Moving to San Diego

San Diego

Our rating

5 out of 5

  • Affordability 3 out of 5

  • Safety 4 out of 5

  • Healthcare 3 out of 5

  • Traffic Flow 4 out of 5

  • Property affordability 5 out of 5

  • Climate 5 out of 5

  • Environment quality 5 out of 5

Want to relocate somewhere with a plethora of sunshine, beaches, and sport? Move to San Diego, it’s calling your name.

For the entire year, San Diego feels like a true paradise as it experiences mild weather – sunny skies with cool west coast breezes all year round. As a coastal city enjoying the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, the residents of San Diego take pleasure in a more laidback lifestyle than its sister Southern Californian cities.

A great and dependable transportation system makes moving about San Diego easy and affordable. San Diego is for the most part a young city, with the majority of its inhabitants under the age of 60.

Expats families will fit right in into this friendly city. San Diego is a very family-centric. Kids are sure to be occupied with fun attractions such as Legoland, Sea World, awesome zoos and beaches. There are also many parks and green areas for everyday relaxing.

San Diego thrives on creativity and being outdoors. Residents enjoy a lively and vibrant arts scene, from historic city sites to modern art performances at several museums, galleries and theatres. For outdoor enthusiasts, there are the lovely beaches, coves, parks and hiking trails.

Job market

The 2015 economic outlook report done by the Point Loma Nazarene University found San Diego to be a leader in economic growth in the entire US. The university concluded that improved consumer confidence is producing measurable increases in spending and business investments.

The current unemployment rate in San Diego is 4.90%. This is lower than the nationwide unemployment rate, and a marked decrease from years before.

The federal government, notably the US Department of Defense, is the top employer in San Diego. However, healthcare comes in a close second. Together with health care, restaurants, retail and service providers make up 50% of the San Diego economy.

The biotechnology and wireless technology sector continues to advance, making great strides in product development. Next door to Silicon Valley, San Diego is a recognised leader in tech innovation. This is greatly aided and encouraged by a vibrant start-up atmosphere.

Tourism, recreation, travel, entertainment and sports are still mainstays of the San Diego local economy. Businesses catering to these subsections have received very optimistic outlooks – businesses such as sole-proprietor shops, restaurants and tourist attractions.

As the home to several premier universities and research centres, San Diego is also an education hub. This presents countless of job entry points for educators in many fields.

An up and coming job sector, that is expected to experience growth, is the Blue Tech industry. This sector involves maritime science, clean water technologies, underwater technologies and robotics. As both a coastline city and a US Navy base, the Blue Tech industry is in great demand for new talent.

With a job market that is expected to see great growth in the coming year, San Diego presents a great opportunity for those looking for work. And self-starters are very welcome.

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Living costs

The average living cost in San Diego is higher than the national average. In general, cosmopolitan states such as California are more expensive than the others, like Washington or Florida. As the home of Hollywood and beautiful beaches, you can understand why moving to California may require a bit more savings.



Despite the relatively high living costs, there are still great deals to be had. Grocery bills can be lowered by shopping at the many local farmers markets – there is no better way to get fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s also a great social activity to meet the community.

There are several fine dining restaurants in San Diego; mid-range meals have a starting average of $60. You can treat yourself to great ethnic cuisines from all over the world with meals starting at $13. And of course, there are plenty of fast food restaurants for inexpensive eats.



Traffic in San Diego is not as bad as living in Los Angeles or New York, but it can be bothersome. Fortunately, there are more exciting ways to get around than being stuck in a car. You can ride the Amtrak while taking in great views of the Pacific Ocean or ride the iconic Red Trolley in downtown San Diego. The Coaster and Sprinter trains and buses are also quick and inexpensive ways to get around.



The current average rental price in San Diego is $2,350. In the city centre, a one bedroom apartment costs about $1,600 a month, and goes up to about $2,700 for a three bedroom apartment. Rentals outside of the city are usually $400 – $500 lower. These prices reflect the popularity of San Diego; there is a constant demand for accommodation.

Property information

Currently, there is a neutral market in San Diego. This means it is neither a buyer’s market nor a seller’s market. The average cost of a home in San Diego is $510,000, a 5.4% rise in the past year. This is lower compared to Los Angeles’ average cost, which is $546,000; and much lower than San Francisco’s $1,094,500.

The majority of housing in the urban areas are condominiums. On the city outskirts, one-story ranch style homes are very popular, as well as Spanish style homes. Families tend to choose these detached homes while millennials and city lovers opt for downtown condos. Closer to the coast and beaches are beachfront properties that take full advantage of the Pacific Ocean views, but they come with a hefty price tag.

The average sale price of a one bedroom home in San Diego is $245,000 and $323,500 for a three bedroom home.

