Please tell me about San Diego

I’m moving to San Diego in the coming weeks and would like to get dopers opions about San Diego. How is housing rental over there? What are the different neighborhoods. Fun things to do. Can you get around without a car? How is the sailing there? Events?

I’m finding it hard to figure out what the different neighbourhoods are like. I have to find housing at some point after I get there. We want to rent a 2 bedroom house or apartment close to the water, although I am not sure that is feasible. So dopers, please give me your experiences about living in San Diego. The good, the bad, the ugly.

The cost of living out here is pretty high in terms of housing. I don’t know where you’re coming from, but it’s entirely possible you’ll be in for some sticker shock (have you already looked at anything?).

It used to be that the rental market was extremely tight. No vacancies anywhere. But I think that’s eased off in the past couple of years - there are lots of new home communities being built, and despite the insane costs, lots of people are taking the plunge and buying (myself included).

When people ask what communities are cool to live in, places like Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach and Hillcrest often come up. Those are places that have lots of things to do (restaurants, coffeehouses, nightclubs). I live in Clairemont, which is pretty central and is a decent neighborhood. It’s within 10-15 minutes drive to all 3 of those places, and it’s quiet at night, which is important to me.

Do you want city living? Suburbs? Vibrant neighborhood? Quiet place? That’s really going to factor in to where you might want to look.

I personally think you’d be VERY hard pressed to live here without a car. It really, really, really is going to depend on where you live and work. I could probably take a bus to work (I know there are lines that run between both, but it would probably take far longer than my relatively easy commute), but the trolley we have runs nowhere near my home or my work. There is something called The Coaster which is good if you live in North County (coastal) and work downtown. So it’s kind of dicey, and I would never want to rely on it.

I don’t know a think about sailing, but Mission Bay is home to lots of aquatic events. I’m pretty sure sailing is good, because if memory serves, the Americas Cup was held off our coast sometime ago. Or something… Anyway, San Diego has Comic-Con (which was just last weekend) which is known far and wide. There is a pretty good arts community in terms of little independent theaters - we’ve really gotten into that in the last year or so by going to Cygnet Theater, Sledgehammer Theater, etc. Outdoor activities are all around because the weather is so nice. So if you like to run, walk, bike, hike you’ve got options all over the place.

Do you have any specific questions? Do you already have a job lined up?

I found my last rental through, so if you haven’t looked for a rental at all yet, I’d start there and take a look at what you’re going to be faced with. If you have questions about specific neighborhoods once you do that, post what neighborhoods you’re interested in, and I can tell you what I know.

Esprix also lives in town, so I’ll drop his name so if he searches on himself he’ll find this. :smiley:

I lived in Claremont (on Mt. Alifan Dr.) until I was 15.

As far as housing prices go, my mom had the house apprasied about six months before she died. Looks like around $450,000 for a three-bedroom, 1¾-bath, 2-car garage. My mom let it out (and my sister and I continue to do) for $1,700/month.

Getting to PB and OB was a simple matter of walking a few blocks to Balboa and hopping on a bus. I left San Diego before I could drive, but the buses seemed to be okay.

I used to belong to the San Diego Navy Sailing Club, on North Island south of the Amphib Base. Sailing was very good. The harbour is nice, and the weather often cooperates. We rented a little sailboat from one of the hotels there (this was in the mid-1970s), and they weren’t nearly as good as the ones at the SDNSC. I’d assume they’re better now.

I always wanted to surf, but we couldn’t afford it. Lots of people surf down there. The grunion run in San Diego, and they’re an amazing thing to see. I was in a hostel in Italy once, and was chatting with an Irish schoolteacher. I told her that in California we have fish that will swim right up onto the beach and you can just pick them up and put them in a bucket. (Of course, it’s only at certain times – high tide and full moon and all that . :wink: ) She thought I was making it up.

For some reason, San Diego depresses me. I’m not sure why. After moving to Lancaster I went down for a visit. My friends were all dopers (not Dopers – their favourite activity seemed to be getting high), and it just seemed to be a waste of life. I noticed a lot of ‘hippies’, and a lot of polo-shirt-and-gold-chain types. I just found it a bit weird. Or maybe it’s a case of recognising those long-gone halcyon days of childhood and knowing You Can’t Go Home Again.

