San Diego home prices have risen over 28% since 2021. These days, the typical home will run you close to a million— $992,818 to be exact. So if you’re downsizing to an apartment in San Diego, we don’t blame you.
Fitting all your stuff into an apartment home may feel intimidating. But the good news is that San Diego is home to a diverse array of apartment living styles and apartment sizes.
Today, we wanted to help you find the right space for your unique needs. That’s why we’re bringing you this guide. We’ll explain what’s available, what you can afford, and so much more.
Ready to find the California apartment you’ve been dreaming about? Then you’ve got to keep reading because this one is for you!
Types of Apartments: Explained
There’s way more to apartments than just how many beds they have. Check out the different types of apartments you can rent in San Diego below.
Studio Apartments and Lofts
Studios and lofts are unique because they don’t technically have bedrooms. These types of apartments typically have an open floor plan. The only door in a studio or loft is usually to the bathroom.
San Diego studio apartments typically come in one of two forms.
Alcove Studios: Alcove studios feature a partition separating the bedroom area from the rest of the living space.
Convertible Apartments: Convertible apartment is just another word for a really spacious studio. The reason these apartments are called “convertible” is that renters could technically add a wall to create a bedroom space. However, you have to get your landlord’s approval before altering the space.
What’s the difference between a studio and a loft? Typically built out of old industrial buildings, lofts often feature exposed brick walls and rustic beams. They feature high ceilings and, sometimes, a lofted space for the bed.
Duplexes and Triplexes
Duplexes and triplexes are attached apartments with private entrances. Both of these types of apartments typically feature two or more floors. In triplexes and duplexes, you would share an adjoining wall with one or more neighbors.
What’s the difference between a triplex and a duplex? Triplexes feature three adjoined apartments, while duplexes only have two. Otherwise, these living spaces are virtually the same.
Cooperative housing is common in California. You’ll especially see these types of living arrangements in residential areas with strict zoning laws. You and another person become co-owners of a certain piece of property.
Co-ops often feature two separate residences. Often, one of these residences is an apartment.
The only downside to cooperative housing is that you usually can’t rent. You have to purchase part of the property to live there.
“Garden apartment” is a term for a first-floor apartment. Further, these spaces typically have a private outdoor living space. San Diego garden apartments can be quite pricey when you can find them.
Low-Rise, Mid-Rise, and High-Rise Apartments
When it comes to apartment buildings, “rise” refers to how many floors the building has. In San Diego, you can find low-rise, mid-rise, and high-rise apartments.
High-rise apartment buildings tend to be 12 or more stories high. These buildings usually have an elevator to make moving in and out a breeze.
Mid-rise apartment buildings are defined as having five to 11 floors. You’ll find a lot of mid-rise apartments within San Diego’s city limits.
Low-rise apartments only have one to four floors. They don’t usually have elevators, though, which can make moving in and out a massive headache.
Some of San Diego’s older buildings are home to railroad apartments. Railroad apartments get their name from their shape — they are long and rectangular.
Railroad apartments usually have up to three rooms that connect to one another. You’ll love this type of apartment if you hate hallways.
Walk-up apartments may be more common in cities like New York, but San Diego still has its fair share of this type of apartment. Walk-ups get their name because tenants can only access their apartments via stairs.
As you can imagine, one big downfall to this type of living arrangement is that there is no elevator. This fact can make moving just as much of a headache as if you’re moving into a low-rise apartment building.
The Average San Diego Apartment Size
The average San Diego apartment ranges from one to three bedrooms. It’s pretty uncommon to find an apartment that has more than three bedrooms.
There’s a much broader range when it comes to square footage, though the average San Diego apartment is 876 square feet in size.
Below, we’ll outline how much space you can expect to get for a studio, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom apartment.
Studio Apartment Sizes
If you’re in the market for a studio, San Diego is in no short supply. Studio apartments are extremely common to find downtown. They’re also populous on the coast, in the Torrey Pines area (North San Diego), and around La Mesa (East San Diego).
