San Diego, CA Guide
|Median Rent||Median Sqft|
|1 Bed||$2,400||650 sqft|
|2 Beds||$3,095||968 sqft|
|3+ Beds||$4,289||1,598 sqft|
San Diego is often called “America’s Finest City,” and it’s not hard to see why. San Diego sits on the southern coast of California next to the Pacific Ocean. Living here means enjoying year-round warm weather and postcard-perfect natural scenery. If that isn’t enough of a draw, San Diego also has a reputation for friendly people and laid-back vibes. What’s not to love?
A melange of urban, suburban, and coastal neighborhoods, San Diego fits any lifestyle. Choose from modern luxury San Diego apartments and converted warehouses Downtown. Find a townhouse address amongst the old Victorian style homes of Hillcrest. Or settle into a cozy cottage or bungalow in Mission or Pacific Beach. Pick your pleasure of outdoor recreation, fabulous dining, pro sports, prime nightlife, and tons of entertainment. With a growing population of over 1.4 million people where the median age is 35, it’s a great place to meet people from all over the world.
These amazing attributes don’t come cheap. Expect a higher cost of living here than in other US cities—44% higher than the national average. Some jokingly call it a sunshine tax. But to balance the scale, some of the most prestigious jobs and companies are headquartered in San Diego, including Qualcomm, Teradata, Intuit, and other Fortune 500 companies in the manufacturing, tourism, international trade, and military industries. A technology hotspot, thousands of new graduates and young professionals move to San Diego just for the job market. The city has taken steps to support that growth, adding more than 250 acres of free wifi throughout the community.
After hours, San Diego is a nightlife Mecca, catering to the college crowd spilling from three large universities in the city. Hip and trendy hot spots are always in season, with new bars, clubs, or restaurants popping up to service young revelers who dominate the beach and the Gaslamp Quarter in Downtown San Diego.
While residents enjoy ample outdoor space across San Diego with wide swaths of city, state, and federal parkland, there is a shortage of parks in some of the urban neighborhoods. The city has been focusing on funding that will prioritize underserved and park-deficient communities.
Most neighborhoods in San Diego are walkable, but getting to and from different areas does require a car. Locals consider the traffic tolerable, but not something that can be wholly avoided by taking alternative transportation. The San Diego public transportation system is not as built up as other major metropolitan cities.
Still, San Diego’s MTS (Metropolitan Transit System) offers buses and trolleys throughout San Diego County. The San Diego Trolley runs every 15 minutes throughout most of the day and in intervals of 30 minutes in the evening. For college students, most campuses offer free or discounted bus and trolley passes. A local commuter train called the Coaster travels from North County to Downtown San Diego. The system is convenient for weekday commutes, but since the final train departs early in the evening, it doesn’t help when you want to attend evening events.
If you’re near Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, and even La Jolla, you might consider Bird electric scooters. Bird, an on-demand personal electric vehicle sharing network, allows riders to locate scooters on the app to rent for short-term trips. When finished, the rider can park the scooter nearly anywhere as long as it’s out of the public right-of-way.
Bikes and boards are another great option. In fact, San Diego ranks high as one of the best US bike towns for cycling. Coming in ninth, it’s the largest city to make the top 10, according to data analyzed by People for Bikes, the nation’s largest bike advocacy organization. For anyone who’d rather rent two wheels, Lime bikes offers electric-assist bikes, electric scooters, and smart pedal bikes for getting around San Diego. Ofo and Mobikes offer regular dockless bikes spotted by their yellow and orange colors, mostly in the beach cities and in Downtown San Diego.
San Diego’s food scene is diverse. There are great oyster bars, craft breweries, sushi, and even eclectic food trucks around town, but nothing beats its Mexican flair, thanks to its location only 20 miles from the Mexican border. Locals get their regular fix at Lolita’s Mexican Food with seven locations in greater San Diego. Known as the creators of carne asada fries (fries topped with carne asada, guacamole, sour cream, and cheese), this family-owned restaurant has been serving up burritos, tacos, and every other South of the Border dish that you can think of for 35 years. For Taco Tuesday, Taco Surf PB wins hands down—once voted as “Best rolled tacos” by San Diego Magazine. It’s also famous for its one-pound California burrito.
When it comes to sweets, Donut Bar is considered one of the must-eats in San Diego. Try a French toast donut, or pick one with a Jim Beam whiskey and Vermont maple syrup glaze topped with bacon. Go early because donuts sell out by 11 am. Or, go after 5 pm on Friday and Saturday evenings to have a pop tart donut with your choice of 20 craft beers on tap.
If you’re the type who wants traditional coffee with your pastry, Lestats is a quaint neighborhood coffee shop with locations in Normal Heights, University Heights, and Hillcrest. In addition to dark brew, the 24-hour cafés take pride in their loungy ambiance fit for music lovers and musicians who come out for open mic nights.
For cheap eats in San Diego, the student-friendly budget stretches far on Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach. Check any day of the week, and you’re likely to find that many bars and restaurants in PB (short for Pacific Beach) have happy hours and drink specials, such as “two-dollar-you-call-its,” meaning a drink made with your choice of liquor for two bucks. Don’t judge by the drink prices, you’ll find options from dive bars to more upscale establishments and even trendy spots that mirror the likes of Downtown San Diego all on one street.
Rather stock your fridge with favorite food and drinks? Most neighborhoods in San Diego have their own weekly farmers’ market, a nice perk of being home to nearly 5,100 farms. You’ll also have your choice of traditional supermarkets in San Diego like Vons and Trader Joe’s, but for authentic ingredients to help you make your own Mexican dishes, shop at Pancho Villa Market, where you’ll find freshly made tortillas amongst its selection of prepared foods. When in Central San Diego, pick up inexpensive groceries at El Super, Northgate Market, and Murphy’s Market. Or for organic foods, head to Sprouts Farmers Market in the neighborhoods of Clairemont/ Kearny Mesa and Pacific Beach.
