Frugal Living

The Cost of living in San Diego and How to Make It More Affordable

It is no secret that California is one of the most expensive states in the US to live in. In fact, California is actually the second most expensive state, leaving behind forty-eight others and only lagging slightly behind Hawaii in terms of average living expenses.

Even then, real estate prices and healthcare costs in California are on an average, higher than they are in Hawaii. Therefore, the fact that San Diego is among the top ten most expensive cities in all of US, is not really surprising at all. Here we go over some of the facts regarding what it costs to live in San Diego as well as a few tips on what you can do to make it more affordable.

Cost of Real Estate in San Diego

As of 2019, real estate prices are extremely steep in the city, competing almost neck and neck with property prices in New York City and even beating Los Angeles in terms of median home sales price.

It was estimated by the American National Association of Realtors in 2018, that the median price of homes at that time was $626,000 in San Diego, while in Los Angeles, the average value of a home sale was significantly below that at $576,100. The monthly mortgage payment on an average in 2018 was $2,848 in San Diego, while Los Angeles residents were paying a slightly lower monthly mortgage of $2,627.

Median Rent Rates in the City

Most of the people that have recently moved to the city opted for renting because it makes more sense when they do not know if their work will take them out of the city in the near future. Of course, renting is almost always cheaper than buying in any city for the first year, but it becomes more expensive down the line.

As published by Apartment List, a studio apartment in San Diego will set you back $1,413 per month (median), while a one BHK apartment is being rented out at $1,564 per month on an average. The average rent for two and three BHK apartments in San Diego is $2,030 and $2,923 respectively. All data presented was last updated in May, 2019.

The Price of Electricity is Sky-High!

The reason why it is solar power San Diego residents love so much, has a lot to do with the insane price of electricity in the city. Consider the fact that the median rate of electricity for residential connections in San Diego is 16.35¢/kWh, whereas the national average is only 11.88¢/kWh. That is a 37.63% difference in price per kWh!

Fortunately, there is a well-established solar power industry in the city that provides residents with the best solar power in San Diego. We will get into details regarding the best solar power companies San Diego later on, while discussing how to save money in this very expensive, yet wonderful city.

Is Affordable Living Possible in San Diego?

It largely depends on your personal understanding and definition of the term “affordable living,” but yes, considering everything, it is possible to shave off quite a bit of the expenses, even while living in “America’s Finest City.”

Rent Instead of Buying If You are Unsure about Long Term Stay

Not everyone gets to choose between the two of course, but even if you are able to take any of the two options, choose to rent when you are not sure about a long-term stay.

There are a number of economic and practical advantages to renting an apartment in San Diego than buying one, provided it’s a short term stay that we are talking about. The following should provide a brief idea about the concept at work here:

  • If you have just moved here, you should first see how it goes before setting your roots
  • Short-term agreements give you the flexibility to move to another apartment or buy one, when you want to
  • Job opportunities/transfers/other circumstance may require you to leave the city in the near future
  • The first year’s rent in San Diego on an average is cheaper than the mortgage payments for owning real estate

Rent Out a Room or Find Roommates

This little tip only applies when you have spare space in your house/apartment, or if you live alone.

The cost of living is so high here, that if you already own a property, it is perfectly possible for you to rent out spare space and keep a tenant. It will be cheaper for them than hiring a whole apartment, and you will now have an extra source of income as well.

As far as finding a tenant is concerned, it shouldn’t be a problem in San Diego, as long as the rent you ask for is appropriate for the space or room on offer.

On the other hand, in case you are one of the many people looking for cheap rent, the good news is that you will easily find roommates, as well as single rooms or a large space within a house, as described above. As long as you do not have a full family, find roommates and share the rent to significantly lower your living costs in San Diego.

Buy If You are Sure About Staying

When there is no apparent reason why you may need to move all of a sudden, and you have found a piece of property or an apartment you actually like, it’s going to be cheaper to buy.

After the first year, buying becomes cheaper with each passing year, as compared to paying rent. This is more or less universally true, but due to the extremely high real estate prices in San Diego, it could take more than a year for the total expenses of mortgage payments to be more cost-efficient than renting. That however, won’t matter when you have decided to move here for the foreseeable future of course.

Shift to Solar Power in San Diego

In spite of almost everything else in the city being extremely expensive, solar panel costs in San Diego are actually not that high at all. Then there’s the question of solar tax credit San Diego, which will exempt a big portion of your setup expenses from the total taxable income.

