The cost of living in San Diego

How much does it cost to live in America’s Finest City?

san Diego apartments and palm trees.

Buildings + palm tree-lined streets.

Photo via Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday

With San Diego constantly growing and undertaking multiple high-profile developments this year, we figured it was time to talk about the cost of planting some roots in America’s Finest City.

The median household income in San Diego County is $82,426 according to the US Census Bureau. Statewise, California is No. 6 in the country for median income at ~$78,672 per household.

Cost of Living chart for San Diego, CA

The overall cost of living in San Diego is higher than the national average.

Screenshot via

The overall cost of living in San Diego is higher than the national average, and higher than the rest of the state.

In San Diego, the cost of healthcare is lower compared to other parts of the state + the US. However, the cost of groceries, housing, transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses in the city have higher average costs than the US and they exceed the median in California (except for transportation).

Breaking down the numbers

Hypothetically speaking, if you live in a household that brings in $50,000 annuallyaccording to experts — you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your monthly gross income on rent and utilities. Don’t worry, we did the math for you — your max monthly budget would be $1,250. The average monthly rent for an apartment in San Diego is $2,916more than doubling that allowance.

According to a recent study by Attom Data Solutions, it’s actually more affordable to rent in San Diego County than to buy a home.

Take a look at the chart below to see how San Diego’s cost of living compares to that of Los Angeles.

Cost of living in San Diego vs. Los Angeles

San Diego has more affordable health care than Los Angeles.

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Interested in seeing San Diego’s cost of living compared to cities in other states? We played around on nerdwallet’s cost of living calculator, where you can put in any city along with your current pre-tax household income to find out what other cities you could actually afford to live in.

We took a look at the cost of living in San Diego compared to Los Angeles. Here’s what we found:

  • The cost of living is 3% lower in San Diego.
  • To maintain our standard of living with a $50,000 budget, we would need to bring in $51,640 to our Los Angeles household.
  • The median cost for a two-bedroom apartment is $2,820, which is $427 more than San Diego.

San Diego also has entities such as the San Diego Housing Commission + other government-funded programs to help develop more affordable units.

There are also a number of local development firms working on apartments seemingly all the time — from Toll Brothers’ The Lindley in Little Italy to the affordable housing development at Keeler Court in Southcrest.

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