La Mesa is one of those great little communities in southern California where you can walk to the corner store, have your morning coffee and then sit outside and enjoy the beautiful morning. Located about 10 miles inland (east) of San Diego, La Mesa is a hilly little place with palm and citrus trees, and in June, the purple jacaranda trees are blooming everywhere. The village of La Mesa would be a wonderful place to live, if even for a little while. In the chilly winter when the beaches are camp and cold, La Mesa is just far enough away to be perfect. Nearby Lemon Grove claims itself to have the “Best Climate on Earth” but my money is on La Mesa.
Located in the center of the populated east county, La Mesa is still populated with dozens of small businesses as well as the big box stores on the outskirts. Highway 8 carries residents east and west to downtown San Diego and out to El Cajon. A walk down La Mesa Blvd. will take you to several antique stores, a couple of really fine Mexican Restaurants, and I recently spent some time in a furniture store that sold Mission and deco furniture as well as period lighting. There is also a British shop where you can buy bangers, meat pies, and souvenirs.
One of the best things about La Mesa is a drive up Mt. Helix (more like a tall hill) near the center of town with a big outdoor amphitheater. The place is used for church services (hence the big white cross on top of the hill) local music concerts, etc. Parking is a challenge and the roads are narrow. Don’t even think about driving your RV up this road!
The town was founded in 1869 and most of the homes were built one at a time, hence the charming mishmash of styles. There are many buildings and homes from the 1920’s and 1930’s as well as newer architecture thrown in here and there. Most neighborhoods have mature trees, and the homes are close together. Neighbors know each other and there are several neighborhood associations.
Population: Just under 60,000 people call La Mesa home in this densely populated town; 14.2% are over the age of 65.
Housing: La Mesa is not a cheap place to live. We found this 2 bedroom/ 2 BA Condo near the village for $250,000.
Crime: La Mesa’s violent crime rate is 3.16 per thousand – well below that of California and the rest of the nation.
Climate: But it’s all about the weather in La Mesa! The average high in January is 64 degrees and in July it jumps up to 87 degrees.
I’ve always had this vision of myself at 85, living in a small bungalow or apartment in La Mesa Village – pushing my folding grocery cart to the market. No car, nice neighbors, and a great cup of coffee on a beautiful winter morning.
Zoom in and out on the map below to see La Mesa and the surrounding area!
What a lovely place to live.