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Moving to San Diego: Complete Moving Guide 2024

With awesome beaches, awesome weather, and plenty to see and enjoy, moving to San Diego makes a lot of sense. Here’s what you should know before packing your bags.
Moving to San Diego - Moving APT

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It’s a fact. It’s the greatest city in the history of mankind. Discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it “San Diago,” which of course in German means… well, you know the rest. If you want a beach city in SoCal, but LA is just too LA, San Diego’s your ticket – and Moving APT can help you get there.

The research team at Moving APT did all the heavy lifting so you don’t have to. We pored over housing info, job data, and even sent our boots-on-the-ground correspondent to find the best michelada north of the border (and we haven’t heard from him since). The end result? Our in-depth guide to San Diego, complete with everything you can expect from the city on the sea.

Ready to hit the Highway to the Danger Zone? Read on to learn more about America’s Finest City.

Why Move to San Diego?

San Diego is more than just a pretty city on the beach – although that’s an admittedly major positive.

Here’s a quick look at why some people are making the move:

  • Excellent Weather: Some people get so sick of shoveling snow they just straight up move to a different city. San Diego rarely gets colder than 60ºF, and even at its hottest, it’s unusual to exceed 100ºF.
  • Beaches and Natural Beauty: San Diego has some of the best beaches in the country, and you don’t need to go far to find a perfect hiking spot, either. This goes hand-in-hand with that famously great weather.
  • Booming Job Market: Like most cities in California, San Diego has a booming job market. There’s opportunities in everything from defense to tech, and if you can brave the traffic or snag a WFH job, more power to you.
  • Culture and Lifestyle: Trade your snow boots for some board shorts and flip-flops. SD is really relaxed, even by SoCal standards. It’s also right next to the Mexican border, so that metaphorical melting pot is more like a big ol’ pot of Pozole.
  • Educational Opportunities: Sure UCSD may get called “UC Socially Dead”, but that’s just because they’re one of those schools that cares more about learning than partying. San Diego State is a different story.
  • Family-Friendly: There’s the Zoo, museums, and a huge park all wrapped up in one package, and that’s more than enough for a few weekends. The rest of the city has plenty for families to enjoy, from Legoland to Sesame Place.
  • Arts and Entertainment: If you’re looking for independent artists and boutiques, North Park and Little Italy have you covered. They always have some kind of event going on, and it’s great to support local businesses run by passionate people.

While the above list is by no means exhaustive, it’s easy to understand why people are moving to San Diego. But how much will it cost to get there in the first place?

How Much Does it Cost to Move to San Diego?

If you’re planning a relocation to San Diego, expect to pay between $300 and $18,000 – but keep in mind we’ve seen some moves done for a bit more or less.

It all depends on how much you’re moving, how far you have to travel, and your method of choice for your move.

Here’s a helpful table of San Diego moving costs:

Distance1 Bedroom2-3 Bedroom4-5 Bedroom
Local (< 100 miles)$300 – $800$800 – $2,000$2,000 – $5,000+
100 miles$1,000 – $3,000$3,000 – $6,000$6,000 – $10,000+
250 miles$1,500 – $4,000$4,000 – $7,000$7,000 – $12,000+
750 miles$2,000 – $5,000+$5,000 – $8,000+$8,000 – $15,000+
1500 miles$3,000 – $6,000+$6,000 – $9,000+$9,000 – $16,000+
2500 miles+$4,000 – $7,000+$7,000 – $10,000+$10,000 – $18,000+

Our Top San Diego Movers

If you’re moving to San Diego, you’ll need some professional help. Here are our top picks for San Diego moving companies:

Adams Van Lines - Best Long Distance Movers

Adams Van Lines

4.9
4.7/5
Native Van Lines - Best Long Distance Movers

Native Van Lines

4.7
4.7/5
Pricing Van Lines - Best Long Distance Movers

Pricing Van Lines

4.5
4.5/5

What are the Pros and Cons of Moving to San Diego?

SD may sound pretty great so far, but make sure you look at your move realistically. Know what to expect with our pros and cons of San Diego:

Pros

Cons

If San Diego still sounds good to you, try not to get too excited. We still have to talk numbers…

What's the Cost of Living in San Diego?

San Diego ain’t cheap. The average home price sits at just about $1,000,000, and if you decide to rent instead, you’re looking at almost $3,000 a month for a one-bedroom. The price of entry is a huge detriment to anyone looking to move to SD, and unless you’re okay with moving to the outskirts, there’s not many alternatives.

