Cost Of Living in San Diego in 2023, What will be the quality of life there?

By: Mahmuda Afreen / Read more about us.

No one would want to miss the opportunity to live in San Diego, one of the most popular cities in the USA. However, the cost of living in San Diego will be pretty expensive which is 55% higher than the national average. Moreover, the expenses of living in this city are increasing by almost 3% rate from the previous year.

Resulting in one will have to pay more than the state average for housing, utilities, food, and some other things. The significant fact is that living here is more expensive than in almost 83% cities of in the USA. Furthermore, the discussion below will provide detailed information on the topic.

The expense scenario of living in Sand Diego will be $2745 for a single person and $6126 for a family of four on average. Moreover, as an international student one can expect $19,169 for on campus and $24,920 of campus. However, the cost of living is extremely subjective which can be different for different person and families.

Cost Of Living in San Diego

All may know San Diego as the birthplace of one of the popular and second-largest cities in California. This dreamy city is situated on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. With ultimate sunshine almost every day, blue clam beaches, crystal clear sky, and epic hiking spots, it is no wonder why this city is so popular. Many people like to move to San Diego for many reasons.

When people are getting bored of the place and getting so many hardships. Mainly, when they cannot cope with the specific weather mainly cold, and face poor work-life balance, they mostly prefer to move to San Diego. Well, the decision of moving to a new city is great but it does require courage and a lot of research and planning.

Because when one is going to leave a city for another, they will have to leave their job as well as everything. So, they have to make sure that the job they will be doing in that particular city such as San Diego will be well paid. Also, they are going to manage their living cost with that particular salary.

To calculate everything down and make the proper decision, one will have to do some research and calculate the living cost index for that city according to their income and family members. Mentioning San Diego, it is one of the most expensive cities in the United States. According to the US database, it is the 14th most expensive city in the United States. So, one has to make up their mind that they are going to be expense a lot of money in San Diego for their living.

Also, living in San Diego will be 35% higher than the state average. Moreover, the overall living cost in San Diego will completely depend on the lifestyle of the individual. Since this city is the hotspot of entertainment and fun, many people expense a handsome amount of money in expensive restaurants and pubs. If one is doing such things regularly, the expense of their living will be so much and they will have to have a handsomely paying job to afford that in this city.

Moreover, let’s illustrate all the information on living costs from several viewpoints. So that one will be ready for the upcoming expenses they will face. Also, they can decide whether they can afford the living cost with their salary or not.

Table: Overall Scenario of Living in San Diego

Household income$83,454
Per capita income$43,090
Average salary$69,469
Highest tax rate13.3%
Unemployment rate2.6%
Living cost of one person$2745
Living cost of one family with four members$6126

Overall, the annual income of a single person and a household is impressive to cover the living expense. Also, the payable income tax of San Diego is pretty logical and low. So, one will be earning a good salary even after paying the income tax. Moreover, the unemployment rate in this city is too low. So, people wanting to have a job will definitely get one.

 It will be easier and more effective if they have some sort of skills. If the job is for some specific position like Finance management, IT, or anything like that then the salary will be impressive to live a beautiful life in San Diego. One will find some solid ideas on the salary of different positions in the table below.

Table: Annual Gross Salary for different positions in San Diego

Occupational AreaGross Annual Salary
Business & Financial Operations$84,300
Computer & Mathematical$119,993
Architecture & Engineering$105,778
Life, Physical, & Social Science$91,305
Community & Social Service$58,284
Education, Training, & Library$64,212
Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, & Media$69,636
Healthcare Practitioners & Technical$105,291
Healthcare Support$33,172
Protective Service$52,284
Food Preparation & Serving Related$31,997
Building & Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance$37,472
Personal Care & Service$34,065
Sales & Related$38,049
Office & Administrative Support$46,991
Farming, Fishing, & Forestry$31,171
Construction & Extraction$62,692
Installation, Maintenance, & Repair$58,500
Transportation & Material Moving$37,601

According to the data in the table, if one has skills in management they can earn the highest salary. On the other hand, jobs in farming, fishing, and material moving are the lowest paid job in San Diego. So, if one is planning to do jobs in those areas they will have to calculate the living cost more precisely.

