Mexican food is king in these parts, since the border is only a few minutes drive away, and any residents of San Diego County make the most of this fantastic location by indulging in tacos, burritos, quesadillas and chile rellenos on the regular. Casa de Oro boasts plenty of diverse cuisine options, from fish and chips shops to Thai food, but the taco shops definitely offer cheap and tasty eats at all hours. If you don't love Mexican food, well, you have terrible taste, but you'll have a tough time out here (also, what are you doing in Southern California?).
Close to Everything
The real deal of Casa de Oro-Mount Helix rental apts is its proximity to San Diego, La Jolla, Mexico and any other destination you've actually heard of. Nobody brags about living in Casa, though there's nothing wrong with it; it's just kinda, well, nowhere. Fortunately, nowhere is close to everywhere you want to be, like the beach or the Gaslamp District. And while a car is necessary (again, welcome to Southern California, newbie), you're just a few stoplights from public transit, like the popular trolley which heads straight into the city.
COMH, as we're now calling it, does have its share of rundown areas, but that keeps the places for rent delightfully affordable. But a few shady apartment buildings and shanties don't fully color the residential landscape. Big homes, charming 1 bedroom apartments for rent, and even condos with luxurious extras are plentiful. Pretty much any accommodation you can imagine is here, so don't fret overmuch about some of the less well-paved areas.
The Need to Know
Besides a love of Mexican food and a reliable vehicle, there are a few other tips for a successful move to lovely Casa de Oro-Mount Helix. First off, no one uses that full title. A simple "Casa" will probably do, or "East County." Also, this is a desert. Yes, it's relatively close to the beach, but you won't see much water falling from the sky. Pack sunscreen, flip-flops and industrial strength moisturizer; it can get downright parched in these parts. Housing is plentiful, so plan a few weeks at most to find the perfect place. You'll want an option that's close to the 94, 8 or 125 freeway.
Casa de Oro is already considered a "neighborhood" of East County. It's not really a city, technically, but one of those CDP-type spots that blends with its neighbors, Spring Valley, El Cajon and La Mesa. Here's a general guide for which of the general directions would suit you best.
Near Spring Valley: It sounds green and flat and lush, but it's just another desert. Spring Valley has a mix of rental houses and apartment buildings, but mostly houses. There are fewer restaurants and amenities here, but the crossover of SV and Casa is the main drag of Casa. The apartments are less inviting, but the freeway access is great.
Near El Cajon: The mayor of El Cajon is funneling big bucks to make his city a prosperous destination for folks of all types, and Casa residents definitely benefit from that. Oodles of amenities, lots of housing options, but a heck of a lot more traffic are the result. Plus, it's a bit further away from downtown, so it's a trade-off in many ways. May be worth it if you're planning on sticking around for several years.
Near La Mesa: It's got character, farmers markets and a cutesy downtown, but it's relatively run down. It's got more going on than Spring Valley, with similar housing values, and the public transportation is very close by. Safety may be more of an issue here for some.
Casa has lots going on, and restaurants aren't the only amenities you'll have easy access to. From hippie-friendly snooty chains like Sprouts to standard markets like Albertsons to charming mom and pop shops, you won't have to travel far to find every ingredient on your list. Prefer to know your growers by their first names? Try one of the many farmers markets held nearby. Of course, it's not all about food. Thrift stores, antique shops and amusingly divey nightclubs and bars are all readily accessible too. In all honesty, though, for after hours fun you'll likely head into SD proper. Thankfully, it's close. Just another benefit of living in East County.