As for the day-to-day prices, San Diego doesn’t show any mercy. Your utilities will set you back about $140 a month, and your monthly groceries will cost around $290. It’s a tough break for anyone who’s used to a more affordable living arrangement, and despite all the stuff you hear in the news, the fine folks at Blackrock are going to make sure the market stays ridiculous.

“Ha!” You may be saying: “I found a cheap crackhouse for $800,000 in East San Diego! Now I can commute to my job and live in [barely] the same county as the actually fun stuff!” Okay, have fun paying that $4.89 a gallon for gas, smartypants.

Expense Category Cost
Housing Average Home Price: $1,000,000
Rent (One-bedroom) Monthly Rent: Approximately $3,000
Utilities Monthly Utilities: $140
Groceries Monthly Groceries: $290
Gasoline Gas Price per Gallon: $4.89 (approx.)

Where are the Best Places to Live in San Diego?

If you can somehow afford to live in San Diego – and you can somehow afford to pick and choose your neighborhood – there’s plenty of great options to check out. Here

  • La Jolla: La Jolla has a lot of fancy restaurants and shops. It’s also right on the water, with an easy-to-access beach and an easy-to-walk path that runs parallel to the Pacific. If you can find parking, La Jolla is an awesome spot.
  • North Park: Every city has a neighborhood for the artsy set. North Park is San Diego’s. There’s a lot of boutique shops, art galleries, and gastropubs in this neck of the woods, not to mention the venerable Verbatim Books and the outstanding Olympic Cafe.
  • Coronado: Coronado is a fancy peninsula with fancy houses and a fancy hotel. We can’t write much more about it because we’re only getting paid 6¢ per word and the locals don’t take kindly to “the poors” poking around there.
  • Del Mar: All of San Diego is pretty famous for the excellent beaches, but Del Mar’s are something special. They also have a horse racing track in case you want to trade your mojito in for a mint julep.
  • Hillcrest: Hillcrest is the heart of San Diego’s LGBT+ scene. It’s a bit West Hollywood (i.e. the people there are sassy, judgmental, and mean) but aside from that there are plenty of good bars and restaurants.
  • Gaslamp Quarter: This is a great spot in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the big city. There’s plenty of bars, and it’s also easy to get from your favorite watering hole to Petco Park and back. Go Padres!

San Diego has a little something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a house on the outskirts or an apartment in the thick of the action, you can find what you need (assuming you can afford it).

How’s the Job Market in San Diego?

People have to afford San Diego somehow. Fortunately, there are plenty of job opportunities to keep the bills paid and the roof over your head:

  • Growing Sectors: Somehow, almost inexplicably considering the price of housing, the San Diego professional scene is growing – or at least that’s what they’re telling us in their quarterly reports. Everything from tech to tourism is on a post-pandemic upswing.
  • Military and Defense: On March 3rd, 1969 the United States Navy established an elite school for the top one percent of its pilots. Today, the Navy calls it Fighter Weapons School. The flyers call it: TOP GUN.
  • Tourism and Hospitality: Remember how we listed “Tourists” as a con in our “Pros and Cons of San Diego” section? Sometimes a yearly invasion of tourists can be a good thing. Just ask anyone who works in hospitality.
  • Research and Education: San Diego has plenty of R&D. Aside from the universities, the Salk Institute is a leading establishment in cutting edge research (although most people know it for the instagrammable view).
  • Startup Culture: Are you a unicorn, rockstar, or whatever else the HR goons are calling it these days? You’re going to love the San Diego startup scene. You’ll work long hours for a boss that takes days off, but you’ll be part of something exciting from square one.
  • Competitive Salaries: To offset the housing costs, businesses in San Diego offer competitive wages. To offset the competitive wages, San Diego real estate gets pricier. Make sure you account for inflation and the housing market when you counteroffer.
  • International Trade: San Diego is right next to Mexico, and the San Ysidro border crossing is the busiest land border in the Western Hemisphere. While this means wild weekends spent in Tijuana, it also means great opportunities for international trade.

San Diego has a job market to match the price tag, and if you’re going to be spending 8 hours a day in an office or on a jobsite, you may as well work somewhere beautiful. Besides, once you clock out, there’ll be plenty to see and enjoy:

What is San Diego Most Known For?

