Home to stunning beaches and the world-famous San Diego Zoo, this city has so much to offer to people considering moving here. While tourists flock here for the beaches, you can enjoy some great year-round weather, proximity to nature and her bounties, and high safety. Read our relocation guide on moving to San Diego to know what it would be like to live in “America’s Finest City.”
What Should I Know Before Moving to San Diego?
With an estimated 2020 population of 1,447,100, San Diego is the second largest city in California and the eighth largest in the United States. It is currently growing at a rate of 0.74% annually. Spanning over 372 miles, San Diego has a population density of 4,441 people per square mile.
San Diego is no ordinary city, it is, after all, ‘America’s Finest City’. It is thus named for its beautiful beaches, great weather, tourist attractions and cultural diversity. Delving deeper into the city, you can see just why it is so attractive. San Diego is a border city, situated on the coast a mere 20 miles from Mexico while to the north lies Los Angeles. There are tangible influences of both American and Mexican cultures in San Diego. The cuisine for one is varied, and the craft beer scene is thriving.
Another great thing about San Diego is its proximity to several natural attractions, all a few hours’ drive away. The city has the San Diego river winding through, the Cuyamaca Mountains and Laguna Mountains towering above the city to the east and the Cleveland National Forest is a mere half-hour drive from downtown San Diego. The city itself, in all its diversity, has a little something for everyone. There are several annual events, some of which are Comic-Con, the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament, the San Diego Black Film Festival and Street Scene Music Festival.
Notably the most famous is the San Diego Zoo, located within the spectacular Balboa Park. Stretching across 12,000 acres, this park also contains theatres and art galleries, and is the perfect way to spend a weekend exploring. It goes without saying that San Diego is a beach lover’s paradise, with 24 different beaches to suit your mood.
San Diego is also home to a buzzing art scene, which is evident in how the city houses a number of art galleries and museums. The USS Midway Museum, San Diego Air and Space Museum, San Diego Museum of Art, and the Murals of La Jolla are only a handful of the treasures this city holds for the people that seek them out.
Crime Rate in San Diego
One of the most essential details that should determine which city you move to is safety. After all, no number of beaches and parks can make up for a lack of safety and high crime numbers. Thankfully, San Diego is quite the safe city to live in. The violent crime comparison per one thousand residents is 3.8, lower than the national average of 4 and the Californian average of 4.47. This makes your chances of becoming a victim of a violent crime 1 in 263.
Property crime rates continue the trend of being lower than the national average when compared to 1,000 residents: the figure is 19.8, while the national average is 24. The overall crime rate in San Diego is 24 crimes per one thousand residents. The crime rate in San Diego is one of the lowest in the nation for its size, making it one of the safest cities to live in when compared to other cities just as big.
San Diego Weather
It’s no coincidence that America’s Finest City boasts some of America’s finest weather. The Mediterranean climate that southern California enjoys is practically perfect, giving you several days of bright sunshine and moderate temperatures throughout the year. The summers in San Diego are hot and dry, and winter season is cool and a little rainy. Over the course of the year, the temperature can range from 50°F to 77°F, which is so moderate it may as well be the opposite of Denver.
Summer in San Diego is from June to mid-September, with daily high temperatures hovering around 75°F. August is when temperatures peak, with highs averaging around 77°F and lows of 68°F. June is known for a phenomenon called the “June Gloom”: cool and overcast days brought about by the marine layer clouds that cool the air. As the months progress, the infamous Santa Ana winds start to blow, keeping temperatures high well into October.
Come October the mercury starts to dip, giving residents some pleasant fall weather. The temperature ranges between 75°F at its highest and 64°F at its lowest. December to March is the winter season, but don’t expect much snow. Temperatures certainly drop to the high 40s, but showers of rain can make it feel cooler than what it is. These months are when San Diego receives most of its rain, falling in frequent showers. The ocean water gets so cold that residents give the beaches a skip.
San Diego’s weather isn’t extreme in the least, and it doesn’t have the threat of earthquakes the way Los Angeles or San Jose do. However, the dry summers fueled by windy conditions can sometimes bring the problem of wildfires.
How Expensive Is It To Live in San Diego?
The thought of the beaches and nature, the beer and perfect weather, all of this may have already enticed you into dreaming about your new home in San Diego. As much as we hate to wake you from your daydream, the costs of maintaining a life in San Diego will definitely shock you back into reality. After all, everything great comes at a price, and San Diego is no exception. Bust out that bank account and calculator as we tackle the expenses of San Diego, excluding the income, price and sales taxes you’ll have to pay.
Cost Of Living In San Diego
The cost of living in San Diego is 44% higher than the national average. A family of four living in San Diego will have to pay around $3,695.66 a month on expenses, excluding housing costs. A single person living in San Diego would have to pay around $1,021.41 on monthly expenses excluding housing.
Grocery prices in San Diego are 13% higher than the national average. You’ll pay around $3.76 for a loaf of bread, $2.19 for a gallon of milk, $2.04 for a carton of eggs, and $3.79 for a bunch of bananas. Healthcare is 8% higher, and a visit to the doctor will cost you around $119.01. Visiting the dentist will cost around $102.24, and a visit to the vet for your furry friend costs $52.55.
Buying A House
Housing expenses in San Diego are 136% higher than the national average, with the median home value around $720,031. This has increased by 10.9% over the last year, and is predicted to increase by another 11.3% over the next year. The median home price here is $817,185.
