In this Expat Interview, Michael will tell us about his expat life in San Diego. He discussed his moving procedures, the cost of living in San Diego, things to do in this city, and more.
About San Diego
San Diego is a city on the Pacific coast of California and mainly known for its warm climate and beaches.
Also, the city offers different beautiful parks and a big choice of museums.
With its location near the Mexican border, it combines both the American and the Mexican culture like no other city in the world. Often San Diego is called “America’s finest city” due to its fantastic weather.
1. When did you start to live in San Diego?
In September 2016, I moved to sunny California.
It was my first big adventure outside of my country, and it definitely took me some time to make the decision. I lived there for roughly three months.
2. Why did you choose to live in San Diego?
As I wanted to improve my English while enjoying a great lifestyle with a lot of possibilities to explore the region, I had a lot of choices such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada, or California.
In the end, some suggestions from good friends and especially my gut feeling were responsible for that decision.
3. How to prepare for moving to San Diego?
I am not a person who plans everything perfectly.
To be honest, I did not plan a lot. I booked the accommodation and my language school. Not more.
However, I was quite curious how it would be there and read a lot of travel reports beforehand to know the coolest spots to see.
4. Cost of living in San Diego
This highly depends on where you exactly stay and what kind of comfort you need.
I personally lived in Little Italy, which is pretty close to the center. As I lived in a student apartment, it cost me around 1’000$ per month.
If you live further outside or decide to have some more comfort, the price can vary tremendously.
The same applies to food.
If you plan to eat delicious food in restaurants, you will need a lot of money: Definitely more than 1’000$.
In my first month, I spent almost 1’500$ on food, whereas I reduced it to less than 500$ in my second month.
There are different great supermarkets to find cheap food. I can recommend Ralph’s, which is located in the city center.
Transportation in San Diego is quite affordable.
For most distances, I was able to walk or use a bus. However, I highly recommend adding “Uber” for your choice of transport.
A ride from the city center to the beach was not even 10$, for example. Especially if you split the price with friends, it’s a bargain sometimes.
I personally didn’t need more than 100$ per month for my transportation.
d) Other costs
Surely this point depends on what you exactly need.
Of course, you will need a mobile data contract. I had a rather expensive one (about 60$), which provided me with unlimited data usage in the whole United States and Mexico.
5. Did you experience any difficulties when moving to San Diego?
Sure! The United States is extremely large compared to Switzerland, and I had to adapt to that in my first days.
Surprisingly I adjusted myself rather quickly and felt comfortable after a short time.
It was certainly in my favor that I didn’t suffer a huge cultural gap.
What shocked me was the huge accumulation of homeless people in the city. It made me really sad, and sometimes I felt kind of sad when I walked past them.
I really hope that the United States can change that problem in the future.
6. How about discrimination in San Diego?
No, not at all.
Most of the Americans I met in San Diego were friendly and courteous.
They are very communicative and love to tell you their whole life story – even if you are waiting at the bus station.
You hear a lot about discrimination in the United States, especially against Afro-Americans – though I never observed it with my own eyes.
7. What do you like about San Diego?
Honestly, San Diego has so much to offer!
It’s called “America’s finest city,” and I totally agree with that. There are several amazing beaches that you can visit the whole year.
Combined with the great bars and some exceptional viewpoints, you love San Diego. It’s not the biggest city but has its own charm and vibrancy.
8. Are there any bad things about San Diego that you don’t like?
As I already mentioned, I didn’t like the situation with the homeless people at all.
Sure we tried to support them from time to time with food, but it doesn’t change the overall situation that is really concerning.
Other than that, you have to be very picky to find something bad about San Diego.
9. What are your favorite things to do in San Diego?
There were some activities I repeated over and over.
One of them was beach volleyball. A relaxing afternoon at Mission or Ocean Beach with some rounds of beach volleyball. Absolutely amazing.
Additionally, I really appreciated the Gaslamp Quarter (downtown), where we experienced some unforgettable nights.
Furthermore, I didn’t mention my favorite place yet: Tijuana. The Mexican city is just a short bus ride away and amazing for a day trip, even better for the parties at the weekend.