Moving to San Diego, CA

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Last Updated on January 8, 2024 @ 5:10 pm

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San Diego At-A-Glance

You’re not the only one. Over 3.2 million people call San Diego home. The city maintains some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. L. Frank Baum was inspired by Coronado’s Hotel Del when creating Emerald City. And, San Diego is known for creating wildly popular food staples like the California burrito and carne asada fries.

The city’s residents make San Diego the eighth largest in the country and the second largest in California. Yet San Diego has a comfortable, small town atmosphere. San Diego’s neighborhoods have a culture as rich as its population. From picturesque, beach homes in La Jolla to modern, downtown condos in the East Village, you’ll find your place in the city and a home perfect for you. Not sure where to start? Read our guide to top San Diego neighborhoods, then consult our list of best San Diego realtors to help make your search easy.

San Diego is also known for popular, annual events such as Comic-Con International, which takes place every July. The San Diego Film Festival, San Diego Fashion Week, KAABOO Festival and the Del Mar Races.

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A Laid-Back, Welcoming Vibe With Award-Winning Culture

San Diego is known for its laid-back, welcoming vibe. Because of its food, nightlife, and theater scene, people from all over the country migrate to the West Coast to call the city home making it that much easier for strangers to quickly turn into friends.

The city also has access to some of the freshest seafood in the world, which chefs take advantage of with daily catch specials and high-grade sushi menus. The city thrives on local produce and food sustainability with area gardens and farms contributing to restaurant menus.

Restaurants pop up in San Diego so often, it’s tough to keep track of all the new openings. Top chefs and award-winning culinary talent take pride in their food and choose the city as a place to expand their careers. Old Town has some of the best, authentic Mexican food in the city complete with ladies making fresh, homemade tortillas in the windows to entice people passing by. 

From downtown nightclubs to live music showcases to piano bars and dives, the city offers an upbeat tempo for everyone. Most of the nightlife occurs downtown in the city’s famous Gaslamp Quarter or in the uptown neighborhoods of North Park, South Park, and Normal Heights.

San Diegans are crazy about theater and why wouldn’t they be with the historical theater options (both indoors and outdoors) available. Whether you fancy a hit Broadway play at the San Diego Civic Center, wish to enjoy local talent at La Jolla Playhouse, The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park or seek a more intimate atmosphere at Coronado Playhouse, the city’s cultural buzz is alive and well.

San Diego Economy is More Robust Than Ever

San Diego is a military city and much of its economy is made up of military- and defense-related activity, in addition to international trade, tourism, medical, and manufacturing jobs, all which are listed as top industries. 

Not only is the local economy growing and remaining strong, but many companies and start-ups are choosing San Diego as their headquarters. Major employers include 32nd St. Naval Base, Barona Resort & Casino, Kaiser Permanente, and SeaWorld San Diego.

Unemployment rate: 3.4% (as of August 2022)
Average weekly wages for all industries: $1,311 (as of August 2022)

The Most Livable (and Expensive) City in California

San Diego has a plethora of rankings to prove its popularity: 12th best city to live in the United States and the 4th most livable city in California. The news isn’t all roses. America’s Finest City is also one of the most expensive places to live in the world. The average cost of living is $2,797, and the median salary is $5,969, which is enough to cover expenses for just over two months. 

According to the California Department of Finance, the San Diego region is growing at a rate of approximately one percent, or an average of 30,000 people moving to the city each year. Median rent for an 875 sq. ft. one-bedroom apartment in San Diego is a whopping $2,916, and the median home prices continue to break records at $891,746. Stiff competition combined with a small home inventory will continue to drive up prices in Southern California.

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Breathtaking View and Scenery That is Out of This World

People flock to San Diego because it has perfect weather all year round. The bonus is you get to live in an area with fantastic beaches, affordable neighborhoods, and business opportunities. You can’t go wrong with these gorgeous neighborhoods to choose from:

La Jolla

Why do people move to La Jolla in droves? For the breathtaking views and scenery that is out of this world. This is an area that is great for young professionals, and retirees because it’s like living in an actual paradise (with a hefty price tag, that is). 

