San Diego, California

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What's it like to live in San Diego?

What’s life like in San Diego?

Former Bostonian here. For you, it might not be much of a culture shock, but for your partner it might be. The lifestyle here is slow and laid back. It does take time to adjust to it. When I first got here I found it annoying that the person ahead of me was chatting with the grocery checker - hurry up! But after a few months, I was the one chatting. A fair number of people, though, never get used to the slow pace and have to move back East.

The weather is lovely. You never realize how much work it is to put on coat, boots, scarf, hat, earmuffs, and bring your umbrella. Here, you just get dressed and go out. For me, the moment came when I was taking out my trash cans, at night, in December, in a t-shirt, and I wasn't cold. If it's in the 50s or 60s, you'll get to laugh at the natives in puffy coats and earmuffs.

The weather can have a downside, though. Seasons barely exist. There is no snow at Christmas. In the fall, there is hardly any color. Flowers bloom all year, and there isn't a profusion of color in the spring - our flowers burst after we get the rare hard rain. You will not recognize most of the trees and plants, and have to learn like a little kid.

As others have said, public transit here is pretty poor. Yes, you can get from place-to-place on transit, but it isn't cheap and it can take you 3X longer than driving. A car really is a requirement here. Some people do make it work without a car, but it's not easy.

Even coming from high Boston rents, the rents here will be a sticker-shock. Bring your checkbook when you look at apartments, because the available ones go really fast. If you don't put money down right away, you'll lose it. And although our traffic isn't L.A. (or Mass Pike) bad, living near where you work is a benefit - especially when you first get here.

What’s life like in San Diego?

-work: if you stay out of the government sector, things are more relaxed. Several office jobs here run 9x80 weeks and dress is very casual.

food: pretty much all food is cheaper and better here. More seasonal and fresher because so much is grown here.

housing: just like Boston. Expensive and a bit small. You get less land here for the same price, too.

Pro sports: Boston is a HUGE sports town, SD is not. Just about everyone is from somewhere else.

People: a mixed bad. The beach communities are quite transitional with loads of renters and college kids that like to party. The quiet beach communities you probably can’t afford. The CA attitude seems friendly, but that’s not always true from my experience. We aren’t LA, but a bit of that stereotype crept in.

weather: awesome. You’ll never have a bad Boston weather day here. It rarely rains and it’s almost always above 60f

My advice is visit before you move. You might hate all these things and miss seasons, people that feel more authentic, and good, cheap pizza.

What is it like to live in San Diego, CA?

I will start with the positives: Weather, plants, cute houses, beautiful parks, beaches, healthy food options, farmers markets and dog friendly, ok and thats it !!

What don't I like, everything else but honestly for me its mostly the people. I have lived in 4 states and this is the only place I have ever had a hard time talking with people, making or keeping friends. Every conversation with anyone here is like a first date. Its all small talk and no matter how many times you talk to them the conversation is still shallow small talk. This place has the most aloof people anywhere in the US, I have ever seen. Most the time, I think I may be a ghost because no one ever acknowledges me in anyway. I consider this a lonely paradise. People will talk to you if they think they can get over on you in some way like maybe steal your bike, I have had 5 stolen since I have been here. Or they may talk to you if they think they can stay at your place for cheap or free, I think I have had 4 of those. I am over it and act aloof when I am here. Thank God, I travel for work often.

What is it like to live in San Diego, CA?
Profile photo for Matthew Stratton
Matthew Stratton
, Native San Diegan
Updated Sep 18, 2020 · Upvoted by
Robyn Lynn Bell
, lives in San Diego, CA (1957-present) and
Tammy Ikonen
, lived in San Diego, CA (1993-2012)
I tried moving away and it didn’t work.

I’m a native San Diegan, so I’m biased. That said, I’m right!

For me, it’s a combination of things like weather, food, people, activities, and nostalgia.


It’s hard to beat San Diego weather! Two days ago it was 75F and sunny (in the middle of January).

I took my toddler to the park wearing shorts and flip-flops, hat and sunglasses, and even put sunscreen on my kiddo.

Year round, we are protected by a beautiful ocean that moderates our temperature keeping us warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.


There is some seriously good Mexican Food here in San Diego. One of the perks of being a border town.

You can’t find a better street truck taco, gigantic burrito, or fresher salsa anywhere else.

What’s amazing is that it’s so prevalent. We live off the dang food!

BUT, if it’s finer dining you’re after, there is a ton of great high end restuarants as well.

The REAL Pros and Cons of living in San Diego California