it means that the street has a reputation for cars driving fast on it.
There is one safety topic I do want to address, registered sex offenders. In the State of California, convicted sex offenders must publicly register their primary residence. After serving their time, sex offenders often relocate to rural areas because it is easier to find a residence within their restrictions. I used to think Julian had a high percentage until I searched other San Diego neighborhoods on the registry. My advice to you when moving to a new area is to check who lives where. I have not heard of an issue with any of the registered sex offenders in my community. I have actually found that those who are not on the list were problem-makers. Still, this is one area where you can never be too cautious. I am always surprised at how many people aren’t aware of who they should be conscious of, myself included. A past friend lived with a family member who was a registered sex offender, and I was unaware of it for a time. This being said from a young age I have ALWAYS felt very safe in my community and what I said about safety up above still stands. In small towns, we watch out for each other. Unfortunately, this is a fact of life we need to be aware of. I do want to give a shout out to local law enforcement for being on top of safety issues like this one.
Here’s an overview of the neighborhoods in and surrounding Julian, CA from a born-and-raised Julian local. One more thing I want to quickly point out is that there are a lot of homes not in official neighborhoods. I would base the reputation of the area on the closest neighborhood to the residence.
Mesa Grande - Mesa Grande is known for its large, family-run cattle ranches.
Mesa Grande Band-Mission Indians - This rural tribe resides in the Mesa Grande area near Lake Southerland.