Moving to San Diego: A Comprehensive Guide

San Diego, often referred to as the birthplace of California, is a city that many people dream of calling home. With beautiful beaches, year-round pleasant weather, and lots of recreational activities, it’s no wonder why. However, deciding to move to a new city is a significant decision that requires thorough consideration. Here’s what to consider when contemplating a move to San Diego.

The allure of moving to San Diego

Mural at Belmont Park is a great photo opportunity at Mission Beach

It’s no wonder why people are interested in moving to San Diego. The weather alone is one of the top reasons people flock to Southern California to begin with. With an average temperature of 70°F year-round, it’s a comfortable place to live.

Not to mention the range of outdoor activities you can do! You can surf at renowned beaches. Visit sand dunes that look like they are straight out of a Star Wars movie. Hike to the top of mountains with some of the most immaculate views. And drive a short way to ski or snowboard in the winter in Big Bear.

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San Diego also offers a very laid-back lifestyle. The city’s friendly communities, unique cuisine, and a plethora of entertainment options reflect its fun charm.

Financial Considerations

Cost of Living

California in general is pretty expensive. But San Diego is definitely one of the most expensive places, with the cost of living being higher than the national average. According to Numbeo, as of September 2023, the cost of living index for a single person is $1,420.70 excluding rent. Meanwhile a family of four would require $4964.10 excluding rent. It’s essential to have a solid financial plan before making the move to San Diego.

Housing Market

As you can imagine, the housing market in San Diego is competitive, which reflects the city’s desirability. According to Zillow, the median home value in San Diego is $950,012 as of September 2023. But as expected, the prices of homes and rental rates vary significantly based on:

  • the neighborhood
  • the condition of the property
  • and the proximity to popular spots like the beach, parks, or downtown.

Whether you’re looking to rent or buy, you’ll definitely want to research the different areas in the San Diego County. Consulting with a real estate professional can provide valuable insights into the neighborhood market trends and help you find a home within your budget. They can also guide you through the process to make it less daunting.

But with how crazy the housing market it paired with how expensive it is to live in Southern California to begin with, you will need a well paying job to be able to move to San Diego.

Employment Opportunities

Top Industries

Moving to San Diego means you are moving to the Beer Capital of the US

San Diego’s job market is pretty diverse and offers tons of opportunities across various sectors. The city is known for its innovative spirit and hosts numerous reputable companies and research institutions.

Although you can get a job in most any sector, there are some extremely unique opportunities in San Diego. One of them being the brewery game. San Diego is the Beer Capital of the U.S. with over 150 breweries across the county. One of the most well known beer companies, Stone Brewing, even started right here in San Marcos! Whether you are a beer enthusiast or you want to be a brewer, San Diego has you covered.

Ziplinging at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

And as expected, tourism is also a significant industry in San Diego. All in thanks to its beautiful beaches, renowned zoo, and numerous other attractions. The hospitality sector offers a range of job opportunities, from hotel management to tour operations. For example, I used to work as a zipline tour operator at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park! While working there I was also able to work a number of different tours within the park during the off season. You can definitely find some fun and unique job opportunities if you plan on moving to San Diego.

Median Salaries for Top Jobs and Industries in San Diego:

  • Healthcare: Medical and Health Services Managers – $100,000 to $120,000
  • Biotechnology: Biomedical Engineers – $80,000 to $100,000
  • Telecommunications: Telecommunications Engineers – $70,000 to $90,000
  • International Trade: Logistics Managers – $70,000 to $90,000
  • Tourism: Hotel Managers – $50,000 to $70,000
  • Military/Defense: Systems Engineers – $80,000 to $100,000

These salary ranges are approximate and may vary based on the company, experience, and other factors. For more accurate and updated salary data, platforms like Glassdoor and Payscale can be valuable resources.

Education and Family Life


San Diego is home to a diverse range of educational institutions, making it a conducive environment for families. The city boasts reputable public and private schools, charter schools, and several well-regarded universities and colleges. Some of the notable higher education institutions include the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), San Diego State University (SDSU), and the University of San Diego (USD).

For more detailed information on schools in San Diego, check the latest rankings and reviews on GreatSchools.

Family Friendly Neighborhoods

San Diego has several neighborhoods known for being family-friendly due to their excellent schools, parks, and community centers. Some of these neighborhoods include:

  • Carmel Valley: Known for its top-rated schools, spacious parks, and family-oriented community events.
  • Del Mar: Renowned for its beautiful beaches, excellent schools, and a tight-knit community.
  • La Jolla: Offers a mix of top-tier schools, scenic views, and a range of family-friendly activities.

For more detailed information on family-friendly neighborhoods in San Diego, websites like Niche or Redfin can provide reviews and rankings based on various factors including school quality, safety, and community amenities.

Leisure and Recreation


Crashing wave on a beachside rock at La Jolla Shores

San Diego’s coastline is a treasure trove of beautiful beaches, each with its unique charm and activities. The city boasts over 70 miles of coastline, offering a variety of beaches to cater to different preferences. Here are a few notable ones:

  • Coronado Beach: Known for its sparkling golden sand, calm waves, and iconic Hotel Del Coronado, this beach is perfect for families and casual beachgoers.
  • La Jolla Shores: A haven for surfers, kayakers, and snorkelers, with gentle waves and an abundance of marine life.
  • Mission Beach: Popular for beach volleyball, sunbathing, and its classic boardwalk is filled with eateries and shops.
  • Pacific Beach: A favorite among young adults and college students, it offers a vibrant nightlife scene alongside its beautiful shoreline.

Parks and Nature Reserves

Photoshoot at Balboa Park in San Diego

San Diego is a city where nature abounds, providing a plethora of parks, nature reserves, and hiking trails for outdoor enthusiasts. The city’s diverse landscapes offer a variety of outdoor experiences. Here are some highlights:

  • Balboa Park: A cultural and recreational hub, Balboa Park is home to 17 museums, beautiful gardens, and the famous San Diego Zoo.
  • Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve: Known for its rugged coastline and trails offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.
  • Mission Trails Regional Park: Offering over 60 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails through diverse terrains.
  • Cabrillo National Monument: Besides its historical significance, the park offers stunning views of San Diego’s harbor and skyline.

San Diego’s commitment to preserving its natural beauty is evident in the well-maintained parks and reserves. Whether you’re interested in hiking, bird watching, or simply enjoying a picnic amidst beautiful scenery, San Diego provides ample opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Concluding thoughts on moving to San Diego

Relocating to the picturesque city of San Diego is a dream come true for many individuals and families. The allure of its near-perfect weather, the promise of exciting employment opportunities in thriving industries, the availability of diverse educational institutions, and the beckoning of its beautiful beaches and nature reserves make San Diego a highly desirable destination. However, moving to this vibrant city requires meticulous planning and consideration of various factors including financial stability, employment prospects, educational needs, and the lifestyle adjustments that come with living in a new place.


And if you need help making your move smooth and stress-free, you have options! Employing a professional moving company in San Diego can significantly ease the transition, ensuring your belongings are safely transported to your new home, allowing you to focus on settling into the San Diego lifestyle.

Whatever draws you to San Diego, it truly has something to offer for everyone. Making a well-informed decision will enable you to decide if this place is meant for you.

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