Cost of Living in San Diego

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Cost of Living in San Diego

San Diego, California’s second-largest city, is dubbed “America’s Finest City” on occasion. With miles of calm beaches and a welcoming, laid-back lifestyle, the benefits of coastal California are on full show here. The iconic San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, museums and gardens at Balboa Park, a thriving craft beer scene, and the annual worldwide Comic-Con are just a few of the city’s features. The secret to the city’s outstanding quality of life has been revealed. San Diego has seen a surge in newcomers, with the city’s population expanding by a quarter-million people since 2010. San Diego’s inflation rate has averaged 3.78 percent each year during the last 35 years, compared to 2.61 percent nationally. As a result, the cost of living in San Diego has risen faster than in other cities. San Diego’s cost of living was rated 77.93 out of 100 in July 2020 by Numbeo’s cost of living index, which takes into account the cost of consumer goods such as groceries, restaurants, transportation, and utilities. The index’s benchmark is New York City. When you include rent, your score lowers to 72.14. According to, the cost of living in San Diego is 44 percent more than the national average. Consider it a tax on sunshine: it’s been said that San Diego has the best weather in the country.

Housing: Rent Costs

A little more than half of San Diegans live in rented housing. In January 2020, the average rent for an apartment in San Diego was $2,238 compared to $1,463 nationally. The most costly neighborhoods for tenants include North City, La Jolla, and Little Italy, with monthly rents ranging from $3,200 to $3,500. Even if the figures appear to be excessive, San Diego does not have to be out of reach. When you share a room with a roommate, you can save a lot of money compared to living alone. The average price for a private room in a shared home in San Diego, for example, is up to 27% less than the average studio apartment rent in the same area.

Purchase Price of a House

Homeowners account for 47% of the city’s population. San Diego home prices have increased by 82 percent in the last ten years, from $340,000 in 2010 to $617,000 in January 2020. The median price in San Diego is $500,000, which is more than twice the national median price of $245,000. It’s even more expensive to live in San Diego’s most attractive areas. The median sale price in Rancho Santa Fe, Coronado, and Del Mar is $1.5 million to $2.25 million. The cities on the eastern side of San Diego County have more cheap real estate. Although La Mesa, Santee, and Ramona are all less than a half-hour drive from downtown San Diego, home prices are up to $100,000 lower than the county median.

Cost of Utilities

The balmy Mediterranean environment of San Diego lessens the need for heating in the winter, but the summers are hot enough to necessitate air conditioning. A typical monthly utility bill will cost roughly $138, which is slightly more than in San Francisco but less than in Los Angeles. In general, utility expenditures in San Diego are comparable to the national average.

The Price of Food

San Diego is known for its Baja-style fish tacos, which go perfectly with a local craft beer. A pint of beer will set you back roughly $6. For $15, you can have a simple supper, or for $36 you can have a more elaborate event. Restaurants account for a little over half of all food expenditures in San Diego, with residents spending an average of $162 per month. San Diego has more small farms than any other US county, resulting in an abundance of high-quality local produce. Groceries are just around 7% more expensive here than they are elsewhere in the country. The average San Diegan will spend roughly $291 on groceries each month, which is less than in any of California’s other major cities.

Cost of Transportation

In San Diego, driving is the most common mode of transportation. Only 6.3 percent of San Diego homes do not own a car, compared to approximately a third of households in areas like Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Fortunately for all those car owners, parking in SD is less expensive than in more densely populated areas. Many homes, condos, and apartments include free parking on the street or in a garage. Parking is free even in the downtown area, and meters are only $1.25 per hour. It is costly to refuel in San Diego. Gas prices in South Dakota have ranged from $4.19 per gallon to $2.72 in the last year. These prices are $1 to $1.75 per gallon higher than the national average, but they are in line with the high gas prices seen around the country. The average vehicle insurance rate in San Diego is $1,536, which is nearly a hundred dollars higher than the national average of $1,427 and $91 less than the state average. For $2.50 each journey, the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System provides local public transit via bus and trolley. MTS does not provide free transfers, unlike many other cities. A monthly pass costs $72, which is a good deal when compared to similar passes in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago, which cost approximately $100.

San Diego’s Healthcare Costs

Healthcare is a major issue for most people, and in San Diego, you can expect to pay slightly more than the national average in this category – roughly 8.3 percent more. A doctor’s appointment will set you back roughly $125, while a dental checkup would set you back around $107.18. You should also expect to pay a little more for prescription drugs. A bottle of Ibuprofen costs around $11.90, which is more than $2 higher than the national average. It’s tough to estimate average healthcare costs for everyone. Everyone’s body has varied needs, therefore healthcare practices vary greatly. As a result, when planning your budget, keep in mind your regular healthcare habits, including your drug regimes and insurance coverage.

San Diego’s Taxes

Because taxes differ by place, it’s easy to become perplexed when it’s time to budget. San Diego’s sales tax is 7.75 percent, including the state rate of 6 percent and the San Diego County rate of 0.25 percent. If you purchase $1,000 on a new computer, sales tax will cost you $77.50, bringing the total to $1,077.50. Expect to pay a CRV (California Refund Value) fee on your cans and bottles if you drink soda frequently.

Other San Diego Expenses to Consider

When residing in San Diego, there are other costs to consider, such as taxes. California has one of the nation’s highest income tax rates, which adds to your overall costs. In San Diego, expect to pay a combined sales tax rate of 7.75 percent. San Diego’s gas prices are likewise high. It’s not unusual for them to exceed $4 a gallon. After the coronavirus epidemic, however, petrol prices soared to $4.05, making it less affordable to drive and visit adjacent day trip locations.

