What it’s REALLY like living in San Diego


It’s not all sunsets and surfers here in Southern California. (Okay, sometimes it definitely is.) Three years ago, I decided to leave my life in Boston, MA  and move across the country to sunny San Diego. Although the two cities couldn’t be more different in many ways, I truly love my life here on the West Coast. I was lucky enough to find an amazing job with a wonderful company, and I live and work minutes from the Pacific Ocean.. what more could I ask for?!

The City         

It’s exciting to be here right now. San Diego is an up-and-comer and you can see it evolve right before your eyes. Established cities like Boston continue to take steps towards being a greener city and are constantly improving but its neighborhoods are already developed. Here you don’t know what’s going to happen next! Areas like Golden Hill and Oceanside are just waiting to be discovered by newcomers. Additionally, infill developments are starting to sprout up in many of these neighborhoods.

The goal of San Diego’s urban infill is seeking out vacant or undeveloped sites within an existing infrastructure and filling those “gaps” with new buildings. These projects serve as an opportunity to use sustainable design to transform space that may otherwise be considered an eye-sore into a valuable piece of real estate. Between the growing neighborhoods,  and the fantastic weather, you’d be hard pressed to find a bad location.

With that being said, the weather is likely the biggest draw for many Southern California transplants. Every day I wake up knowing it won’t be cooler than 65 degrees and it likely won’t be much warmer than 80. Some of the best beaches in the entire world are here and the weather allows us to enjoy them all year. Also, the community takes advantage of the mild weather and the gorgeous views. You will find a boardwalk on every beach and friendly bars and restaurants along the coastline.


I have to admit, when I first moved to Southern California it was a culture shock.  It seemed that no one was passionate about the food or the music in the area but that is certainly changing. The foodie scene in San Diego is up and coming where we weren’t really a contender before. People care about good food and good restaurants and really support their local businesses, there’s even an Eater San Diego newsletter now!

Not only do we have a farmer’s market but there’s one in each major neighborhood, open seven days a week! This city supports fresh, sustainable food and local businesses as well. It’s all a part of the mentality here, and that overall attitude is something I find very refreshing and extremely attractive.

 And talk about caring for the environment, I was in Whole Foods the other day and now we’re being charged to use bags there if you don’t bring your own. It’s because recycling here isn’t an option, it’s the standard. It’s evident that the community spends a great deal of time maintaining the general beauty and cleanliness of our surrounding areas.

Working Here  

My experience living in San Diego is that most people are working to live, not living to work. From a business standpoint, many of the start-ups in their infancy in Northern California learn quickly that they can’t afford to do business there and are finding out that there’s money down here and room for a thriving business to grow. And as a bonus they’ll pay a lot less to live here than they would in Silicon Valley.

The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in San Diego and entrepreneurs receive support from the local government and the business community. I can’t count the number of corporate America “drop-outs” I have spoken to who woke up one day wanting to work for themselves and ended up successfully starting their own business in San Diego. Many of the young start-up companies in San Francisco and Silicon Valley move their business here to meet new investors, save money on operating expenses and grow in this welcoming environment.

There are a lot of non-traditional businesses in San Diego too, For example craft beer and juicing are HUGE! I’ve found that people consistently seek out ways to work smarter and not harder so they have a good work/life balance. Doing what you love and your quality of life take precedence over the title on your business card and I admit that was hard to adjust to when I moved here, but now I completely agree with it. Your health and personal happiness should come first and that mentality is fully embraced here.

Living Here        

I think San Diego is a very exciting community to be a part of. My family and friends are finally figuring out that they don’t have to live on the east coast in the snow and cold. Even if you love the east coast, there are still opportunities to buy a vacation rental in San Diego and then use the rental payments to offset the cost of the mortgage.

You really can’t lose. San Diego has done such an excellent job of using land and outdoor space in a smart way. Whether you live by the water or move inland where it’s more affordable, you can count on being in an area that is dog friendly, kid friendly and encourages outdoor activity.

Property may seem expensive but you’re paying for more than just the location. You are also buying a brand new or fully upgraded property because this city is still being developed. People will be kicking themselves in five years for not buying now for the same reasons they are kicking themselves now for not buying five years ago.

Moving to Southern California was certainly a huge adjustment, but now I love it! And I’ve found that most everyone and everything in San Diego is just more pleasant than other places I’ve been and for good reason. Whether you’re looking to live near the mountains, the valleys, or on the water, or if you want to vacation or work downtown in a major city, San Diego has it all!

Are you ready to make a big move like I did? Let Canter help with the heavy lifting: