Directions from San Diego to Los Angeles, CA

The Pros and Cons of Moving from San Diego to Los Angeles

There’s a reason California is the most populous state in America. We’ve got it all right here: beaches, metropolises, mountains, airports, and opportunity. Wherever you go, sunshine and heaven are hovering over you.

And, when people consider California, they consider some of the best-known cities in the world. You have Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Sacramento, to name a few. But, if you already call San Diego your home and you’re considering a move from San Diego to Los Angeles, then we need to talk.

There’s a lot to contend with between the two. It’s not just a matter of big city vs. the ocean. When moving from San Diego to Los Angeles, there’s the cost of living to consider, traffic patterns, and the general speed of life. Alas, we’ve done the unpacking for you and have laid out all the details below.

The Pros of Leaving San Diego for Los Angeles

Let’s start with the possibilities. If you have it in mind that you might want to trade in the beach for big city living, let’s consider the pros first.

Big City Living

Now, San Diego is – by no means – a small city. But, when you stack it up beside Los Angeles, it is. Let’s start with the physical size. Los Angeles covers 500 square miles of opportunity while San Diego covers 372.

Within Los Angeles’ 500 square miles, you’re looking at 114 neighborhoods to explore. Okay. Don’t explore all those neighborhoods. Some are a little less-than-savory. But, again, let’s focus on the positives. Here are some of the neighborhoods you’ll definitely want to get acquainted with:

  • Atwater Village: a diverse neighborhood with a host of multicultural cuisines
  • Arts District: an area of downtown LA that’s experiencing the greatest Renaissance
  • Beverly Grove: a shopper’s paradise, thanks to The Grove, a massive outdoor mall
  • Beverly Hills: a rich man’s paradise worth a Sunday morning drive
  • Echo Park: a (relatively) affordable suburb with charm of its own and access to downtown
  • Longbeach: a great section of South Bay with an LA vibe even though you’re quite removed
  • Los Feliz: great shops, restaurants, and an escape from the hubbub of downtown LA
  • Santa Monica: a ritzy beachfront neighborhood packed with delicious eateries

A Traveler’s Paradise

Of course, moving to Los Angeles will leave you with enough travel, adventure, and fun for the first few months of your move. You have to check out a long list of neighborhoods, try a slew of different restaurants, peek into countless art galleries, and more.

But, what about all that world travel you have up your sleeve? Well, if that’s what you’re aiming for, then you’re going to want to fly out of LAX more often than San Diego. Since you’re on the west coast, it’ll be a hop, skip and jump to Asia and the Pacific islands. Hello New Zealand, Japan, and Australia.

Flying on an airplane in Los Angeles

LAX sends out nearly 1,400 nonstop flights to over 40 countries every week (at least, prior to COVID). The keyword there is nonstop. You can make your way out of San Diego to all your favorite destinations, but it’s going to take a lot more hopping, skipping, and jumping. Likewise, when you move to LA, friends and family are going to have a much easier time making their way to you.

Eager Entertainers Abound

The next question is, what’s your calling? If you’re meant to be on the big stage, model for the likes of Versace, or star in major film and television roles, then you’re only meant to be in LA (or NYC, but the west coast is the best coast).

There’s a lot of hope in LA because, even if you don’t start right at the runway, there are thousands of places to work until that happy day. Pick your coffee shop, restaurant, or art gallery.

There’s just so many of them that there’s a lot of hope in getting hired early on in your new venture. Vest of all, who knows which Hollywood hotshot will visit you one afternoon, making it your lucky day.

The Cons of Leaving San Diego for Los Angeles

So, that’s the overview on what Los Angeles has to offer. But, what should you focus on when you lay San Diego on the scales? Let’s take a dive:

Can’t-Beat Beachfronts

If you make a habit of strolling down to the shoreline most days, it’s important to think long and hard about trading that in for the concrete jungle that is LA. In downtown LA, you’ll be surrounded by the sights and sounds of (slow-moving) vehicles.

Whereas, in San Diego, if you play your cards right, you can rise to the sounds of the Pacific each morning. Is that really something you want to part with? If you have the finances to make the move from San Diego to LA possible, here’s another consideration.

What if you upsize to a better home or apartment within San Diego instead of investing in LA? Then, you wouldn’t have to walk that block to the beach. Rather, you can simply roll over in bed, open your window, and take in the sounds of the sea.

The Traffic

There’s no catchy sub-heading for this section. And there’s no sugar-coating this subject, either. The traffic in Los Angeles is… horrendous. Is that too strong a word? Unfortunately, no. In LA, you always have to add an excessive amount of travel time to your agenda for congestion, construction, and road closures.

Traffic in Los Angeles, CA

This is just one report: over 150,000 in LA County spend three hours commuting to work. This is no big deal if you love podcasts, audiobooks, and playlists. Heck, you can become fluent in another language with three hours of study time per day.

But, what if you have a family? A dog? A social life? The point we’re trying to make here is that you don’t want to be nonchalant about all the reports on LA traffic. It is a serious, serious consideration when moving to the bright lights of this city.

Small Business Dreams

It’s pretty clear that LA is the city for big dreams. But, San Diego has its own unique brand of attraction. Tech startups and those with a mind for hospitality do quite well in San Diego.

It’s no silicone valley (San Francisco is a whole different article), but it certainly holds a lot of promise. In 2019, San Diego experienced a growth rate of nearly 20% for high-tech jobs. Clearly, somethings in this ocean air.

Here’s another fun fact. Is it your dream to run your own little pub someday? Then, definitely stick close to home in San Diego. It’s becoming a mecca for microbreweries. If your small business dreams have anything to do with craft beer or cold brews, you can really make your mark in San Diego.

San Diego: Big Picture

So, there you have the broad-spectrum sweep between the two. LA is the land of dreams – big city dreams, travel dreams, and entertainment dreams.

Meanwhile, San Diego coats its people in ocean breezes, gives everyone a break on the traffic front, and offers unique business opportunities. With these foundational ideas, let’s stack the two cities on their own and see where the chips fall.

Median Home Price & Rent

This might be a little bit of sticker shock (but wait until we get to LA). The median home price in San Diego is $645,300. Of course, let’s not forget why this is so. Living in southern California with near-perfect annual weather is a big draw. And, of course, we don’t need to keep mentioning that ocean breeze.

As for rent… well, you probably want to be able to swing a little over $2,000/month for a decent apartment. The average rent chimes in at $2,237. But, here’s the good news. With this amount in your budget, you can start dreaming about the sound of the sea from your bedroom window.

It’s not like that $2,200 puts you blocks away from the beach because those rents are sky-high. A little over $2,000 can deliver the smells of salt and sand striaght to your doorstep.

Unemployment Rate

Here’s a tricky conversation. The unemployment rate in San Diego last year was 2.8%. That’s a fantastically low rate. This year, however, it’s up to 15%. We’re sure you can guess the reason for this. It’s all about COVID.

Typically, with the tourism, technology, and small business opportunities here, the unemployment rate is spectacularly low. In the days of COVID, however, those numbers are quite skewed. Still, when the world returns to its normal state, San Diego’s typically a safe place to be, with regard to the job market.

Incomparable Areas in San Diego

San Diego is, in our opinion, the best place for staycations. Let’s revisit some of the coolest spots around that you’d surely miss if you traded it in for big city lights.

The Gaslamp Quarter

If you like to take your beachy waves downtown every now and then, the Gaslamp Quarter will always hold a place in your heart. With some of the best restaurants and nightclubs, it’s really hard to beat the charm that comes from cocktail hour here.

Balboa Park

How many cities can boast a 1,200-acre historic urban park? Not many! This is, easily, a full day with the family in various museums, restaurants, theatres, and, of course, the world-famous San Diego Zoo. If days in Balboa Park paint the perfect family picture, then it will be sad to part with this unique place in the sun.

La Jolla

La Jolla is the center diamond on an engagement ring. It sparkles in the sun with all its shops, restaurants, and sloping hills down to the shoreline. One of our favorite activities in all of San Diego involves a car ride to La Jolla and a sea kayak. It never gets old… getting out there on the sea and taking in all the Pacific sights.

Los Angeles: Big Picture

If you really feel a nudge for LA, don’t let all this ocean talk set you back. Let’s go ahead and open up the floor to the City of Angels and review what it has to offer its residents.

Median Home Price & Rent

Los Angeles will require about $100,000 more to put a roof over your head. According to Zillow, the median home clocks in at $752,508.

House in Los Angeles, CA

But, actually, the rent is somewhat comparable. Average rent prices go for $2,524. If you expect to have an extra $300/month in the budget, renting in LA won’t hurt too much more than renting in San Diego.

And, remember, LA has over 100 neighborhoods. So, as long as you check the crime rates before you apartment shop, you’re going to have a lot of leverage here if you do your legwork. You may be able to come in a little lower than $2,500/month in rent if you find just the right place at just the right time.

Unemployment Rate

The same thing goes for LA as it does for San Diego. COVID has seriously skewed the margins. Last year, the unemployment rate in LA was 4.2%. This, too, was quite low.

Now, especially with the entertainment industry taking such a hit, the unemployment rate has surged up to a little over 20%. Yikes.

But, again, if you’re moving here because you’ve already secured a job or you need to be closer to family, well… Let’s just keep hoping that COVID is quickly making its way out the door.

Incomparable Areas in LA

So, we’ve already discussed some seriously cool neighborhoods you’ll have to dip in and out of. What else might be captivating enough to make you want to pick up sticks and stay awhile?

Santa Monic Pier

Whenever friends come to town, they’re going to (probably) want to see Disneyland and the Santa Monica Pier. It’s the quintessential Hollywood boardwalk that encapsulates summer. People come here to enjoy the amusement park rides, concession stands, restaurants, and fishing.

Huntington Library

Any nerds in the house? We kid, we kid. Huntington Library is every reader’s delight. How many people have access to one of the world’s greatest research libraries? New Yorkers do pretty well with the New York Public Library.

But, Huntington boasts over nine million items. We’re talking items from the 1000s to 2020. Pretty impressive, right? If learning is fun for the whole family, then Huntington Library is a unique detail for the memory bank.


Of course, Malibu is not part of LA. But, if we were living in LA, we’d roll the top down on our car, sail through Santa Monica, and make our way to Malibu. It’s only 45 minutes and totally worth visiting.

This is where the billionaires come to live and play. So, if La Jolla is a three-carat center diamond on an engagement ring, then Malibu is 10 carats. It’s a fun place to go and enjoy for the day to see how the other half lives and enjoy some of their fine dining.

Moving from San Diego to Los Angeles

So, what do you think? Is San Diego or Los Angeles better? Well, moving from San Diego to Los Angeles creates a finicky scale. You take one thing off the San Diego side and add it to the Los Angeles side, and it’s hard to see where you stand.

Still, whether you decide to upgrade within San Diego or move to Los Angeles, we can simplify the process for you. Here at Best Fit Movers, we’ll pack, store, and move everything for you. Consider us your San Diego to Los Angeles movers. Just this year, we were named the best in the biz by Home Advisor!

Allow us to take the load off your shoulders as you apartment hunt, house hunt, and secure all the other pertinent details in your life.

When you’re ready to add the cost of the move to your scales, feel free to request a free online quote today. Then, someone from our customer service team will reach out to you and take a huge portion of that weight off your shoulders.

Author: Patrick Caramalac

Patrick Caramalac founded Best Fit Movers in 2017 when he saw a need in his community for professional local movers. The company operates from locations in San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange County, and specialize in residential and commercial moves, both local and long distance. With thousands of positive customer reviews, Best Fit Movers is one of the highest rated moving companies in California.





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