New York City is a fabulous city, no doubt about it, but if you feel worn out navigating the urban jungle’s crowded subways and streets, or competing for jobs and parking spaces, maybe it’s time to consider San Diego. Moving from NYC to San Diego can transform your days from urban intensity to a laid-back California coastal lifestyle.
Depending on the San Diego neighborhood you choose, your cost of living can be from 15% to 27% lower than in NYC. And if you want to transition from East Coast living gently, there are some pretty charming Downtown neighborhoods where you can live an urban lifestyle without a car.
What to Know About Moving from New York City to San Diego
Housing and Cost of Living
You’ll pay about the same amount for housing both in NYC and San Diego. San Diego’s median home cost is $645,300, about $35,000 less than NYC’s median home value of $680,500. A two-bedroom apartment or home runs an average $2,107 in San Diego, pretty much in line with an average NYC two-bedroom rental at $2,049.
The cost of living in San Diego is about 60% higher than the US average, but your San Diego living expenses will be considerably cheaper than they are in NYC. Even though housing costs are similar, according to bestplaces.net, overall necessary living costs are about 15% less in San Diego than in NYC, and expatistan.com reports that your savings could be as high as 27%. Either way, you’ll save significantly on some basics: utilities will be about 32% lower, transportation 34% lower, health costs 21% lower, and food and grocery costs will be about 6% lower than in New York City.
On top of the savings, you may be able to bring home a healthier paycheck in San Diego. The annual median household income in San Diego is $71,535 compared to NYC’s $57,782.
Yet another savings category in San Diego is taxes. Sales tax in San Diego is 7.75%, while New York City sales tax averages 8.875%.
The local government assesses property tax in San Diego at a rate of 0.757%. For a San Diego home valued at $650,000, you would pay $4,921 in annual property tax. Property taxes vary from borough to borough in NYC, but the average just slightly higher at .90%.
California assesses state income tax on a graduated scale from 1% to 13.3% among ten income brackets. The average state income tax falls in the 9.3% bracket, the percentage charged on taxable income of $57,824 to $295,372 for single filers. In New York, you pay a progressive income tax rate of between 4% and 8.82%.
Economy and Job Growth
In 2019, NYC saw 0.5% job growth, while during the same period, San Diego’s job growth was 1.4%. Job growth over the next ten years looks rosy in San Diego, with predictions of 35% growth. NYC’s future job growth is forecast to be lower at 30.7%.
Military and defense, hospitality, transportation and trade, aerospace, healthcare, biotechnology, and education are significant contributors to San Diego’s strong economy. However, if you’re an entrepreneur and own your own business, San Diego’s small business community is supportive and also very solid.
Transportation and Traffic
Unlike New York City, San Diego is a car-dependent city, but you can live in some Downtown neighborhoods without a vehicle. Trolley, light rail, and Amtrak provide public transit convenience. Also, Downtown and the waterfront are very walkable.
With the public transit lines running mainly north-south close to the coast, if you live east of Downtown, you’ll probably need a car. The vast majority – 75% of San Diegans – drive alone to work while only 22% of NYC residents do. NYC commuters spend 41 minutes traveling just one way, but in San Diego, the one-way commute is a mellower 24 minutes.
San Diego’s geography affects the city’s climate, density, and the relationship between neighborhoods. San Diego consists of over 200 deep canyons, hills, mesas, and open spaces. Developers have built homes and commercial areas on the mesas, leaving the canyons relatively wild. These natural areas separate neighborhoods and have caused San Diego to be a car-dependent city with low density.
With its five boroughs, New York City covers 302 square miles. San Diego stretches out over 372 square miles. Although both cities cover similar amounts of land, NYC’s density is 27,000 residents per square mile compared to San Diego’s 4,272 people per square mile.
Weather and Climate
According to Farmers’ Almanac, San Diego has among the top-ten best climates in the country. And because of the hills, ravines, canyons, mesas, and bay, the city has many microclimates. In Downtown, right on San Diego Bay, January lows average 50 °F, and August highs average 78. Simply go inland ten miles, and the January low averages 42 °F, and in August, the high averages 88.
But whichever part of the city you live in, you’ll enjoy 266 sunny days, very low humidity, and comfortable year-round temperatures. In NYC, you get 224 sunny days, summer mugginess, and freezing winters.
San Diego’s average yearly rainfall is 12 inches compared to 47 inches in NYC. Only six times in the past 150 years has San Diego ever seen minimal snow flurries, whereas, in NYC, you get a good dose of 25 inches yearly.
Culture, Diversity, and Demographics
Approximately 1,423,850 residents live in the San Diego metro area compared to NYC’s 8,400,000. San Diego’s ratio of ethnic diversity varies somewhat from NYC. San Diego has 43% White residents compared to NYC’s 32%. The 30% Hispanic population is equivalent to NYC’s 29%. In San Diego, 17% of residents are Asian compared to NYC’s 14%, and 6% are African American compared to NYC’s 22%.
