San Diego welcomes anyone who has a thing for stable comfortable weather and sandy beaches.
Some people living there believe it’s a pretty awesome place to relocate to.
San Diego is a popular city in Southern California and is known as the birthplace of California.
The city is about 120 miles south of Los Angeles.
It sits along the coast of the Pacific Ocean and is adjacent to the US-Mexico border, Tijuana.
San Diego has a rich history that dates back to the Mexican-American War that ended in 1848.
If you’re thinking about moving and joining the approximately 1.4 million people living there, it won’t hurt to check out the pros and cons of living in San Diego first.
25 Pros and Cons of Living in San Diego
There are many positive aspects of residing in San Diego including these that are worth mentioning:
1. Strong and Growing Arts and Culture
There is plenty of culture, art, and science to explore in San Diego, especially at Balboa Park.
The Park is the largest urban cultural park in the United States.
It features over a dozen museums and art galleries.
Other attractions are the Globe Theaters, the pretty San Diego Zoo, and the many beautiful gardens you can explore at your leisure.
The city is also known for its live symphonies and Opera culture.
2. Temperate Climate
People boast that San Diego has nearly perfect weather compared to Los Angeles and other cities in the US. It’s never too hot or too cold.
The temperatures stay around 70-75 degrees on most days.
The coastal breeze is largely responsible for the temperate weather.
On summer days when it gets into the 80 or 90 something degrees, you can turn to the miles of lovely beaches to cool down.
3. Family-Friendly Environment
The city is like a large family-friendly community.
There are many things to do with your family and attractions to see.
Thanks to free passes, you don’t have to always pay to treat the kids to a walk in some of the city’s spectacular parks.
Extend your family’s sightseeing and outdoor enjoyment to places like Balboa Park Children’s Museums, SeaWorld San Diego, San Diego Zoo, and LEGOLAND California.
4. Plenty Of Destinations To Enjoy
San Diego’s amazing weather draws its residents outdoors all the time and allows them to enjoy a plethora of activities throughout the year.
Besides, the average house is small, so it’s a great excuse to get outside and do something fun or just enjoy some fresh air.
Patio and outdoor grilling are also favorite pastimes for many families.
If you want to venture out further, there are the beaches, hiking and biking trails, and mountains begging to be explored.
5. Excellent Job Market
Living in San Diego means being close to many job opportunities.
Jobs in high demand include healthcare, research, tech, education, and tourism.
A 2019 report from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows San Diego as having average wages that are higher than the nation’s average.
Pre-COVID, the unemployment rate was 3.2%, which was lower than the national average at the time.
At its current 8.1%, the employment rate is still comparably low to other California cities and US states.
6. Large LGBTQ Community
San Diego takes pride in being “all-inclusive.”
This quality shows in the fact that it is one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the country.
Hillcrest is the neighborhood considered the heart of San Diego’s LGBTQ community.
There, you’ll find LGBTQ-friendly spots such as bars, restaurants, and coffee shops.
San Diego Pride Weekend is also hosted in this city.
7. Some of the Best Schools in the US
There are public schools in San Diego that are rated as the best in the US.
Five school districts rank in the top 30 within California.
This can be relieving for families who want their children educated at top-rated schools.
The city is also home to the University of California—San Diego, which ranked 35th in 2021 among national universities.
There are also dozens of smaller colleges and universities as well as private universities, including the University of San Diego.
8. Plenty of Places to Bike
San Diego is a haven for bicyclers.
Bike along the scenic Torrey Pines Hiking Trail while getting your daily exercise and breath of fresh air.
This popular San Diego trail is loved for its stunning views of the pacific.
Others prefer the Pacific Beach Boardwalk.
You can bike along this less isolated area which seems to be always buzzing with people just people watching.
Or you can venture onto the Fiesta Island Trail to Mission Trails Regional Park.
9. Laid Back Lifestyle
Forbes Magazine referred to San Diego as “America’s Coolest City” because of its vibrant but laid-back vibe.
And San Diegans agreed.
You won’t hear the same about LA, which people describe as “chaotic.”
It’s just that residents take things a lot slower in California’s birthplace.
People are also comfortable wearing flip-flops and t-shirts almost everywhere they go without having to worry about scrutiny over their attire.
10. Live the Beach Life You Always Wanted
Once you start living alongside the Pacific Ocean, you won’t be able to resist making beach-going a lifestyle.
In fact, this city is perfect if you always dreamed of a beach life.
The long stretch of inviting sand and water is always there whenever you feel like taking a stroll, swimming, or surfing.
11. All Kinds of Beaches to Choose From
When you’re ready for some sand and beach activities, you can decide which part of the over 70 miles of coastline you wish to explore.
There are beaches to swim, party beaches, and beaches that are more family-friendly.
