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Make Every Day a Vacation: The Insider’s Guide to Moving to San Diego

Considering a move to San Diego? Get ready for sunny skies, beautiful beaches, and a vibrant lifestyle. This insider's guide covers everything from navigating traffic to managing the high cost of living. While San Diego offers unparalleled quality of life, it's essential to understand the challenges, such as traffic congestion and housing costs, before making the leap.
Moving to San Diego - Moving APT

In this article

San Diego is a beautiful sunny city and it’s no surprise that you’ve thought about moving here. In this article, we will be covering essential topics from navigating the city’s traffic to managing the high cost of living and finding the right place to call home.

It offers a glimpse into the daily life in San Diego, showcasing the city’s beautiful weather, a wide range of activities, surf culture, and the impact of tourism on local life, providing a comprehensive overview for anyone considering making the move.

Traffic: Hope You Live Close To Work

Traffic is a big deal, but it’s not as tough as what you’d face in Los Angeles, though it can still test anyone’s patience. During rush hour, it might feel like being in a high-speed race, so it’s a good idea to find some favorite music or podcasts to make the drive more bearable.

For those who’d rather not spend more than 30 minutes commuting one way, it’s wise to live within 15 miles of their workplace. Otherwise, the journey could stretch to an hour or more during peak times.

Cost of living: Balling On A Healthy Income

Living in San Diego means enjoying a beautiful lifestyle, but it comes with a high price. Recently, San Diego has become known as one of the least affordable cities in the United States, with single-family homes starting around a million dollars.

However, if you’re willing to live a bit away from the coast, prices can drop to under $800,000. For those interested in condos, prices start at about $450,000 for a one-bedroom. Rental prices vary, but a one-bedroom apartment usually starts at around $2,800 a month.

San Diego offers a wide range of housing options to fit different budgets, ensuring everyone can find a place they’re happy to call home, possibly even with a view.

Daily Expenses: It Aint Cheap

Yes, gas is around five dollars a gallon, and dining out for two, with drinks, averages about a hundred dollars. But, San Diego also offers lots of free entertainment just outside your door, thanks to its year-round outdoor lifestyle.

Some of the best beach days can even happen in January. Despite its high cost of living, people who move to San Diego often stay because of the unmatched quality of life it offers, allowing them to live exactly how they want, every day of the year. This commitment to a better life means that happy people are a common sight in San Diego.

Weather: Hot Hot Hot

People often think the weather in San Diego is always perfect, but sometimes, nature surprises us. In May and June, a marine layer brings gray skies over the city, creating what locals call “May Gray” and “June Gloom.” However, don’t worry because, by July, the sunshine and clear skies return.

If you travel about 20 miles east, you can usually find sunny skies even during these gloomy months. The area west of the 15 freeway is where this gray weather is most common. Although it might not look the best, the cooler weather can actually feel quite pleasant.

Stuff to do: A Quick Exclusive Guide

With such great weather, many attractions, and beautiful beaches, San Diego has a plethora of activities for you to enjoy. We’ve curated a list of some of the best ones below:

  • Balboa Park: A sprawling 1200-acre park in downtown San Diego ideal for strolls, bike rides, and picnics. Features Spanish Renaissance architecture and the famous Botanical Building with over 2,000 plant species.
  • San Diego Zoo: Located in Balboa Park, it’s one of the USA’s most renowned zoos, housing a vast collection of rare and endangered animals including giant pandas, giraffes, elephants, polar bears, and koalas.
  • Beach Day: Essential for any San Diego visit. Mission Beach and Pacific Beach are perfect for being close to attractions and amenities, while Coronado Beach offers a quieter, pristine experience.
  • Gaslamp Quarter: A must-visit in the evening, this area boasts 16 blocks of Victorian-style buildings, art galleries, theaters, restaurants, bars, and clubs, offering vibrant nightlife.
  • Old Town San Diego State Historic Park: A mile-long stretch of restored homes and stores from the first European settlement in California, known as the birthplace of California.
  • USS Midway Museum: Explore the longest-serving American aircraft carrier of the 20th century with exhibits and restored aircraft.
  • Maritime Museum of San Diego: Near the seaport, this museum features historical vessels including the Star of India, the world’s oldest active ship, along with submarines and sailing ships.
  • Torrey Pines State Reserve: An oceanfront nature reserve with 17,000 acres of picturesque landscape and rare Torrey pine trees.
  • Petco Park: A destination for baseball fans offering stunning views of the San Diego skyline. Located in the East Village, near the Gaslamp Quarter, with options for stadium tours.
  • SeaWorld: Home to California sea lions, dolphins, otters, and sea turtles. It offers animal exhibits, a shark underwater viewing tunnel, and rides.

Culture: Hang Loose

In San Diego, surfing is a big deal, and you might feel like a newcomer or “grom” among the experts. But there’s no need to worry if you’re not an instant pro. Just grab a surfboard, embrace the waves, and don’t be afraid to fall—it’s all part of the fun in true Californian style. There are plenty of fantastic spots to surf along the coast, and if surfing isn’t your thing, watching from the beach is just as enjoyable.

Beer: (Also A Culture)

San Diego is also known for its thriving craft beer scene, boasting over 150 breweries. While it may not be famous for wine, its beer culture is unparalleled. Spend some time here, and you might develop a keen interest in beer flights.

For example, Epic Brewery in Shelter Island, Point Loma, offers great views and a taste of local beer culture. Some standout breweries include Stone, Ballast Point, and Modern Times, among others. Kombucha has also become popular, with June Shine leading the trend.

Tourism: With Great Attractions Comes A Great Amount Of People

Did you know that 35 million tourists visit San Diego each year? That’s a lot, even though it’s less than the 66 million people who visit New York City. With so many visitors, you can expect that there’s always something happening in San Diego.

However, this also means that places like the beaches and downtown areas can get pretty crowded, especially during the summer. Despite the busy times, every season sees its share of visitors, especially those looking to escape colder climates.

One of the great things about San Diego is its size. You don’t have to live right in the middle of the busy tourist spots. Places like Hillcrest or North Park are just a 10-minute drive from everything, and if you move a bit east to suburbs like Scripps Ranch, Poway, or La Mesa, you’re still only 15 to 20 minutes away from the coast and downtown. These areas offer a quieter, more scenic, and family-friendly lifestyle.

You Stay Classy, San Diego

It’s no surprise San Diego is a very popular place to be and we haven’t sugarcoated anything here. You’d better have your ducks in a row if you want to afford living here, but the people who have made it are reportedly some of the happiest in the country. If San Diego sounds like your dream location, give it a shot because odds are, you’ll love it so much you will make it work.

George Marks

George Marks

George is a copywriter with a knack for adapting quickly, thanks to moving all across the US during his upbringing. Currently, he continues to embrace new cities for work, each move adding a new chapter to his story and expanding his perspective both personally and professionally. In his free time, he enjoys activities like tennis, building computers, and writing engaging stories in a professional setting.
Green Group

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