It is time to break down the living cost of San Diego to give a proper overview. The readers will find every single piece of information on the cost to calculate their index. After that, they can compare the cost with their salary to take the ultimate decision to move to this city from another one.

Accommodation Cost per Month

900 sq. ft. furnished accommodation in an expensive area$3,360
900 sq. ft furnished accommodation in normal area$2,720
480 sq. ft furnished studio in an expensive area$2,260
480 sq. ft furnished studio in normal area$1,740
One Room in a Shared Flat$900
Price per Square Feet to Buy Apartment in City Centre$942
Price per Square Feet to Buy Apartment Outside of Centre$543

Here, we have divided the house rent according to the places and area of the house. If one lives in the expensive areas of San Diego like Carmel Valley and Del Mar Heights, the house rent will be insanely high. However, in areas like Chula Vista and El Cajon, the living cost will be much more affordable because here the rent will be low.      

Monthly Cost for Utilities

heating, electricity, gas, cooling, etc. for 2 people in an 85m2 flat$220
heating, electricity, gas, cooling, etc. for 1 person in a 45 m2 studio$110
Internet 8 Mbps for 1 month$64
Hourly rate for cleaning help$35

One of the most expensive things in San Diego is the utility expense. Because of the current misbalanced and disaster of nature and the impact of war, the utility bills in this city increased at a high rate. For now, the utility bills are at least 55% higher compared to the national average. Moreover, a family of two-person will have to pay around $300 or more per month. If the family has more than two members then the bills will increase. On the other hand, a single person may face not less than $200 for utility bills per month including everything.

Cost of Groceries

Milk, 1 L$1.01
Bread, 0.5 kg$3.6
Rice, 1 kg$4.1
Eggs, x12$4.05
Cheese, 1 kg$12.3
Chicken Breast, 1 kg$11.3
Round Steak, 1 kg$15.9
Apples, 1 kg$4.39
Banana, 1 kg$2.03
Oranges, 1 kg$3.61
Tomato, 1 kg$4.21
Potato, 1 kg$2.59
Onion, 1 kg$2.57
Water, 1 L$1.12
Coca-Cola or Pepsi, 2 L$2.55
Wine of mid-priced, 750 mL bottle$12.4
Beer, 0.5 L$3.29

Whether it is a household of a single person or a family, groceries area must. One cannot eat outside every day. That will be expensive as well as unhealthy. So, one will have to buy at least some basic groceries described above. There are plenty more which keep changing according to the food habit of the individual. However, the listed groceries are the most common options for any type of household.

Expenses for Eating Out

Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant$18
Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course$80
McMeal at McDonald’s$9.03
Pizza for 1 person$6
KFC for 1 person$10
1 Non-veg Sandwich$10
1 Veg Sandwich$5
1 Burger$6
Domestic Beer$7
Imported Beer$8

The prices we have described are the most popular outing food from teenagers to adults. However, the price may vary according to a restaurant to restaurant. But most of the restaurants will offer food in that price category. This city offers more expensive restaurants and expensive foods like sea foods. One can have those too which will cost more than the average food cost in San Diego.

Cost of Transportation

Transportation cost in San Diego is quite high compared to the other cities in California. It is because of the quality and advanced features of the city. One can buy a one-way ticket in San Diego for $2.55. However, this can increase according to the distance. Moreover, a monthly ticket for the local transport will cost $75 for one person.

Type of TransportationCost
Local transport ticket$2.50
Monthly ticket local transport$74.6
Taxi Ride, 8 km or 5 mi$17.2
Gas or Petrol, 1 L or 0.26 gal$1.28

Personal Care

Cold medicine for 6 days$8
1 box of antibiotics$16
1 box of 32 tampons$8
Skin Care$50
Hair shampoo 2-in-1$7
4 rolls of toilet paper$4.67
Tube of toothpaste$1.61
Simple Haircut$22
Standard men’s haircut$30
Gym Membership for 1 month$42

No matter where one is living, personal care is a must thing to do to stay healthy and beautiful. Also,self-care boost the energy level and confidence to tackle the tiring work one is doing for earning. Overall, personal care in San Diego is quite expensive. However, it is worthwhile to take care of yourself even if it costs much.