You’ll likely have a hard time finding a studio that’s not between 500 and 600 square feet. However, there are some luxury studio apartments located downtown that measure up to 700 square feet.
One-Bedroom Apartment Sizes
One- and two-bedroom styles are the most common types of apartments in San Diego. Whether you want to live downtown, next to the ocean, or in the suburbs, there’s a one-bedroom apartment for you.
Additionally, one-bedrooms offer a lot of choices when it comes to square footage. You can find one-bedroom apartments in the 500–650 square foot range. Or you can rent a one-bedroom that’s 700 to 900 square feet.
Two-Bedroom Apartment Sizes
Like one-bedroom apartments, San Diego loves its two-bedroom spaces. This type of apartment is especially common in the suburbs. La Mesa and Lake Murray are great places to rent if you’re searching for a two-bedroom.
The great thing about San Diego two-bedroom apartments is that they’re almost always over 1,000 square feet. The average two-bedroom sits within the 1,300–1,600 square foot range. Luxury two-bedroom apartments often come with up to 1,800 square feet of space.
Three-Bedroom Apartment Sizes
Three-bedroom apartments are common on the coast of San Diego. You can also find them in the Grantville neighborhood and College Area. Downtown San Diego is also home to a bunch of high rises with three-bedroom options.
At the top end, you can find three-bedroom apartments that are over 3,000 square feet. It’s more common to see 1,900 to 2,500 square feet of three bedrooms. The smallest three-bedroom apartments are in the 1,500–1,700 square feet range.
How Much Does It Cost to Rent an Apartment in San Diego?
The San Diego cost of living is one of the highest in the nation. And the cost of rent is no different. However, the exact rent you’ll pay depends on where you rent, what you rent, and the size of your apartment.
According to RentCafe, the average apartment in San Diego will cost you $2,756. Further, 84% of San Diego apartments cost more than $2,000 per month to rent. Only 3% of apartments cost $1,500 or less in San Diego.
How Are San Diego Rents Compared to the Rest of the US?
The cost to rent in San Diego is higher than the national average. In November 2018, the average rent nationwide was less than $1,500. Compare that to the San Diego average rent, which was around $2,100 in March 2018.
San Diego rents have also risen faster than the national average. The average rent across the country has jumped 13% to about $1,700 as of February 2022. Meanwhile, San Diego’s average rent jumped a whopping 38%, or to around $2,900 per month in February 2022.
How Are San Diego Rents Compared to the Rest of California?
California has the third-highest cost of living in the contiguous US. Only New York and Washington D.C. are more expensive.
But how do San Diego rents stack up to the rest of California? Here’s a breakdown of some popular California cities and their average cost of rent:
- Santa Monica: $3,891
- San Francisco: $3,230
- Berkeley: $3,164
- Carlsbad: $2,927
- Los Angeles: $2,661
- Long Beach: $2,530
- Chula Vista: $2,239
- Escondido: $2,006
- Sacramento: $1,792
As a reminder, San Diego’s average cost to rent is $2,756. That means San Diego is around the median rent of California’s largest cities. It’s nowhere near as expensive as Santa Monica and San Francisco, but it’s much higher than Sacramento’s average rent.
Where Should You Live in San Diego?
As we’ve mentioned, the exact cost of your rent will vary by neighborhood. San Diego is home to over 100 different neighborhoods, so you have a lot to choose from.
Here are some popular San Diego neighborhoods and their average rents:
- Mira Mesa: $2,716
- Ocean View Hills: $2,287
- University City: $3,152
- Carmel Valley: $3,647
- Core – Columbia: $2,808
- Miramar: $3,016
- Torrey Hills: $3,647
- North City: $3,647
- Mission Valley East: $2,896
- Serra Mesa: $2,928
- Rancho Penasquitos: $2,917
- Torrey Highlands: $3,451
- Birdland: $2,928
Which of these neighborhoods can you afford? Here’s a quick guide to the most and least expensive neighborhoods in San Diego to help you whittle down your options.