Renting A House
Considering renting a house in San Diego? The average rent for an apartment in San Diego is $2,187. Apartments in San Diego don’t come cheap; a whopping 58% of apartments are rented out for over $2,000 a month. 33% fall in the bracket of $1,500 – $2,000, while only 9% are rented out for lower than $1,500. The rates sure are high, but even so, 39% of the households in San Diego are renter-occupied.
Utilities in San Diego cost 15% higher than the national average. You can expect to pay around $192.64 a month on your energy bill, while your phone bill will come to around $205.35. Gas is sold for $3.36 a gallon. Your average water bill could come to around $85 a month.
San Diego Economy And Employment Opportunities
San Diego has a robust economy and loads of jobs up for grabs. Some of its major industries are healthcare, tech, international trade, manufacturing and tourism. Some of the most popular employers in San Diego, CA are Northrop Grumman Corporation, Qualcomm Inc, and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. Collectively, each of these pay between $59k and $153k annually. Joining them are Illumina and General Atomics.
The average salary you could earn in San Diego is $77k. Software engineers, project managers and mechanical engineers are in luck, as these are some of the most popular occupations in San Diego. These pay between $47k and $135k per year.
San Diego has several well-rated institutions for education and higher education, with 113 elementary schools, 16 private schools, 45 charter schools, 23 junior high schools, and 28 high schools. Schools in San Diego operate according to catchment areas, but you have the option of sending your kids to a school outside of your zone through the School Choice Program. There’s also the option of sending your children to dual-language immersion public schools, perfect for Non-English speaking expats.
Homeschooling is legal in California, but since the Department of Education considers homeschooling to be a form of private education, you will have to complete the Private School Affidavit.
In terms of universities, San Diego is home to several prestigious universities like University of California San Diego, San Diego State University and its beautiful mission-inspired campus. Then there are also several private universities like University of San Diego, Point Loma Nazarene University, and John Paul the Great Catholic University.
Getting Around San Diego
America’s Finest City unfortunately doesn’t have the nation’s finest transportation system. But for what it’s worth, it fares well and gets the job done. Public transportation in San Diego is handled by the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System. Residents have the option of purchasing a Compass Card: a reusable, rechargeable smart card. With the Compass card, you can simply tap to pay your fares and purchase all types of passes, daily to monthly. You can also make use of ride-hailing apps Lyft and Uber.
Light Rail/San Diego Trolley
The San Diego Trolley Inc. operates the San Diego Trolley, a light rail that connects residents to the city. It runs on four lines, the UC San Diego Blue, Orange, Sycuan Green and San DiegoG&E Silver Lines. There are 53 stations in total, with 54.3 miles of rail. The trolley is especially great for trips around downtown, and has a stop at the Santa Fe Depot Amtrak train station.
There are nearly 100 bus routes in San Diego, including local, express, premium, urban and rural routes. Most operate all seven days a week, but the hours vary. The city does not offer round-the-clock bus service. One way fares cost between $2.25 and $5 for both the bus and trolley.
San Diego has a ferry service that connects Coronado to downtown San Diego. A one-way ticket costs $.4.75 a person, and the ride takes around 15 minutes. The ferries depart every one hour.
San Diego is connected to the rest of America and the world by the San Diego International Airport (SAN), located about 2 and a half miles northwest of the city center. A taxi from the airport to downtown San Diego can cost between $12 to $15 for a one-way ride.
Best Neighborhoods In San Diego
Choosing a neighborhood to live in is more important than you think. There’s things like your commute time, connectivity to the city and public transportation options to consider, alongside whether the vibe matches with your personality or not. San Diego’s many diverse and glitzy neighborhoods sure will leave you spoiled for choice, but you have to be wise in making your decision. So read up on our list of the best and narrow down on your search.
1. The Gaslamp Quarter
Historic yet buzzing with vibrant modernism, The Gaslamp Quarter is one of San Diego’s popular places to be. It is also a great tourist attraction, which may get annoying, but the restaurants, nightlife and the convenience of its location are unbeatable. The average rent here is $2,370 and the median home value is $433,905.
2. East Village
East Village is located to the east of Gaslamp, and is a cultural mecca. Definitely less touristy, it has a fantastic community college and public library. In fact, it is really a good neighborhood for families looking for a little lively location with the benefit of good education. The typical home value here is $532,874 and the average rent is $2,370 per month.
3. Ocean Beach
Don’t get thrown by the mention of the word ‘beach’, as Ocean Beach is more affordable than most other beachside neighborhoods in San Diego. It is located near the center of the city, yet boasts a relaxed vibe. You can enjoy Ocean Beach’s gorgeous views, fishing and surf, and connectivity, all at the rent of $1,835 a month. The typical value of homes here is $968,234.
Is San Diego A Good City To Live In?
San Diego has several great aspects, yet can do with a bit of improvement. Residents can’t really do without a car in the city, since the public transportation doesn’t connect to every corner. Nonetheless, there’s some great weather since you don’t have to worry about blistering summers or freezing winters. Although it is a bit expensive, there are some great affordable neighborhoods to be discovered if you just put in the time to hunt them out.
Living in San Diego boils down to three things: landing a job that can pay the bills, with convenient commute time and distance at an affordable location. If you can tick these boxes, life in San Diego will be pleasant indeed. Make sure you find a moving company that has the expertise and experience to help you with your move to San Diego or any other city. Find the best movers, whether they are cross-country or local, with our help so you can obtain quotes and start in your moving process.
See also: Best Moving Companies in San Diego