There’s more to San Diego than sun and surf, although the nation’s eighth-largest city loves to boast about a mild climate considered by many to be the best in the U.S. With (mostly) easy access to beaches, mountains and deserts, San Diego is a recreation lover’s paradise. Attractions like the jewel of Balboa Park (home to the San Diego Zoo), Legoland California and SeaWorld keep tourism booming, and the highly rated University of California at San Diego has spawned a healthy biotech industry. Meanwhile, a diverse, ever-gentrifying urban population is upending the city’s reputation as a conservative Navy town.
Here’s the catch: San Diego comes with what locals call a “sun tax.” It’s pricey to live in “America’s Finest City” and the surrounding county, and the region perennially ranks among the most expensive in the country. It’s often a landlord’s market on the apartment front, and home prices are well beyond what many locals can afford. Still, millions of people manage to make San Diego their place in the sun. We spent more than 30 hours conducting extensive research on San Diego’s apartments, neighborhoods and residential options. We looked at more than 80 apartment complexes in the San Diego area, categorizing them by location and comparing them with a set list of criteria. Besides basic information such as year constructed, number of units and average rent prices, we factored in community amenities such as outdoor spaces and fitness facilities.