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Moving to San Diego? Discover the Southern California Lifestyle

Known as America’s Finest City, San Diego is a lively Southern California city known for its stunning beaches, family attractions, and outstanding weather year-round. Not only does San Diego have safe and attractive neighborhoods for families, but it's also great for working professionals wanting to kickstart their careers. Of course, there are social and economic trends to consider when deciding whether San Diego is a good fit for your lifestyle.

San Diego, CA

If you're ready to experience the beauty of San Diego living, northAmerican is here to help. Read our guide for moving to San Diego to get a better idea of the costs and benefits of life in Southern California.

Here's everything you need to know about moving to San Diego: 

What to Know Before Making the Move

Before making the move to San Diego, there are a few things you need to take into consideration. With a population of 1.4 million, San Diego is the 8th largest city in the U.S. However, while the city itself is less populous than Chicago, Los Angeles or San Francisco, San Diego County consists of many lively suburbs that house the majority of the area’s population, including the North and East County areas.

Due to the population spread, many residents rely on San Diego’s extensive freeway network for their commute. San Diego also has an expanding trolley system and trains that run from the heart of Downtown to destinations all along the coast. As you plan your move to San Diego, be sure to expand your search beyond the city itself to find more affordable but still accessible living options.

Cost of Living

San Diego is not a "cheap" city. In fact, according to Payscale, the cost of living in San Diego is 44% higher than the national average. Expect higher prices on everything from housing and utilities to groceries and gas. You'll want to ensure your salary can cover everyday living expenses while leaving enough extra cash to enjoy the San Diego living experience fully.

Finding Your Neighborhood

The City of San Diego consists of unique neighborhoods, each with its own culture, history and attractions. Popular neighborhoods in and around San Diego include:

  • The Gaslamp District
  • Little Italy
  • La Jolla
  • North Park
  • South Park
  • Hillcrest

Of course, you don’t have to live within the San Diego city limits to enjoy the San Diego living experience. Travel up the coast to find famous beach communities like Pacific Beach, Del Mar, Encinitas and Oceanside, or head inland for more open space and stunning mountain views. No matter where you settle in the San Diego area, your perfect vibe is within reach.

Employment Opportunities

The San Diego job market is impressive and constantly expanding. The fastest-growing local industries include tech, medical, education and the U.S. military. (The Marines, Navy and Coast Guard have major bases in San Diego, including Camp Pendleton, Air Station Miramar and Naval Base Coronado.) Since the cost of living in San Diego is significantly higher than elsewhere in the country, research available job opportunities and salaries before moving.

Navigating the San Diego Real Estate Market

The San Diego real estate market can be tricky. The cost of buying a home is relatively high, and the market is extremely competitive. According to Redfin, the median sale price is $909,000, a 14.8% increase year-over-year. Plus, over 37.6% of homes sell above the listing price. Most homes stay on the market for an average of 21 days. However, the median cost of renting in San Diego is $2,247 for a two-bedroom and $1,936 for a one-bedroom.

The San Diego Lifestyle: What to Expect

There’s a good reason for the high prices: San Diego provides an unmatched quality of life. No matter your hobbies and interests, you’ll find plenty of activities to keep yourself busy. From world-famous surfing spots to family theme parks to breathtaking hiking adventures, when you decide to make the move to San Diego, one thing is certain—you'll never be bored!

Outdoor Activities and Beaches

This lively city is a well-known destination for tourists. From the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park to Legoland and SeaWorld, there's always something to do on the weekend. Surfing and other watersports are always on the table, as are excursions to nearby snowcapped mountains—all within a few hours’ drive. If you’ve ever dreamed of starting your day on snowy slopes and ending it by watching the sunset on a pristine beach, San Diego is the place for you.

Dining and Nightlife

San Diego has an expansive nightlife and culinary scene, from the bustling street scene of the Gaslamp Quarter to the fine dining options overlooking the bluffs of La Jolla. Residents have front-row seats for cultural events like Comic-Con International and sports and concerts at Petco Park. San Diego is known for its Mexican cuisine and craft brewing scene—the perfect combo for Southern California living.

Moving Tips and Tricks

Ready to move to San Diego? Set yourself up for success with these steps to make your relocation as smooth as possible: 

  • Find a neighborhood that aligns with your needs, budget and interests
  • Research San Diego moving companies and compare quotes 
  • Declutter and downsize before packing
  • Secure high-quality packing supplies and boxes for your move
  • Start packing at least 2–4 weeks before your moving date

If you're planning a move to San Diego, North American Van Lines is here to help. For over 90 years, we've helped individuals, families and businesses relocate throughout the U.S., Canada and beyond. We’ll help you create a personalized moving plan that ensures you enjoy an efficient, stress-free move.

Contact us for a free quote today. 

FAQs about Moving to San Diego

What is the downside of moving to San Diego?

The cost of living in San Diego is much higher than the national average, which is something to be mindful of before moving.

What salary do individuals need to make to live comfortably in San Diego?

The average salary for an individual to live comfortably in San Diego is around $79,324 a year.