The Cost of Living in San Diego
Lets break down the cost of living in San Diego!
SAN DIEGO WEATHER / CLIMATE
Compared to the rest of the country, San Diego’s cost of living is 60.1% higher. Why is that? Three words. Location, location, location. The climate here is hard to beat. Check out these averages:
- San Diego, California gets 12 inches of rain, on average, per year. The US average is 38 inches of rain per year.
- San Diego averages 0 inches of snow per year. The US average is 28 inches of snow per year.
- On average, there are 266 sunny days per year in San Diego. The US average is 205 sunny days.
So the biggest cost driver in San Diego is housing.
Currently, the median home price in San Diego is $645,300 (March 2020). This will change based on location.
San Diego is also experiencing massive rental demand. And actually it can be cheaper to buy a home then rent in some situations. San Diego average rents (as of them time of writing this blog):
- All Bedrooms: $2,112
- 1 Bedrooms: $1,856
- 2 Bedrooms: $2,271
FOOD / GROCERIES
Groceries run about 9% higher than the US average. I think this is because we have the traditional options such as Ralph’s, Albertson’s, Whole Foods, and Trader Joes, but we also have many local options including neighborhood farmers markets such as Little Italy, Pacific Beach, and Hillcrest. Locally grown and produced organic foods. Visiting these markets is an experience and highly recommended.
Ok, so now some of the fun stuff. San Diego has great options for dining out. Good restaurants and there are great restaurants. So the average meal at a good restaurant in San Diego is going to run you around $60 bucks for 2 people. If you throw in wine or beer (I know I do), it can get a little more pricey. It you go a little more on the cheaper side (check those ABC letter ratings in the window people!), you can usually get away with about $15 bucks a person.
So let’s talk about the beer (breweries). There are an incredible amount of breweries in San Diego. And not just any breweries, very very good ones. San Diego is actually known as the craft beer capital. There are over 150 breweries in and San Diego plus all the local brew pubs and tasting rooms scattered across the county. I really like Knotty Barrel in East Village. It’s an amazing brew scene and for a reasonable price. Highly recommended.
Healthcare is actually 11% lower than the national average. San Diegans are healthy! Some of you might be getting healthcare from your employers but some of us such as the self-employed … real estate agents… are getting healthcare on our own so this is great news.
Utilities on average are close to the US average. They rank about 2% higher.
- Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 915 sq ft Apartment $75.56-$252.52
- Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/DSL) $45.00-$100.00
Transportation is San Diego is about 20% higher than other cities in the United States. Depending were you need to go, there can be many options for transportation and commuting in San Diego. Many people drive the San Diego streets and freeways (so fun during heavy commuting hours) but other options include transportation by train or the Coaster, the trolley, the bus, ride sharing services, bikes, electric scooters, by skateboard.
Also, the City of San Diego is focusing on creating more options for mobility. These efforts include expanding bike lanes, creating new bike routes and encouraging more people to choose bicycling. They’ve removed some traffic lanes in the city and created dedicated bike lanes. Hardcore motorists don’t like it but I think it’s amazing. I can get across the city in minutes on a bike or electric scooter.
So let’s say you don’t want to ride a bike and the trolley or it’s just not feasible for where you need to go. Gas prices in San Diego are not cheap. Right now (February 2020), the closest gas station to me is priced at:
- $3.99 for regular
- $4.19 for mid-grade
- $4.29 for premium
There are some other less expensive options you can find but do you really want to save 10 cents by putting crappy gas in your car? Is that a thing?
So the sticker price you see when you buy something… is not the price you end up paying. California has sales tax. Currently its 7.75%.
California state tax varies per income level. There are 9 brackets, take a look and figure out where you fall.
**For single and married/registered domestic partners filing separately:
- 1 percent on the first $8,544 of taxable income
- 2 percent on taxable income between $8,545 and $20,255
- 4 percent on taxable income between $20,256 and $31,969
- 6 percent on taxable income between $31,970 and $44,377
- 8 percent on taxable income between $44,378 and $56,085
- 9.3 percent on taxable income between $56,086 and $286,492
- 10.3 percent on taxable income between $286,493 and $343,788
- 11.3 percent on taxable income between $343,789 and $572,980
- 12.3 percent on taxable income of $572,981 and above
A 1 percent surcharge, the mental health services tax, is collected on taxable incomes of $1 million or more, making California’s highest marginal rate 13.3 percent.
For married people filing joint returns and heads of households, the rates remain the same, but the income brackets are doubled.
California also has real estate property tax which is assessed at 1% of fair market value and is restricted to increases in assessed value to 2% per year. Those two rules combine to keep California’s overall property taxes below the national average. The average effective property tax rate in California is 0.79%, compared with a national average of 1.19%
California also gas inheritance and estate tax.
OVERALL QUALITY OF LIFE
This is extremely important: San Diego ranks around number 12 on the United States most expensive cities to live but it’s also vital to note that San Diego ranks 6st on Current Quality of Life Index by City. That’s means people for the most part are happy in San Diego, very happy actually.
Factors measured in quality of life include:
- Cost of living and purchasing power (home prices are high but the purchasing power or average incomes for San Diegans is actually pretty high).
- Affordability of housing
- Pollution including air, water, etc.
- Crime rates
- Health system quality
- Traffic (commute times)
I hope that gives you an idea of the cost of living in San Diego.
Also, if you also need any help navigating San Diego as far as living, eating, sleeping, working, or playing, I will be happy to help. Don’t be shy about reaching out to me. Call, text, or email me anytime!
Thank you for taking the time to read my post,