If all that has managed to capture your attention, then know that we have not even started on the main reasons behind why one should go with a solar panel installation in San Diego and actually manage to save a chunk of money every year.

The entire state of California is perfect for generating solar energy, which is why one will find a huge number of government and private solar facilities all across the state, with a significant concentration in the desert area. After all, there’s a reason why they sometimes refer to the city as solar San Diego, and that reason is the city is teaming with solar energy almost throughout the entire year!

A decent sized solar installation San Diego can help any home in the city not only save on their energy bills, but they can even sell back the excess energy produced (if applicable) by being connected to the city grid. Nobody in your home will ever have to worry about wasting electricity either, because for a change, you are using a renewable source of energy, generated from a source that isn’t going to go out for the next five billion years!

It will likely take three to five years for the savings to cover the initial expenses (depending on the home’s electricity consumption habits and the capability of the system), but once that point is reached, every dollar you save with your solar roofing is actually a dollar earned. Additionally, solar financing options San Diego are not exactly lacking here either, so the investment can be broken up into low-interest monthly payments, instead of having to pay it all up front.

As should be expected from the year-round sunny city with a perfect setting for a solar power industry to thrive in, there is a huge demand for solar providers San Diego right now. Which in turn, has resulted in an entire industry being built around solar power in the city and California in general.

Solar companies in San Diego pop up every now and then from both outside and inside the state. They are however, not all the same, and while it would be wrong to state that every new solar contractor San Diego is a bad one, some are not as reliable as the others. If you are looking for a reliable solar company in San Diego to save on your energy bills, then there’s this provider called Semper Solaris, owned and run by an US Veteran for years now. They will always provide their customers with the best solar installation San Diego has to offer.

Keep in mind that Semper Solaris is not just another one of the multiple solar companies in San Diego, but it’s actually an All-American establishment, which is widely known within the industry as one of the best solar power companies San Diego that cares deeply for US military and its veterans.

You can call them up for a free inspection and estimation of the costs and size of the solar system, as would be appropriate for the property. On reaching an agreement, they will even help you find the best solar financing options San Diego, in case you decide it’s unwise to spend the whole amount at once. The cost of solar panels San Diego is a lot cheaper than what it used to be just a few years ago, but they are still a significant investment nonetheless.

Semper Solaris is also one of the few solar companies operating in San Diego, that sells Tesla solar batteries. These utilize revolutionary tech in solar science that allows solar energy to be collected for use at a later time; something that was previously thought to be impossible. Whether you decide to use the batteries after sundown, or during state-authorized, selective blackouts is totally up to you, but they are the reason why some homes in far out California are now completely self-reliant for their power supply.

Do You Really Need a Car?

Well, you may or may not need a car, depending on your situation, but there is no doubt about the fact that not buying one will lower your living costs in the city tremendously.

One may argue that’s true for every city, but they would be wrong. Unlike most major cities, San Diego is not overcrowded and the public transportation system is excellent. You can rely on the PTS to get you wherever you need to go, in time and safely on most days. If you already have a car, don’t drive it around too much, unless necessary and you will be saving a lot of bucks on maintenance and gas.

Home Cooked Meals are Surprisingly Not as Expensive

Home cooked meals are going to be cheaper than meals in a restaurant everywhere, and when you are living in San Diego, you better learn how to cook! The good news is, even if you are just a decent cook, the average cost of groceries for a family in San Diego is surprisingly just $313 per month. It is surprising because unlike almost everything else, the mean grocery expenses in San Diego are apparently lower than the national average cost of groceries per month ($324).

Shop Online for Clothes, Shoes and Whatever Else You Find a Deal On

Shop for clothes online, because in San Diego, online shopping is going to be cheaper than any of the local, branded clothing showrooms. Use the mighty power of Google and find deals online before making any hefty purchases, because just like clothes, almost everything else is also quite equally priced for customers, whether they live in Harlingen, Texas, or San Diego, California.

As previously mentioned, living in San Diego is never going to be cheap, but it can be affordable, to a degree! The thing is, once you start to live and work there, your pay will increase as well, because just like the expenses, the average income is significantly higher than most cities in the country also. The first few years might be a bit rough, but rest assured that with these tips, you will be living and saving as well in San Diego soon enough.

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