Neighbourhood picks

San Diego is a diverse place. It is often referred to as a city of villages because there is a neighbourhood for every interest: artsy people, outdoor enthusiasts, young families, hipsters or surfers. Whatever your interest, you’re sure to find a neighbourhood that suits you.

Family Friendly: Coronado: The picturesque town of Coronado is sometimes described as “the perfect neighbourhood”. Here, families enjoy white sandy beaches, tree-lined streets, gorgeous views of the San Diego skyline and great schools. Homes are predominantly Spanish style. Camel Valley is another top choice for raising families. Although the atmosphere is more luxurious than Coronado, there is still a small town environment where families take part in several outdoor activities. This is also part of a great school district.

Upmarket: La Jolla – The Jewel is a very upscale neighbourhood, featuring beachfront properties and mansions. There, you will find high-end luxury and fashion stores, posh restaurants and art galleries. And you may just spot a celebrity or two in this swanky neighbourhood. Via Cuesta Verde is another upmarket neighbourhood, located in the north of San Diego. The houses are lovely pieces of architecture, each more extravagant than the next with large pools and tennis courts. Via Cuesta Verde is extremely popular with young and well-to-do families.

Hip & Trendy: Point Loma is positioned on the San Diego Bay. Residents take pleasure in sweeping views of the bay and the San Diego skyline. Point Loma is home to a premier Christian university. It enjoys the best of both worlds: a relaxing coastal town vibe but it is just five minutes away from the inner city. Little Italy is an urban neighbourhood that is very pet friendly. There are many dog parks in the neighbourhood and landlords are more accepting of pets than in the other neighbourhoods. Housing consists of condos and apartments in this city locale.

Up & Coming: La Mesa is a neighbourhood for those who desire an urban setting but without the hustle and bustle. This neighbourhood has been revamped with more green spaces, benches and crosswalks. Instead of big box stores, there are smatterings of small shops including antique and novelty stores. Allied Gardens and Lemon Grove are also up and coming neighbourhoods that are receiving facelifts but still offer affordable home prices.

Cost of moving

Based on the cost of shipping a 20-foot container, here is the cost of moving for the average family of four from the following major cities:

Hong Kong£3,100

Schools and education

San Diego county scales from San Ysidro on the border with Mexico to just south of San Clemente in the north; this leaves plenty of options of schools for your children. Public schools in San Diego are usually assigned by zones, so if you move to La Jolla your kids would automatically be assigned to a school nearby, rather than in Carlsbad. For magnet or charter schools as well as private schools, where you live does not factor greatly into your children attending.

San Diego Unified School District has numerous highly rated public schools of its total 800+, though there are around 350 private schools to consider as well.

Universities in San Diego

If you’re moving to San Diego for university, there are several state or public universities, each with its own reputation for various academics to choose from:

  • University of California, San Diego – part of the UC system, and rated 19th in the world by US News, with high rankings for Biology, Chemistry, and Computer Science. Located in La Jolla, it’s one of the several California universities to be close to the beach.
  • San Diego State University – under the CSU system, and tied for 9th place for International Business. Great for hospitality and tourism, sports science and rehabilitation.
  • California State University, San Marcos – also under the CSU system, one of the 23 campuses, founded in 1989 to help with the growing college age students.

There are also a few private universities in San Diego, including:

  • University of San Diego – has good graduate programmes in business, law, and nursing. Not to be confused with UCSD.
  • Point Loma Nazarene University – popular majors include business, marketing, psychology, and biology.

Ranking against the world

San Diego is a Californian haven known for its lovely year-round climate, scenic and sandy beaches, and village atmosphere. This sunny and friendly place is the second largest city in California, after LA, and the 8th largest city in the United States.

Expats flock to San Diego because of its warm and pleasant weather and easy living. As a bonus, they also benefit from San Diego’s exceptional healthcare services, which is a direct result of a highly advanced biotechnology industry.

The cost of living in San Diego is less than that of San Francisco and Los Angeles, but still higher than the average. For expats, San Diego has the advantage of a higher safety index than other Californian cities.

This city is well known for its 70-mile stretch of sandy coastline. Whether your favourite beach pastime is swimming, surfing, tanning, or just relaxing, you’re sure to enjoy some of the best beaches in the United States.

A day in the life

With the sun shining constantly, most days are spent out and about once you move to San Diego. The coastal breezes give respite from the constant heat, but if it does get a little too hot, a quick dip into the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean is as good as it gets.

And if swimming isn’t your thing, pop into one of the many air-conditioned eateries along the streets. Each restaurant offering a taste of world, both the near and far, the traditional and exotic.

San Diego is a military town, so it’s not uncommon to see US Navy SEALs training along the seashores, fighter jets flying high or sightings of impressive warships. Kids will surely enjoy this.

San Diego is definitely a laid back place; it is where the hustle and bustle takes a back seat to the everyday joys of life.