Moving to San Diego? Read this first

Introduction: moving to San Diego

The bustling city of San Diego provides you with year-round beautiful weather, top school districts, exciting nightlife, and home to the world-renowned San Diego Zoo. With the endless opportunities that are available, no question that moving to San Diego is a great decision for those seeking a city that provides them with a never-ending adventure.

Squash whatever navigation you’ve been reading because this is the “real” San Diego guide. 

Moving to San Diego

Neighborhoods to consider when moving to San Diego

If you’re wondering what neighborhoods are best to move to or spend time in there are a plethora of options. 

North county neighborhoods like Carlsbad are more low-key than the central city but can be quite pricey. Central Coastal neighborhoods such as La Jolla are home to San Diego’s best beach fronts, the best hiking in the city at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, and topped with high-class dining and retail. 

If you are craving the downtown city life, step into the Gaslamp Quarter and stroll through 16 blocks of buzzing nightlife and tourists. The Inland neighborhoods can offer you an art district that is perfect for those claiming to be a foodie, coffeeshop-lover, and festival-seeker. 

The great news is that there are no limits or restrictions when it comes to choosing a neighborhood in, ‘America’s Finest City’. Below is a list of the neighborhood and suburbs of San Diego proving that the possibilities are endless. 

There are several neighborhoods to consider when you're moving to San Diego
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North County Neighborhoods: Carlsbad, Encinitas, Carmel Valley

Central Coastal Neighborhoods: La Jolla, Pacific Beach, Mission Hills, Bankers Hill, Hillcrest, Little Italy, Gaslamp Quarter, East Village, Ocean Beach, Point Loma, Coronado

Inland Neighborhoods: Normal Heights, North Park, South Park 

Suburbs: Solana Beach, Poway, Santee, San Marcos, La Mesa, Oceanside


One thing to know when moving to San Diego is that it's very pet friendly.
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The city of San Diego provides the community with an abundance of choices to stay active. ‘Pet Paradise’ could easily be the newly adopted name for the city, as dogs can have just as much fun as their companion counterparts.

Dog-friendly beaches include Coronado Dog Beach, Ocean Beach Dog Beach, Del Mar Dog Beach, and Fiesta Inland. Take your pooch to eat at Cross Street Kitchen and Beer or wine tasting at San Pasqual Winery

If you are looking for activities independent of your fur-baby, there are plenty of opportunities available:


Located in North Park, if you’re looking to replicate Paul Bunyan and find some stress relief then this is right up your alley. Throwing axes is the new hype. The cost is $31 for 75 minutes and includes instructions. 

Belmont Park

This Mission Beach amusement park is filled with roller coasters, arcades, activities like zip-lining, and scenic views of the Pacific Ocean. Park admission is free and pay as you play but unlimited ride passes are available starting at $30 a person. 

Little Italy Mercato Farmers Market 

Rain or shine, Little Italy Farmer’s Market is open every Saturday from 8 am to 2 pm. Shop fresh produce, eggs, meat, poultry, and more. 

Hotel Del Coronado 

Known as one of the most iconic hotels in the world, Hotel Del Coronado draws in locals and tourists alike. When the hotel opened in 1988, it was known as the largest resort hotel in the world. 

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Known as the number one zoo in the world, it is home to 3,700 animals. One-day admission tickets are $62 for adults and $52 for children (ages 3-11).


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According to the latest BLS data, consumers average over $7,000 per year on food expenses. One way to save in this category is to cut back on dining out and spending more time cooking at home. If you aren’t concerned about saving in this category, the price of a fast-food combo meal averages at $8 and a basic lunchtime menu in the business district at $15.

It’s always good to spoil yourself once in a while and enjoy the nightlife that San Diego offers. A basic dinner for two averages at $42 with a single cocktail at $13. Here are some options for wining and dining in San Diego:

Belly Up Tavern

Located in Solana Beach, this restaurant has live music almost every night showcasing local artists from many different genres. Check out their event calendar by clicking here.

Rooftop by Stk in Gaslamp Quarter

Wanting to fine-dine with breathtaking views? Head on up to the roof of the Andaz San Diego Hotel where you will find yourself taking in downtown San Diego views while all-day dining hours from 11 am to 11 pm. You can choose from casual food such as Carne Asada Tacos to chef-inspired entrees like the Pepper and Smoked Sugar Salmon.

The Grass Skirt in Pacific Beach

Ever heard of pop-up shops? Well, this tiki bar that is located in Pacific Beach features pop-up bars on Grand Ave in San Diego. Over the holiday season, you could catch them popped-up, calling themselves, ‘Sippin’ Santa,’ with featured tiki-themed holiday cocktails. The Grass Skirt is predominantly for night owls, with their hours of operation opening from 5 pm to 10 pm. 

Prohibition Gaslamp Quarter 

If you are a history buff or just love the Roaring Twenties, this prohibition speakeasy will be a San Diego favorite of yours. Similar to BellyUp Tavern, Prohibition Gaslamp Quarter features live music every night. The dress code is enforced Fridays and Saturdays, where you must dress up in 20s themed outfits to enter the premises.

