How Much Does It Cost to Live in San Diego, California?

San Diego is a large city located in California with a metropolitan area population of 1,338,348. A couple could live a moderate lifestyle in San Diego on a budget of $4,639 per month, or $55,666 per year.

Cost of Living in San Diego, California

As noted above, the cost of living in San Diego, California is $4,639 per month for a couple living a moderate lifestyle. This budget consists of $3,008 for housing related costs, $745 for food, and $885 for other costs, all of which will be broken down below.


  • A one-bedroom apartment in the city center of San Diego is estimated to cost $2,743
  • Basic utilities including electricity, water, and gas will run about $184
  • High-speed internet averages $81


  • Typical grocery costs of $526 per month include things like bread, eggs, milk, cheese, rice, chicken breast, bottled water, fruits, and vegetables
  • Alcohol including beer and wine for moderate home consumption costs about $108
  • Frequent coffees in a neighborhood café are estimated to be about $111


  • Meals out are estimated to be $525 per month, including 4 meals in mid-range restaurants and 8 in inexpensive restaurants
  • Transportation costs of $180 for public transport passes and occasional taxis
  • Fitness center memberships of $106
  • Cinema tickets of $74 include several outings for international releases

Note that San Diego, California is a very walkable city with a Walk Score of 100/100, which means you won’t need a car if you are living in the city center and you may even save some money by not using public transportation and taxis very often.


Amount of Money Needed to Retire in San Diego, California

Many people searching the internet for the cost of living in San Diego, California are doing so to see if and when they can quit their jobs and retire. A popular and easy way to calculate your retirement number is using the 4% Rule.

The 4% Rule estimates that a person(s) could withdraw 4% of their retirement nest egg and never run out of money. Using this calculation, a couple would need an investment portfolio of $1,391,655 to live a moderate lifestyle in San Diego, California.

Annual expenses of $55,666 ÷ 4% = $1,391,655 portfolio needed.

Of course, everyone’s financial situation is different, and the above calculation could change based on any other sources of passive income and social security income.


Overall, the cost of living in San Diego, California is affordable coming in at $4,639 for a couple living a moderate lifestyle. Those seeking to retire could do so comfortably with a retirement portfolio of $1,391,655.