Health Care

Cost of a doctor’s visit$131.25
Cost of the dentist visit$104.00
Cost of an optometrist visit$114.50
Cost of Lipitor$483.87
Short visit to a private doctor$110

Another expensive thing in San Diego is the health care or the doctor’s visit. Though one can take health insurance to cover the medical expenses which are also expensive. If one is having trouble and want to have a visit to their private doctor or home doctor, they will have to pay around $110. One of the expensive treatments in San Diego is the Lipitor which is not covered by health insurance.

These are all the categories of expenses a single person or a family will have to bear. Moreover, one may want to know the living cost for a family with a different number of members. Well, it is important to know that one family with individual family members total cost and the income they need to have. Let us give some common indexes, one can calculate theirs taking help from this estimate.

Cost with One Earning Adult

Cost with One earning Adult
Needs0 Children1 Child2 Children3 Children
Child Care$0$11,117$22,235$33,352
Required annual income after taxes$37,860$67,063$76,588$89,617
Annual taxes$9,430$20,316$23,201$27,148
Required annual income before taxes$47,304$87,379$99,789$116,765

A family with one adult with no child will have to earn $37860 without the income tax to bear all the expenses. This income needs to increase by 2x rate with every child since the expense will increase. Moreover, bearing the living cost for one single adult with three children will be different in San Diego, if she or he does not have a job like in Management and It sector which requires great skills and experience.

Cost for 2 Adults and 1 earning Adult

Cost for 2 Adults and 1 earning Adult
Needs0 Children1 Child2 Children3 Children
Child Care$0$0$0$0
Required annual income after taxes$54,525$72,160$89,026$121,124
Annual taxes$16,517$21,860$26,969$36,692
Required annual income before taxes$71,042$94,019$115,995$157,816

The scenario of two adults and one earning adult will be more difficult if they have two or more children. Because the cost will be so much compared to the income. It will be hard for them to maintain if they do not have any suitable job which pays sweet.

Cost for 2 Adults and 2 earning Adult

Cost for 2 Adults and 1 earning Adult
Needs0 Children1 Child2 Children3 Children
Child Care$0$11,117$22,235$33,352
Required annual income after taxes$54,525$78,180$98,823$122,969
Annual taxes$16,517$23,683$29,937$37,251
Required annual income before taxes$71,042$101,863$128,760$160,221

A family with two adults earning equally or earning can live a better life in San Diego. Since the unemployment rate is low and the wage is quite high, they can live a proper life with one or more children. Their income after the tax can easily cover all the expenses even if they are not doing any highly professional job with an extreme salary. So, a family of two adults with the ability to earn can move to this amazing city easily.

Read more: Cost Of Living in Honolulu

Living Expenses in San Diego for International Students

San Diego is one of the advanced cities with wonderful educational opportunities. Moreover, one will find the best universities like The University of San Diego. Every university offers Bachelor’s, Masters, and Ph.D. for international students. That is why students from all over the world come to San Diego. However, the Tuition fees of those universities are quite high For bachelor’s.

The tuition fee will be around $ 26,820 on average. For the master’s and Ph.D. degrees, there are incredible scholarship options that brilliant international students can grab to cut off their tuition fees. Without any funding, they may have to pay $35,000 per year on average for the master’s students.

Without the tuition fee, a student will have to pay for other things like rent, utilities, food, clothes, etc. like every residence of San Diego. However, the accommodation and other expenses will be cheaper for a student if he or she managed a room at the university. Below, we have illustrated the annual living cost for international students.

ExpenseOn CampusOff-Campus
Room and Board$15,156$19,200
Other Living Expenses$2,933$4,640
Books and Supplies$1,080$1,080

So, if a student managed accommodation inside the campus, they will have to pay $19169. On the other hand, living outside the campus will require $24920 which means a big difference from the other one. Therefore, a student will have to decide if they can bear the living expense with the tuition fee before moving to the city as an international student.

One may have wondered if they can consider some other cities over San Diego that have the same reputation and almost similar living standards. Well, the United States is a huge continent with natural and living diversity. That is why we are going to compare San Diego with some other popular cities in the USA.