NYC’s crime rates are similar to the average crime across the country. US average violent crime is 23 out of 100, and property crime is 35 of 100. NYC’s violent crime is 28, and property crime is 25. What can you expect in San Diego? Violent crime, at 24, is slightly lower than NYC’s. Property crime is 31, which is slightly higher than NYC’s.
In general, both NYC’s and San Diego’s crime rates are much lower than many big cities across the country. As you start considering San Diego neighborhoods, check online crime maps to get an idea of safety in various areas.
Things to Do
Your free time may be spent differently in San Diego for several reasons. The San Diego climate allows you to be out and about year-round comfortably. You can enjoy the beaches, ocean sports, parks, festivals, events, and major outdoor attractions like the San Diego Zoo or Coronado Island at any time of the year.
You’ve no doubt wandered the 840 acres of NYC’s iconic Central Park. Historic Balboa Park, San Diego’s urban cultural park, covers 1,200 acres directly northeast of Downtown. Museums, theaters, green spaces, an art center, plazas, walking paths, gardens, gorgeous semi-tropical landscaping, and the world-renowned San Diego Zoo create an oasis in the city.
How can NYC’s food compare to anywhere else in the country? It really can’t – NYC restaurants serve up just about every taste and texture you can imagine. However, San Diego holds its own in several culinary departments: Southeast Asian cuisine, ultra-fresh Pacific seafood, and authentic Cal-Mex specialties like Baja fish tacos and legendary California Mission burritos. After you get settled in San Diego, you’ll be able to select the choicest San Diego County avocadoes and transform them into the winning recipe at San Diego’s Annual Guacamole Bowl!
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Best Neighborhoods in San Diego
Where to live in America’s Finest City? These neighborhoods are some of the finest:
North Park is a mix of residential and commercial areas about two miles northeast of Downtown. The 32,000 residents live in condos, apartment buildings, and single-family homes, many of which exhibit vintage California bungalow style. Shopping, restaurants, and breweries sit conveniently within the family-friendly neighborhood. Find out more about North Park here.
Just about two miles north of Downtown, Hillcrest’s 14,000 residents enjoy the convenient shops, cafes, coffee houses, bars, and parks in the neighborhood. Hillcrest is one of San Diego’s more walkable communities, and its location makes getting around the city relatively easy by bus or trolley. Learn more about family- and LGBTQ-friendly Hillcrest here.
Happening and more urban than many other San Diego neighborhoods, Little Italy is full of local boutiques, restaurants, and bars. It’s where San Diegans and tourists go for nightlife. Housing is available in condos, apartments, and a few single-family homes. The 3,200 residents enjoy the convenient location between San Diego Bay’s waterfront and I-5. Here’s more info about Little Italy.
Only a little over 1,000 people live in Gaslamp Quarter, one of San Diego’s most walkable neighborhoods tucked inside of Downtown. The historical and trendy area is full of cafes, restaurants, coffee houses, bars, and nightclubs. With the bustling, touristy vibe, Gaslamp Quarter is a favorite of young professionals and singles, most of whom rent. Find out more here.
With homes, parks, and green spaces, Ocean Beach is the quintessential Southern California coastal neighborhood. Excellent schools, the laid-back beach culture, and local amenities make this neighborhood ideal for families, professionals, singles, and anyone who wants to live close to the Pacific. Learn more about Ocean Beach here.
Excellent schools and island-type living make Coronado appealing to families and professionals who want to get away from it all after a busy day of work. Home prices average over $1,000,000, but rent is equivalent to NYC prices. Views of the bay and the Downtown skyline add to Coronado’s charm and beauty. Would you like to know more about Coronado?
With major highways intersecting Mission Valley, commuting to other regions of San Diego is convenient. Large four-and five-bedroom homes, apartments, and condos are available for rent and purchase. You’ll find golf courses, sports stadiums, three large shopping malls, big box stores, and many hotels within urban/suburban Mission Valley. Learn more about Mission Valley here.
Urban East Village, with 13,000 residents, is San Diego’s largest Downtown neighborhood by area. Housing is mixed and ranges from million-dollar condos to affordable apartments and small bungalows. The light rail and trolley have stations here, but commuting by car is also convenient with I-5 bordering the north and east sides of East Village. Find out more about East Village here.
Cost of Moving from NYC to San Diego
On average, it costs about $4000-$5000 to move from New York City to San Diego. Though this might sound expensive, consider that you are hauling your stuff about 2800 miles across the country. The total cost of your move will depend on several variables, including your origin and destination zip codes, the time of year you’re moving, the size of your household, and which services you require. The best way to get an accurate estimate is by scheduling an in-home or virtual (no contact) walkthrough with a licensed and insured interstate mover. Get free moving quotes from the best NYC to San Diego movers now!