Its unofficial slogan is America’s Finest City, first proclaimed in 1972 by then Mayor Pete Wilson. Fans of other American metropolises may dispute the claim, but there’s no denying that San Diego is a terrific place to live, work and play. For sheer beauty, a near-perfect year-round climate, convenient location and leisure-time pursuits (many of them free or dirt-cheap) it’s hard to top San Diego. Since Portuguese explorer Juan Cabrillo claimed it for Spain in 1542, San Diego has welcomed newcomers. It was the site of the first of Franciscan Friar Junipero Serra’s chain of California missions in 1769, and the county seat when California became a state in 1850. Long a popular tourist destination, the sleepy little town near the Mexican border experienced rapid growth in the 1880s thanks to the establishment of many military facilities. But the real boom came during and after World War II, fueled largely by the defense industry, tourism, commercial fishing and manufacturing. Today, San Diego is the eighth largest city in the U.S., with a diversified economic base, world-famous attractions, world-class universities, a celebrated arts scene and home to the NFL Chargers and MBL Padres. Although the population has swelled to more than 1.3 million, what hasn’t changed is the spectacular natural beauty and the best weather this side of paradise. Our City Guide is a great first stop if you’re planning to relocate to San Diego.
San Diego Weather and Climate
San Diego’s climate is about as close to perfect as you’ll find anywhere. Januaries, on average, are about 55.4 degrees Fahrenheit, while Augusts average 72.2 degrees. Unless you live far inland, temperatures rarely fall below freezing or get insufferably hot. What San Diego lacks is rain. Annual precipitation averages 9.32 inches, but prolonged, periodic droughts are not uncommon. That increases the risk of fires, particularly in the rural areas. The Cedar Fires in 2003, for example, created a firestorm that ringed the county and devastated thousands of acres. Hot, dry Santa Ana winds, particularly in the autumn months, increase the risk of fires. But dry as it is, San Diego is also subject to flooding. Winter storms combined with high tides have been known to flood coastal and low-lying areas and uproot trees. Storms can also cause mudslides, particularly in areas where recent fires have denuded hillsides. Although not related to climate, earthquakes are also part of life in San Diego, which is located on the Rose Canyon fault line. Flooding and earthquake damage are not covered by your standard homeowners or renters insurance, and must be purchased separately. Mud slide damage may or may not be covered, depending on the cause/source of the slide. Check your policy to be certain.
Driving and San Diego Car Insurance
If you plan to live here, plan on driving. It’s not impossible to get around San Diego without a car, but it isn’t easy, either. Public transportation via city buses and trolley are adequate, but not convenient. There are plenty of bike lanes, but there are also plenty of hills and a lot of area to cover. California state law requires you to carry a minimum of $15,000/$30,000 bodily injury coverage and $5,000 property damage coverage. With the large number of uninsured or underinsured drivers on the road (some studies say that’s nearly 25% of all California drivers ), you may want to consider adding that coverage. You should also be aware that auto thefts represent 18% of all crimes reported in San Diego.
You have 20 days from the time you establish residency to register an out-of-state vehicle or face late fees determined by the length of your delinquency. First-time registration must be done in person at any of the city’s of Motor Vehicles facilities. However, to make it a little easier, you can schedule your appointment online. When you go, you’ll need a smog certificate, which can be obtained for a fee at a state-licensed inspection station. Vehicles less than four years old, hybrid and electric vehicles and motorcycles are exempt. You’ll also need your old registration or title, plus proof of insurance. You can shop for competitive San Diego car insurance quotes online here.
No matter where you live, federal law now requires that you carry a qualified health insurance plan that covers the essential benefits defined in the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). The state of California also has additional mandated benefits. You can get free competitive San Diego health insurance quotes for individuals, families and small businesses online.
Should you need a doctor or medical care, San Diego has an outstanding selection of medical facilities. These include the Kaiser Permanente system, Scripps Health Care, Sharp Health Care and the University of California at San Diego Health Care System.
