Seated along the coast of the Pacific in Southern California, San Diego, CA is directly adjoined to the border with Mexico and rests about 120 miles south of the L.A. metro area. This city is home to around 1.5 million, making it the eighth-largest within the US.
It is generally termed as the birthplace of California as having been the primary site to be visited by European explorers along the western coast. In 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo claimed the world for Spain, but it wouldn’t be until the Mission of San Diego and the Presidio were founded in 1769 that a permanent settlement within the area would begin to take a mold. In 1821, the town became a part of Mexico after gaining independence.
After the conclusion of the Mexican-American War in 1848, California would become a part of the US. Two years later, San Diego also joined their state as a part of the union. There are roughly 200 hills and canyons to explore throughout the town, creating urban centers that have remained relatively untamed. This structure gives the town a segmented feel, which creates a low-density living environment.
Moving to Southern California might have been a temptation for you and San Diego is a pretty awesome place to live in. If you are considering settling, here are a few pros and cons lined up for you.
Pros of Living in San Diego
Typically at a perfect 75 degrees, the weather in San Diego is definitely among its best pros. It is the same around anywhere in San Diego County. Generally staying near the low 70s, there are about 10 days of rain a year and it only gets chilly during winter evenings.
2. The Beach Life
Once you begin living in San Diego, making your way to the Pacific Ocean is going to be a new way of life for you. There’s so much to do when you live in the city, from taking a stroll in the early sunshine, going surfing, or taking a swim at almost any time you want.
The tiny distance that you have to cover to get to the sand and sunshine makes it easy to do a little tanning or go for your favorite beach sports. Because of such perks, you’ll soon find out how life runs at a slower pace in this city as compared to the busy lifestyle occurring in cities such as LA to the north.
3. Manageable Traffic
Once again, making a comparison with the neighboring city of Los Angeles, which has the worst traffic situation in the country, San Diego will provide you with a much better scenario. The traffic here isn’t perfect by any means, but you will witness how it’s fairly easy to navigate through the highways of this town.
You won’t come across as many unexpected circumstances so your route from home to work will be predictable on most days. If your preference is to live and work in the downtown area, the public transportation system in the city will prove to be pretty handy.
4. Driving in the Carpool Lane is an option
You may want to consider buying an electric vehicle if you begin living in San Diego, as you’ll be handed a reflective sticker by the DMV that will allow you to drive your Prius, Tesla, or a similar model in the carpool lane even if you’re the only one in the car. Unlike most cities, that requires you to have 2 or 3 passengers in a vehicle to get access to the carpool lane. The option of carpool makes it easier to get to your destination on time, navigate through the city, or avoid needless exits with their traffic.
5. The Growing Culture
San Diego has the largest urban cultural park in the US. Balboa Park presents about a dozen museums, a greater number of art galleries, the Globe Theaters, and the zoological park for the metropolitan area. There are also beautiful gardens to explore when you are in this area. You’ll also find the opera, live symphonies, and over 7,000 restaurants awaiting your arrival. If exploring California culture has been on your wishlist, living in this city will be just the right experience for you.
5 of the San Diego school districts have been ranked in the top 30 in all of California. San Diego County offers some of the best public schools in California and it may just add up in your list of perks to make a move here.
Cons of living in San Diego
1. Parking can be a struggle
As most of the households in San Diego own at least one vehicle, finding a decent parking space sometimes becomes an impossible task. This issue will especially be significant if you live in the city proper, as you may be asked to pay for space as well.
And in case you decide to take the bus, then you’ll have to budget a couple of hours to make sure that you reach your destination on time. Driving may take you just 20 minutes, but you’ll have to consider another 10 to find a safe spot to park. Getting a motorcycle or a scooter might make this process easier for you.
Also, trying to find a parking spot at the beach between 10 am to 7 pm feels like an impossible task during summer.
2. You may Still Need to Own a car in San Diego
Even if the public transportation system of the city is available most times, the trolleys and buses might not always be the most convenient way of getting from one place to another. Many residents have come to the conclusion that owning a vehicle is essential if they want to minimize the time spent on the road.
