San Diego
  • $1100   =  non-traditional average 1
  • $1738   =  average 2BR ÷ 2, or traditional roommate rent 2
  • $2409   =  average 1BR, rented solo 3
  • (traditional vs. non-traditional roommates)
  • (the rest of the  southwest US)

81% live within a 10-minute walk of a park. 4
Some errands can be accomplished on foot. 5
urban sprawl, rip currents, raging wildfires
summer sports, temperate climate, surfers, the United States Navy 6

SO, roomiematch.com's San Diego roommate rundown:

San Diego is ground zero for SoCal surf culture. Surfing's a lot of the local vibe, even for folks that don't. Because they still love life on the beach.

There's about 70 miles of it, from white sand to serious surfer spots to nude - or clothing optional. Some fishing, some boardwalk, some for dogs. If you include the Bays, some snorkeling and scuba, some kayaking, some windsurfing and jet skiing, and some with some combo. But you might need a permit, check with your beach. Or bay. Or with your roommates who've already been.

San Diego also hosts the Pacific Fleet of the United States Navy. Downtown along the waterfront are two museums devoted to maritime, both the San Diego Maritime Museum and the USS Midway Museum, a decommissioned aircraft carrier now open for tours. Also sailors on leave.

Along with multiple world class facilities conducting medical research, along with the universities, merging health with higher biotech.

So you and your roommates could go for any of the above, or birding?

San Diego's park and preserve-laden canyon topography offers birders a wider variety than any other city in the country. Hence, locals are never surprised to see new birders who are often retirees or tourists, along with the surfers and supporters of the Navy.

Because all of them already know San Diego is always sunny and 75 degrees.

Which is great timing for craft beer and happy hour specials with snacks to match. Better all together, often on a beach! Or sometimes downtown.

You're also right across the border from Tijuana, obviously influencing San Diego's perpetually available traditional Mexican food delights. Locals love healthier tacos too. Like still delicious and definitely filling, but wholesome! Nothing suspicious!

So tacos based on a culture based on the assumption that all San Diegans are always on the verge of surfing?

Like the carne asada burrito, remove the usual rice and bean filler, it's just steak and guacamole with pico. Or the California burrito with the usual (carne asada, cheese, pico, sour cream, guacamole) along with a few fries wrapped up inside!

Less stellar might be San Diego's transport. San Diegans have public transport. It is true. They do. It's just that low population density does not always mean low population overall. In San Diego's case, it means urban sprawl. Everyone is spread out over about 50 neighborhoods which are themselves variously sprawled over seemingly endless hills and valleys and canyons.

And this topography suggests their issues will be difficult to resolve for structural reasons.

In other words, San Diego will remain car-centric for the conceivable future.

You can take a bus or trolley moving around downtown or areas immediately around. But outside that range, the bus has to deal with sprawl too, plus the the bus route won't be your direct route, plus traffic jams . . . so transit takes even longer than most to reach most destinations.

Bicycling is recommended in some neighborhoods, particularly near beaches. Beachfront communities have wider streets that tend to be flat, along with many other residents also bicycling, making the area more fun on a bike for everyone.

But other neighborhoods, usually the older ones farther inland, usually offer more difficult crossings. Like freeways, narrower streets, and steep hills that might daunt anyone other than determined bicyclists.

And even though the weather will be awesome? The sprawl still means even when there is a bike-friendly route all the way from A to B? If it's not in your neighborhood or immediately adjacent, it's likely still FAR.

So you and your roommates should surf sometimes or maybe not ever in San Diego, along with your delicious fresh fish tacos!

Just beware of rip currents, the Santa Ana winds, raging wildfires, and ever leaving anything at all in your car.

The rest of the San Diego roommate lowdown:

  • San Diego is located along the Southern Californian coast, about 20 miles north of Mexico.
  • Climate is warm but generally pleasant year-round, with low humidity, warm dry summers, mild winters, and some fog.
  • about 1.3 million residents in the city (largest in California after Los Angeles) and about 3.3 million in surrounding San Diego County
  • hosts the San Diego Padres (MLB), San Diego Wave FC (NWSL), San Diego FC (MLS), San Diego Gulls (AHL), and the San Diego Loyal SC (USL)
  • home to California State University, Coleman University, National University, Point Loma Nazarene College, California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego State University, U.S. International University, University of California, and the University of San Diego
  • Old Town and Mission Valley are the historical districts, neighborhoods around the preserved missions of San Diego's Spanish and Old Western heritage

After you're settled down, you and your roommates should experience San Diego's:

  • San Diego Zoo: Over 100 acres, featuring many more natural-seeming animal exhibits in Balboa Park. Also includes the newer Danny Sanford Wildlife Explorers Basecamp.
  • Balboa Park: Home of the San Diego Zoo . . . and also The San Diego Museum of Art, the Museum of Us, the San Diego Air & Space Museum, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, the San Diego Natural History Museum, and the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. Also the Old Globe Theater and beautiful open spaces and lovely gardens and arboretums.
  • San Diego Safari Park: 1800 acres about 30 miles north, with huge exhibits of "African" savannah where the animals roam.
  • Scripps Institution of Oceanography/ Birch Aquarium: Massive kelp tank

Here's the city of San Diego's official .gov for Resident Resources, from neighborhoods and parks to parking.


1.   The non-traditional roommate rent average for this city we've experienced over the last 3 years. We can't predict future rental availability, because we're neither in control of any rental market nor psychic, sorry!

But in most cities most of the time, the recent and relatively recent past are the best predictors.

2.   This idea came from smartasset.com's ranking of what a roommate saves you in 50 cities. They ranked where roommates will save you the most money, based on the average cost of a 1BR as opposed to a 2BR ÷ 2. Unsurprisingly, the more expensive the city, the more you can save, but the savings are significant in all larger metros. So we got the data for the rest of our cities from Zumper too.

This is really the minimum you could save, as you could live with more than one roommate, split more services, share food or other supplies, etc. More sharing tends to lead to more savings too, as per our roommate roadmap.

As per the rest of the description at the top of this page, we're calling this "traditional" roommate rent.

3.   From zumper.com.

4.   Directly quoted from the Trust for Public Land's parkland rating system.

"The ParkScore index awards each city up to 100 points for acreage based on the average of two equally weighted measures: median park size and parkland as a percentage of city area. Factoring park acreage into each city’s ParkScore rating helps account for the importance of larger “destination parks” that serve many users who live farther than ten minutes’ walking distance."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual ParkScore, nature lovers might like to see all roommate cities ranked for parkland.

5.   Directly quoted from Walk Score's Cities and Neighborhoods Ranking. They've ranked "more than 2,800 cities and over 10,000 neighborhoods so you can find a walkable home or apartment."

While each city's rundown already includes their individual Walk Score, dedicated pedestrians might like to see all roommate cities ranked for walkability.

6.   From various lists here on our own best roommate cities.