Annual Cost of Living in San Diego: Important Facts

San Diego is one of the most sought out cities in California and the U.S. It’s certainly an excellent place to live in with its coastal breeze, soft and sandy beaches, wonderful gastronomical options, scenic panoramic views, vibrant nightlife, and a great variety of weekend getaways. Sounds attractive, doesn’t it?

If you are considering moving to this lovely city, then you’re probably trying to figure out what the annual cost of living in San Diego County is like before you make the big move. And if you have your heart set on moving to “America’s Finest City,” then you don’t need another top ten list of things to love about living here. What you really need is a comprehensive guide to the average cost of living in this sunny and relaxing haven.

In this post, we will visit all the cost-related considerations, tips, and facts you must know and understand before taking this big leap into your new life. Are you ready? Let’s dive in!

Which Neighborhood is Right for You?


San Diego County is a very attractive location due to the laid back culture and its year-round beach climate. Some people come for the sun and waves, others for its scenery, or maybe for a great job opportunity. Either way, picking a place to live is crucial to deciding if you move or not. 

There are many things to consider, including commute time or proximity to grocery stores, but the most important aspect is that it fits with your identity. Which San Diego neighborhood would you want to call home? That’s the big question.

Most Desire (and Expensive) Neighborhoods in San Diego

The most popular, and therefore the most expensive, locations people desire are along the coast or in quiet neighborhoods. Below is a list of San Diego’s most expensive neighborhoods that fit that kind of criteria:

  • Nautilus Street/Muirlands Drive
  • Easter Cross
  • La Jolla Boulevard/Camino De La Coast
  • La Jolla Shores Drive/North Torrey Pines
  • Alameda Boulevard/Palm Avenue
  • Via Cuesta Verde/Circa Oriente
  • La Jolla Boulevard/Nautilus Street
  • La Jolla
  • Via Posada/La Jolla Scenic Drive North
  • Cardeno Dr/La Jolla Scenic Drive South


The best thing about vibrant San Diego is that it offers a lot of great neighborhoods to choose from. Some cater to food-lovers, others to nightlife-enthusiasts, and others are all about that characteristic laid-back vibe. The great thing about it is the variety when it comes to housing and communities. Comparing the neighborhoods will help you choose the one most suited for you!

San Diego Home Prices

Getting your own place is very satisfying and, if it meets your expectations and financial possibilities, it can turn into a dream come true. San Diego is home to approximately 1,425,976 people. It is the second biggest California city and one of the ten biggest cities in the country. It’s also one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S., and it has a track record for being one of the best long term real estate investments in the nation. 

As you have probably noticed by now, there are a thousand great reasons why San Diego is such an attractive place to live in. Here is some important information to know: 

  • The data from Zillow shows that the median home value in San Diego is $635,400. 
  • The median price of homes currently listed in San Diego is $699,000
  • The median price of homes that sold is $596,300.

Once you decide to purchase a home in San Diego, it’s time to consider your budget and do your own research on payment methods. Then, you can look up possible homes you might like and look at all your options before making a decision. And finally, learn as much as you can from this process and work with realtors you trust! 

San Diego Rent


Another excellent option for housing and living in San Diego is renting a nice place that fits your personality, your lifestyle, and your needs. Before renting a home, set your budget and take your time to research the neighborhoods that best fit your identity and your resources.

According to December 2019 Apartment List data:

  • The average rent for a San Diego studio is $1,452
  • Rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,578
  • Rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $2,047 
  • And rent for a three-bedroom apartment $2,947.

New legislation signed in October 2019 stipulates that landlords cannot raise the rent more than 5% plus inflation as of January 1st, 2020. To find out more about San Diego Rent Control read the article here.

It’s also important to find the best time to rent your new place. San Diego is a tourist hot spot in the early spring and late fall when other parts of the country start to cool down. These times feature the highest rental rates and greater unavailability for certain apartments. If you are available, November through February is the best time to find affordable rentals.


When you move into a new home, don’t forget to include your utilities. The essentials you have to pay for include gas, water, and electricity. You might include your waste management (garbage) collection, cable, Internet, and telephone services.

As with many U.S cities, the cost of housing takes a big chunk of your paycheck, and in San Diego, it is no different. The average square footage of a 1 bedroom apartment is 756 sq ft, and the average one-bedroom house is $1,578. According to Numbeo, the average basic utility package includes electricity, water, heating, and garbage running you an average cost of $128.91 per month.

The variations on the cost of these services depend on the state you’re moving from and if you’re moving to a bigger home or a smaller space. Either way, they might be different from your current utility expenses, so it’s good to keep that in mind and plan accordingly when adding this to your budget.