The city of San Diego encompasses nearly 73 square miles. It is one of 18 incorporated city in 4,255-square-mile San Diego County, which includes Oceanside to the north, Imperial Beach to the south, Julian to the east and the Coronado peninsula to the west. Within that vast expanse, there are 70 miles of public beaches, coastal plains, mesas, canyons, foothills, mountains and deserts. The city itself is comprised of 28 zip codes that include several regions and dozens of unique neighborhoods. For example, downtown, you’ll find East Village (and Petco Park), the Gaslamp, Cortez Hill, the Marina district, and Little Italy. Uptown and midtown neighborhoods include Hillcrest, Bankers Hill, North Park, Mission Hills, Presidio Park and Old Town. Drive inland to reach neighborhoods such as Allied Gardens, Del Cerro, La Mesa and Grossmont. Go north to Poway, Rancho Bernardo and Fallbrook. Or head west to the string of beach neighborhoods that stretch from Point Loma and Ocean Beach to Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, La Jolla, Torrey Pines and Del Mar. As you can imagine, real estate and rental prices in an area this large run the gamut. Prices are cheapest in older, inland neighborhoods like City Heights, Logan Heights, Sherman Heights and Encanto and highest in beach areas like La Jolla Shores and exclusive suburban enclaves like Rancho Santa Fe. Trulia.com reported the median sales price from homes in the first quarter of 2014 at $425,000. Rents average around $900 for a studio and $1,100 for a one-bedroom apartment. Single-family home rentals can go to $3,000 a month or more.
At 24.15 per thousand people, property crime rates in San Diego index lower than both the national and California state averages. If you’re researching the relative safety of various areas, the San Diego Police Department publishes crime statistics by neighborhood and year.
Wherever you decide to settle in San Diego, you should put renters or homeowners insurance at the top of your to-do list. If you’re buying, you definitely need coverage, but many rental properties now require you to carry a minimum amount of personal property coverage, as well. You can shop online for free competitive San Diego homeowners insurance and San Diego renters insurance policies here. There are typically two types of homeowners coverage available: all-risk (also called comprehensive or open-perils coverage) and named perils. You’ll also have the option of choosing between replacement cost and actual value, along with a choice of deductible. Your agent can explain the differences, but knowing a bit about San Diego’s climate and other potential risks may help you with your decision.
If you live in San Diego, California, you’re in one of the country’s healthiest cities. TravelChannel.com ranked it fourteenth healthiest in its America’s Top 20 Healthiest Cities list. San Diego is also in one the healthiest of the 50 states. Anyone born in California today has an average life expectancy of 80.8 years (the country’s third longest), according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. If you’re a 65-year-old Californian, the Centers for Disease Control gives you another 20.3 years on average. But before you start feeling too secure, WorldLifeExpectancy.com wants you to know that accidents are the fifth leading cause of death for all California residents. Given the ever-present possibility of an accidental death, you might want to put life insurance on your list of things to consider when you move to San Diego. There are four good reasons why:
To pay for funeral and other final expenses.
To replace your income if you’re leaving behind a spouse.
To help cover your children’s needs.
To help your survivors pay off debts and estate taxes.
If you purchase whole life, your insurance can also be a means of setting aside money for retirement, college and other needs. You can learn more about the difference between term life insurance and whole life insurance, and shop for competitive life insurance quotes here.
The business climate in San Diego is almost as inviting as the weather. A robust visitor industry provides jobs in hospitality, food service and a variety of attractions from the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park to SeaWorld and LegoLand. San Diego’s economy is also fueled by a cutting-edge telecommunications industry (QualComm is headquartered here), biotechnology, software and electronics. Small businesses and entrepreneurs can thrive here, too, but you will need a Certificate of Payment of Business Tax from the City. Fees are based on zoning and type of business. Once you’ve established your business, protect your investment and your future with adequate San Diego small business insurance. You can get competitive quotes for a variety of small business policies here.