Still, San Diego has its charms. It’s more ‘laid back’ than L.A. If you’re into sailing, it’s a great place. The weather is generally boring, but it’s usually good for outdoor (read: water) activities. I remember liking the Victorian architecture in some parts of the city. Balboa Park is nice, and the San Diego Zoo is excellent. Marineland, near L.A., is long-gone; but San Diego’s Sea World is still going strong. And… Can you say ‘Great Mexican Food’? :smiley:

San Diego is a great place to live, except for a few things: housing costs & commute times.

I live in the North County coastal area (Carlsbad to be exact). If you are moving some place with seasons, and like them, expect to be disappointed. We don’t have them. We have sunny days and cloudy days. We also don’t have weather. We have climate.

Seriously, the 20 mile long or so strip, say 2-3 miles deep, along the coast from Oceanside on the north to La Jolla, maybe even to Downtown San Diego, may possibly be the best climate on the entire planet. Not to brag to other people in other parts of the world, it just seems hard to beat.

Housing costs: I currently rent a 3 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath condo 2 miles from the beach for $1800/mo. Current asking price for the seller’s market: $450,000.*

*subject to change at a moment’s notice. no cap on the raising of this price. EMT’s and cardiac devices available when next month’s median home prices announced in the local news.

There are tons of great things to do in San Diego. It’s not as culturally deep as most big cities, and I think the heavy dependence on tourism is a possible effect, but remeber that it is one of the 10 largest cities in America, so there is always something going on. We have a very good opera, lots of stuff to do downtown (Gaslamp Quarter), world famous zoo, etc. I would recommend coming here and pretending (to yourself, we hate 'em) that you are a tourist for a few months. That way you will be pumped to see all our tourist things like Legoland, and get them out of your system, and never go back unless friends or relatives are visiting from oout of town. When this happens, you will know you are a San Diegan.

Sailing is great here. Expensive, I’m sure, but year round, as almost everything is. Getting around w/o a car is pretty tough. Depending on where you live and where you want to go, look for some tough travel times. We just don’t have a large enough public transit system to keep up with a city this size. There are buses, and the trolley routes are better than ever. The Coaster mentioned above is great for commuters to and from work. I don’t use it because I don’t have a job I can run out of at exactly 4:50 every day. Who does these days? So I fight the freeway (5) for 60 minutes every morning and evening to go 24.6 miles.

Best part of living here: I get to walk on the beach with my wife every evening for an hour, and it only takes me 3 minutes to get home. Plus the Mexican food! (if you want my opinion on the single best place, let me know, but it might start a debate)

FWIW your commute will likely vary.

I have a 12 mile commute, and it’s not really all that bad. I do get to work early (7-7:30) and at most it takes me 20 minutes. Going home is always a different story. But considering I worked in LA and had a long commute, I find San Diego traffic to be slightly better than what I experienced in LA.

As always, YMMV.

I want your opinion on the single best place. If I can’t find the thread here, I’ll look in GD.

We were out there a couple of weeks ago and quickly narrowed it down to La Jolla, Del Mar, and Rancho Santa Fe. Any thoughts?

Yeah, those places are great but IMHO expensive (meaning I can’t afford to live there). La Jolla can be pretty tough to get in and out of because there are limited roads that go in and out, and they get pretty crowded around commute times. However, as you probably know, it’s a cute little downtown area, with the Cove, shops and all that. It’s a fun place to visit, but I’m not sure I’d want to live in it.

Rancho Santa Fe is a little more secluded, so if you’re looking for privacy, that would be my vote.

Del Mar is a nice place, has the beach, and also has lots of restaurants nearby with good reputations (I’ve not been to many, but I hear things).

If I had to choose between the 3, I’d go for Del Mar simply because it’s closer to the beach and isn’t as much of a nightmare to get in and out of. Of course, there’s the Del Mar Fair and the Racetrack that increases traffic, so it depends on what exit you need off the freeway during certain times of the year. But still, I’d probably vote Del Mar.