San Marcos

This progressive neighborhood boasts a low unemployment rate, affordable home prices and high-paying jobs making it ideal for young families and first-time home buyers. 

Del Mar Mesa

Mix an urban lifestyle with semi-rural living and you’ve got one of the hottest neighborhoods in San Diego. It’s also a nature lover’s heaven with 900 acres of wildlife habitats and over 10 miles of walking, biking, and hiking trails. If you’re looking for unique and laid-back, you’ll find that vibe in Del Mar Mesa. 

Solana Beach

This city was built on bluffs that overlook the beach giving it some of the best ocean views of the entire region. It’s a great place for families to live because of low crime rates and an excellent school system. The neighborhood also offers a nice mix of urban and suburban living. 

Beat the Commute (and Traffic) With Plenty of Ridesharing

SoCal residents take a slightly different naming convention for their roadways by adding “the” in front of any main freeway. For example, the 5, the 805 and the 15 are all popular routes that interweave you between different areas of the city all the way down to the U.S./Mexico border.

Due to the city’s port of entries, not to mention commutes in and out of downtown, as well as North County, traffic can back up during peak hours.

Many San Diegans participate in ridesharing, public transportation or bike to work whenever they can. The Coaster, San Diego Trolley (MTS), and San Diego Bike Shares all provide alternatives for residents who wish to ride to work in a different way.

Preparing Compassionate and Ethical Leaders

San Diego County has one of the highest concentrations of top ranked public schools in California, which is why 90 percent of all students are enrolled there. College students have ample opportunities in San Diego as well. It is home to the highly ranked University of California – San Diego, the University of San Diego, Point Loma Nazarene University, and San Diego State University.

San Diego is Renowned for Its Idyllic Climate

It’s called America’s Finest City for a reason. With the majority of the calendar year being filled with 70-degree temperatures and sunny skies, San Diego is a place where people like to vacation year-round. The temperatures cool during the winter months, but nowhere near the freezing thermostats and precipitation the rest of the country endures.

Summer average (June – Aug): 74°F high, 65°F low
Winter average (Dec – Feb): 65°F high, 49°F low

10 Can’t-Miss Things to Do in San Diego

San Diego is known for its beautiful weather, 70 miles of pristine beaches and a dazzling array of world-class family attractions, which include these 10 can’t miss things to do in the city:

  1. Visit Balboa Park, a sprawling 1,200 acre-public park home to The Old Globe Theater and a cluster of international houses representing 32 cultures. 
  2. Stop by the San Diego Zoo, which is one of the best zoos in the world. And with an astonishing amount of wild animals, it’s easy to see why. 
  3. Book a stay at the Hotel del Coronado, which is an iconic San Diego landmark known for being the backdrop of the film Some Like it Hot with Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Marylin Monroe.
  4. Enjoy a family-friendly outing to Petco Park to watch America’s favorite pastime. 
  5. Have a drink at the famed Gaslamp Quarter, a 16-and-a-half block of entertainment, shopping, and nightlife mixed with Victorian charm.
  6. Climb aboard the USS Midway Museum, which is a maritime museum built from the longest-serving aircraft carrier in US Navy history. 
  7. Beeline to the Barrio Logan neighborhood for seriously authentic Mexican food. 
  8. Test your spook factor at the Whaley House Museum, which sits in San Diego’s Old Town and is one of only two officially designated haunted houses in California.
  9. Book a whale-watching tour during peak season, which is between June and September. 
  10. Stroll the oldest known cemetery in California and attend mass in the original chapel at the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala.

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Shawnna Stiver

Shawnna Stiver is a veteran content writer and copy strategist with over 22 years of experience. She has had the pleasure of writing traditional, digital and social content for the following industries: beauty, construction, consumer goods, entrepreneurship, financial services, health/wellness, home improvement/DIY, lifestyle, moving, non-profit, parenting, self improvement and travel. In addition, she’s led content strategy for the self-storage industry since 2022.
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The SpareFoot Blog offers tips about self-storage, information about storage auctions, advice about home organization, news about SpareFoot and much more.
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