Moving to San Diego

Related page: Visiting San Diego

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Biologists looking to move to San Diego area

Feb 2015

We are considering moving our family to San Diego. I'm a bay area native and love the area and proximity to family, but I can see the toll the stress of living here is having on my family. Long commutes, good jobs-yet struggling to get by, we're feeling maxed out. We are biologists, so the most obvious places to work in biotech are the Bay Area, Boston (did graduate school there, not itching to go back), and San Diego. I like the idea of San Diego because it's a short flight away, making family visits with two small ones in tow doable. But, I've only been to visit San Diego a few times in my life and am not sure what it would be like to live there. Google tells me that most of the biotech is near La Jolla, so we'd be looking to live the University City/Mira Vista/Miramar area. We have a Kindergarten-bound 4 year old and a toddler, so schools, and a friendly and accepting community are desired. I understand it's more conservative politically, but would our uber-liberal ideas get in the way of making friends. Any advice from San Diego transplants? -Articled freeway-bound?

Yes, Google is correct, and most of the biotech is centered around La Jolla, up on a mesa overlooking the Pacific Ocean with beautiful beaches below. You have the Burnham, Salk, UCSD, Scripps, and a host of other research institutes. The other big location is in Sorrento Valley, which is basically due east (across I5) along the canyons. If you Google Qualcomm you will see the general vicinity. Ilumina is just a bit south of that off the 805. All of this creates a reverse commute around here, with people driving away from the city. As far as places to live that would reduce a commute, you would do well with Del Mar, Solana Beach, and Carmel Valley. Carmel Valley is suburban but is literally 1.5 miles from Del Mar and some of the nicest beaches in San Diego. Cute town with a very easy feel.

Most of San Diego has an easy feel compared to the Bay Area, and the longer I live here, the more apparent it becomes when I head north to visit. Also, the schools in North County are a no-brainer. Research Solana Beach School District and Torrey Pines HS and Canyon Crest Academy HS. CCA was ranked 14th in CA in 2014 by US News and in the top 100 in the nation. TP was not far behind. No one worries about the schools in this area. My only complaint is that the high schools are very competitive as most kids come from families with most parents having advanced degrees. There are lots of computer, medical, and research people. The kids have high standards for themselves.

Commutes are much easier than the Bay Area. Many people drive, but we have several friends who bike through the canyons to reach work in Sorrento Valley, and some profs who bike up to UCSD live in the neighborhood.

This place is, on the whole, more conservative than BA, but what place isn't? Your liberal views will not be an issue unless you are really in people's faces about it. Otherwise, you find all types here. No overt self-righteousness, which is actually quite liberating. Unless the areas you mentioned meet a certain price point for you, I would avoid. They are pretty characterless, suburban, not terribly attractive places. Up the coast you get into Encinitas, Leucadia, Cardiff by the Sea, and Carlsbad, all cute, relaxed communities. SD is a huge change from the BA, particularly Berkeley, but it is certainly easier. And, you can go jump in the ocean (with no wetsuit)right up through fall. We all do it several days a week after school and work. Awesome way to end the day.

Just to say, I grew up in the Midwest, lived on the East Coast, lived in Berkeley 15 years (which I love, love, loved!),and now live in SD. Give it a shot. Why not? I always think it is good to experience new places and new people and different perspectives, especially if you have spent most of your life in one place. It is good for a person. Come check it out.... SD transplant

I don't think you'll find San Diego to have a more relaxed pace than here, at least not by much. It's very expensive (like here) especially in the north county area. You will spend a lot of time in the car, commuting and otherwise. You can find pockets of liberal people, but there are lots of conservative people there too (and you can't tell by looking at them!). You might love the weather there as many people do, or you might find it monotonous and one-dimensional (as I did). I grew up in San Diego and enjoy visiting but would never want to live there again. I think you'd be giving up more than you'd be gaining. SD native

Fun, family friendly neighborhoods in San Diego

Nov 2011

Hi! My husband's job is moving to San Diego, and it looks like we might be moving with it. It sounds like the rental market is very high, so we will probably look to buy a house. Does anyone have recommendations on neighborhoods/areas to live that are family friendly, not too expensive, kind of fun? We'll be looking for an elementary school and preschool, so any recommendations on these would be greatly appreciated! Also curious if anyone knows about cultural differences between the bay area and San Diego; we're vaguely aware, but don't know much about it. Thanks! Jill B.

