When people think of moving to a fabulous new city in the United States, San Diego does not often come to mind. You probably fantasize about New York or Los Angeles-slash-Hollywood for the hip-and-happening factor, Portland or Seattle for the indie scene, and San Francisco or Chicago for the depression-inducing weather.
But you may want to consider Plymouth of the West (although you probably shouldn’t judge it based on its lackluster nicknames). It’s big but not too big (population: 1.38 million), has a pleasant climate all year long, is close to the U.S. Navy (I don’t know, that may be important to some people), and has a gazillion miles of beaches.
So here’s what else you should know before moving to San Diego:
Festival of Beer
The fact that San Diego celebrates yeast-fermented malt-flavored beverages is either a reason to immediately move there or avoid it like the plague. Depends on your priorities. This festival of beer showcases 60 breweries that offer 120 selections of suds, your entrance ticket includes unlimited beer tastings (samples, not full pints), and of course music and munchies are there to accompany your journey to public inebriation.
The Zoolander of Zoos
If you like staring at wild animals who are not in a position to attack you, then the San Diego Zoo, with its 3,700 animals belonging to 650 species, may be a factor in your relocation to this Southern Californian city. On the other hand, if you like being attacked by animals, you should still consider taking up residence here: many animals have escaped, such as an orangutan, two monkeys, a koala bear, and two hyenas.
Whale of a Good Time!
You don’t have to go all the way to The Maldives, Antarctic Peninsula, or Isle of Mull in Scotland to do a little whale watching. San Diego is a great place to see about 25,000 whales (not all at once, silly) migrating from Alaska to Southern Californian to take in the warmer climate and do a little body surfing. Best time of year is during the winter (or, when referring to SoCal, “extended, slightly cooler summer”).
No, this isn’t when you dupe someone out of their comics. It’s an international comic book, movie, and sci-fi fiction convention—originally called Golden State Comic Book Convention, for all those etymological fans out there.
Business Casual Means Flip Flops
Like most Southern California cities, an overabundance of sunshine and heat means an underabundance of clothing. In a town where 50 percent of its land mass borders on water, it’s hard to prevent people from wearing sandals, board shorts, and bikinis all the time. Whereas in the rest of the country “business casual” means jeans instead of slacks and a rebelliously untucked dress shirt, here it means flip flops, capris, and t-shirts with surfing slogans.
North Park is the Hipster Hood
An area of town that was originally a lemon grove, North Park is now a hipster neighborhood. And not just any hipster hood—one of the hippest hipster hangouts in the country, according to Forbes (and who knows more about hipsterism than a popular business and financial magazine?). If you’re keen on coffee shops, craft beer, trendy bars, and second-run movie houses but don’t want to move to Portland, Oregon, then start packing.
Potato Chip Rock
I had to include this one just for the name. It’s a rock in the shape of a potato chip on Mt. Woodson, a popular hiking spot. You know you’re speaking to a bona fide San Diegan if they refer to going on a Potato Chip hike.
If one of your hobbies is getting crap-faced drunk in places where you don’t speak the language and are likely to get robbed, then you’ll be happy to know that Tijuana is stumbling distance from SD (20 miles and one border crossing away).
On the one hand, San Diego has pretty expansive bus and trolley lines. On the other hand, that doesn’t do you much good if the buses only run once an hour or not on weekends. So yes, you’ll probably have to consider this city a car-friendly place, what with its spread-out geography and annoyingly convenient freeways.