Newcomers Guide to San Diego

San Diego is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States with a population of around 1.5 million people. Despite rapid growth and a diverse population, it ranks at number 9 on the list of the safest cities in the country. It is an economic power house, an important cultural center, and an internationally famous tourist destination. Newcomers to San Diego will most likely find a lot to like about the area.

Geography and Climate

San Diego sits on the border of Mexico, about 120 miles south of Los Angeles. The city has about as close to an ideal climate as anywhere on Earth with year round temperatures in the high 20s, Celsius. With only about 10 inches of rainfall, the climate can be somewhat dry, with most rainfall occurring sporadically during the winter months.

San Diego is situated on a highly active deep water harbor and is surrounded by dozens of beautiful beaches. Inland, the landscape of the city is defined by flat mesas separated by deep canyons. The tendency of the residents to build houses on the mesas and leave the canyons relatively undeveloped has created a low-density, car-centered urban environment.

Neighborhoods and Attractions

There are over 100 distinct neighborhoods in the greater San Diego area, with the most densely populated portion centered around the bay. To the north lie Balboa Park, Hillcrest, and North Park. To the east lie the college area and City Heights. In the southern part of the city, the Golden Triangle is the business center, and further down are the residential communities of La Jolla and Ocean Park. Due to the separation caused by canyons as well as the interstate system, the city has often been referred to as a “city of villages”. Nearby Riverside County has recently become popular for commuters who don´t want to pay steep downtown prices.

Because of its recent growth and appeal to tourists, many attractions have set up shop in the area. Some of the most famous include Balboa Park, the Belmont amusement park, the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, and SeaWorld. There are also many historic sites like Mission San Diego de Alcala and the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park that reflect the area´s indigenous, Hispanic, and Mexican roots. Several famous annual events also have a home here including Comic-Con, several golf tournaments, San Diego Pride, and the Street Scene Music Festival. San Diego is also recognized as a national hub for craft beer.

Job Opportunities

San Diego is the 8th largest city in the US and growing fast. This means that job numbers are quite good despite problems in other parts of the country. The main economic engines here are related to defense and the military, international trade, bio tech and health care, and of course, tourism.

Learning Institutions

Institutes of higher learning are an important part of the fabric of San Diego. The University of California has a campus here, as does Cal State San Marcos. Probably the most influential player, however is San Diego State University. This school has been designated as “Doctoral/Research University-Intensive” by the Carnegie Foundation, and it ranks in the top 7% of universities in the US. The prominence of these schools has made the area a leader in medical research and biotechnology among other things.

With a diverse and culturally active population, a high standard of living, and a luxurious climate, it isn’t hard to find things to love about San Diego. While high real estate prices have been an obstacle in recent years, prices have gone down dramatically since 2008. Lower housing costs and a growing economy mean that now is a great time to consider a move to the San Diego area.