San Diego Has a Lot of Freebies

Despite San Diego’s many high-priced attractions, there are still plenty of free things to see and do to keep your spending under control. San Diego’s beaches are among the best in the country. Swimming, body surfing, and relaxing are all free. You may have to pay for parking if you drive.
Depending on where you live, you can bike or walk to the beach. The Embarcadero in San Diego offers live entertainment and window shopping, as well as beautiful parks and trails including Mission Bay Park. Bird enthusiasts flock to wetlands like Tijuana Estuary and Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge to see San Diego’s 400 year-round bird species. Take a bike ride along the Waterfront, which features 27 miles of bayside parks, marinas, and people-watching opportunities. Explore America’s largest urban cultural park, Balboa Park, or walk or cycle along the 65 miles of pathways while admiring the Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. On Sundays at 2 p.m., the Spreckels Organ Pavilion hosts outdoor music. Don’t forget to visit the California Surf Museum on Highway 101, which is free.

To live in San Diego, How Much Money Do You Need?

We already highlighted how housing in San Diego is significantly more expensive than in other cities.
According to experts, you should set aside at least 30% of your monthly budget for rent. A basic one-bedroom apartment would cost $28,296 per year, implying a $94,320 annual income under these standards. A typical two-bedroom apartment costs $36,312 per year, therefore your family would need to earn a total of $121,040 per year to live comfortably.

Salary Average

San Diego’s average hourly income is $28.96, which is 13% higher than the national average of $25.73. This equates to a yearly salary of $60,237 on average. Radiation technology, computer network architecture, and nuclear medicine technology are some of the most in-demand careers in San Diego, and they pay better than average. The average salary in San Diego is insufficient to cover the greater cost of living, so if you want to live your dreams in California’s southernmost city, you’ll need to locate a job that pays more than the average, hunt for homes a bit further east, or discover ways to cut costs.

San Diego’s Largest Employers

There’s some good news for San Diego job seekers seeking for reasonable pay. Local residents benefit from low unemployment and a diverse selection of significant employers. San Diego is home to about 85,000 enterprises. A select few, however, stand out as major employers.

Companies such as:
  • Cubic Corporation
  • Pulse Electronics
  • Qualcomm
  • Sanyo
  • Sony
  • Teradata
  • Zovio is among the top tech and electronics employers.
In San Diego, the military and education are other important sources of employment. The US Navy, as well as the University of California at San Diego and the San Diego Unified School District, have a prominent presence in the area. If you want to work in tourism, there are plenty of opportunities in San Diego. The booming tourism business is served by the numerous theme parks, hotels, restaurants, and nightlife options.

Investing Opportunities

Okay, everyone knows that items in California are costly (what else is new?). This isn’t to say that everything is gone, or that simply breathing San Diego air will bankrupt you. There is a silver lining, and you can certainly make great lemonade with any lemons you have on hand.

Consider the following scenario:

Housing and Real Estate Are Two Different Things. Senior citizens and anyone looking to downsize to smaller dwelling arrangements should take advantage of this opportunity. Some of these long-term owners’ profit margins will be large (for example, anyone who bought their home in the 1990s or previously). Due to the scarcity of new homes, buying a fixer-upper may be the best way to save money in the long term.

Utilities. The high cost of power is due to a reliance on fossil fuels. Although switching to solar electricity has some high upfront expenses, the long-term energy savings are significant.

Transportation. It’s not even close to being as horrible as Los Angeles! Public transportation is inexpensive and provides services throughout the county. Furthermore, the trend toward remote working has the potential to reduce transit costs and make traffic more manageable than before.

How to Relocate to San Diego

This town still has plenty of options, and you may have a prosperous career in a pleasant setting. This guide will show you what to expect so that you can come prepared with your eyes open and, ideally, a game plan.

Here are a few pointers on relocating to America’s Finest City.
Get You Moving During the Winter. It’s difficult to find available lodging during the summer vacation season due to a large number of visitors.
Take Advantage of Public Transportation When There Are Fewer Tourists. When you first arrive in town, you might not need your wheels. San Diego’s public transportation system is rather good, and you can take advantage of it while looking for a parking spot.

Be Prepared to Save. Here, recycling and water discussion are critical.

First, Check Out the Surrounding Areas. Find a comfortable niche that you can afford and learn everything there is to know about it. Grocery stores, churches, entertainment venues, libraries, and police stations are all located in this area.

Enjoy Your Time in This City! Explore the cuisine while taking in the sights and sounds of San Diego. Take advantage of the opportunity to visit the beach and partake in some nightlife. Don’t be shocked if you start to question why you didn’t move here sooner once you’ve settled in and learned your way about it! To transfer your belongings, we recommend that you engage a professional moving company. If you need more time to sort things out, consider hiring secure storage to temporarily keep your belongings before moving in.


San Diego’s beautiful scenery and seaside breezes make it an ideal destination to call home in California. San Diego is a fantastic place to live if you enjoy nice beaches, mild temperatures, amazing food, and vibrant nightlife. It’s no surprise that 35 million people visit each year. Whether or not such folks choose to establish roots is mostly determined by their financial situation. There are lots of wonderful San Diego apartments and homes waiting for you if you have the financial means. However, if San Diego appears to be too expensive for you, investigate other California locations.

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Indu has been educator since last 10 years. She can find all kind of scholarship opportunities in the USA and beyond. She also teach college courses online to help students become better. She is one of the very rare scholarship administrator and her work is amazing.