Everything You Need to Know About Living in San Diego

Are you planning on moving to San Diego? We’re sure that the 3 million people residing in this urban area will agree that living in San Diego, or America’s Finest City as its often called, is a wonderful thing everyone should experience. With numerous beaches right at your doorstep, a variety of restaurants and dining options, and so many things to do and see, what’s there not to love?

There are numerous pros and cons to being a local in Sandi

But there’s more to Sandi than just a beachfront resort. Let’s take a closer look at what being a San Diegan is really like, and then you can yourself answer the question of: “Is San Diego a good place to live?”

Living in San Diego: Pros and Cons

No place is perfect, and that includes Sandi. There are many pros and cons to being here, but you get to decide what ultimately prevails. Will you let the disadvantages get to you, or will you enjoy all the great perks that SD undoubtedly has to offer? Here’s what you can expect from your new life in this California gem.

Being a Driver in Sandi

Pros: As unbelievable as it sounds, driving in SD, even though it is a rather large city, is not as bad as you’d expect. After all, there is a reason why 80% of locals decide to drive to work. There is a network of freeways and highways that keeps the best neighborhoods in San Diego well-connected. As a bonus, the carpool lane is not just for carpoolers – if you happen to own an electric car, you can get a DMV sticker that allows you to drive in the carpool lane even if you have no passengers. If you would rather keep the car you already have, we suggest getting auto transport from your San Diego movers along with your moving services.

Cons: Driving in the carpool lane might be efficient, but it won’t always be enough. After all, this is a metropolis of nearly 1.5 million people, so traffic jams are bound to happen. This is especially true in the summer, when seasonal tourists from Arizona, mostly retirees, flock to Sandi to spend the warmest months near the beach. Increased traffic also means fewer parking spots, which is definitely something you’ll have to get used to as a driver in Sandi. Going to work can sometimes take hours.

Tourists flock to SD during the summer.

The Sunny Californian Weather

Pros: Do we really have to say anything about how great the weather here is? With year-round sunshine and fresh ocean breeze, you’ll never want to spend a minute longer indoors than you have to – every outdoor activity will simply be too enjoyable. Around 200 days a year see temperatures above 70 °F. What’s unique about Sandi is that it also has a bunch of microclimates due to its varied terrain. Ever since record-keeping of weather started over a century ago, it has only snowed six times here. Needless to say, it never stuck around for longer than a couple of hours.

Cons: So many people around the world thing they’d love to move someplace where it’s perpetually warm. However, they tend to underestimate the wonders of winter. What people forget is that, in Sandi and other warm areas, Christmas doesn’t feel as festive, New Year’s Eve is not as magical, and curling up with your significant other under a warm blanket with a cup of hot chocolate is not high on the list of romantic things to do in San Diego. Luckily, if you find yourself missing all the beauties of winter and snow, you can organize a road trip to Mammouth Mountain or Big Bear, where the snow actually sticks.

Things to Do and Places to See

Pros: Sandi might not be an ancient city with lots of history, but its culture is booming. There are so many unique things to do in San Diego that we’re not sure where to start. From the world-famous Zoo and Balboa Park to the best restaurants in San Diego and vivid nightlife, wherever you turn, there’ll be something new to discover and experience. Do you enjoy music? Visual arts? Working out? Sunbathing? Whatever your preferences are, Sandi won’t let you down.

Cons: Lots of attractions means lots of tourists, too – this is a trendy travel destination. In other words, there are very few pockets of Sandi that aren’t constantly besieged by visitors. A visit to any museum, no matter how large or beautiful it is, can be ruined if you constantly have to elbow your way through its halls and hop up and down to catch a glimpse of the artwork over the heads of countless other visitors. Finding parking near the most popular beaches is pretty much impossible, as is finding a good spot with some shade on the beach itself. If you’re moving from a small town, this kind of life can prove to be quite a shock.

StatisticsNo. of Employees in TourismAnnual Visitors' SpendingNo. of Yearly Visitors
Current Averages199,800$11.6 billion35.1
Predictions for 2020/+4.6%+2.2%

Source: SanDiego.org

Beyond Museums and Road Trips: What Else You Should Know About Sandi

Although the pros and cons we listed are valuable pieces of information, they don’t even scratch the surface of what it’s like being a local here. Here is some other important stuff you should know before you pack your bags.

Is San Diego Expensive to Live In?

The short answer is yes, the cost of living in San Diego is pretty high. You probably already knew that, but do you know what the actual numbers look like? We collected data from Numbeo, the online database of costs all around the world, and here is what we came up with:

Food and groceries:

  • Three-course meal for two people in a moderately-priced restaurant: $75
  • A gallon of milk: $3.90
  • A loaf of bread: $3.70
  • A pound of apples: $1.70
  • A pound of chicken fillet: $5

Transportation and Utilities:

  • Monthly transit pass: $72
  • A gallon of gas: $3.80
  • One taxi mile: $3
  • Utilities for a 915sqft apartment: $145
  • Internet: $65

Housing:

  • Rent for a one-bedroom apartment downtown: $2,150
  • Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in other neighborhoods: $1,750
  • A square foot downtown: $570
  • A square foot in other neighborhoods: $380

If these numbers seem too high, don’t worry. The average household income is just as high – over $100,000. On top of that, you can always find a roommate and share some of the expenses.

Everyday expenses here can get pretty high.

Is It Safe to Live in San Diego?

There really is no short answer to this question. According to AreaVibes, the city overall has a crime rate slightly lower than that of the state of California and the country as a whole. However, the numbers vary by neighborhood. Some areas, including the suburbs and more well-off neighborhoods, are generally safer than poorer communities. These are some of the safest corners of Sandi for living:

  • Del Mar Mesa
  • Via de la Valle
  • San Pasqual Valley
  • La Jolla
  • Torrey Hills

Finding Houses and Apartments in the Area

You now know about the housing prices in the area, but what about the state of the housing market itself? According to Redfin, the city scores 86/100 in competitiveness. Some homes sell in less than a week. If you want to buy property, you shouldn’t expect to be able to lower the price by more than 1%, and sometimes you may even have to offer more than what’s being asked. Needless to say, the situation is even more intense in areas close to good schools, the downtown, the beach, and so on.

Moving-Related Questions

There’s more to relocating than just knowing the pros and cons of the place where you want to go – the relocation process itself can be quite tangled. For example, SD authorities might request that you have a special permit to park the moving truck in front of your new home as you unload your belongings. You might even need a similar permit for your current address, depending on where you live. Your chosen movers might require some additional paperwork or information, too. There are so many issues that can pop up when you least expect them. That’s why getting organized to move is a crucial first step.

What Is It Like Living in San Diego?

As you can see, Sandi is a place of binarities. There are things you’ll absolutely love and those that will get on your nerves. There are people you’ll call friends and those you’ll consider annoying tourists. There are times of the year when you’ll love the weather and times that will make you want to move to Alaska. In short, living here is, ultimately, what you make of it. If you embrace the city with all of its imperfections, it is sure to love you back and provide you with the kind of lifestyle you’ve been in search of.

Written By: Tara Gregory