Then there are beaches for tourists that offer stunning views.
You’ll never be short of a sandy spot to relax or explore.
Some of the most talked-about beaches include Coronado Beach, Mission Beach, La Jolla Cove Beach, and Del Mar.
12. A Surfer’s Dream Come True
This California city is known to have some of the best US beaches for surfing.
It is no surprise that it forms a haven for surfers who are visiting the city or live there and practice surfing as a way of life.
The temperature of the water also makes it perfect for surfing almost all year round.
13. FREE Beach Parking
Who doesn’t like free? And since you may be spending an awful lot of time at the beach, you can have free parking at most beaches.
Some days you may search a little longer for a spot and especially during the peak of tourist season.
But you’ll find one eventually, and then you can run off to dip in the ocean or get some sand in your shoes.
14. Recreational Activities for Everyone
Something always seems to be going on every weekend in this city that runs alongside the Northern Pacific Ocean.
And it’s more than just the usual bar, club, and beach scene.
You’ll notice plenty of live bands passing through.
The residents and tourists also enjoy watching horse races and other live sporting events.
15. Lots of Golf Courses
San Diego is home to over 80 golf courses.
Many of them are open to the public much of the year and are good for people who prefer not to spend their money on high-end courses like the Maderas Golf Club.
16. Miles of Roads for Tripping
At times when you’re tired of doing activities around your neighborhood, all roads can lead outside your little township.
You can visit Disneyland, which is just about 90 minutes away from the main thoroughfare of the city.
There is Big Bear lake about two and a half hours away.
Then there’s Catalina Island if you’re in for a two-hour drive and a 60-minute ferry trip to get to that spot.
Trip over to Las Vegas if you’re not fazed by the four-hour-long drive.
There are also Phoenix and Yosemite a few extra hours out.
17. Nature and Hiking
You’ll hardly have any problem finding a scenic route or hiking trail in San Diego.
There are the popular Potato Chip Rock in Poway with its high, panoramic views and Torrey Pines in Del Mar for times when you crave the stunning ocean views.
The fun doesn’t have to stop there. Not when there is the Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve 22 square miles of trails and Double Peak in the San Elijo Hills sitting there just waiting for you to explore.
18. Traffic Not As Bad To Comparable Cities
The traffic in San Diego is not perfect, but it’s darn good compared to LA, the city known for having the worst traffic in the country.
Although there are days you will wish you were not on the road, traffic is fairly predictable and you’ll be able to navigate the highways through towns with relative ease.
19. You Can Drive Solo in the HOV Lane
There’s no need for 2 or 3 passengers in your vehicle to have access to the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane when in San Diego.
Get in the lane and get to your destination with this express option even if you’re the only one in your car.
You’ll also avoid unnecessary traffic jams.
The only catch is, you’ll need an electric vehicle for the DMV to give you a reflective sticker that allows you to drive solo in the carpool lane.
20. Mass Transit Makes It Cheaper to Move Around
The public transportation system in this state of California allows you to use the buses, trains, and iconic bright red trolley system to explore the city.
They provide economical ways for you to get to and from work or navigate through the city.
The trolley also crisscrosses through downtown and further out to various locations including Old Town.
The train runs in the city and out to cities like LA and Santa Barbara.
21. Different Kinds of Cuisine
A range of culinary options is almost at every corner.
With the many restaurants, cafes, food shops, and taco stands, you’re bound to find something that suits your taste buds.
A lot of these food spots remain open 24 hours.
Besides the regular suspects, such as TGI Friday’s and Applebee’s, you can dine out at classic Italian restaurants, world-class steak houses, and a host of other unique restaurants.
22. Great Mexican Foods
Where else is a better place to get great Mexican food other than in Mexico and the city it shares a border with?
San Diego of course!
Not only does the city have a large Mexican population but a lot of Mexican restaurants with authentic Mexican foods.
The city is famous for Taco Tuesday, although you can get a taco and other foods on almost every corner 24 hours a day.
23. Vibrant Nightlife
Love to be out on the town at night?
Pick a beachy dive bar at the laid-back Pacific Beach or Mission Beach.
Or head to Ritzy La Jolla and Del Mar if you’re up for a more sophisticated night out.
If that’s not satisfying enough, the Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego offers Vegas-style clubs where you can dance the night away.
24. Low Crime Rate
The crime rate of San Diego qualifies it as one of the safest cities to live in California.
Areavibes.com gave it a C+ crime rating.
According to their report findings, the city crime averages 25% lower than the California average.
It’s also 20% lower than the national average.
Neighborhoods that are considered the safest are Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, Hillcrest, National City, and Pacific Beach.
25. Excellent Craft Beers for Beer Lovers
When people talk about the International Beer Competition and Beer Week, it has everything to do with San Diego.
