Cost of Living in San Diego

If you’re thinking about moving to San Diego, you might be wondering if you can really afford to live in this sunny west-coast city. Your asking yourself “How much does it cost to Live in San Diego? While it’s not LA, San Diego is generally regarded as an expensive place to live, so you’re not alone in wanting to get down to the real truth of the matter. We won’t lie– living in San Diego isn’t cheap. However, there are options that make it more affordable, and work opportunities here abound. Plus, to many San Diego transplants, the sunshine makes it all worth it.

Rent Prices in San Diego

Are you a young professional who’s moving to San Diego? Congrats! You’re taking a huge step forward in your career and life, but you’re probably not ready for home ownership just yet. That’s okay! There are plenty of amazing rented accommodations available throughout the city.

In San Diego, renters make up almost half the residential population. You can find a studio or one bedroom apartment for about $1,500 a month here, though this price usually doesn’t include utilities. Need an extra bedroom? You might be paying upwards of $2,000 per month. This might seem very expensive, until you remember that the average price for that same two-bedroom in Manhattan averages in at $3,895. It’s all about perspective!

Home Prices in San Diego

Gorgeous home in San Diego

Maybe you are ready for that first home. Or, maybe you’re moving to the area with your family in tow, and need enough space for the kids, the dog, and maybe even yourself. The median home value in San Diego is $567,400, according to DataUSA.io; Zillow puts it even higher at $629,100.

Zillow has also seen more than a 6% increase in home prices in San Diego over the last year, and forecasts a continued upward trend, making San Diego firmly a seller’s market. So, buyers beware: between the rising costs, and the competition to get into desirable neighborhoods, you may find yourself in a bidding war even (or perhaps, especially) over the most affordably priced homes.

This is not to say that all the homes in San Diego are that pricey. In fact, Data USA estimates that more than 40% of San Diego homes sell for under $500,000. The trick is to find them, and get under contract before someone else does! Just make sure you’re looking at San Diego neighborhoods, as well as home prices. You don’t want to go for a cheaper place just to wind up in an area you don’t like!

Utility Costs in San Diego

You may not have to worry about heating your house through frigid winter snowstorms in San Diego, but the utilities costs here are still nothing to scoff at. Utilities in San Diego cost about 17% higher than the national average, and 3% higher than the rest of California. In this aspect, San Diego also has higher prices than LA– 7% higher in fact.

For a standard apartment that’s under 1,000 square feet, you’re likely to pay about $120/month for water, heat and electricity, in total. Many towns may also have an additional monthly charge for trash pickup. And if you want internet (which, let’s face it, you definitely do), you can expect to pay at least $50/month for that as well.

Transportation Costs in San Diego

Traffic during morning commute.

Of course, we can’t talk about expenses without talking about transportation. Unlike NYC and Boston, San Diego doesn’t have a widely used rail system. They do have a bus and trolley system, called the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System. A ride on the bus will cost you $2.25, while a trolley ride costs $2.50. There are monthly, and even quarterly passes available with some discounts to make transportation more affordable.

However, most San Diego residents opt for owning cars instead of relying on public transit. The average household in San Diego owns 2 cars, which is pretty on par with other drivable cities in America. Cars themselves will vary in price, based on whether you’re looking for brand new vehicles, pre-owned or REALLY pre-owned options.

The average commute time in San Diego is 22 minutes. That’s about 15-20 miles, depending on how much of your drive is on the highway, versus downtown. Time to do some math! Your average American vehicle travels 24.7 miles per gallon. As of May, the price of gas in San Diego was about $3.74, though GasBuddy has prices as high as over $4.00 per gallon today in areas like La Jolla.

Fancy math: if I’m driving 20 miles, in a car that gets 24.7 miles to the gallon, in a place where gas costs, say, $3.80 per gallon, how much do I spend on gas per commute? The answer: about $3.08 per commute. Per day, that’s $6.08. If you work five days a week, 52 weeks per year, that bring your grand total (for gas ALONE, not including other car-related expenses) to: $1,580.80 per year. You’ll also be adding over 10,000 miles to your car, just driving to work, so keep that in mind, especially if you have a low-mileage lease!

Other San Diego Living Expenses

Living in San Diego comes with other expenses, too! Goods and services here are more expensive than the national average. San Diego residents, for example, pay 14% more than average on groceries than folks in other areas of the U.S. A big part of this is due to California’s excise taxes, which apply to certain products, which drives prices up.

San Diego is infamous for its high taxes; it’s actually the 10th most taxed State when it comes to sales. The base sales tax in California is 7.25%, but it can be as much as 10% higher than that. Property taxes here are actually relatively low, at .76% of you home’s cash market value; however, when you consider the high cost of homes here in San Diego, the amount you pay in property taxes can still be significant.

Average Household Income in San Diego

Money being exchanged in money bags.

We’ve talked about all the things you’ll be paying for by living in San Diego, so let’s chat about the flip side: what it’s like working here, and what you could be making. The top employment industries in San Diego are Professional, Scientific, Tech Services, Healthcare & Social Assistance, and Retail trade, and top occupations are in Management, Administration and Sales.

So, how much could you bring home by working here? Well, the average San Diego household income is about $71,481 per year. That’s $14,000 above the American average! However, as mentioned above, California has some pretty high taxes, and these apply to income as well. Income tax here can be as high as 13.3% for persons in the highest tax bracket!

Can You Afford Living in San Diego?

When you’re considering moving to San Diego, be sure to take the cost of living into account. And remember, the neighborhood you choose will have a huge impact on some of these costs, from home sales prices to the actual cost of your commute! If you want to learn more about what it’s like to live in San Diego, check out our City Guide to San Diego. We also have a detailed look at some of San Diego’s best neighborhoods that you should check out!

Have you decided that San Diego is the place for you? Well, congratulations! We’re sure you’re going to love it here. Now that you’ve made the big decision, your next big move will be the move itself. So if you’re interested in learning more about San Diego, or getting a San Diego moving quote from a trusted, local company, give us a call at (858) 230-8281 today!