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Old 10-05-2012, 06:21 PM
 
11 posts, read 24,008 times
Reputation: 44

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Back story: My Husband & I (in our 40s, no kids, two dogs) vacationed in San Diego three years and fell in love with the city. Came back last year for 5 days, stayed at a B&B in Banker’s Hill, met with a Realtor and visited every neighborhood in the city, came back home to Maryland and said “YEP we love that city”! Paid off all our bills, saved for eight months, put our house on the market (sold in 1 day) and off we went! Here is what we learned along the way! We moved from Northern Maryland to North Park, San Diego, CA.

In no particular order:
Costs: Housing – Big difference; we spent almost three times what we paid for our MD home (13 years ago) and got as much house in CA! It is also three times the age of our last house! Gas- big difference, .35 more per gallon. Food – a little more in some areas, but fresh fruit and veggies a lot less! Utilities – a little less but I work from home so everything runs 24 hours. Water – higher, if you have a yard/grass an irrigation system is required. To compare, CA = $100/month, MD=$40/month. Car Insurance – Less, guessing it was because we don’t have snow/ice or rain to worry about in SOCA. Taxes= overall I pay $34 more per month. A few areas we find less expensive in California are services – like landscaping & home improvement. Also, the restaurants are amazing, we find great deals on Happy Hours!

Moving: We downsized from 2000 to 1200 square feet and two cars to one car garage. Best advice –sell/get rid of as much as you can! Moving companies charge per pound and it adds up quick, moving our 3 bedroom home and transporting one car cost over 5K. When moving cross country do your homework on moving companies! We thought we found a great company, and had we just done a pick up drop off may have been ok, but our stuff was stored for two months. We ran into trouble getting a delivery date, it appears moving company’s contract out storage pick-ups & delivery. So you wind up with whatever guy is in the area and bids on the job!

Real Estate– Anything under $500,000 is a hot market! We had one weekend to find a new house and there were only about 10 in our price range (3 B/2 Bath, under $475k, & move in ready) in the entire city! If you want to buy then give yourself time and consider renting. We totally lucked out and found a house the first weekend (our compromise was that the house backs to the freeway). A few interesting things about buying in CA , once you make an offer you can back out in 17 days and unlike other states you sign the contracts/completed sale and 24-48 hours later get your keys to the house. Also with condo buying we found it interesting that there are rules that a certain percentage of a condo building must be Owner Occupied in order to qualify for certain types of mortgages (FHA, etc.). A good realtor will help with the details; these things are just very different in my home state. WORDS OF CAUTION: Pick you Realtor VERY carefully (ours was a gem) as a general rule we found CA realtors are not very reliable. I can’t tell you how many did not call our realtor back on properties we wanted to see and two sent us to houses that had completed contracts! Do a lot of research on Mortgage brokers! The one we picked was horrible and we almost lost the house. Also, if you’re buying a house, insist on getting the house tented for terminates! Being from the East coast we didn’t know much about termites and allowed the sellers to “Treat the problem”; we later learned you can’t treat areas of wood!

General Observations – People move SLOW in SOCA! Getting estimates for work (i.e landscaping and contracting) can takes weeks! Being from the East Coast we want everything yesterday and here everything is tomorrow! We have found that people are really nice, friendly, and helpful. Traffic sucks, but no worse than any other big city. Employment – I transferred and work from home, but my Husband got a job within a week of posting his resume to the online sites, he is in Telecommunications. We thought everyone in CA would be all about the wine, we learned in San Diego it's all about the micro-brew!

Conclusion: It’s expensive to live in California. If you want to move, plan for it, save as much as you can, and research everything, then you won’t be surprised! The weather is amazing and living in San Diego (the city) everything is less than 10 miles away! I mean EVERYTHING! The locals joke that it’s the price you pay to live in the perfect city! Seven months living here and we don’t regret our move for one second!

