Who would have ever guessed that one of San Diego County's most upscale areas would come about because of a snail?!
Back in 1872, a scientist found a European snail (known as a Helix aspersa in scientific circles) living on a small mountain in a rural area. The discovery was so exciting that a man named Rufus King Porter decided to name the peak Mt. Helix.
OK, so the mountain had a name -- but what about the community around it?
That got its start soon after, when a man named Hubert Howe Bancroft moved to nearby Spring Valley and started buying up ranches. Bancroft played a big role in developing Spring Valley, but since one of the ranches he bought happened to be Porter's, Bancroft wasn't just building up Spring Valley. He was also helping to develop Mt. Helix. In fact, Bancroft was so taken with Mt. Helix that he decided to name his vast property "Helix Farms".
Today, that small mountain is still the centerpiece of the community around it. Even though it's only about 1,300 feet high, standing atop Mt. Helix will give you great views of everything that's in and around San Diego -- from the ocean, to the downtown high rises, to bigger mountains in the distance. Tourists love spending time at Mt. Helix, but even residents who have lived here for years and years never get tired of it! That's why it's such a popular place for picnics, dog-walkers, weddings, concerts, and Easter Sunrise Services.
For statistical purposes, the Mt. Helix community is often grouped in with nearby Casa de Oro. In fact, the community technically sits in the Casa de Oro-Mt. Helix census-designated place in San Diego County. Together, the two communities make up just under 7 square miles and are home to nearly 19,000 residents.
However, Mt. Helix is the smaller and more upscale portion of the CDP. Mt. Helix itself is only home to about 1,200 residents -- all of whom live in an area that covers less than a square mile.
In that small area, there are plenty of big families, though. According to data from the 2010 census, most Mt. Helix residents are married, about 20% of them have kids.
Because this community is so family friendly, it's home to some of the best school in the state. In fact, Mt. Helix students get to go to public schools that rank among the top 10% in California.
So, what's it like to own a home here?
There aren't a ton of homes to choose from in Mt. Helix, but the ones that are here are breath-taking! The majority of houses were built several decades ago, but they have been maintained impeccably -- as evidenced by the fact that the median home sale price here is over $500,000!
If you're not into older homes, there are new constructions to choose from, too. Either way, you'll get a house that's completely unique -- not like some of the "cookie cutter" homes that you find in other southern California communities!
And regardless of whether you buy a new or old house, you can rest easy knowing you're going to get a house with a great view. That's because many of the homes here are built similarly to the mountain itself -- elevated slightly, so that you can get a great look at everything around you.
If you think that owning a home in Mt. Helix is beyond your budget -- but you'd still love to call this community home -- there are rentals to choose from. As of mid-2012, the median rent listing price was $1,250, which is actually lower than nearby Spring Valley.
The Mt. Helix community is different from any of the others around it. If you're lucky enough to call this area home, be sure to thank that snail!