Downtown San Diego Skyline

11 Things to Know About Living in San Diego

Have you ever wanted to live in a city that experiences 266 days of sunshine? Consider moving to San Diego! Not only is America’s Finest City one of the best places to live on the West Coast and one of the best places for veterans to retire, but it also has great employment opportunities, a plethora of beautiful beaches, top-notch cuisine, affordable neighborhoods, and much more! Ready to start packing your boxes? Here are 11 things to know about living in San Diego!

An Excellent Job Market

Living in San Diego means being close to plentiful career opportunities! The unemployment rate in San Diego is 3.2%, which is lower than the national average, and the city’s average wages are higher than the nation average, too. Job fields that are popular and in high demand are mostly in the tech, healthcare, education, research, tourism, and military industries. Major employers in the area include Sharp Healthcare, Qualcomm, Scripps Health, San Diego Unified School District, and the United States Navy.

Top-Rated Higher Education

Who wouldn’t want to be a college student in sunny San Diego? Throughout San Diego County, there are 23 diverse higher education options to choose from, with a few even in the top 100 for national university rankings. University of San Diego is a great private college that has NCAA-Division I sports and a variety of graduate programs, including a Tier 1 law school. Located in the heart of La Jolla, University of California-San Diego boasts six undergraduate colleges, phenomenal medicine and engineering programs, and tons of student organizations and activities like the Sun God Festival. There’s also San Diego State University, which prides itself on creating compassionate leaders and ethical innovators through their 95 bachelors, 78 masters, and 22 doctoral degree programs.

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Spend the Day Relaxing on the Beach

Lather on the highest SPF and grab your swimsuit because the beaches are the best places to go in San Diego! Head to Mission Beach to walk along the boardwalk, play some sand volleyball, go whale, watching, or do some boogie boarding. Or venture over to Pacific Beach (also know as P.B. by locals) to take a stroll on Crystal Pier or navigate the Tourmaline Surfing Park waters by surfboard or kiteboard. La Jolla Shores and La Jolla Cove are favored by beachgoers near and far, as these spots are popular for kayaking, scuba diving, and admiring sunbathing seals. Nationally known for being home to Dog Beach—one of the first off-leash beaches in the U.S.—Ocean Beach is ideal for anyone looking to spend the day enjoying the sunshine with their playful pup or trying to catch a few waves before the sun sets.

Outdoor Activities for All Ages

Looking for fun stuff to do in San Diego that’s more on land than on water? Well, you’re in luck! Attend Kaboo Del Mar, the ultimate three-day event where you can experience live music, top-notch cooking, beautiful art displays, and luxury treatment. Gather up some friends and make your way to Petco Park to enjoy a delicious ballpark frank and watch the San Diego Padres hit home runs. Hike up Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and navigate the six trails to get ocean views high up. Indulge in Dole Whip and Hot Dog on a Stick, climb a coconut tree, or ride the famous Giant Dipper Roller Coaster at Belmont Park. Plan a trip to LEGOLAND—one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids—and design a raft to float down the lazy river, jump around in a simulated bioluminescent tide, board a submarine and explore aquatic life, or feel the wind in your hair on dinosaur roller coasters.

Experience San Diego Fun at Balboa Park

Located in the heart of Downtown San Diego, Balboa Park is the largest urban cultural park in North America! This green space has 17 museums, gardens, walking trails, and more spanning over 1,200 acres, making it one of best places to visit in San Diego! Get up close with 3,700 rare animals like giant pandas, baby gorillas, and laughing kookaburras at the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Learn about the human experience and existence through exhibits at the San Diego Museum of Man. Marvel at renowned collections of South Asian paintings, Buddhist sculptures, and contemporary photography at the San Diego Museum of Art. Head over to the Spreckels Organ Pavilion and listen to free organ performances every Sunday. Or stop to smell the orchids or take a picture with the bright lilies at the Botanical Building and Lily Pond.

A Colorful & Historic LGBTQ Community

Considered one of the top LGBTQ-friendly cities in the country, San Diego takes pride in welcoming and celebrating people from all walks of life! Not only is this city home to the first street named after gay rights activist Harvey Milk, but it’s also the home of Senator Toni Atkins, the first woman and openly gay Senate leader in California history. The Hillcrest neighborhood is the heart of San Diego’s LGBTQ community, and it’s filled with vibrant and queer-friendly coffee shops, boutiques, farmers markets, restaurants, and bars. The area also hosts the largest civic event in the region: San Diego Pride Weekend. More than 250,000 people travel near and far to attend this three-day extravaganza and its events like the Spirit of Stonewall Rally, Pride of Hillcrest Block Party, Pride Parade, and much more!