I went to college in SD and lived in a few places down there. My favorite neighborhood by far was Hillcrest. There's an urban vibe to it so there's lots to do (restaurants, shops, grocery stores, bars) yet not too congested and there's plenty space to roam with kids (near balboa park and SD zoo) and quite safe. I don't know how housing costs are but I'm pretty sure it's not as high as say La Jolla. Hillcrest is also the gay friendly area in SD so if you're liberal (unlike much of San Diego) that's a good thing. Also a big plus, if you like it, there are many older bungalow/Spanish style houses and apartments. If I had to move back I'd definitely live there again. mm

Moving to San Diego...Any Resources Like BPN?

Jan 2010

I'm relocating to San Diego at the end of February for my job, and I'm wondering if anyone knows of resources anything like BPN for recommendations and listings for various services, but most especially for childcare. I am moving with my husband and four month-old son; we're looking for a place to live now (via craigslist), so we're not completely sure of where we'll be living, but most likely in the North County/coastal area (Solana Beach/Del Mar). Any suggestions for excellent day care centers in the area would also be very welcome! Brandie

I have good friends who found their San Diego nanny via Cardiff and Encinitas are very kid friendly, lots of playgrounds, good libraries, less pricey than San Diego/La Jolla. San Diego has redone it's kids' museum downtown. Definitely get a membership for SD zoo. Museums in Balboa ok, not great, but sometimes have good exhibits. Hope you have good hats and sunblock! Best wishes

Family friendly neighborhoods in San Diego

Nov 2007

In February we'll be moving to San Diego. Does anyone have ideas on family friendly, safe, good school communitites? Any and all ideas will be helpful. We envision renting for awhile and then purchasing a home. thank you ! lynelleandwesley

I have friends that live in Escondido and they love it. A ways out from SD proper, however. they are on the opposite side of the freeway from the Wild Animal Park in a lovely subdivision with community pool, golf course, and local elementary school that they think is fantastic. In 5th grade, the kids classes take place at the Wild Animal Kingdom for the entire year. anon

Sounds very exciting. I have family in San Diego. It is one of my favorite California cities. Unfortunately, I don’t know it well enough to recommend neighborhoods but if you would like recommendations for good realtors down there I can help. They might be able to give you some ideas. Please feel free to send me an email and I would be more than happy to help. Have a great move. Shawn

I moved from the Bay Area to San Diego and lived in two different areas, Solana Beach, where we rented a condo on the oceanfront on a cliff, and La Jolla, where we bought a house on Mt. Soledad (next-door neighbor sold 2,000 sq ft one-story last May for 1.3 million).

I couldn't help post b/c I saw post about Escondido and it's so far (45 min) from everything except the Wild Animal Park and the Escondido Performing Arts Center. So, unless you're going to work there, ugh, the traffic will kill you.

There are many other neighborhoods closer in that are full of families. Everything north of the 56 is pure families, and is great if you don't have to cross the I-5/I805 merge on your commute.

Clairemont and Bay Park are affordable and central.

University City is central and has an excellent GATE program in the public schools.

There are lovely neighborhoods with Craftsman cottages on all sides of Balboa Park. Being able to walk to the park would be great for quality of life.

Downtown condos may have dipped in price, so if you're staying for the long haul and can wait out any real estate recession, condos will bounce last, but you might get yourself a prime one with the sagging market.

Mira Mesa is affordable and convenient to many jobs in Sorrento Valley, but I've heard schools aren't the tops.

Scripps Ranch, Poway, and Rancho Bernardo are all further east, along the I-15 freeway, so more traffic, but lots of families and decent choices of schools.

One San Diego survey said that resident happiness decreased with miles from the ocean. So, everyone from Oceanside to the border who lives west of the 5 freeway is happy, those from the 5 to the 15 are pretty happy, and those east of the 15 need to like hot summers.

Speaking of hot summers, Tierrasanta is east of Scripps Ranch, has some excellent schools and is affordable.

Get a good realtor, ask for the grand tour of the county, be specific about your priorities, and try out the commute at rush hour before buying. One hard-working realtor is They will show you anything in the county. Most professional families end up in Carmel Valley if they can afford it (about 1 million for a couple thousand sq ft two story) or in the other neighborhoods I mentioned if they can't.

San Diegan

Moving to San Diego with a baby and a dog

Nov 2006

My husband and I are relocating to San Diego for a year. We plan on renting our current home out and looking for a house to rent in the SD area. Does anyone have any recommendations on where to live down there? We have a 6 month old baby and a active labrador retriever. I'd like to live in a neighborhood/city where it is safe to walk our baby and dog (preferably close to shops & restaraunts). Thanks!