Extra info on “Hoods”:
Downtown – GREAT condos- totally would have lived in Mariana District or Little Italy if our very large dogs were more social! If you live downtown you can walk to EVERYTHING! Banker’s Hill – very nice, can still walk to downtown, only downside is that the airplanes fly DIRECTLY overhead. Hillcrest – Very NICE! Tons of restaurants and large LGBT community. Would have loved to live here but couldn’t afford a house! L. University Heights – nice mix of affordable homes with a lot of rentals. Tallmadge & Kensington –Both great FAMILY neighborhoods with well-kept homes. South Park – Nice area, great homes, and still very close to downtown. We wound up in North Park. What we love about North Park is we can walk to about 100 restaurants & pubs and Balboa Park. Buying in North Park afforded us a backyard, a very small one, but it accommodates dogs who like to go out at 3 AM!
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Old 10-05-2012, 06:48 PM
 
Location: Santaluz - San Diego, CA
4,485 posts, read 8,141,366 times
Reputation: 1976
Thanks so much for taking the time to share your story. I agree with you that San Diego is an AMAZING place to relocate to if you can comfortably afford it.

It's an amazing city and moving here was one of the best decisions I ever made.

One thing I'd have to disagree with (just based on my personal experiences using many companies since buying my home) is when you said getting estimates for work is very slow. I've found the opposite. I've been impressed so far with how quickly companies have gotten back to me and how quickly they did the work.

One thing I've found is it's essential to use established companies with a great reputation. I've had GREAT luck using Find a Local Business, Ratings, Reviews, Deals | Angie's List on vendors. And also referrals from other people that have recommended people/companies.

From landscapers, sprinkler repair, painters, plumbers, handymen, locksmiths, electricians, hardwood flooring installers, garage door repair, blind installers, window tinters,and several other vendors people have gotten back to us very quickly. We typically go with winners of Super Service awards and they have been great.

In some cases they have come out the very same day I called to get an estimate. I live in North County but I doubt it would make a difference with these vendors I've used. For example, the other day I came home from the beach and discovered one of the springs on my garage door had broken. I called a company and they came out the same day and repaired it.

I totally agree with you on real estate under $475,000 that is move in ready. There is not much GOOD inventory on the market that is move in ready. We've been looking at investment properties in good areas and good school districts and there is hardly anything on the market. In many cities, $475,000 gets quite a bit of house but not here in San Diego.

But it's a wonderful place to live. Congrats on the move and glad you're enjoying SD.

Last edited by earlyretirement; 10-05-2012 at 06:58 PM..
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Old 10-05-2012, 08:42 PM
 
Location: San Diego, CA
1,666 posts, read 2,563,684 times
Reputation: 819
The only critique I have is that you're really comparing apples to oranges when you talk about housing prices. Housing in San Diego is expensive, but in the more urban areas of Maryland, it's comparable. You were up in northern Maryland and you can't compare say, Carroll County to here.
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Old 10-05-2012, 08:43 PM
 
Location: Temporarily, in Limerick
2,898 posts, read 5,201,188 times
Reputation: 3424
What a wonderful post CWin! Glad you made your way here & it's working out so well.

We made our way from Denver... before that, the northeast & sadly need to leave for 1-yr due to the SO's work... but we'll be back! San Diego is a healthy addiction. I'll miss it, but 1 last year having fun outdoors in the snow will be much more appreciated when we know it's sun & sand from then on. (Okay, I say that now... when the SO called earlier to tell me it was overcast, cold & slightly snowing in downtown Denver, I hung up on him... )

Your post is spot on & I'm sure will be very helpful to others so very lovely of you to take the time to post & share all your info.

And, thanks ER for the Angie's List info. I'll keep that in mind when we return.

Enjoy SD! We'll be back soon. Save a space for us!
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Old 10-05-2012, 08:48 PM
 
Location: San Diego, CA
1,666 posts, read 2,563,684 times
Reputation: 819
I'll tell Gerry to save an apartment for you in the fall of next year. By then, my apartment will likely be available. She'll clean it to get rid of any evidence of cats living here. =)
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Old 10-05-2012, 11:14 PM
 
Location: San Diego A.K.A "D.A.Y.G.O City"
1,962 posts, read 3,701,775 times
Reputation: 2569
Which is so frustrating about San Diego is how housing prices are very expensive NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE IN THE CITY OR COUNTY. It reflects off rental prices as well.