Dive into the World of Comic Con

Grab your most beloved comic and dress up as your favorite movie character—Comic Con International: San Diego is in town! Every year, thousands of artists, celebrities, and fans come together to celebrate their love for all things movies, TV, and comics by attending the largest comics and pop culture event in the U.S. Over four days, participants get to listen to panels of their favorite actors and directors, attend art workshops with comic book professionals, watch exclusive trailers and clips from upcoming films, compete in costume contests, and more! So whether you’re hoping to get tips on how to start creating your first movie or you want to meet your childhood superhero, going to Comic Con is a must-do in San Diego!

Not Your Average Superstars

Living in San Diego means being among celebrities—but we’re not talking about movie stars and platinum-record singers! America’s Finest City is filled with local celebrities like Slomo and The San Diego Chicken. Strolling along Pacific Beach, Slomo is the resident superstar and slow-motion rollerblader. After years of being a neurologist, Slomo made the decision to live a happier, more relaxed life by bringing joy to those who come and watch his funky rollerblading moves along the boardwalk. But Slomo isn’t the only one bringing smiles to San Diegans! The San Diego Chicken (also known as The Famous Chicken) has been strutting around town for 45 years entertaining people from all over the world, making over 5,100 appearances throughout 50 states and eight countries at Padres games, football stadiums, and Comic Con, as well as in TV and movies.

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Find Adventure for Your Taste Buds

If you can dream it, San Diego has it! Known as one of the best foodie cities in America, San Diego’s abundant farms, location near the ocean, and proximity to Mexico makes this area a food lover’s paradise. Considered one of the best places to eat in San Diego for brunch, Crushed serves up delicious meals and morning cocktails like their popular Crab Cake Benny, Stinky Goat, Cinnamon Roll, and Mimosa Flights. Enjoy new takes on traditional dishes—such as Carne Cruda Asada with quail egg and Cucumber Salad with creamy wasabi—in a warehouse at Juniper and Ivy. Indulge in Mediterranean cuisine at The Kebab Shop and build your own chicken flatbread wrap or lamb fries. Head to Phil’s BBQ to feast on the Beefy Ribs, A Sausage Link Tickler, and BBQ Broham sandwich. Looking for the best Mexican food in San Diego? Venture to mom-and-pop restaurant Las Cuatro Milpas to order the Chorizo Con Huevo and Rolled Tacos. Or go to the well-known Old Town Mexican Cafe for their handmade tortillas, Menudo, and Old Town Pollo.

A Thriving Hub for Craft Beer

Looking for some fun in the City of Motion that’s a little more relaxed? Get out and explore San Diego’s 150 breweries! As a city that’s always growing with new restaurants and bars, its no surprise that the craft beer scene has become a major part of the San Diego lifestyle! Visit the world-famous Stone Brewing and try their Stone Espresso Totalitarian Imperial Russian Stout or Stone White Geist Berliner Weisse. Head over to one of the many Ballast Point locations in the area and sip on a Sour Wench or Tongue Buckler. Karl Strauss Brewing pours over 140 different beers, including the Aurora Hoppyalis San Diego-Style IPA, Boat Shoes Hazy IPA, and the popular Red Trolley Irish Red Ale. Green Flash Brew is the perfect spot to try a variety of food trucks, grab a few cold West Coast IPAs with some buddies, or hang with your four-legged friend on the patio!

Explore San Diego’s Nightlife

With so many bars and clubs tucked into the different neighborhoods, you’ll never run out of fun things to do in San Diego at night! Want to bust a move on the dance floor? The Gaslamp Quarter (also known as Downtown San Diego) is the place to be! Head to OMNIA to order bottle service and fist pump the night away to live music from famous DJs and music artists. Or swap your club shoes for cowboy boots and enjoy line dancing or taking a spin in the famous shot chair at Moonshine Flats. If you’re in the mood to sip on a cocktail while looking out at the ocean, the Pacific Beach area has tons of amazing hot spots! Order a round of Red Bull Vodka Slushies and sit out on the patio at PB Shore Club. Or try ten different styles of margaritas right on the beach at Baja Beach Cafe. There’s also the North Park and South Park neighborhoods, where you can have a quiet night out with friends and hop around the local dive bar scene at places like Live WireBar Pink, and Whistle Stop Bar.

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11 Things to Know About Living in San Diego