Moving to San Diego: Everything You Need to Know

A beautiful and colorful sunrise at Coronado Island, San Diego

If you’re thinking of moving to San Diego, it’s exciting to dream of all the fun and adventure that lies ahead! And sure enough, San Diego doesn’t disappoint on these counts. Let’s just say there’s not a boring patch of land or sea in America’s finest city!

San Diego is blessed with a ton of gorgeous beaches, a climate to die for, numerous entertainment and recreational activities, and excellent career opportunities. There, it has it all! But these massive advantages come with a price tag, and a big one at that! Such is life in California thanks to everything that the sun-kissed state has to offer.

But in terms of overall living, San Diego stands apart from all the cities in and outside of California. America’s finest city truly deserves the title as it has it all – a great art culture, live music scene, stunning museums, amazing nightlife, world-renowned events, and delicious and varied food choices coupled with craft beer! It’s easy to see why San Diegans are regarded as some of the friendliest and happiest people!

But if you plan to move here, there’s probably much more you want to know about living in San Diego. Here’s a guide to the pros and cons of life in one of the best cities in the world.

Is Moving to San Diego California a Good Idea?

San Diego is known for its stunning coastline and warm weather, but it has so much more that people moving to San Diego don’t leave… ever! To help you decide whether you should move to San Diego, here’s a list of pros and cons of living in this Southern Californian city:

Pros of Moving to San Diego

1. Great Location

San Diego is located at the coast of the Pacific Ocean and is literally just a 30-minute drive from Mexico and only a few hours from other popular tourist destinations like Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Thanks to its closeness to the Mexican border, you can travel to Mexico anytime and partake in its gorgeous culture, food, and nightlife even if it’s just for a day!

2. Bright and Sunny Weather

San Diego’s sunny weather and bright blue skies are an instant hit with new residents. What’s not to like about a Mediterranean type of climate – warm and dry summers with mild winters? If you currently live in a place where you need to check the weather forecast before planning your day, moving to San Diego will be a welcome change for you.

3. Nature and Beaches

The city’s splendid weather coupled with its natural beauty is a major draw for people moving to San Diego. With impressive mountains, valleys, beautiful caves, and 70 miles of pristine coastline, you’ve got variety here.

Enjoy the spectacular sunset at sea while feeling the soft sand under your feet one day and perched on a mountain top on another! San Diego’s beaches are truly unmatched and each one is unique in its own way.

4. Outdoor Fun, Entertainment, and Recreation

People enjoying the view at the Waterfront public park in San Diego

In terms of entertainment, there’s perhaps nothing that San Diego doesn’t offer. There’s a ton of outdoor activities including hiking, cycling, trekking, or simply just exploring the beautiful mountains. There’s also whale watching and water sports like fishing, kayaking, surfing, and snorkeling. But wait, there’s more!

The beautiful Balboa Park is a major tourist attraction as it houses the San Diego Zoo, more than 16 museums, lovely gardens, trails, and many other creative and recreational pursuits. In addition, there are several military museums including the USS Midway Museum, a decommissioned aircraft carrier that attracts over one million visitors every year.

Then there’s the annual Comic-Con International event that attracts fans and celebrities from all over the world. There’s truly something for everybody here!

5. Arts & History

Historic Heart of San Diego - Gaslamp Quarter

Regarded as a cultural capital, San Diego is enriched with a ton of museums dedicated to arts and history including the San Diego Art Institute, San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego Natural History Museum, the Museum of Photographic Arts, and many more!

If you enjoy performing arts, your calendar will be fully booked with concerts, dance performances, art exhibitions, and festivals at some well-known venues like the La Jolla Playhouse, The Old Globe, and Copley Symphony Hall.

6. Renowned Universities

With San Diego being the 2nd largest school district in California, you’ll have a large selection of neighborhoods with great schools to choose from when moving to San Diego. Plus, the city has renowned colleges and universities like the University of California San Diego and San Diego State University. In the latest ‘Center for World University’ (CWUR) rankings, UCSD ranked 16th among all public universities in the country!

7. Employment

A major draw for people moving to San Diego is the ample opportunity offered by the multitude of well-developed industries here. Its lower than average unemployment rate of 3.4% offers ample proof of its vibrant economy. Whether you’re looking for career opportunities in science, technical, defense, military, tourism, healthcare, or professional services, there’s plenty of promise here. In addition, the US Navy, universities, and colleges also offer plenty of jobs.

Many talented and qualified professionals are moving to San Diego for its innovation scene, which is highly established and lucrative and continues to grow. Tech and biotech startups and companies like Amazon, Qualcomm, Apple, Dexcom, and Illumina have set up operations here.

8. Food & Nightlife

Amazing view of the nightlife scene at Gaslamp Quarter

The amazing Mexican cuisine no doubt rules the gastronomic scene here, but there’s much more on the menu! There’s also a ton of seafood dishes here. With regards to Mexican cuisine, there’s a popular American variation of the regular tacos and burritos – with french fries!

