Cost of living - San Diego

7 Things to know and do before moving to San Diego

San Diego offers a pleasant year-round climate. With plenty of sunshine, you can enjoy outdoor activities, beaches, and parks throughout the year. With its stunning beaches, hiking trails, and water sports, San Diego is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.

The city also boasts low crime rates, ensuring a safe living environment. However, consider factors like the cost of living and housing market conditions before your move to San Diego to ensure it matches your lifestyle and goals.

Are you planning to move soon? Read on to learn more about the 7 things to know before moving to San Diego.

Moving to San Diego: Everything to know and do

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1. First steps before moving to San Diego

Finding a job 

In August 2023, San Diego County’s unemployment rate was 4.3%, rising from 3.9% in July 2023 and higher than the 3.5% rate from the previous year. In comparison, California had a 5.1% unemployment rate, while the national rate was 3.9% during the same time.

Some high-demand jobs that you need to know before moving to San Diego include: Registered nurses, software engineers, sales consultants and fast food chain crew members.

When finding a job in this city, it is important to look for employment vacancies and use internet job postings. SimplyHired, Indeed, and LinkedIn are examples of well-known sites.

CA Labor Market Information (Sept 2023) 

Getting there 

You may make an informed decision on how to move to San Diego, CA by looking into these options for transportation. 

Flying is the most convenient way to move to San Diego. You can book your flight to get there and use San Diego International Airport (SAN).

If you prefer an alternative mode of transportation, numerous cities in California offer bus services by companies like Greyhound and regional bus operators too.

Travelling via train is a great option too, Amtrak is the country’s main train service provider, or you can drive your car and plan your trip.

Must dos before your arrival 

You may find it exciting and challenging to move to San Diego. You will be more prepared for your new life in the city if you are aware of these things beforehand.

  • Prepare for pleasant weather in San Diego because of its Mediterranean climate.
  • Pack the appropriate clothing and prepare for a lot of outdoor activities there.
  • San Diego has a high cost of living, so it would be great to adjust your lifestyle to the budget you have.

2. Upon your arrival in San Diego

Must dos right upon your arrival

  • Get familiar with your neighborhood, and make sure to take note of the important emergency numbers.
  • Roaming around the city for work or just simply checking on it, it would be great to purchase a daily transit pass to save money.
  • Locate the essential facilities like the nearest hospital, police station, and fire department for your safety and in case of emergency.

Exchanging your driver’s license

According to California law, if you move into the state and decide to stay, you should apply for a California driver’s license within ten days of doing so. It is essential to update your address with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This is a state-level government agency that handles everything related to vehicles and licenses.

Setting up a bank account 

When moving to San Diego, it’s essential to establish a local presence by setting up a bank account. This city follows the same procedures and regulations as in other states. Wells Fargo has more than 100 branch locations in San Diego, and it is convenient for every local because it is accessible.

Getting health insurance

Getting health insurance in San Diego can be obtained through employer-sponsored plans, government programs such as Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid program), or individual policies purchased through the health insurance marketplace.

As of September 2023, employer-sponsored health insurance has an average monthly cost of $101.03, while non-employer-sponsored health insurance has an average monthly cost of $486.00. 

CA Health Care Foundation (April 2023) & EHealthInsurance (Sept 2023)

3. Best places to live in San Diego

Best places to live in San Diego

San Diego has some beautiful beaches in the USA and is called “America’s Finest City”. It is best known for its stunning beaches and great climate. Using our existing ranking of the safest and cheapest places to live in San Francisco, we based our ranking on three criteria: safety, affordability, and quality of life. MovingWaldo identified the top 7 best places to live in San Diego that offer the best quality of life in 2023.



Rancho Encantada

Very safe

Alta Vista

Southern California vibe

Clairemont Mesa West

Various scenic hiking trails

Black Mountain Ranch

Near 2,352 acres of hills, ridges, and canyons

Miramar Ranch North

Proximity to parks and elementary schools

El Cajon

Best for outdoor activities

El Cerrito

Easy access to North Bay

Setting up home services 

Setting up essential home services like electricity, water, and internet in San Diego is a straightforward process. 

To set up electricity and gas services in San Diego, CA, you may check San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) website.

For water and sewer services in San Diego, CA, the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department is in charge. The application can be done via their website or get in touch with their customer service for assistance.

Setting up internet service in San Diego, California is similar to the process and options offered in other cities. Learn more about the best internet providers in California. 

Should you rent or buy?

As of July 2023, the median cost of buying a property in San Diego is $863,228; as of September 2023, the median rent for a 1-bedroom apartment is $2,532.

The rental market in this city is equally competitive, too, because of high demand for rental apartments. Trusted websites such as Redfin,, Trulia, and Zillow are often used to find available apartment listings and property or engage with real estate agents for assistance.

Rockethomes (August 2023) & Zillow (Sept 2023)

4. Cost of living in San Diego


Monthly cost

1 bed apt rent outside city center



Numbeo’s grocery list ($69.42 multiplied by 4)



Electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage


Internet with 60 Mbps


Transit pass



Meal, taxi, movie


Gym membership 




Numbeo (Sept 2023)

5. The weather in San Diego

According to, the weather of San Diego is influenced by the area’s steppe environment. 

Throughout the year, San Diego receives barely any rain. The average temperature here is 16.7 °C | 62.1 °F. The average annual rainfall is 272 mm | 10.7 in. 

It has an average temperature of 21.1 °C | 70.0 °F, August is the warmest month of the year. The coldest month of the year is January, with an average temperature of 12.9 °C | 55.2 °F.

6. What to do as a local in San Diego

Moving to San Diego is an opportunity to enjoy unique local activities:

Locals adore whale watching, from gray whales to humpbacks and dolphins, depending on the season.

Sports enthusiasts catch San Diego Padres games at Petco Park, featuring stunning city skyline views.

San Diego’s beautiful beaches offer excellent surf conditions. Popular spots include Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, and La Jolla.

7. Fun facts about San Diego

  • Due to its growing craft beer industry, San Diego has been known as the “Craft Beer Capital of America”.
  • The “Ugly Dog Contest” is a humorous and enjoyable annual event when dog owners meet to show off their unusual-looking pups and celebrate their uncommon appeal.
  • Captain Sticky, a comic book superhero who lives in San Diego and was created by a local artist, fights litterbugs and encourages environmental awareness in a funny and light-hearted way.
  • The annual “Costume-Con” conference takes place, and it gathers together lovers of costumes and cosplays to show off their luxurious clothing and creativity. Locals show off their love of dressing up and a celebration of imagination.


Moving to San Diego is an experience that will thrill you because of the uniqueness of the place. It offers an appealing lifestyle, making it attractive to individuals, young professionals, and families alike.

Locals mention that the great weather and stunning geography add to the city’s charm, making it an enjoyable place to move.

In need of a trusted moving company to move you to San Diego, CA? Discover the 5 best movers in San Diego.


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Selina Cifelli

The author

Selina is a motivated marketing intern with a keen interest in developing engaging content related to moving experiences and city life. With a passion for fashion and traveling, she brings a fresh perspective to our readers. Her talent for crafting innovative written material effectively positions MovingWaldo as a trusted resource for hassle-free and efficient moves.

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