The first known settlers in San Diego were the Kumeyaay peoples who lived there for an estimated 10,000 years. No word on whether or not their professional sports teams ever won a national championship (that's a San Diego sports curse joke). Many people move to San Diego for its role in military activity, but there are plenty of other thriving businesses that add to the appeal of the city — not to mention the weather.
San Diego, California is about as close to paradise as you are likely to find on the mainland — especially if you like hip and culturally rich cities with tons of things to do and a laidback beach mentality.
San Diego is the eighth largest city in the United States and the second largest in California (Los Angeles is the largest). It is the county seat of San Diego County, sits on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, and shares an international border with Tijuana, Mexico.
If you are considering moving to San Diego, brace yourself for mild weather and milder attitudes (sporting events notwithstanding).
Here are some things you should know before moving to San Diego:
- Moving Rates: Moving to San Diego doesn't have the same seasonal rate variables that other, less temperate, cities offer. Basically, there is no adverse time, as far as weather is concerned, and moving rates tend to stay consistent throughout the year. The exception to this is a surge of people searching for apartments and other rentals around San Diego State University prior to the start of the school year, which could make moving to San Diego a bit more difficult on late August.
- Getting Around: Public transportation in San Diego and surrounding communities is provided by commuter and light rails: Amtrak, Coaster, Sprinter, San Diego Trolley and Metrolink (via transfer). Public busses and ferry service are also available.
- Traffic Considerations: San Diego traffic can be as ugly as the scenery is beautiful. And that's really saying something. On Friday afternoons (among other times), Interstate 5 can be at a standstill from San Diego all the way to (and through) Los Angeles. That's life in the big city. San Diego serves as the starting (or ending, if you are a pessimist or southbound traveler) point for three interstate highways: Interstate 5 begins at the US-Mexico border and travels north to the US-Canada border in Washington, Interstate 8 heads from downtown San Diego into the desert of Arizona, and Interstate 15 runs inland to Las Vegas. There is also Interstate 805 which is a bypass of I-5. In addition, San Diego has a number of state highways. State Routes 15, 52, 54, 56, 75, 78, 94, 125, 163 (scenic!) and 905, respectively, connect the regions and suburbs of the greater San Diego metropolitan area.
- Layer Up: Along the coast of San Diego you may experience morning marine layer, a light, sometimes misty, cloud covering that "burns off" as the day warms up. The daytime temperatures tend to be warmer the further inland you go, but the nights are cool throughout the year—dress in layers!
- Game Day: San Diego is home to a number of professional, semi-pro and college sport teams. Game days can severely alter traffic around the respective sport venue in use. The San Diego Padres (MLB) play at Petco Park, the Chargers (NFL) play at Qualcomm Stadium (as do the Aztecs football team from San Diego State), and the San Diego Chicken plays wherever he wants.
- Park Carefully: Do your homework. If you plan to visit San Diego and explore neighborhoods and potential employers (and waves) prior to moving there, pay attention to street and parking signs. There are a number of streets in downtown San Diego that are one-way only. Also, many streets have restricted parking requiring permits or payment. In addition, even areas with ample free parking may have restrictions regarding days and times that spaces are available. You don't want to start your move to San Diego with a parking ticket!
- Street Smarts on Moving Day: Make sure your new neighborhood will allow you to have a storage container or moving truck parked on the street in front of your new home or apartment for an extended window of time. Be careful not to move to your new home on a street cleaning day or time. Most streets in San Diego have specific street cleaning days with schedules posted.
- Change Your Address: Before moving to San Diego, consider changing your address online. It is easy to do, cost-efficient, and will ensure that your mail arrives at your new home by the time you move in. Changing your address through USPS will also provide the option of receiving money-saving coupons from local companies in your new city, many of which are geared towards the needs of residents relocating to the community.
If you are moving to San Diego you will have 52 Community Planning Areas to choose from, which is part of the General Plan concept of a "City of Villages."
Within each of San Diego's Community Planning Areas are numerous distinct neighborhoods, totaling more than 100 in the city.
The boundaries and boarders between neighborhoods and Community Planning Areas are generally understood and marked by natural geography (canyons, waterways, hills) or manmade geographical lines such as street patterns.
Full Neighborhood Report
Cost of Living
In San Diego, you get what you pay for. The overall cost of living in San Diego is 139 on an index where the national average is 100. Is it worth it? People moving to San Diego think so.
The median home cost in San Diego is $392,000, compared to the national average of $175,100. Here is an example of median home/condo list prices in various San Diego neighborhoods (listed house prices as of December 2011 according to Zillow).
If you are relocating to San Diego for a new job, consider the location of your new employer when searching for housing. Chances are you will find a San Diego home near the office that will cut down on the amount of time you have to sit in traffic staring at the ocean instead of swimming in it.
If you are searching for jobs in San Diego, look no further than our relocation guide.
Job Search and Relocation Advice
Are you moving to San Diego and want to learn all about what the city has to offer? The best way to do that is to pick up the local paper or tune to the local TV station. Here’s a roundup of some of the most popular news sources in San Diego.
U-T San Diego
The fifth most widely read newspaper in all of California and ranked in the top 30 largest in the United States, the U-T San Diego (short for Union Tribune, which was the result of a merger between the San Diego Union and the San Diego Evening Tribune) is published seven days a week.
Its daily estimated circulation is just under 300,000 with Sunday editions nearing 380,000. The U-T San Diego has won four Pulitzer Prizes in addition to numerous wins for the George Polk Awards. The paper covers local and world news, sports, business and jobs, and local and national entertainment.