An only exception can be made for the people who live in the downtown area, as the Coaster will take you to several stops and scenic views for just $120 per month.
3. Airline Services are Inconvenient
If your someone who loves to travel then a fact that will come to your notice about this city is that the San Diego International Airport is nowhere near as helpful as you would be expecting from a city of this size. There is just one runway to support the air traffic coming through the area.
The airlines will price a flight to San Diego as if it were more of a regional hub, which means flying out of the city will be costlier than if you were to go through an airport to the north. Many residents of the city instead choose to drive up to LAX to fly somewhere as the savings can be significant.
4. Rash Drivers – Zonies
People from Arizona arrive in San Diego very often in order to enjoy the sand, surf, and take on the opportunities in the city. There will come a point where you will be able to pick out the Zonies without even seeing their license plates as they have a way with their driving. Even if the city flourishes on tourism, when the summer heat hits Phoenix, you will be seeing tons of people moving westward on I-8 to get to the cooler shores of the Pacific.
Everyone has bad experiences to share about this bunch of summer migrating travelers. There are those who happen to make left turns from the right-turn lane. Some in the water at times violate protocol at surf breaks. They’ll be taking the best parking spots, filling up almost all the dinner reservations, and possibly can be blamed for all that goes wrong in the city.
5. The struggle with precipitation
The lives of the people in San Diego revolve around a fixed routine. You’ll soon come to see that it gets comfortable when the days are warm, and the ocean water stays temperate throughout the year. But during some odd times, when the weather acts up and doesn’t play cool, the traffic hassles can get pretty bad instantly.
More than a little precipitation in the city can begin causing the number of accidents to rise. To make sure that you get to your destination safely, you will want to take extra care on the roadways at such times.
Costs of living in San Diego
Having gone through a bunch of pros and cons of living in San Diego, you may have gotten a step ahead in your decisions. If you’re choosing to settle here, then the next step would be to know the costs of living and we have that sorted out for you as well.
1. Housing and Rent
Over the past two decades, the housing market in San Diego has become extremely valuable. In fact, the data taken from 2000 to 2018 on NeighborhoodScout shows that the average annual increment rate for homes in the city is 4.85%.
This has caused high average prices for homes in San Diego, even by Californian standards. The average home sales cost for San Diego has been listed at $626,000 according to a 2018 report from the National Association of Realtors. That surpasses Los Angeles, which has an average of $576,100.
Renting can be your only alternative if you don’t yet have the savings for a down payment. The average rent for a San Diego studio was listed at $1,413, according to March 2019 Apartment List data. The typical rent amount for a one-bedroom in the city average is $1,564, while that number can rise up to $2,030 for a two-bedroom and $2,923 for a three-bedroom.
Housing occupies a major cost of living in San Diego, but it’s not the only factor to consider. As per Numbeo.com, a basic package of utilities for a 915-square foot apartment in San Diego will cost you an average of $130.60 per month. That has an inclusion of electricity, water, heating and garbage. Adding to the internet, you may expect to pay a further $64.59 per month.
Of course, you have the option to cook at home and save money on food. The residents of San Diego who choose to take this route to spend around $313 a month on groceries, which actually is much lower than the $324 U.S. average, according to Numbeo.com.
But if you get bored of home-cooked meals and feel like eating out once in a while, a standard, affordable meal in San Diego will cost you $15. The data from Numbeo.com suggests that a trip to a mid-tier restaurant for a three-course meal can get the price rising to $50.
The healthcare prices in San Diego are 64% more expensive than the national average, according to a 2016 report by the Health Care Cost Institute. That easily marks it among the priciest cities for healthcare in the country.
Well known for its high taxes, California has the highest income tax rates in the U.S. When taking San Diego-specific taxes in consideration, the sales tax rate is 7.75%. One fact of relief is that, similar to the rest of California, property taxes are low, and a typical effective property tax rate for San Diego County is 0.76%.