I'd like to recommend the Kensington/Talmadge area of San Diego. It is a charming area right smack in teh middle of the city (so 20 minutes to everything, including beaches and downtown). Many of the homes there were built in the 1920s/30s with a very specific aethetic (Spanish/CA-style) and the homes are beautiful, big and small. There are real neighborhoods here too, and an eclectic community surrounding the main street, Adams Avenue. Here you'll find one of the best vintage theaters in teh country, The Ken Theater, as well as coffee shops, a few restaurants and a great dive bar (!) The main strip is small, but this area sits right above/between about 4 major freeways, so getting to other areas of teh city is a breeze. I had many many friends who grew up there and I lived there for a short time as an adult. Aside from Hillcrest, it may be the only other place in the city itself that you'll find a hint of a Bay Area vibe

Otherwise, some of the beach communities, ie. Solano Beach, Del Mar, La Jolla would be worth looking at. Some homes, incl. rentals, are steps from the beach and with the beautiful SD weather, you'll find yourself there almost every day of the year! The homeowners of these communities tend to be very wealthy and homogenous, but there is an underlying beach/hibbie vibe that you can find if interested.

Most areas outside the city are very homogenized. Aside from the great weather, you could be anywhere in the country. There is what my friends and I call an ''urban cowboy'' culture there (lots of pick-ups/Bush-Cheney stickers, etc), esp. the more East you go.

Good luck in your search!
retiring in SD

I was born and raised in San Diego, although I have lived in the B.A. for over 10 years now.... I always said I would move to Hillcrest because it felt the most similar to this area. I don't know about the safety of the area, but somewhere near there may be most what you're looking for. If you want to go a little more upscale (or expensive??) try looking in La Jolla near the village... You can walk to shops there and be by the OCEAN!!!

October 2002

I am considering a new job opportunity in San Diego--a very good one financially speaking. Aside from the stress of my husband having to find a new job down there, and then finding new daycare for our 2 1/2 year old son, we have concerns about the San Diego area. I am fed up with the cost of living here (I've been out of work for 11 months and we will never own a home here) and the traffic and general stress level, but we love the Bay Area's ethnic/cultural diversity, the liberal-minded political and social climate, etc., etc. We are afraid that San Diego is too conservative and that there is not much diversity. We love our son's daycare and are worried that we won't be able to find a warm, family setting with a diverse group of kids. Can anyone recommend moving to San Diego in general, or specifically, places to live that might have a little Bay Area/East Bay flavor? My job would be sort of near La Jolla (we cannot afford to live in La Jolla!), and we'd like to be close enough to the coast that the heat is not a problem. Any recommendations on daycare would also be most appreciated! Thanks!

There are plenty of registered democrats in San Diego and the Bay Area is a lot more conservative than most Berkeley residents would like to admit. I lived in San Diego in Point Loma, and spent a lot of time in Mission Hills/Balboa Park where most of the artsy things were happening. You might consider renting in Pacific Beach, Del Mar and Mission Hills if you are looking for something closer to home up here--but buying is just as challenging. SD is no bargain in terms of cost of living. But if you like the beach, play tennis or golf, and enjoy the occasional Old Globe theatre production there is lots to do. Bottomline: SD is not the old Navy town it once was...anymore than the Peninsula is a bunch of bucolic orchard groves. Diversity is relative--I find Berkeley and San Diego not nearly as diverse as New York or London. One thing is for sure--San Diego is not a university town. Brent

July 2001

I am in search of a place to move to in about two years from now. Does anyone know of such a place, by the ocean, with warm weather and warm water that we can swim almost all year around? I have been thinking of San Diego, but don't know very much about it. I have two children so it's important for me to know about public schools and places to take them out. Another important information would be about house pricing and nice safe areas to live. I would greatly appreciate any information you might have. - Thanks. Narniaph

We lived in San Diego for a few years before we came up here. It is a wonderful place to live, and is cheaper (for now) than the Bay Area. The weather is warm year-round, and sunny (except for June gloom). However, the water can get quite depends on your own tolerance, and many people do swim in the ocean year-round. Your own personal tastes and financial situation would dictate the area you'd like to live in. If warm waters are very important to you, you may want to consider the east coast instead (like Florida), or anything on the Gulf. Michelle

Check out this website: It has great info on housing, climate, schools, crime rate, etc. A good resource to get started with when considering a move. Good luck! Jill