The fashion-conscious can shop in Downtown San Diego where both national and regional boutique stores pepper the streets of the Gaslamp Quarter. Trendsetters may also find their treasures at the Headquarters at Seaport Village, an old police headquarters turned shopping and dining destination. Shoppers can peruse specialty boutiques like Urban Beach House and Coco Rose, then explore the original 5-by-8-foot inmate jail cells of the historical property.
Mission Valley offers shoppers a range of casual to couture inside a two-level, open-air complex. Fashion Valley mall houses major department stores like Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, and Bloomingdale’s. plus nearly 200 specialty and retail shops. Just a few more miles east, you can pick up the rest of life’s necessities at the Westfield Mission Valley with a two-story Target, DSW Shoes, and Nordstrom Rack.
Spend a day browsing the colorful culture of the Americas at San Diego’s Old Town and Bazaar del Mundo Shops. There you’ll find an amazing collection of jewelry, kitchenware, art displays, handmade pottery, rugs, clothing, authentic Mexican foods, soaps, and more. Whether or not you buy something, wandering around amidst the twinkling lights and lively Mariachi and folk music in the air is worth the trip.
For year-round discounts, head to Viejas Outlet Center in East San Diego, voted “Best Outlet Center” by San Diego Magazine, for its 37-acre, open-air shopping, dining, and entertainment paradise. It features dozens of brand-name stores, including Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, and Coach.
If you love the outdoors, your perpetual playground is right outside your door. Explore all the 50 beaches along the coast or spectacular hikes around Torrey Pines or Little Laguna and Big Laguna Lakes. Catch some waves in some of the warmest water and several of the best surfing breaks on the California Coast. Grab your board and paddle out, or take a lesson from a local surf school at Imperial Beach or Oceanside.
For more urban greenspaces, you could spend days wandering around Balboa Park. Aside from its botanical gardens and walking paths, the free park is also home to more than 16 museums and multiple performing arts venues. San Diego residents also get free access to its museums on Tuesdays.
Within Balboa Park is the San Diego Zoo, which offers glimpses of some of the rarest animals on the planet. Revered as one of the best zoos in the country, it’s renowned for its endangered species breeding programs and conservation efforts. Get up close to gorillas, polar bears, and koalas in their carefully recreated habitats.
If you like craft beer, plan your own microbrewery tour by trying your choice of over 100 breweries in greater San Diego county. Local favorites include Stone, Ballast Point, and Lost Abbey. Wine lovers can take a road trip an hour north for tastings in Temecula Valley Wine Country.
For some art and culture, visit the colorful Chicano Park featuring the largest concentration of Chicano murals in the world. Located in Logan Heights, San Diego’s oldest Mexican-American neighborhood, you can view incredible murals under the San Diego-Coronado Bridge. Afterwards, check out the skate park, basketball court, or take a break at the picnic tables nearby.
There are 12 four-year colleges within the San Diego city limits and 17 four-year colleges within a 50-mile radius. If you’re looking for a large school, University of California San Diego enrolls the most students. If you’re all about the campus, look into the University of California San Diego, one of the world’s leading public research universities located in beautiful La Jolla.
We rate and sort every listing based on fair market rent.
Pet Friendly Apartments San Diego
377 apartments starting at $1,000/month
Studio Apartments San Diego
109 apartments starting at $795/month
1 Bedroom Apartments San Diego
345 apartments starting at $975/month
2 Bedroom Apartments San Diego
409 apartments starting at $1,195/month
3 Bedroom Apartments San Diego
133 apartments starting at $2,400/month
Cheap Apartments San Diego
182 apartments starting at $600/month
Short Term Rentals San Diego
368 apartments starting at $1,000/month
Furnished Apartments San Diego
62 apartments starting at $1,000/month
Luxury Apartments San Diego
71 apartments starting at $795/month
Houses for Rent San Diego
289 apartments starting at $1,000/month
Clairemont Mesa Apartments
24 apartments starting at $1,695/month
College Area Apartments
56 apartments starting at $1,675/month
11 apartments starting at $1,200/month
Kearny Mesa Apartments
5 apartments starting at $2,614/month
Linda Vista Apartments
16 apartments starting at $1,500/month
20 apartments starting at $1,595/month
Mission Beach Apartments
17 apartments starting at $1,995/month
Normal Heights Apartments
19 apartments starting at $1,595/month
North Park Apartments
71 apartments starting at $1,595/month
Ocean Beach Apartments
22 apartments starting at $1,895/month
Pacific Beach Apartments
63 apartments starting at $1,650/month
Serra Mesa Apartments
8 apartments starting at $2,500/month
Chula Vista Apartments
96 apartments starting at $1,495/month
51 apartments starting at $2,200/month
El Cajon Apartments
77 apartments starting at $1,325/month
Imperial Beach Apartments
45 apartments starting at $1,800/month
La Mesa Apartments
53 apartments starting at $1,500/month
La Presa Apartments
18 apartments starting at $1,595/month
Lemon Grove Apartments
7 apartments starting at $1,695/month
National City Apartments
16 apartments starting at $1,495/month
Spring Valley Apartments
17 apartments starting at $1,675/month
Apartments near California Western School of Law
106 apartments starting at $900/month
Apartments near San Diego City College
112 apartments starting at $900/month
Apartments near University of San Diego
62 apartments starting at $1,500/month
Nearby metro areas
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266 apartments starting at $400/month
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6,118 apartments starting at $578/month
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2,570 apartments starting at $600/month
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600 apartments starting at $495/month
San Diego Metro Apartments
1,438 apartments starting at $795/month