Exposed: The 'Real' San Diego Cost of Living Guide 2023 | 2024

What the heck is a cost of living guide doing in a real estate blog? It does not seem to make sense, and you would think that information would be on a website. There is a reason for our doing this, and it all centers around you as a house buyer in San Diego.

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We all have accepted the reality that San Diego ain’t cheap. This is a town with incredible attractions and breathtaking scenery. But it all comes at a cost. We have fantastic sunsets and beautiful beaches, but ordinary expenses can send our anxiety levels into hyper stress every time we go to the grocery store. In addition, the cost of living will affect the decision a person makes on whether to buy a house or continue renting.

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We want to look at the cost of living in San Diego and give you some ideas. We hope that these tips will allow you to make some good decisions. That way, if you are looking to buy a house, you may be better able to afford it and pay for the mortgage. Some of the things that we are going to be telling you, you might not know about. That makes this posting even more valuable to you.

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Here's a quick rundown of our list:

Cost Of Living Figures

You are living in a dreamland if you don’t think the cost of living in the United States is rising dramatically. Certain indexes have almost gotten out of control, and the April 2022 figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics tell a rather sober story.

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The All Items Index increased 8.3% for the 12 months ending April. Now that is a smaller increase than the 8.5% figure for the period ending in March, but it is still going the wrong way. The Energy Index has gone up 30.3% over the last 12 months since April 2021; blame it on gasoline increases of 43.6% and fuel oil increases of 80.5%. The Food Index has been going up for 17 consecutive months. Overall, food has gone up 9.4% in the last 12-month period, but what is concerning is that food at home that you buy at the grocery store and eat in your dining room has gone up 10.8% net in the 12 months.

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We must accept that San Diego over time has become an almost frighteningly expensive place to live. Housing has especially had some difficulties. However, if we compare ourselves with other places, San Diego does not seem half as bad as imagined. The cost of living in our hometown is not always as bad as in other areas. We can look at Los Angeles and San Francisco. Those comparisons are between the cities themselves.

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Overall, the San Diego Cost Of Living Index is 160.4 instead of 176.2 in Los Angeles. Housing is more expensive in Los Angeles (298.2 there than 279.1 here). Transportation has always been a massive problem up north, and the Cost Of Living Index reflects that (165.3 in Los Angeles as opposed to 120.2 in San Diego). We must pay a little more for food and groceries (109.7 in San Diego and 104.1 in Los Angeles). All things considered; Los Angeles is more expensive than San Diego by 9.9%.

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Everything looks a lot rosier when we compare ourselves with San Francisco. But let’s face it; you must have a lot of cash in your pocket when you are living in the City by the Bay. The Overall Index places San Francisco at 244, and that is 52.1% more than America’s Finest City.

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San Francisco is better only when it comes to utilities in the major cost-of-living indexes. Housing is astronomical, and San Francisco is 113.6% more expensive than housing in San Diego. As with Los Angeles, transportation is better in San Diego; our Transportation Cost Of Living Index is 120.2 compared to San Francisco’s 158.2. Finally, a critical index, Health, has San Diego shining like a brand-new dime. Our Cost Of Living Index for Health is 89 compared to San Francisco’s. We should remember that living is a lot tougher in other places as we look to deal with the cost of living here in San Diego.

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Okay, those are the bitter facts. Food and Energy are the cost of living indexes that hit almost all of us here in San Diego. We have to get to work and the store, and we have to eat.

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City Comparisons

We will step back into the real estate world and explain how you can use cost of living calculators to find the best San Diego neighborhood for your budget. For the sake of the discussion, we are going to suppose that you happen to live in Santee (a lovely place, by the way). You want to look at some neighborhoods to see how they fit in a cost-of-living scheme.

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The first comparison is Santee with Chula Vista. Look at the indexes. Chula Vista will be a little bit more expensive when it comes to food and groceries (108.0 versus 107.8). That is not too much of a problem for most households; it requires a little adjustment to weekly expenses. 

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Transportation, including gasoline, is higher in Chula Vista (127.9 versus 123.5). The overall Cost Of Living Index comparisons will show that Chula Vista is slightly more expensive than Santee (149.3 versus 148.7). These comparisons mean that while moving to Chula Vista will be a little more expensive, it is not out of the question.

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Now, let’s take a look at Santee in relation to Poway. You could go hungry a bit longer if you lived in Poway. The Food and Groceries ndex in Poway (115.5 versus 107.8). On the other hand, transportation is more expensive in Santee (123.5 versus 121.4). The comparisons change dramatically when the Overall Index comparison is applied: Poway leaves Santee in the dust (174.9 versus 147.8). This does not include the cost of housing, which is considerably higher in Poway. Even if you can afford a house in that California suburb, the Cost Of Living Index suggests that looking elsewhere might be an excellent idea.