From Del Mar to the ghetto's of SD, prices for homes are expensive or overly priced. Chula Vista is expensive, El Cajon prices are going up, La Mesa is ridiculously priced for very old homes in the trashy side of town like off Uni Ave. I really don't get it? Why are people moving to these parts of town that don't offer anything besides a lower quality of life? It's crazy, Cop Choppers flying around in the skies every night, police sirens being heard daily, petty theft, and everything else in between.

I notice more and more each year that the majority of people moving to SD, are from out of state, hardly anyone is originally from SD anymore, born and raised that is. These people live in colder climates that come here mainly for the weather, and the key word is DESPERATE! Once The East Coasters, and Mid Westerners knows how feels do live in a perfect climate, with year around sunshine with great diversity of things to do, they will do whatever it takes to live here. Many of my friends have packed up and moved away years ago, some for better job opportunities, the others just because they found that their money went a lot farther in Texas and other states which has allowed many of them to start a family and live comfortably..Here they would still be struggling financially, and renting an APT rather than owning their own home.

It doesn't matter how many new homes are built in CA and in SD, prices will always stay high. I'm already on the edge of moving out myself since I can't afford it here anymore. I am waiting for call backs from companies in Vegas as we speak, once I get something going for sure, I am outta here.
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Old 10-05-2012, 11:28 PM
 
Location: San Diego, CA
1,666 posts, read 2,563,684 times
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Supply and demand. People want to live here.

Sure, you could get a huge house in Cleveland for the money you pay for a condo here. But guess what?

You're in Cleveland.
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Old 10-05-2012, 11:49 PM
 
Location: San Diego A.K.A "D.A.Y.G.O City"
1,962 posts, read 3,701,775 times
Reputation: 2569
People happily live in these crap hole cities and are doing just fine.
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Old 10-06-2012, 02:41 AM
 
Location: Temporarily, in Limerick
2,898 posts, read 5,201,188 times
Reputation: 3424
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonyinsd View Post
I'll tell Gerry to save an apartment for you in the fall of next year. By then, my apartment will likely be available. She'll clean it to get rid of any evidence of cats living here. =)
Nope Tony, it comes with the Kitt'Ns or I'm not takin' it!!!

We'd probably venture up towards La Jolla as we'd originally planned... or maybe further north to Newport Beach or San Francisco, our future plans. < Cue the Universe's laughter >

Is it a secret or may I ask where you'll be going? I know how you've expressed liking the downtown area, so hopefully you'll be buying one of the many great condos in the area! I'll be trying to enjoy my last few weeks here... Coronado Is as often as possible, walking to Little IT for some fresh pasta & Tabac espresso, which is virtually under my window... love the smell of espresso mixed with tobacco in the late evenings wafting in though the balcony door. Ahhhh...

I will miss it here, for sure. Think I may take a bucket of sand with me, for toe squishing purposes whilst inland & above sea level.
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Old 10-06-2012, 03:03 AM
 
Location: Temporarily, in Limerick
2,898 posts, read 5,201,188 times
Reputation: 3424
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonyinsd View Post
Supply and demand. People want to live here.

Sure, you could get a huge house in Cleveland for the money you pay for a condo here. But guess what?

You're in Cleveland.
Yep, agreed. Recently, I've lived in Camdentown (London), Boston & NYC. For those who think SD rents & COL are high, well, those cities & especially Camden make them appear an utter bargain. One French co-worker complained bitterly about London rentals everyday, all day. Another co-worker who'd had enough of the daily whinging told her to look into Leeds for reasonable rents. She glowed, thinking she'd been granted a brilliant tip.

Well, no doubt, once home & she fired up the laptop, she discovered that Leeds is 3.5-hrs from London. My French co-worker never brought it up again, but one day at lunch I said to her... look, we're in London. Do you know how lucky we are to be living a modest but comfortable lifestyle in downtown London?

I've spent almost all my life mere blocks from an ocean. Most of my $ has gone to my landlords. I'll take a little less of everything for the joy of living in sunny, coastal CA or anywhere on a coast. But, it's not for everyone & that's fine, too. If unhappy, find happiness elsewhere. Life is surely to be enjoyed... even in Leeds.
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