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Living in San Diego

A comprehensive guide about living well in San Diego

One of the most popular cities on the West Coast, San Diego, California, boasts year-round warm weather, enormous sandy beaches, and a range of different cultures and foods, making the city an ideal choice for expats. But there is more to life in San Diego; read up on education, transportation & more.

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats, we understand what you need, and offer the the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us today to jump start your move, and begin the preparations with our free relocation checklist.

Life in San Diego

Situated right on the bottom of California and bordering with Mexico, San Diego is filled with young professionals from all over the world, giving it a reputation as a true hotspot of culture, cuisine, and of course, sunshine.

Culture and Leisure

For any expatriates looking to move to California, San Diego offers an unbeatable selection of entertainment, culture, cuisine, and sights while, at the same time, remaining relatively compact compared to the larger tourist hotspot that is Los Angeles. As well as the sandy beaches and clear blue Pacific Ocean, San Diego also offers a wide range of other activities to suit all tastes.

For instance, the city boasts many museums. One of the most popular of these is the USS Midway, an enormous retired aircraft carrier located on the coast near downtown San Diego, which offers visitors the chance to look around and see what life is like for members of the US Navy. On top of this, the city also has a great deal of other museums and cultural excursions, including the popular San Diego Museum of Art, the city’s Natural History Museum, the Maritime Museum of San Diego, the Museum of Man, and a whole host of other, similar establishments to suit all interests.

Many of these museums are located in San Diego’s Balboa Park, an enormous, 490 hectare park situated in the midst of the bustling city, giving visitors the chance to walk through picturesque scenery, including an old cactus garden, a desert garden, ‘Palm Canyon’, and the Japanese friendship garden. A walk through the park is a great way to get acquainted with the area’s natural flora and fauna, and can be perfectly complemented by a visit to the world famous San Diego Zoo, also located within the confines of the park.

Expats can also look forward to a collection of historical and significant sites. For instance, the Old Town area of the city has been preserved as the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, in which visitors can admire many of the buildings dating to the mid-19th century that have been preserved for all to see. One of these buildings is the Casa De Estudillo, an 18th-century home, built by some of the early settlers, which has also been immortalized in the novel Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson. Another significant sight is the Ocean Beach pier, which stretches over 600m out into the Pacific Ocean and is thus the longest concrete pier on the West Coast. On the pier, visitors can enjoy a spot of lunch at the restaurant, or simply take a stroll along the immense walkway.

Transportation in San Diego

While San Diego isn’t exactly renowned for its public transportation, the city does, nonetheless, boast effective and reasonably time- and cost-efficient transport links. In the downtown area is Santa Fe station, which offers easy access to Los Angeles (around 120 miles north) by Amtrak train. From here, train links to cities all over America can be found, meaning that, despite San Diego’s relatively ‘far out’ location, country-wide transportation is still pretty easy. Within the city itself, a trolley service is available, which offers links all over San Diego with relatively frequent services.

For journeys further afield, San Diego International Airport offers flights all across the country and is frequented by United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, US Airways, and many other airlines. Although most direct flights from the airport are domestic and short-medium haul, some long-haul flights operate from the airport, traveling to countries such as Japan. However, for most long-haul travel, catching a connecting flight at one of the State’s bigger airports will probably be the best option.

Education in San Diego

For any expats planning life in San Diego with their families, education will understandably be high on the list of priorities. Luckily, with almost 400 primary and secondary schools in the city as a whole, parents have a wide range of choices when deciding where to send their kids and which catchment area to move into. As a whole, the schools in the city are rated reasonably, with an overall average score of seven out of ten being awarded to San Diego by the website GreatSchools.org, which rates schools out of ten based on strict criteria. Some recommended school districts include Del Mar, San Dieguito, and Solana Beach, all of which boast a reasonably high density of good schools.

For higher education, the city also houses three main universities: the University of San Diego, San Diego State University, and University of California, San Diego. Of these, the University of California, San Diego is the most consistently highly ranked, with a world ranking of 41 according to the Times Higher Education 2014 league table.

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Updated on: March 19, 2015
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