San Diego Reader
Distributed free of charge at newsstands and bookstores throughout the county, the weekly San Diego Reader reaches upwards of 150,000 to 160,000 readers with each publication. Widely respected for its alternative local news journalism as well as for its coverage of the San Diego arts, music and theater scene, the Reader was founded in 1972 and frequently offers a counterpoint to the opinions of the U-T San Diego.
San Diego City Beat
Known for its progressive politics as much as for its coverage of the local arts and music scene, the San Diego City Beat is published weekly and reaches a circulation of over 50,000. Begun in 2002 to fill the perceived gap left by the U-T San Diego and the San Diego Reader, the City Beat has grown rapidly in popularity. The paper focuses mainly on San Diego culture, including dining and nightlife, but also covers local alternative news stories.
Philippine Mabuhay News
Providing a news resource for the Filipino-American community of San Diego, the Philippine Mabuhay News is published each Friday and reaches an estimated 70,000 readers per week. The newspaper covers local, national and international news, in addition to business, entertainment and Filipino culture.
El Latino San Diego
The largest Spanish-language newspaper in San Diego, El Latino San Diego also bears the distinction of being the most widely circulated Latino-owned newspaper of its type in the state. Covering everything from news to politics, and from education to health and family, El Latino San Diego is released once per week and sees an average circulation of 60,000.
Local TV and News Channels
To watch local and world news, check out the following local TV stations and major network affiliates:
When moving to San Diego, you will be able to utilize a great public transportation system. In addition to public busses, San Diego has light rail in the form of the trolley, and commuter rail on Coaster and Amtrak. Another rail, Sprinter, runs further north in the greater San Diego metropolitan area. There are also plans to add a Mid-Coast line and expand the trolley line.
The weather and hills in San Diego make it especially attractive to cyclists, but unfortunately the infrastructure isn't nearly as supportive. The downtown area is the best place for commuting by bike.
The Downtown San Diego area is very walkable with many tourist attractions, shopping areas, restaurants, nightlife and Padres games within a few blocks of each other.
- For more information on bus and rail expansions see the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG)
Have you ever seen a postcard of a beautiful sunset sinking over waves as they break upon the feet of laughing children? That, more or less, is the climate in San Diego.
According to The Weather Channel, San Diego is one of the top two summer climates in America, and the Farmer's Almanac lists San Diego weather in the top ten for the entire year. Most people who move to San Diego rank it slightly higher.
In the late spring/early summer the coast may experience "marine layer" which is a cool cloud cover that burns off as the day progresses. It also thins significantly as you move inland.
Due to frequent geographical shifts (canyons, hills) the area of San Diego has a series of microclimates, which means that temperatures can change noticeably in a very short distance. Dress in layers!
The average temperature in Downtown San Diego is 65 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and 76 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. The lows range from 49 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the season.
San Diego averages 10.3 inches of rainfall per year. If it snows in San Diego, it will most likely be followed by swarms of locusts and the smell of brimstone.
Moving to San Diego will involve a lot of choices, and choosing the right school for your children will be a big one. Luckily, the city of San Diego (and surrounding areas) offers a number of quality schools to meet the needs of every child. The majority of schools in San Diego are part of the San Diego Unified School District (otherwise known as San Diego City Schools). However, Poway Unified School District, Sweetwater Union High School District and San Dieguito Union High School District all operate some schools within city limits. Current school rankings (elementary, middle and high schools), campus and district zoning/location maps, information and reviews are available online for parents moving to San Diego. San Diego preschool information is also available.
Highest ranked San Diego elementary schools (according to Great Schools):
- Adobe Bluffs Elementary School
- Ashley Falls Elementary School
- Benchley/Weinberger Elementary School
- Bird Rock Elementary School
- Carmel Creek Elementary School
- Carmel Del Mar Elementary School
- Creekside Elementary School
- Curie Elementary School
- Del Sur Elementary School
- Dingeman Elementary School
- Deer Canyon Elementary School
- Jerabek Elementary School
- Kumeyaay Elementary School
- La Jolla Elementary School
- Monterey Ridge Elementary School
- Ocean Air School
- Park Village Elementary School
- Sage Canyon School
- Scripps Elementary School
- Solona Highlands Elementary School
- Solona Pacific Elementary School
- Stone Ranch Elementary School
- Sunset View Elementary School
- Sycamore Ridge School
- Torrey Hills School
- Torrey Pines Elementary School
- Willow Grove Elementary School
Highest ranked San Diego middle schools:
- Carmel Valley Middle School
- Preuss School Ucsd
- Thurgood Marshall Middle School
Highest ranked San Diego high schools:
- Canyon Crest Academy
- Del Norte High School
- Kearny International Business School
- Preuss School Ucsd
- San Diego International Studies School
- Scripps Ranch High School
- Westview High School
The State of California has an open enrollment policy for schools, and therefore parents moving to San Diego don't necessarily have to live by the school that their child attends. According to the California Department of Education:
"The purpose of the Open Enrollment Act is to improve student achievement and enhance parental choice in education by providing additional options to pupils to enroll in public schools throughout the state without regard to the residence of their parents. The Open Enrollment Act provides students enrolled in one of the 1,000 Open Enrollment schools the option to enroll in a school within the same district or any other district provided the school to which they are applying has a higher Academic Performance Index (API) score than the pupil's school of residence."
Want to take care of important (mandatory) tasks before moving to San Diego? Many of the items required for a move to San Diego can be found online:
- Register to vote at the San Diego County Recorder's Office.
- Register your vehicle and obtain a new driver's license at the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
- For tax information visit the IRS.
- Find your local United States Post Office.
- For information and forms on residential and commercial zoning and building permits visit the City of San Diego Development Services.
- For information on obtaining a pet license in San Diego and other pet ownership requirements, visit the County of San Diego Animal Services.