Sometimes known as America’s best city, San Diego is a perennially popular destination thanks to its year-round sunshine, miles of scenic coastline and outdoor lifestyle. But all these attractions come at a high price, as the city is also one of the more expensive places in the country to live. From housing to utilities, food to transportation, the city is more expensive than the national average by almost every measure.
The high cost of housing in California is notorious, and San Diego is no exception. In fact, according to RentCafe, you’ll spend a whopping 119 percent more than the national average on housing in San Diego.
Home ownership in San Diego is an expensive goal. In September 2022, the average single-family home cost a very high $915,000, according to the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors. Prices for condos and townhomes hovered around $600,000 — still well above the national median home price of $384,800. Overall, prices in the city increased by 14 percent compared to the previous year.
However, as the national real estate market cools, prices are beginning to fall slightly. The latest reports show that prices in the city have been falling for the past four months, with houses staying on the market longer, an average of 28 days.
Additionally, the pace of previously owned home sales fell 10.7 percent in September compared to August. In fact, by some accounts, San Diego is actually closing in on a buyer’s market: Some sellers are even offering to pay closing costs for buyers, which was unheard of during the early part of the pandemic.
Renting in San Diego isn’t much easier on the wallet. The average monthly rent for a two-bedroom unit is $2,566, and $1,990 for a one-bedroom, according to the Rental Housing Listings report. Overall, this represents an increase of 7.7 percent compared to the previous year. That puts San Diego’s annual rent increase ahead of the national average, which was 5.3 percent, and ahead of the national average of 5.7 percent.
The good news on the rental side is that costs are actually down 1 percent from the previous month. October was the second month in a row that rents fell in the city.
Job market in San Diego
San Diego offers a strong job market. In September, the unemployment rate reached an all-time low for the city of 3.1 percent. That’s lower than both California’s unemployment rate and the national unemployment rate for the same time period.
For those seeking opportunity, the city is home to one of the fastest growing software services and technology start-up markets in the country. From 2017 to 2020, the city’s IT sector saw record revenue growth of 188 percent. Some of San Diego’s top employers include Qualcomm, Kyocera Mobile and global biotech company CSL. In addition, the education sector is on the rise in employment in San Diego, adding more than 10,000 jobs in schools, colleges and universities in September.
The average salary in San Diego is $68,379, according to ZipRecruiter. That works out to about $33 an hour or $1,314 a week. In general, most annual salaries in San Diego are somewhere between $51,000 and $84,000.
Food costs in San Diego are 13 percent higher than the national average, according to data from RentCafe. Groceries specifically cost about 7 percent more than the rest of the country, according to Bungalow, which estimates San Diegans’ average monthly grocery shopping at about $291. good news? That price is actually less than you’d spend on groceries in any other major city in California.
Transportation in San Diego
Unless you live downtown, public transportation options in San Diego are relatively limited. This is one of the reasons why transportation costs in the city are 32 percent higher than the national average. Another reason is gas prices. November average prices are high in California at a total of $5.47 per gallon, according to AAA, and slightly higher in San Diego at $5.51. Car insurance, meanwhile, averages about $1,976 a year for full coverage, compared to the national average cost of $1,771.
The public transportation options available, buses and trolleys, are offered through the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System, known locally as MTS. A one-way ticket for adults is $2.50, and a monthly pass costs $72.
Local and state taxes
Like many other costs of living in the city, taxes in San Diego and California in general are relatively high.
Moving to San Diego
With its vibrant quality of life, good weather, and growing job opportunities, moving to San Diego is tempting. But be sure to do your research first to see if you can find affordable accommodation and make reasonable ends meet in this expensive city. Don’t forget to factor moving costs into your budget, especially if you’re moving far away.
It would be good to connect with a local realtor who knows the region well. And take the time to explore the variety of unique neighborhoods throughout San Diego to find the area that’s best for you, your family, your interests and your budget.
The cost of living can vary widely from one household to another, depending on a number of factors, including family size and lifestyle. However, according to Numbe, the estimated monthly cost for a single person is around $1,102, excluding housing costs. For a family of four, that number goes up to $3,945.
Housing in San Diego is 11 percent higher than the California state average. However, other costs, such as health care and transportation, are cheaper than the California average. Use Bankrate’s cost of living calculator to compare costs between cities in California.
The cost of living in San Diego is comparable to Los Angeles, although slightly cheaper. According to Bankrate’s cost of living calculator, the cost of living in L.A. is 4.85 percent higher than in San Diego.
The average salary in the city is $68,379, according to ZipRecruiter. But housing costs in San Diego, which are more than double the national average, take a big bite out of that salary. Both sales prices and average rents are high here, meaning whether you rent or own, you’ll have to spend more of your salary on housing costs than you would in most of the country.