The Most Expensive San Diego Neighborhoods
Carmel Valley is the most expensive neighborhood in San Diego. This suburb is located in northwest San Diego a few miles from the University of California at San Diego. It’s close to the beach and the Torrey Pines State Reserve and golf course.
Carmel Valley rents tied with two other nearby neighborhoods: North City and Torrey Hills. All three of these neighborhoods have average rents of around $3,647.
Honorable mention goes to Torrey Highlands, University City, and Miramar. These three expensive neighborhoods all have average rents clocking in at over $3,000 per month.
The Most Affordable San Diego Neighborhoods
Not all San Diego neighborhoods will cost you an arm and a leg. Living in neighborhoods like Encanto, Jamacha Lomita, and Skyline means you can find a place to rent for less than $2,000 per month.
The least expensive neighborhood in San Diego is Alta Vista. Located in central San Diego, this small neighborhood is close to schools and parks, and it’s only a few miles from the beach. And you won’t have to worry about safety because Alta Vista’s crime rate is surprisingly low considering its equally low rents.
Living in Alta Vista will run you as low as $1,200 per month. Other affordable San Diego neighborhoods include Broadway Heights and Emerald Hills, where you can find a place to rent for less than $2,000 per month.
Types of Amenities Available in San Diego Apartments
If you’re new to apartment living, you may not know about amenities. Apartment amenities are bonus services and perks you get free with your rent. Different apartment complexes offer different amenities.
However, there are some amenities that almost all San Diego apartments should have available to you. This statement is especially true if you’re renting a mid- to high-end apartment.
Here are some of the most popular amenities you should look for in your San Diego apartment.
Fitness culture is huge in San Diego. Whether you plan to join a gym or not, your apartment should offer a fitness center. Better yet, they should offer a workout room that’s open 24 hours a day.
Some San Diego apartments also offer fitness classes. Of course, you may have to pay for these additional services. Still, it’s a great way to meet and network with people in your apartment complex.
Most apartments in San Diego come with updated appliances and kitchen finishes. This is true of even older apartment buildings that renovate to add value.
Stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, and modern cabinetry give a more high-end look to your apartment. Plus, these finishes are more durable and will look like new for longer.
San Diegans love their pets. If you’re moving to San Diego with your furry friend, you’ll want to choose a place that’s pet-friendly. Luckily, many apartment complexes and landlords allow pets.
Additionally, you should look for buildings in pet-friendly areas. Search for locations near parks, dog parks, and walkable areas where you and your pet can get some exercise.
San Diego may be home to beautiful beaches, but you should still expect some relaxing amenities at your apartment building, too.
From pools and spas to grilles and community gardens, you can look forward to many types of relaxing amenities at your San Diego apartment.
High-Speed Internet Access
More than 55% of people in the US work from home these days. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to have access to high-speed internet in your apartment.
While less common, some San Diego apartment complexes offer all-inclusive high-speed internet with your rent. This type of amenity is most common in high-end luxury apartments.
You don’t want to get stuck taking out the trash when you live in a 20-floor high-rise apartment building. So, make sure the apartment you choose offers valet trash or a similar service.
San Diego is an environmentally-conscious city. That’s why many buildings offer convenient recycling services as well. Depending on the apartment, you could have access to on-site recycling.
The Best Apartments in San Diego
Now that you know what your San Diego apartment options are, let’s talk about some of the highest-rated complexes in the area. We scoured Yelp for the top apartments in the city and curated the results for you below.
Portofino Apartment Homes
Portofino Apartment Homes is located in the Serra Mesa neighborhood in San Diego. It offers one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom apartment homes for $2,600 to up to $4,000 per month. Amenities include:
- Assigned parking
- Pet-friendly rules
- Granite countertops
- Washer and dryer
- A 24-hour fitness center
On the weekends, you can visit the nearby San Diego Zoo or the Del Mar North Beach. This apartment complex is close to major retailers, restaurants, and recreational activities. There are also a handful of parks nearby.
