Cost of Living in San Diego, CA
The average cost of living in San Diego, CA is 33% higher than the national average — on the order of $2,040 per month for basic expenses.
Image source: upenn.edu
Plan to pay 102% more than you're used to for rent alone.
It's true that the living expenses in San Diego are well above averages in each category, but most notable is the cost of housing: It's 102% percent higher.
The average rent in the metro area of the city is a whopping $2,357 per month. In San Diego, a one-bedroom apartment can average about $1,552 per month.
That sounds pretty bad, but neighbors in San Francisco have it much, much worse at an appalling $3,357 per month. (Let's take a moment to be thankful, shall we?) However, it's still more expensive than say, Oceanside ($2,248) or Chula Vista ($2,303). California as a whole is one of the top ten most expensive states to live in in the U.S.
But the other negative factor is that rent continues to steadily rise. It rose about 3.6% in one year. Sometimes, locals experience their rent going up as much as $100 one year after moving in. That's a scary statistic, leading 69% of surveyed renters in San Diego to consider moving and leaving the entire city just because of the rapid rise in rent prices alone.
The most expensive neighborhoods are usually the ones on or near the water: Coronado, the Marina, Little Italy, and the East Village. There's a great deal of variance within the city as well, with rent ranging anywhere from $1,500 to almost $5,000 per month, depending on the property and neighborhood.
Image source: Forbes
Other costs are fair ... fairly high, that is.
There is a disconnect between the high rent and the other types of costs one can pay in San Diego. Cost-of-living estimates often show that other types of expenses (such as groceries, utilities, and transportation) are not that much higher than the national average (6%, 8%, and 16% respectively). They are still certainly higher overall, but one may not expect to spend on other types of expenses in the same way as one would in, say, Boston. Prices in the area went up about 2.4% from 2014 to 2015 as a whole.
You'll likely pay something similar to these rates for various utilities:
- Expect to pay from $75 to $130 per month on energy bills, depending on the apartment.
- Competition between Time Warner Cable, Cox Cable, and AT&T U-verse keeps costs lower for Internet-only service, at an average of $41.66 per month between the three of them.
Image source: glacialenergy.com
But at least there are avocados.
There's another blessed benefit of relocating: The San Diego cost of living may be high, but many types of fresh produce are cheaper due to the local climate and farming areas around the city. Raisins, blueberries, wine, avocados (especially avocados), and many other fruits and vegetables are cheaper here, and you can buy local foods quite easily.
One adult can expect to pay $3,607 per year for food (that's about $300 a month), according to MIT's living wage index. The Bureau of Labor Statistics averages a lower amount, about $244 per month. So plan for a range between $250 and $300 depending on food-buying habits.
A cheap fast-food meal will be about $7, and a fine restaurant experience for two will run you about $60.
Image source: californiaavocado.com
Consider transportation and tax.
Gas is outlandish in price compared to much of the country. It tends to average between $2.80 and $3.60 per gallon, depending on the time of year. A monthly transit pass is $72, though the city is not known for being public-transportation-friendly. To make up for the high gas prices, there are virtually no toll roads one is required to use. (I-15 has HOV express lanes, which require payment only if you're alone in your vehicle and are meant to encourage carpooling.)
Sales tax isn't as terrible as in other cities in California: It's 8%. After comparing that to Los Angeles (9%), San Francisco (8.75%), and Chicago (10.25%), you'll realize that this is the type of sales tax one can expect to pay in an American city these days.
Image source: San Diego MTS
Negotiate your salary before relocating.
According to MIT's Living Wage index, one adult living alone must make at least $12.72 per hour to have a living wage in San Diego. For families with two adults and two children, one adult needs to make at least $26.37 per hour.
The rapid growth post-2009 and the odd disconnect between the high housing costs and other costs are the major problems when considering the average cost of living in San Diego, California. Cost-of-living negotiations with managers may prove difficult because the increases in wages have simply not kept up with the rise in prices, even despite the fact that San Diego is now considered to be among the most costly cities to live in.
The cost-of-living index San Diego features is high, with the official U.S. Consumer Price Index being 269.44 in 2015. Some have estimated that average San Diego residents spend almost 65% of their income on housing, commuting, and utilities.
If you're moving for a new job — congrats! This guide (click below) will help you confidently plan the more stressful parts of moving, including salary negotiation, so you can focus on the exciting ones.
All in all, one adult living alone in a one-bedroom apartment will spend a baseline price of at least $2,040 per month on basic expenses.
Note that you can certainly bring down these costs a great deal if you can find a roommate, locate the best deal on an apartment, and pick out a listing that's both reasonable and unlikely to rapidly rise in price. You can do this by contacting a rental agent and local expert online through Jumpshell.
We can help you broker a deal with a local landlord and move into a situation that's more affordable and reasonable. We want to make it easy for you to make the transition!