The city is a beer paradise for beer lovers. It is home to more than 100 licensed craft beer producers, besides the local pubs and tasting rooms.
Raise your glass. Cheers!
25 Cons of Living in San Diego
The thought of living the Southern California lifestyle can be alluring, but remember to weigh the disadvantages as well before deciding if San Diego is right for you and your family.
1. Crowded City
The City of San Diego is the 8th largest in the US and second-largest in California.
The population is estimated at 1.4 million.
So if you’re going to be living in the city, expect to have to deal with relative crowding.
Even the beaches are overcrowded.
The city is expected to grow as more people continue to relocate there.
But at least it’s not New York City and there are many beaches for plenty of fun in the sun.
2. It May Feel Like You’re in Mexico
Almost everyone in San Diego came from some other city or state.
Most noticeable is the large population of Mexicans living in the city, legal or not.
This shouldn’t surprise you considering San Diego is near the US-Mexico border (Tijuana).
For non-Spanish-speaking residents, living in this California city almost feels like living in Mexico or some other Spanish-speaking country.
3. Annoying Construction Work
Constant construction in San Diego can be annoying for some people, especially those who are sensitive to noise.
Many developers are building new apartments in the city contributing to ongoing construction work.
About 4000 new apartments are expected to hit the market to cater to the rising population, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
4. Property Cost
Unless you’re prepared to live in a less desirable part of the city and pay less for a home, expect to pay over $500,000 for a decent home on the nice side of town.
Property value has skyrocketed since 2017.
The average median home price is over $650,000.
No wonder most residents prefer to rent instead of buying a home.
You’ll also need to factor in the cost of commuting to work if you get yourself a nice home in the suburbs such as Santee or Poway.
5. High Cost of Living
If you’re dreaming of living in laid-back San Diego, remember it’s expensive there compared to the rest of the US.
Homes are quite expensive to buy and apartment rent isn’t cheap either.
The average price of a studio in town is $1500.
Goods and services, transportation, utilities, and healthcare costs are also high.
So it’s not surprising that Areavibes.com gave America’s Coolest City an F for cost of living.
But it’s still cheaper to live there compared to Los Angeles and San Francisco.
6. You’ll Need a Car
A car is a necessity unless you’re living in the heart of the city where you can easily get around on metro transportation.
San Diego is spread out and you’ll need to drive at least 15 to 20 minutes to get to grocery stores, main business places, entertainment spots, and the beaches.
The buses and trolleys are not a convenient way to travel if you live outside the city.
You will spend a lot of time waiting for transportation and getting from one location to the next.
This can become a problem if you’re going to rely on public transportation to commute to work.
7. Traffic Can Be a Mess
San Diego is ranked #40 of all the most significant metro areas countrywide.
It’s because most San Diegans own vehicles.
However, traffic is not that bad if you’re coming from a city like New York.
So how bad traffic is in San Diego depends on where you’re relocating from.
It also depends on if you’re commuting within a small town or to the downtown areas.
8. Terrible Drivers
People accuse “America’s Coolest City” of having some of the worst drivers in the entire US.
Of course, it’s subjective since people also say that Atlanta and New York have the worst drivers in the US.
Atlanta drivers would cut in front of you right before a red stoplight.
Some San Diegans contend that it’s the people from Arizona, also called “Zonies,” that are driving “crazy,” like making left turns from the right turning lane.
Others lay the blame on the New Yorkers relocating in droves to San Diego but don’t know how to drive.
9. City Parking
Parking in the city can be a nightmare.
That’s one main reason why many San Diegans ride motorcycles and scooters.
It will take some effort to find a parking spot and more effort to land one for free.
Overall, the situation is not as bad as you may think.
Have you tried finding free or paid parking on the streets of LA or even New York City?
Now that’s a real nightmare!
10. Street Parking Fees
There are street sweeping programs in San Diego for residential neighborhoods and commercial streets.
You’ll likely get a parking ticket of $62.50 if you’re parked when the sweeper comes through.
The street parking laws are in place to allow sweepers access to clean the commercial streets once a week and residential streets once a month.
Although there was a stay on enforcing parking violations for street sweeping during the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, the city has resumed enforcement.
The parking fine goes up after 21 days of non-payment.
11. The City Seems Disconnected from the Rest of San Diego
There is a general feeling that everything worth going to is far-flung from the rest of the city.
This is why you almost cannot enjoy living in San Diego without a car unless you’re living in the town itself.
Even if you say you’ll depend on public transportation, the transit system is not as reliable as in LA.
12. Lack of Seasons
The temperate climate of San Diego means there are really no extreme weather changes.
It’s mostly warm there and there is no real autumn, winter, or spring.
San Diegans consider temperatures in the 80s and 90s a heatwave.