BLVD North Park
BLVD North Park is a mid-rise apartment building in the University Heights neighborhood. Here, you can rent a one- or two-bedroom apartment in either a loft or flat style layout. Built in 2020, this apartment building is relatively new.
BLVD is a pet-friendly apartment complex. It offers a cookout area, spa lounge, fitness center, and Bocce Ball court. The apartments themselves feature gourmet kitchens, stainless steel appliances, soaking tubs, and more.
Prices for BLVD are currently unavailable, but you can call the community manager for more details.
Urbana is a high-rise apartment complex located in the East Village neighborhood. You can rent a pet-friendly studio, one-bedroom, or two-bedroom apartment at Urbana. Other amenities include:
- Self-serve lobby cafe
- Open-air courtyard
- Game room
- Rooftop bar and lounge
- Furnishings available
On top of all this, residents love Urbana because it’s extremely eco-conscious. All the apartments in the building meet California’s Energy Efficiency Standards, and garages offer electric vehicle charging stations.
The Urbana is a highly-desirable community, so it’s no wonder there’s currently no availability. Check the website for pricing and add your name to the waitlist if you love this apartment building.
The Hub at Scripps Ranch
The Hub at Scripps Ranch is a low-rise apartment building located between the popular neighborhoods of Miramar Ranch and Mira Mesa. This complex offers one, two, and three-bedroom apartment homes ranging in price from $2,905 to $4,280.
The Hub is a luxury apartment complex. It comes with all the community and in-home amenities you could want. That includes a resort-style pool, game room, movie screening lounge, stainless steel appliances, and 9-foot ceilings.
Elevate SD is a high-rise apartment complex located in Mission Valley. It’s just a 10-minute drive from Ocean Beach. Elevate SD offers one- and two-bedroom apartment homes that’ll run you $2,245 to $3,895 per month.
The best thing about this apartment? It’s extremely easy to apply for a home if you live out of state. Elevate offers virtual consultations and a completely contactless application process.
Pacific Palms Apartments
Pacific Palms Apartments is an affordable apartment building in North Clairemont, San Diego. Specializing in smaller spaces, you can rent a studio or one-bedroom at Pacific Palms. Call the community for pricing details.
Even though it’s inexpensive, Pacific Palms offers the following amenities:
- Designated parking
- Granite countertops
- High-speed internet access
- Two heated pools
- Two outdoor grilling areas
The building is also directly across from a Performing Arts Center. If you’re into theater, this could be a great apartment for you.
Valentina by Alta Apartments
Valentina is a beachside apartment complex in Little Italy. It’s directly across from Waterfront Park and a quick walk to North Harbor Drive. You can rent either a one- or two-bedroom apartment that will run you $3,673–$6,289 per month.
This luxury apartment complex is pet-friendly and comes with all the amenities you’d expect from a high-end community. Get access to a pool, high-speed internet, fitness center, parking garage, and more when you live at Alta Apartments’ Valentina.
Aquatera Apartment Homes
Aquatera Apartment Homes are located in the coveted neighborhood of Birdland. This massive community is home to one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments of various sizes and prices.
Currently, you could move into an 834 square foot one-bedroom for a little under $3,000 per month or a 1,091 square foot two-bedroom for $3,270.
Aquatera is all about the amenities. Living in this complex, you’ll get access to the following:
- 10,000 square foot club room with a community culinary kitchen
- 24-hour sports club and outdoor fitness area
- 24-hour cyber cafe with free coffee
- Saltwater pool and spa
Aquatera is also a net-zero community. 100% of the electricity you use comes from the technology throughout the property.
Ready to Move Into Your New San Diego Apartment?
San Diego is home to rental units in various apartment sizes, price ranges, and locations. If you’re moving to America’s Finest City, we hope this guide helps you pick the right community for you and your family!
Are you moving to San Diego? Let BestFit Movers lend you a hand (or two). Get a free quote from us today to find out how affordable it can be to move to San Diego!