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Okay, let us make one more comparison.

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We are to make a comparison between Santee and Oceanside. Food and groceries will cost more in Oceanside than in Santee (108.3 versus 107.8). However, transportation in Santee costs more than in Oceanside (123.5 versus 112). The pleasant surprise is in the Overall Index: Santee is more than Oceanside (147.8 to 146.1). The difference in the Overall Index is not that great, but Santee is a tad more expensive than Oceanside. Moreover, transportation is more affordable in the latter.

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We will not show you a comparison between Santee and one of the more expensive neighborhoods like Rancho Santa Fe because it might take your breath away (Please trust us on this!). But we think you get the idea. San Diego County has dozens of communities within its borders. Making a cost of living comparison helps you narrow down your list of possible places and enables you to identify what would be an affordable place for you and your family. Of course, there is a whole lot more to buying a house. Nevertheless, a cost-of-living comparison is a handy tool for checking out the various communities.

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We do not claim to be financial gurus, but there are some ways to cut costs and respond to rising inflation figures. Something small like doing away with grocery delivery can save a little extra money. It is nice to have your food delivered to you at the front door, but you might be charged a fee every time you do this. And unfortunately, the shoppers who are selecting your groceries make mistakes.

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Public transportation is always a viable alternative to driving. Over the next few months, you may discover that as gasoline prices go up, using public transportation gets more attractive. The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System provides transportation for the Northeast, Southeast, South, and Central parts of San Diego County. That is a large stretch of territory when you look at the routes on the maps. Bus or light rail travel can be more effective than being caught in another traffic slowed down on the freeway.

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Taken Advantage of Expertise

We want to tell you a scary story that actually happened, and you can ask your parents or your grandparents to fact-check it. It took place in 1980, and many senior citizens remember it with a particular sense of horror.

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That was when the mortgage interest rates went crazy. We are not kidding when we say that interest rates were going up one-quarter of a percent every week, and it did not stop until interest rates were north of 15%. Homebuyers were racing to the bank to lock in a mortgage rate before the numbers went higher. It was insanity that caused many people to pay thousands of dollars in mortgage interest for several years. We are not saying that this will happen again, but we cannot rule out the possibility that inflation will drive mortgage interest rates into territory we have not crossed in over 40 years.

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The hardest part of that whole nightmare was that people did not know which lending institution to approach. They accepted the offer of any bank without caring too much about the terms and conditions of the loan itself. Those homebuyers simply did not know how and paid for it.

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This should not happen to you. Lending institutions compete for your business, and some offer more attractive mortgage options than others. It is important to be able to get a mortgage that fits your financial capabilities and what you need to buy the house.

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Sensible homebuyers have good credit scores and the financial wherewithal to afford monthly mortgage payments. They also have an idea of what type of mortgage best suits their needs, whether a fixed 30-year mortgage or something else. We have given you an idea of using a cost-of-living guide to find the right area to go house hunting. Now, we will make a suggestion about how to hunt for the right house.

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Please pick up your cell phone and give us a call.

We are a real estate agent in San Diego County, and we are very familiar with all the suburbs and neighborhoods in this part of the country. However, we go one step further to provide you with superior help. We are also a licensed mortgage loan originator. That is a service you are going to appreciate having.

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We are familiar with mortgage lenders in San Diego. We can recommend to you the right lending institution to approach. Even better than that, we can help you get ready to go mortgage hunting. We can look at your credit scores and your financial situation and determine the best strategy for getting the money. Preapproval letters are strongly recommended for any buyer in San Diego. We have the expertise required to help you prepare preapproval documentation. We can also guide you through the process of getting that document.

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The significance of having professionals like us is that you can save thousands of dollars over the life of a mortgage if it is the right one for you. We can do the hunting for the lender, which permits you to concentrate on other parts of the house buying process. You will discover at closing that we are skilled negotiators. We will look at the asking price and find ways to trim it or negotiate trade-offs that are beneficial to you. We are committed to our client, and we want to get the absolute best mortgage financing for you.

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We think you will be impressed by how we do things. We are very transparent, and we work as a team with our clients. We are easy to work with, and we deliver results.

Are you interested in what we can do for you? The best way to find out about our services is to contact us. So do that at your earliest convenience, and let’s set up a time for a one-on-one conference. We want to answer your questions and set your mind at rest about buying a house in the San Diego area.

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The best remedy for a panicky situation is to have a seasoned expert at your side. We are that friend in need, and you will like working with us, indeed.

I would love to help assist you with your home purchase, home sale, or home loan - please feel free to give me a call, text, or use the form below. 

Your Cost of Living Insider, 


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