San Diego vs San Francisco, Comparison of Living Cost

AreasSan DiegoSan FranciscoDifferences
Cost of living for one person$2745$3360-20.1%
Cost of living Family$6126$7370-18.4%
One person rent$1840$2325-23.6%
Family rent$3165$3780-17.7%
Food expenses$570$687-18.6
Transport expenses$173$1654.7%
Average monthly salary after tax$6151$386346%
Higher education8997-8.6%
Quality of life92893.3%

Overall, living cost in San Francisco is 18% more expensive than in San Diego. One can live 2.2 months in San Diego and 1.2 months in San Francisco with the same amount. Moreover, San Francisco ranked in the top 5 while San Diego’s ranked is over 20th position. Moreover, the living quality in San Diego is 3.3% better than the other one.

Comparison of Living costs between San Diego and Santa Clara

Expense areasSan DiegoSanta ClaraDifferences
Cost of living One person$2745$236515.2%
Cost of living Family$6126$56508.4%
One person rent$1840$153518.3%
Family rent$3165$249024.1%
Food Expenses$570$620-8.4%
Transport Expenses$173$7579%
Average monthly salary after tax$6151$368050.4%

The cost of living for one person in San Diego will be at least 15.2% higher than the Santa Clara. Also, the rent, utilities, and transport will be expensive in San Diego compared to the other one. On the other hand, food expenses in San Diego will be 8.4% cheaper comparatively. Overall, living in this city will be 1.61% higher compared to the other one. However, the living quality in San Diego will be much better than in Santa Clara because of the high salary in different jobs.

San Diego vs Seattle, Living cost comparison

AreaSan DiegoSeattleDifferences
Cost of living for one person$2745$25905.8%
Cost of living Family$6126$61200.1%
One person rent$1840$162512.4%
Family rent$3165$278513.3%
Food expenses$570$615-7.9%
Transport expenses$173$1701.7%
Average monthly salary after tax$6151$7335-17.55%
Higher education897714.5%
Quality of life92920%

Both San Diego and Seattle is a wonderful places to live with the same living quality. However, Living in Seattle will be 6% cheaper than San Diego with a higher salary rate and lower expense rate. However, the quality and opportunity of higher education are far better in San Diego. If one is wanting to move for a better education then they must go to San Diego. Moving with the expectation of better life with better weather, Seattle is the best option to choose over San Diego.

In case one wants to find out the living cost near San Diego so that they can travel within a short period, they can also look for the living cost in those cities. They will get almost similar weather and they can travel to San Diego whenever they want. The students and job holders wanting to save money can go for that options. In the table below, one can find the details and the comparison.

Table: Living cost comparison Between San Diego and the Cities near it

Living cost in San Diego is $2745

CityCost of livingDifferences
 Lemon Grove$189635.9%
 La Mesa$201030.9%
 Imperial Beach$189536.6%
 La Jolla$190036.7%
 El Cajon$200631.1
 San Marcos$190336.2%
 San Clemente$238114.2%
 Dana Point$189736.5%
 French Valley$188936.9%
 San Juan Capistrano$190236.2%
 Laguna Niguel$190935.9%
 Laguna Beach$188936.9%
 Lake Elsinore$192035.5%
 Mission Viejo$208924.3%
 Laguna Hills$189836.4%
 Aliso Viejo$195233.9%
 Lake Forest$213325.1%
 Temescal Valley$190036.8%

These are all the cities and their living costs compared with San Diego. We have only picked the area that offers living costs lower than San Diego. One can easily travel to this city from all of them easily on any public transport.

Overall, living cost in San Diego will be expensive which come on the list of most expensive cities in the United States. Living expenses here will be 55% higher than the national average which indicates the high living expense. Specifically, the housing cost or rent is 120%, utilities are 21%, and groceries are 12% higher in San Diego than the National Average. So, living with two or more family members and school and University going child going to be a lot in San Diego. So, one will have to thoroughly research and calculate the living cost in total and compare it with their salary to find out whether they can afford it or not.

More sources: San Diego economy

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