San Diego is expensive for a reason. Aside from that constantly good weather, there’s a ton of activities and point of interest:

  • Balboa Park: Balboa Park is a must-see, for locals and visitors alike. Not only does it offer a wide open space in the middle of the city, it also boasts several museums and attractions – including…
  • The San Diego Zoo: This is a world class zoo, and everyone should go at least once. Zoos these days may get a bad rep from the animal rights camp, but the San Diego Zoo is dedicated to conservation and species preservation. They’re one of the good ones.
  • Balboa Park Museums: Balboa Park is home to the zoo, but also to enough museums to keep you occupied for months. The Air and Space Museum, the Museum of Art, the Automotive Museum, the list goes on, and they’re all excellent.
  • USS Midway Museum: We’re trying to put as many Top Gun references in here as possible, so of course we’d recommend the USS Midway. It’s an entire aircraft carrier, but converted into a floating museum of military history.
  • Maritime Museum of San Diego: People see big ships and think they’re all the same museum, but the Maritime Museum of San Diego is actually a separate entity than the Midway. Climb aboard a retired submarine, or the famous HMS Surprise.
  • Craft Beer: When you walk through the arrivals gate at the San Diego airport, one of the first things you see is a bar operated by Stone Brewing. San Diego is big on craft beers, there’s no better place to enjoy them.
  • Naval Presence: San Diego is also a major hub for national defense. There’s a stretch of the 5 that always slows down just north of Del Mar, but you can see helicopters and jets doing flybys while you wait. There’s also MCRD San Diego for you crayon-eaters.
  • Mexico, but safe: There’s a huge Mexican and Latin American population, which means you can get find some of the best Latin markets in the US just by exploring San Diego. Of course, if you’re brave enough, you can cross the border for the real thing…
  • Beaches, hiking, and the great outdoors: There’s plenty of great beaches and hiking trails all over San Diego. Much like the rest of Southern California, there’s tons of sunshine to facilitate your outdoorsy streak.

Come to San Diego! There’s so much to see, from the sparkling waters of Mission Bay to the warm tortillas of old town. And after a day of sightseeing, why not load your brain up at some of the best schools and universities in the area?

What are the Best Schools & Universities in San Diego?

If you’re moving to San Diego in search of higher ed, there’s plenty of great schools in and around the city. And if you’re looking for great opportunities for your K-12 kids, San Diego has you covered, too:

  • University of California, San Diego (UCSD): Playfully nicknamed “UC Socially Dead”, UCSD has a reputation for studious students and serious studies. The school has excellent STEM programs, strong research initiatives, and a high GPA requirement.
  • San Diego State University (SDSU): SDSU is like UCSD’s fun sibling. It’s a bit of a party school, and it’s well-known for business, engineering, and public health programs. It’s also pretty impacted, but that just comes with the territory.
  • Point Loma Nazarene University: Point Loma Nazarene University isn’t as big as SDSU or UCSD, but it’s still a great place for education. This is a private christian university, offering a range of liberal arts programs.
  • The Bishop’s School: San Diego has plenty of options for K-12 education as well. The Bishop’s School is a prestigious private college-prep school, known for a strong emphasis on academic performance.
  • La Jolla Country Day School: Another excellent K-12 option, La Jolla Country Day School offers a well-rounded education with a strong emphasis on both academics and extracurriculars.
  • Torrey Pines High School: You don’t need to go private to find a good school. Torrey Pines is one of the best public high schools in the area, and like its private counterparts, it’s well-known for its academics and athletics.
  • Canyon Crest Academy: Another solid public option, Canyon Crest Academy is located just a little inland from Del Mar. The school is heavily focused on the arts and technology, and it’s not far from the beach, either.

Whether it’s higher ed or K-12, San Diego has plenty to offer in terms of education. There’s a lot to learn while you’re living in SD, so why not learn at some of the best schools in SoCal?

You Stay Classy, San Diego

San Diego is one of the best cities in the country and you should definitely not move here. Stay away. We’re full.

Check out our Moving Cost Calculator for more info on how to budget your move, and use our downloadable moving checklist to keep things organized. Don’t forget to check back in with Moving APT for more tips, tricks and insider info to make your moving day even easier!

Joey Sasson

Joey Sasson

Joey Sasson is an executive and author with over 30 years of experience in the moving industry. As president of sales and logistics at Moving APT, Joey’s been a driving force behind our company’s success. He’s known around the office for his expertise and dedication, and he’s probably working on another article right this moment. Joey has a lot to say about the moving industry, but he also writes about other elements of business, leadership, self-improvement, and more.
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