This is another aspect to look into when thinking about your budget. Some of your monthly expenses will go to your transportation method of choice. San Diego offers many forms of public transportation, providing economical and eco-friendly options to explore the county.

One way to navigate through San Diego is by bus and trolley. There are plenty of lines and routes throughout it. Check schedules and plan your routes in advance. The MTS (Metropolitan Transit System) offers different one-way fares and pass prices to its users:

One-way fare:

  • Bus and trolley: $2.50


  • 30-day bus pass: $72 / $100 Premium Regional
  • 1-day bus pass: $6 /$12 Premium Regional

These methods of transportation are perfect if you live and work downtown. Otherwise, having a car is a must. Downtown San Diego is going through a transition to make it more bike and pedestrian-friendly, facilitating transit to work within the downtown area. However, if you must commute to work, the average travel time is about 30 minutes in each direction.

On the other hand, if you need or wish to have a car for your work and leisure activities, the costs should be considered:

  • According to GasBuddy, the average cost of gasoline is $3.59
  • The average cost of car insurance per year is approximately $1,713 or $856.50 every six months. That roughly $142.75 per month or $4.75 per day.

In the end, it all depends on your budget, your location, and how you wish to manage your time. The idea is that you feel comfortable and in control of your daily activities and that your transportation method meets your lifestyle and needs.



Food expenses are another vital aspect of understanding San Diego’s cost of living. San Diego can be an expensive city, but many types of fresh produce are cheaper due to the local climate and farming areas around the city. Raisins, blueberries, wine, avocados, and many other fruits and vegetables are cheaper here.

The best way to save money on food is to cook at home, and the average San Diegan spends approximately $1,346.56 on groceries for a family of four or approximately $336.64 a week. On the other hand, if you decide to eat out, the minimum you can expect to spend is about $12 for one person or $48 for a family of four.

Health Care Costs


Even though San Diego living comes with scenic hikes, sunny days, all the vitamin D you need, and fresh produce, the doctor’s appointment ultimately awaits. Understanding the difference in expenses before making any decisions is vital. You can see a comparison between San Diego and other major U.S. cities or take a look at the average costs in San Diego:

  • Doctor’s visit: $131.25
  • Dentist visit: $104.00
  • Optometrist visit: $114.50
  • Lipitor: $83.87

Once you have an idea of the average costs, you can take a look at how much you usually spend in previous years and how you spend it. This way, you can estimate how much you would pay now and plan ahead if San Diego looks like it will be more expensive!

How Your Property Taxes Compare in San Diego County


Moving to another city can be tough, and if you own a property, it will significantly impact your expenses. Despite this, many people don’t consider the property tax when they’re preparing their budget. This is a mistake.

According to Zillow, the average San Diego County home prices and values are $600,560, and California’s average effective property tax is 0.77% compared to the national average of 1.080%. Additionally, the average county tax rate is 0.757% (Data from December 2019).

You can see how your property taxes compare based on an assessed home value of $600,650 on this list:

  • San Diego County: $4,546.24
  • California: $4,624.21
  • National: $6,486.05

As you can see, property taxes vary from state to state, city to city, town to town, and even neighborhood to neighborhood. Luckily, San Diego’s property taxes are low in comparison to other California cities or the national average. The idea is to help you shape your budget and consider all the relevant factors before making your decision!

Miscellaneous Cost of Living

Don’t forget that this vibrant city offers all the finer things in life that you will want to enjoy, such as entertainment, shopping, and traveling. Consider all of them in your budget.

These things can cost you from $8 for a movie at the movie theater (depending on the movie theater) to $100 for the cost of entry at SeaWorld. San Diego offers many varieties of entertainment and leisure. Festivals, conferences, theater, live shows, concerts, you name it—San Diego has it. All the options are waiting for you to pick, consider the costs, and include in your budget!

Moving to San Diego


As you have seen, housing is one of the major drivers of the cost of living in San Diego. has so much to offer, from panoramic hiking views to world-class craft beers, wonderful food, fresh produce, an amazing night-life, and diverse entertainment. It seems like a no brainer!

According to Consumer Affairs, the average cost for a local move under 100 miles is $80–$100 per hour for two movers. While a long-distance move is significantly more expensive. On average, it costs $2,000–$5,000 per move for more than 100 miles.

If you’re leaning towards a DIY moving project, the costs will vary depending on whether you rent a moving truck or a trailer, or use your own truck if you have one. There are many pros and cons for each choice, but at the end of the day, the way you chose to take for moving to San Diego depends on the budget you have at hand.

To simplify your move, you can rent Boxbee Boxes for any move that happens within any major Metropolitan area. Boxbee moving boxes help you protect your most fragile possessions such as your dining ware, knickknacks, and more. Find out more about how you can rent moving boxes for your next move and keep your costs down.