Their website gives instructions saying, “No reservations. No call ahead. It’s simply about showing up, spotting our unassuming Law Office door and seeing where this underground venue of the San Diego nightlife scene will take you.”  (UPDATE: THEY ARE CURRENTLY CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE DUE TO COVID-19. IF YOU ARE VISITING PLEASE CALL OR CHECK WEBSITE TO SEE IF OPEN).

Real Estate, Rent, Housing

Real Estate, Rent, and Housing to evaluate when you're considering moving to San Diego.
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It’s not a surprise that a mortgage or rent payment in San Diego is typically the highest bill residents pay according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Feb. 2021, the Median Sales Price for a home rose 15.1% to $685,000. That’s almost two-fold from the same time last year.

New listings in San Diego County decreased 19.6% to 3,029 and Closed Sales were up 5.9% to 2,500, told by the Lender Mediated Properties Report. 

Mortgage rates have consistently remained unshaken, with the average rate as of Mar. 13, 2021, for a 30-year-fixed mortgage being 3.196% and a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage is 2.474%. With it being a buyer’s market, there’s no better time to hop on the homeowner bandwagon.

If you are looking to purchase a home, don’t forget to consider relevant property taxes, homeowners insurance, HOA, and maintenance fees. 

Home buying may not be for everyone with renting as your only alternative. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,800.

Job Market

U.S. unemployment rate sits at 6.2%. 

California’s unemployment rate is 9%.

San Diego’s unemployment rate is 8%.

Jobs to consider when moving to San Diego
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Looking at those statistics you can see that San Diego’s unemployment rate is lower than the state of California but higher than the United States as a whole. The city is successful when it comes to job market diversity, with job openings in many fields of expertise such as technology, medical, finance, tourism, and life sciences. 


San Diego is safer than 22% of U.S. cities. It’s been voted as the safest big city in the U.S. by several publications. For every 1,000 residents, there are 3.75 violent crimes and 19.83 property crimes

Climate and Weather

San Diego is temperament with average temperatures ranging from 48-76 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Take a look at the weather breakdown every month by clicking here

School Ratings

San Dieguito Union High School District is number one in the San Diego area. While Del Mar Union Elementary ranks 24th out of 1,525 California school districts. Take a look at more school ratings in California here.


San Diego is known for its strong economy and it stood tall during the recession. Residents can thank the military for dominating the city of San Diego’s economic base and spending money to stimulate the economy. International Trade, Manufacturing, Military, and Tourism are the heart and base sectors that make up the San Diego economy.

San Diego was ranked in 2018 as the best in the country for personal income growth and they sit in 5th place as the largest economy in the world.

Due to the population and personal income growth of San Diego in the past two years, it created more individuals who were looking for work and needed temporary rent. Therefore, the development of commercial buildings and rental apartments gave an assist to the thriving economy that San Diego offers. 

According to a study, property values go up in cities that marijuana is legalized in. Ever since Marijuana was legalized in California, cannabis has been a driving force in property demand due to an increase in commercial growers and cannabis buyers. 


San Diego lags compared to the United States when it comes to health insurance. Of those living in San Diego, 90.8% of people have health insurance compared to the U.S. which sits at 92% based on the 2019 Census.


The dominant religion in San Diego is Christianity, with 26.8% of the population being Catholic followed by 6.7% identifying as “other Christian faith.” You can see a breakdown of the San Diego religions here

People Stats

If you are a single professional, San Diego is a great option considering the median age of the population is 34.9, with 25% of its residents younger than 20 and a small 12% older than 64. The population of San Diego sits at 3,347,270, a .13% growth rate in the past year. It holds second place behind Los Angeles for being the largest city in California.

Politics and Voting

California is widely known for being a blue state. That liberal affiliation holds to the city of San Diego as it leans to the majority of its voters being Democrat. In the 2020 Presidential Election, 61% of the population voted Democrat while only 37% voted Republican, told by the San Diego Union Tribune.

San Diego County was predominantly Republican from 2000-2008 but has since switched to liberal in the past four Presidential Elections.

Commute Time

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that transportation will come in second place in expenses for San Diego residents. Consider gas prices, toll road fees, car repairs, and parking when choosing where to live.

San Diego sits at 26 minutes on average for commute time by car. This is a great statistic compared to the rest of the country if you’re looking to avoid traffic. However, when it comes to public transit the average time is sitting at 52 minutes.

Perhaps the city of San Diego should consider improving its public transit routes. Considering the commute time and fees, it may be a good idea to choose a home that’s close to work. 

Commute time is important to think about when moving to San Diego
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Conclusion: moving to San Diego

Whether you are considering moving to San Diego or dropping by for a visit, you have a wide array of choices from housing to school districts to the economic and political trends of the city. The opportunities available in the ‘City of Motion,’ are endless.


Published by Trina Thomas

Hi, I'm Trina. Previously a mortgage loan originator, I have been a full-time freelance writer and journalist since 2020. When I'm not scribbling, I love spending time with my Labrador Retriever, McCoy, eating the best cuisine a city has to offer, traveling, cooking, crafting, and all of the other basic bish things you can think of.

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