Winter lows are in the 50s or may barely get to the 40s. But that’s enough for them to turn on their heaters.
This may not be a big deal to you, particularly if you’re tired of heavy snowing and blizzards in northern states like New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.
If you’re moving from a snowy state, you may have to answer the kids when they ask, “Why is there no snow here?”
13. Precipitation Issues
The weather is relatively constant in San Diego.
So when it changes, it can quickly affect traffic in the city and make driving unsafe.
The number of accidents also increases.
It is important to mentally prepare to get safely to your destination on days like this when the weather isn’t cooperating.
14. Lack of Professional Sports Teams
Big sports fans may rethink living in San Diego once they discover there is only one professional sports team, the San Diego Padres.
The San Diego Charger left the scene a few years ago.
If it’s any consolation, the Padres’ magnificent stadium is located at Petco Park and hosts many different sports activities throughout the year.
15. Their Airport Could Use an Upgrade
Travel lovers moving to this California city may instantly realize that the San Diego International Airport leaves much to be desired for a city of this size.
The airport only has one runway.
It also costs more to fly out from there compared to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
You’ll just need to be okay with the approximately 2-hour drive to get to LAX.
16. Sales Tax
The sales tax is only 6% statewide, but San Diego County and the City of San Diego add on a little extra to cover local government work expenses.
Taxes are 7.75% on purchases made within the city.
But you won’t pay tax on essential purchases like groceries.
California also has the highest fuel tax of 36 cents per gallon.
Additionally, excise taxes are imposed on merchandise such as alcohol and cigarettes.
17. Property Tax
San Diego County has one of the highest median property tax rates in all the US states.
Taxes range between 1.02% and 1.19%.
A homeowner can expect to pay an estimated $3000 per year in property tax for a property valued between $285,000 and $300,000.
18. Air Conditioning Expenses
The temperate weather and cool ocean breeze make it great to live outdoors most of the year.
However, it also means more warm days than not, increasing the need for air conditioning whenever you’re indoors.
Some days can be really sweltering hot even with the ocean breeze and may be because global warming is in effect.
Needless to say, be prepared for higher energy bills.
Wildfires are a major hazard to communities in San Diego County, particularly in the October fire season.
These fires occur naturally or by human action.
County residents are always cautioned to safeguard their homes and families against the next unpredictable firestorm.
If this is a concern for you, perhaps investing in a home in San Diego may not be the best idea.
20. Little Rainfall
Rain is almost unheard of in San Diego.
The city chalks up an average of less than twelve inches of rainfall a year along the coastline.
More rain falls in the mountains.
The annual rainfall there is estimated at 33 inches by the San Diego County Water Authority.
So if you’re a rain lover, ask yourself if this is something you’re willing to sacrifice for all the other pros of living in San Diego.
21. Droughts Happen Here
Droughts are a very serious issue for San Diegans.
You probably already know it’s because of the lack of rainfall.
A rise in population and water-wasting also add to the problem.
As the city focuses on water conservation, some towns are imposing penalties for water-wasting.
All water waste is prohibited in Section 67.3803 of the San Diego Municipal Code.
The city can impose an Administrative Citation on violators.
These citations carry fines of $100, $250, $500 and up to $1,000.
Violators can even face criminal or civil prosecution.
Not to mention, you’ll be “drought shamed” for wasting precious water.
22. Large Security Deposit for Water
The City of San Diego manages water and sewer utilities along with trash and recycling pickup.
Once you get to San Diego, you can apply for New User services.
The city also provides water quality reports to residents which are essential during droughts.
However, the city charges new users a deposit to set up services.
The deposit sum is twice the regular use for the neighborhood.
23. Earthquakes are Possible
San Diego is located 15 miles from a primary fault line.
While earthquakes are rare, they are possible.
So it’s good to know what to do.
The California Earthquake Authority says a magnitude seven earthquake can happen at any time.
If you’re not afraid of quakes, at least memorize the Drop/Cover/Hold technique: Drop to the ground; Cover yourself under a table or desk; Hold onto a leg.
24. Your Skin May Suffer the Consequences
If you’re a beauty enthusiast, you’ll need to be on top of your skincare regimen.
Slather on the moisturizers and SPF sunscreen lotions to save your skin from damage due to constant exposure to ultraviolet rays.
Both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B (UVA and UVB) rays cause sun damage to the skin, leading to faster skin aging, sun spots, age spots, fine lines, and wrinkles.
25. Greater Chance of Meeting a Stingray
There’s an excellent chance of courting a Stingray at a San Diego beach.
You may unintentionally step on one and get stung.
The pain is excruciating and can last a few hours.
Other adverse reactions include nausea or vomiting.
Don’t take any chances.
Stop by the emergency room for urgent care to prevent complications.