Thinking Of Moving To San Diego County?
We who are fortunate enough to own real estate in San Diego admit to being spoiled. With almost perfect climate, clean air, lots of recreational activities, free beaches, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables year ’round, we certainly do have a high quality of life. So who can blame you for wanting to relocate to San Diego?
But not everything is perfect in San Diego. Since there are so many folks that want to live here, our freeways are sometimes congested and San Diego real estate and home prices are high. But even so, I can’t think of a better place to call home. Being from New Jersey myself, I can truly appreciate the differences between living in San Diego and living back East. Some words and phrases have disappeared from my vocabulary, like wind chill factor, frostbite, snow tires, windshield scraper, heat rash, mosquitoes, and humidity. But I don’t miss these things, and after 35 years of living here, I’m not bored with the weather yet.
The culture is different here than back East. Hopefully I’ll be able to communicate some of it to you in this website. I’m sure you have many concerns about moving to San Diego – like how do we survive with no basements, the houses are too close together, what about the earthquakes, and so on. I’ve tried to answer all your concerns in these pages. Start with the links on the navigation bar, and then visit the “Buy a Home” section to get specific information about San Diego communities and prices. So have fun exploring, and be sure to send me an email if I haven’t answered the question that’s on your mind!
A Quick Overview of San Diego Real Estate
San Diego first grew to the East and South, so in those areas you will find older, smaller, and less expensive homes. In the North, you can expect newer areas, underground utilities, wide streets with landscaped medians, and newer schools and shopping centers. You will also find the best school districts in the North.
If you decide to go north from San Diego along the I-5, the first new community you come to is Carmel Valley. This is a beautiful area, just east of Del Mar, with excellent schools. Since it is closest to San Diego, you will also run into higher prices than further north.
Continuing up the coast, you find Solana Beach, which was mostly built in the 70s, then Encinitas, which was built up in the 80s, and then Carlsbad, which has homes built in the 90s and 2000s. So if you’re looking for a new area with great schools, then Carmel Valley or Carlsbad are your best choices on the coast.
Another option is to go north along the inland route, the I-15. You will find the Scripps Ranch area to be a great growth area, with new schools, housing, and shopping centers popping up all over. A little bit north is Sabre Springs, Rancho Penasquitos, and Carmel Mountain, all excellent areas in the top-notch Poway school district. People choose this area if they prefer a warmer climate than the coastal area, or if they work nearby and want an easy commute.
Both the 5 and 15 freeways are congested during rush hours, one isn’t any better than the other. For mass transit, the coastal corridor has The Coaster, a commuter train that parallels I-5 from downtown San Diego to Oceanside. I-15 has 15 miles of carpool lanes, from Kearny Mesa to Escondido.
Now regarding San Diego real estate prices…..
In general, prices are higher the closer you get to San Diego proper, and lower as you go farther out. This is because people will pay more for a home if they can spend less time and money commuting.
You can expect to spend at least $450K for a detached home in a good neighborhood along the 78 corridor, meaning Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos, or Escondido.
Anything south of these cities costs more. For example, Carlsbad or Encinitas is $750K, and Solana Beach or Carmel Valley is $1M.
On the inland corridor, Rancho Bernardo or Rancho Penasquitos homes begin around $650K. Scripps Ranch or Poway will run you $750K and up.
If you are looking for some land, you can find estate sized lots in Olivenhain ($1.5M), the east end of Poway ($1M). To find land for less, you will need to travel to outlying areas like Fallbrook, Ramona, or Valley Center ($500K). There is also a nice rural area in the north part of Vista ($600K).
If you’re looking for condos, expect to pay at least $250K for a good 2 bedroom along the 78 corridor, or around $350K minimum for areas further south along the coast. In the UTC area and downtown, small condos or lofts downtown are close to $400K.
I cover the area from San Diego and North. If you’re interested in property South or East of San Diego, I have a partner that covers that area, and I could forward your request to her. I also have a partner in Temecula, a bedroom community that is 30 miles north of Escondido, where prices are very much lower.
These prices are just a guideline, but it does give you some idea of what typical homes cost here. I know you will see homes on the Internet with prices less than these, but they will have some negatives such as noisy locations, power lines, etc. I specialize in helping people find homes that are good investments, and I’ve learned that homes in poor locations do not keep up in value with the rest of the market.
Many times it just boils down to your personal preferences, there really isn’t a right or wrong answer on which area to choose. But whatever your choices, I’m sure there’s an excellent home waiting for you in San Diego County!
Advice for relocating to San Diego
Big Fish, Little Fish
Are San Diego real estate prices high? It depends on where you’re coming from. My clients moving to San Diego from the San Francisco Bay Area are like kids in the candy store when they see the home prices in San Diego. “You mean I can buy this beautiful home in Oceanside with a nice view that’s 10 minutes from the beach for only $400,000?” they exclaim. “This house would be double that where we live now,” they tell me. So they’re thrilled with how far the dollar goes in our area.
On the other hand, I get the calls from Texas. “Well, we have 3,000 square feet now, it’s an all brick house on an acre of land, fully fenced. Oh, and that doesn’t include the full basement. We’re going to sell here in Texas for around $180,000 and move to the beach in Carlsbad. We’re looking for coastal San Diego real estate and we’re prepared to pay up to $200,000 for it.” That’s when I know I’m in trouble. They probably won’t move to San Diego because their expectations are too far out of line with reality.
Now depending on where you’re coming from, moving to San Diego can be moving to a better situation, like our Bay Area folks, or stepping down, like our Texas people. If you’re coming from a less expensive area, you will have to make a mental adjustment down in order to do it. Some people cannot accept this and choose not to move here.
Let’s say you come from an area where homes are $200,000, but you’ve worked your way up and live in a grand $350,000 home. It’s impressive, it’s upscale, and you’re proud of what you’ve achieved. Now when you visit San Diego, you find that a $350,000 home is quite an ordinary, average home. In fact, there are plenty of homes that cost much, much more, and you suddenly feel small. Where you live now you’re the “big fish”, but in moving to San Diego you would become the “little fish”. Can you live with that?
This is a key question if you’re coming from a less expensive area. You have to have a compelling reason to move here. Perhaps you desire the mild climate, or you have a job opportunity that you can’t refuse. These positives have to be stronger in your mind than the negative feeling of moving down in stature. I’ve seen many people who can’t make it over this mental hurdle.
Look at it this way, you’ll be living with the brightest minds, the most successful entrepreneurs, the best of the best. This area attracts these kinds of people from all over the world. Will that stimulate you to become better yourself, or will you feel intimidated or inadequate? Is it better to be the big fish in a small pond, or a small fish in a big pond? Your answer may be a good indication of your readiness to make the move here. And if you do decide to come, it would be my pleasure to help you become San Diegans!