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Things You Should Know Before Moving to San Diego, CA

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Picturesque beaches and a glittering coastline may be the catalyst that caused you to consider moving to the Golden State, but San Diego has much more to offer its potential residents beyond surfboards and suntan lotion.

If you're searching for information as you consider a long distance or local move to one of California's biggest cities, let this guide offer you tips and useful information to make your decision as simplistic as possible.

San Diego Climate

According to the Farmer's Almanac, San Diego is one of the top ten best climates in America. It is a cross between a Mediterranean climate and a semi-arid climate (in mostly the south and eastern parts of the city).

Because the weather varies within small distances throughout the city, it often results in "microclimates." It is common for May, June and sometimes July to have damp cool air closer to the coast, but be much drier and sunny further inland. Being so close to the Pacific Ocean, temperatures are often more consistent closer to the coast.

Rainfall is more prominent during the winter months (December through March). Expect to see temperatures in the low 40's to mid 50's in the winter, depending on your location, and highs in the 80's during summer months.

San Diego Neighborhoods

There are over 100 neighborhoods in the city of San Diego that are grouped into 52 "Community Planning Areas." Some popular locations are: Downtown San Diego (located on San Diego Bay), Balboa Park, College Area, Southeast San Diego, Hill Crest and Mission Valley.

On the north edge of Balboa Park, you'll find small areas of homes and apartments in the urban area of North Park. For a more upscale area, Kensington, part of the southeast area of Mission Valley is picture-ready with Spanish-inspired homes a small business district. Hillcrest can be best compared to as San Diego's Greenwich Village, with colorful and diverse inhabitants and a walking-friendly atmosphere.

Registering Your Car

In order to avoid any penalties, you must register your vehicle within 20 days or entry or residency, according to the state of California's DMV website. You will need an application for Title or Registration signed by the owner as they appear on the out-of-state title, the last issued out-of-state title, smog and weight certification (if applicable), any fees or taxes, and the vehicle must be inspected by the DMV.

Upon moving to California, you have 10 days to acquire a California driver's license. You will need to complete application form DL 44, give a thumb print, have your picture taken, and provide your full name and social security number. You must also pay the application fee, pass a vision exam and pass a traffic laws and signs test.

San Diego Schools

Independent school districts operate the public school system in San Diego - a majority served by San Diego Unified School District, which homes over 220 schools including 28 high schools, 45 charter schools and over 100 elementary schools. Some schools within the city are served by districts just outside the city limits, including Poway Unified School District, Del Mar Union School District, San Dieguito Union High School District and Sweetwater Union High School District. San Diego is home to many private institutions as well, like The Waldorf School of San Diego, Francis Parker School, Notre Dame Academy and the Cambridge School, among others.

If you're looking for higher education, San Diego has a vast amount of public colleges and universities in the area, including San Diego State University, University of California San Diego, San Diego City College, San Diego Mesa College and San Diego Miramar College. Private universities like University of San Diego, California International Business University, University of Redlands and the Design Institute of San Diego all call San Diego home.

San Diego Employment

Some of the top employers in San Diego are: The United States Navy, University of California, San Diego, San Diego Unified School District and San Diego County. As of early 2013, many new craft beer establishments have been coming to the forefront of the business ventures in the city, and could be a good opportunity for those who want a career in the beer industry.

The economy in San Diego depends heavily on international trade through its deepwater port and its military and defense programs, as well as tourism and manufacturing. The city is also a hub to cellular technology, and is home to Qualcomm, which was founded in San Diego and is currently the largest private-sector employer in San Diego County.

With the unemployment rate decreasing, being at its lowest since 2008 at 8 percent, more opportunities are arising for potential employment, specifically in the restaurant/bar industry.

Living Costs in the City

As of 2011, the median family income in San Diego was just below $73,000 per year, with a median home price at $315,000. The overall cost of living is much higher than the national average, with one-bedroom apartments starting at over $1,100 per month. Gas and electric costs vary on the size of your home, but a 1050 square-foot apartment can cost $150-$200 a month during the summer.

You'll also pay for water, since the arid weather creates resource issues and most of the water has to be imported and treated. You'll pay for water based on a set meter fee (depending on how big the meter is), in addition to how much water is used. The cost for an average size family is approximately $40-$80 a month.

San Diego Moving Resources

Moving and storage companies are ready to help you with your move to San Diego, whether you're moving from out of state or from another county in California. Be sure to get estimates from multiple moving services before commit to hiring any (at least three estimates). Check back to our guides for tips on how to choose your moving service wisely with important questions to ask, differentiating between types of estimates, and mistakes to avoid. Visit the following pages at Movers.com to get quotes for the following services:

San Diego Transportation

Over 80 percent of the population in San Diego uses a vehicle as their primary mode of transportation, as the city is comprised of an intricate network of highways and freeways that include Interstate 5, Interstate 8, Interstate 15 and Interstate 805.

The city has a large network of bicycle routes, which is another popular mode of transportation since the weather is mostly dry and pleasant year-round. With gas prices sky-rocketing over the last several months, biking has become increasingly popular and a greener mode of transportation for San Diegans.

San Diego has a trolley, bus (Metropolitan Transit System), and is also served by two Amtrak stations and Coaster - both of which run along the coastline and connect San Diego with Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside San Bernardino and Venture.

Culture & Contemporary Life

With a myriad of residents, tourists, businesses and outdoor activities, San Diego is always buzzing with new and innovative culture. From Little Italy's authentic cuisine in downtown to the Gaslamp Quarter, known for its sophisticated nightlife, (otherwise known as the "red light" district in the 1800's), San Diego has something for everyone - especially its new residents looking for activities.

The city is home to the San Diego Museum of Art, the San Diego Natural History Museum and the Museum of Photographic Arts, in addition to the San Diego symphony that performs on a regular basis at the Symphony Towers.

The San Diego Chargers play at Qualcomm Stadium, and the city has hosted three Super Bowl championships. MLB's San Diego Padres play at Petco Park.

For the true beach bum, La Jolla has a coastline ideal for surfing, diving, swimming, kayaking and snorkeling, making it one of San Diego's premiere vacation spots. This area also includes La Jolla Playhouse and Birch Aquarium at Scripps.

San Diego Relocation Tips

  • The move to San Diego and the cost of living can be pricey, and the unemployment rate is still relatively high, so make sure you look for a job before making the commitment to move to the city.


  • Since the city is vast and residential areas are situated in small nooks of the city, it may be a good idea to visit San Diego and scout out potential housing options before your move.

Jenna Farmer  Posted by Jenna Farmer on March 13, 2013

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