My pick for best authentic Mexican food in San Diego: Las Cuatros Milpas, a hole-in-the-wall joint off the 5 Soouth, 28th street exit, just under the mainland end of the Coronado Bridge, next to Chicano Park.

Best place to live in San Diego (for beach communities): Encinitas (cheaper), Del Mar (exclusive and expensive), Carlsbad (expensive and farther away), Point Loma, or La Jolla (very expensive, but awesome views), and Pacific Beach (way cheaper, but can be overrun with the beach crowds and the younger set)

No argument from me on Los Cuatros Milpas. OMG.

Freshly made tortillas, great tamales…

:: stomach growls ::

I was salivating just typiing the name! (sorry if that’s TMI, but DAMN that place is good). The line outside sucks big time though. I tend to get my fix on Saturdays when I don’t have to be anywhere for 90 minutes.

Damn you people! Reading this thread just confirmed what I knew all along…I need to move to San Diego. It seems so nice, and the weather? I really don’t mind a perpetual 75-85 degrees.

Argh, too bad I have no way of making it happen anytime in the foreseeable future. :mad:



That’s what been happening my entire life, and now we are so crowded we can’t take any more people. Seriously, there’s nowhere to fit you in. Remember, we can only expand on 2 sides. One is taken with the ocean, another with an international border. Going east brings the deadly heat of the desert, and on the north, we seem to be merging into LA quite quickly.

So, stay out! :slight_smile:

You know, I’m sure I would’ve done what you asked and stayed in here in NYC, but I’d already read post #11 on Los Cuatro Milpas. After I read it I immediately put my house up for sale and promised my kids they can start surfing soon. Too late to turn back now. :slight_smile:

I should sic our governor on you at the border! :slight_smile:

Hope you get here in time to experience all the fun of the mayoral run-off election. To us it’s starting to seem like business as usual, but when I saw the national news covering our city hall, I realized “What a mess!”

So as San Diego becomes more crowded, housing prices go up; right? Which means we can raise the rent on the house, right?




I’m divided, Johnny. Now that I’m a homeowner, I want prices to go up. However, I don’t plan on living in this condo forever - so while I build equity, I also get priced out of anything nicer.

What to do…what to do?

I know! Salve myself with some hot, fresh flour tortillas from Los Cuatros Milpas!!!

I got an e-mail from my realtor the other day. Seems the house up here in NoWA may be worth almost twice what I paid for it less than two years ago. Doesn’t hurt my feelings a bit! :smiley:

But I know what you mean about buying a new place. If you want to stay in an area, then the price of the house you want will go up as fast as the price of the house you already have.

Oh thanks for the responses so far. I’m still reading, trying to get an extended stay hotel to live in near the 32nd naval base dock for August 2.

Ocean beach looks promising as well. I will have to check where Del Mar is. Its hard to tell without being there what I will like. I know I want to be close to the ocean and spend less than 2000/month for rent. But I also want it to be quiet, but have a downtown area with some coffee shops & stores.

I will be renting a car, and hopefully have a place rented by this month. I’m going on a house hunting mission next week, contacting various places on craigslist and driving around getting to know different areas.

Are there any other websites that have listings that are local to San Diego. For example San Francisco has for all the events in that area. Does something like that exist for San Diego?

Too late madcossack I will be there next week. :slight_smile:

You might try which is the online version of the daily paper. It’s got classifieds, but I’ve never used it for rentals.

I think Del Mar might be a little pricey for your needs, and if you are in fact going to be working near or on 32nd street, it would be a little farther than I’d like to consider. I think you might like Ocean Beach - parking is kind of tight there, but it’s a quirky little area.

Hillcrest and North Park might also be acceptable, but it’s a few miles further from the ocean than OB is - but not by much. It would be a 10 minute drive to the ocean, I’d guess.

There might be some neighborhoods in south county (if 32nd street is your workplace) but I’m not as familiar with it. Some parts of Chula Vista I think are okay, and you might check Imperial Beach, but some neighborhoods can be pretty sketchy.