If you’re moving to San Diego, it’ll be exciting to choose from a variety of dining options ranging from world-famous restaurants to hole-in-the-wall taco shops. Equally vibrant is the nightlife in San Diego with a multitude of bars, clubs, and pubs. You can enjoy a night of club-hopping with some beach parties thrown in for added fun! Speaking of parties, America’s craft beer capital offers a ton of refreshing local brews!

9. Safety

Its large size and population notwithstanding, San Diego is one of the safest cities in the United States. It has a low crime rate, which makes it ideal for raising a family. In fact, amongst all the big cities in the country, San Diego was credited as the safest city in 2017 in terms of violent crime, as per the San Diego Union Tribune.

Reasons Not to Move to San Diego

Moving to San Diego seems like a dream and it’s one that has come true for many. But that may not be the case for everyone. So be sure to consider some of these not-so-good points about relocating to San Diego:

1. Cost of Living

The cost of living in San Diego is high, like the rest of California. It’s not just housing that is terribly expensive here but also groceries, utilities, and transportation. For these reasons, San Diego is among the top 10 most expensive metropolitan areas in the country.

The median home price in San Diego is $635,400[1] compared to the national average of $229,600[2]. Renting is expensive too. According to Policy Genius, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1850 per month. In posh localities, the rent prices are even higher.

2. Heavy Traffic

Aerial view of a congested highway near downtown San Diego

Commuting in San Diego can be a nightmare as highways and city roads have considerable traffic, especially in rush hours. Moreover, the traffic situation is exacerbated by the high number of tourists, especially in summer. The simplest way to beat the traffic is by using the reliable public transportation system (downtown trolley and bus).

San Diego Neighborhood Guide

If you’ve decided to move to San Diego, here’s help in making the next relocation decision: where to move in San Diego? Being one of the largest metro cities in the country, it has several neighborhoods to choose from, each with a different vibe and atmosphere. We’ve picked five for your evaluation:


Based in the north end of San Diego County, Oceanside is a lovely coastal suburb that allows you to enjoy beachside living at a relatively affordable rate. It was earlier infamous for strife, but in the last few years, it has become a popular neighborhood thanks to its thriving downtown area and fun beaches.


Carlsbad has great schools and exudes a great community vibe. So there! It has already ticked two of the most important neighborhood requirements for raising a family. Besides, it’s comparatively big, so it offers several recreational options. It has great shopping malls, nightlife, and awesome beaches!


Encinitas is another coastal suburb that has it all, from high-end restaurants and cafes to dive bars and boutiques. To top it all, it has highly rated schools and miles of beautiful beaches. This is another great destination for families and surfers alike!

Little Italy

As suggested by its name, Little Italy has a ton of Italian Cafes, restaurants, and the Little Italy Festa that’s held every year. It’s a great urban and peaceful neighborhood with a community spirit. Splash fountains, dog parks, and playgrounds make it a great destination for families with children and pets. But adults don’t have to miss out on fun thanks to fantastic shopping areas and brewpubs. Plus, health food lovers can shop for locally grown produce at the local farmer’s market.


Hillcrest is a lively and gay-friendly neighborhood that’s not too far from downtown. It’s pedestrian-friendly, which makes it a great option for those who enjoy leisurely walks or morning runs to keep fit. The neighborhood offers a ton of vibrant places like upscale lounges, dive bars, cafes, and restaurants for an evening out on the town.

Looking for other places to move to in California?

If you’re evaluating other relocation options in California, here’s a list of some renowned cities in the Sunshine State:

  • If you want to live in one of the best cities in the world with fun recreational activities and tourist attractions, and amazing career opportunities in defense, science, and innovation, moving to San Diego is a splendid idea!
  • If you’re looking for a city with great nightlife, amazing weather, a robust economy with well-developed sectors in aerospace and engineering, and more than 300 days of sunshine, moving to Los Angeles is strongly recommended!
  • If you’re looking for an affordable city in California to raise a family, lucrative job opportunities, and a happening food and wine scene, moving to Sacramento is an excellent alternative!
  • If you’re looking for a city with the best tech jobs in the world, an excellent public transportation system, awesome weather, and close proximity to renowned tourist destinations like San Francisco, then moving to the Bay Area is a great option!
  • If you want to take advantage of job opportunities in Silicon Valley without denting a hole in your pocket for housing, moving to Hayward is a great idea thanks to its close proximity to the Bay Area.
  • If you want to live in a highly affordable city with awesome amenities, great educational opportunities, and industries, moving to Fresno is an excellent option!
  • If you’re looking for a diverse city with excellent healthcare, technology firms, and amazing recreational activities, moving to Santa Clara would be a good idea.

How to Move to San Diego

If you’ve made up your mind to move to San Diego, it’s highly recommended to pick sometime in the winter for a smoother transition, without the hustle and bustle of tourists in the warmer months. Also consider using a moving and portable storage service to ease your San Diego move.

Cool Box is a trusted leader in the moving and portable storage industry and is family owned and operated, with affordable pricing and relocation convenience at your doorstep. We offer portable and insulated moving storage containers in three sizes so it’s easy for you to find the perfect size for your belongings. We deliver the container to your doorstep and pick it up when you’re done loading it. We have no hidden charges and even meet or beat the price of competitors, provided they’re for the same specifications!

Are you moving to California? Get a quote from one of our convenient California locations:

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