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565 Apartments for rent in San Diego, CA

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Last updated September 25 at 6:46AM
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City Guide
San Diego
Must-know Tips on the Rental Market in SD

Come prepared… The SD market isn’t cutthroat like the Bay Area or NYC, but it’s still what you would expect from a growing SoCal metropolis. That said, approach hunting like a job interview: do your homework on neighborhoods and complexes you like, bring the necessary documentation (proof of income, driver’s license, checkbook for a deposit, etc.), and—most importantly—be flexible. There may be features you won’t budge on (proximity to the beach, say), but keep those to a minimum and you’ll have an easier go of it.

Types of apartments. Apartment living in SD comes in three forms: your larger, clean and contemporary buildings (expect efficiency but not personality), your smallish, mom-n-pop complexes (think The Big Lebowski), and the classic California cottage (tiny and moldy, but perfect for the Kerouac in all of us). A subcategory might be the “resort-style” or “gated” complex, but these are mainly gobbled up by the retired vacation home demographic in SD.

Cottages ($$$$) are the most expensive and deal mainly in the quaintness department. The floor plans are almost exclusively 1BR/1BA, and you’ll have to elbow out the vacation rental crowd to secure a permanent spot in these babies, but it’s well worth it.

Important perks large complexes ($$$) boast are garage parking and a recreational pool that isn't filled with water from old dog bowls. They also offer sundry floor plans: studio, 1BR/1BA, 2BR/1BA, 2BR/2BA, and so on. Typically built in the 90s and 2000s, such behemoths are found nearest large shopping complexes and commercial strips—busy places, in other words. That thick concrete will keep the noise down to a minimum, but you should love the action if you choose to live here.

The motel-like mom-n-pop joints ($$) consist of mainly budget 1BR/1BA and 2BR/1BA options—but don’t overlook them. On the off chance the owners have actually renovated the place since the 80s, you can find a pretty rockin’ unit for half the price of the flashy alternative. Plus, you’re more likely to get not only a bed, but also a community (and sometimes, a commune…) out of these arrangements! If you're after an inexpensive apartment in San Diego, start here.

Lease logistics. Seasonal economic shifts in SD means lots of complexes offer month-to-month leasing options. This is fabulous news for you, dear renter! But there are heaps of other details you’ll need to be privy to. For instance, in most cases, the deposit required depends on your credit report (yes, credit reports are inevitable). An average Joe with good credit typically puts $500 down on an apartment in America’s Finest City; if you’re nervous about credit, don’t turn tail yet—you just may have to pay a higher deposit. Finally, most leases have utilities included (sans gas and electric) and accept pets (either with a flat pet deposit—say, $300—or monthly pet rent, such as $40/month).

Neighborhoods

Picking a neighborhood in SD is like participating in an NFL draft. Weigh your options: if you use that early-round selection, make sure it’s for something that can deliver. Alternatively, hold out for something still available in a later round—something less flashy, but nevertheless team-oriented and solid beneath the surface.

Downtown. This is your star wide receiver. He’s consistently a first-round pick. He’ll make some beautiful catches—but he’s fragile, high-maintenance, and pricey. We reckon you’ll be hard-pressed (and that doesn’t have to do with wine… or olives) to find a studio in the Gaslamp District for less than $2000/month.

Hillcrest. The market hits the national average in this area. Think of Hillcrest as the first-string center. He’s well built. He’s got the quarterback’s back if poop hits the fan. But no one notices him until the dog pile clears. If you can manage being more than fifteen blocks from the water, consider a 1BR for $850/month or a 2BR for $1250/month overlooking Balboa Park.

Point Loma. A running back is your most diverse player in football; quick to adapt to new circumstances, he can ensure success—but he takes a serious beating along the way. That’s Point Loma. From the yachts of Harbor Island to the strip of Midway, this place has extremities in spades. Dig diversity? Move here. 1BR/1BAs start at $1000/month, 2BR/1BAs at $1500/month. Oh, and you’d better board that Pomeranian.

Mission Bay and Beaches. Every team has its special element. The fireworks component, let’s call it. In football, that means the kicker. These guys send up that gorgeous arc to score the final meager—but crucial!— field goal. You get the analogy, right? Mission Bay and Pacific Beach bring the funky boardwalk culture to SD. It’s not necessarily an all-the-time kinda sector (well, unless you’re a street mime), but it would be sweet to say you live two blocks from Shamu. Studios can be found for under $1000/month, but you’re more likely to see 1BR/1BA condos ($1400/month) and 2 and 3BR beach houses ($1800/month and $2100/month, respectively).

Old Town. Aha! Finally. The quarterback. Where all (offensive) plays begin and end. Old Town claims SDSU, Qualcomm Stadium, major shopping complexes, and historic architecture. Downtown has glitz; Old Town has all-around charm. The lack of oceanfront real estate makes this central sector of town a bit less expensive: expect studios and 1BRs for under $1000/month and 2BR/1BAs for around $1500/month.

La Jolla. Yeah, yeah—we know we gots to say something about La Jolla, but what? Hmm, let’s see. There’s some beaches there? UCSD? What do you want, people? La Jolla is your second-string kicker, alright?! More of the same funky beach stuff. (But without Shamu; drat!) The market’s gutted here because everyone and their mom think LJ is synonymous with SD. The students help, though: one can find some decent 1BR condos around the university for under $1000/month, but head toward the water and you’ll easily double that.

Got your pick? Terrific. Now pick garage parking or street. Then upstairs or ground level. Then full bath or 1 1/2. Keep going and you’ll have your fantasy league in no time. Just remember to bring your sunscreen. Congratulations, Herr Captain!

Rent Report
San Diego

September 2017 San Diego Rent Report

Welcome to the September 2017 San Diego Rent Report. San Diego rents increased over the past month. In this report, we'll evaluate trends in the San Diego rental market, including comparisons to cities throughout the state and nation.

San Diego rents increased significantly over the past month

San Diego rents have increased 0.6% over the past month, and are up significantly by 4.6% in comparison to the same time last year. Currently, median rents in San Diego stand at $1,560 for a one-bedroom apartment and $2,020 for a two-bedroom. This is the eighth straight month that the city has seen rent increases after a decline in December of last year. San Diego's year-over-year rent growth leads the state average of 4.5%, as well as the national average of 3.0%.

Rents rising across cities in California

Throughout the past year, rent increases have been occurring not just in the city of San Diego, but across the entire state. Of the largest 10 cities that we have data for in California, all of them have seen prices rise. The state as a whole logged rent growth of 4.5% over the past year. Here's a look at how rents compare across some of the largest cities in the state.

  • Looking throughout the state, San Francisco is the most expensive of all California's major cities, with a median two-bedroom rent of $3,070; of the 10 largest California cities that we have data for, all have seen rents rise year-over-year, with Sacramento experiencing the fastest growth (+9.4%).
  • Sacramento, Santa Ana, and Fresno have all experienced year-over-year growth above the state average (9.4%, 6.3%, and 6.3%, respectively).

Other large cities nationwide show more affordable rents compared to San Diego

As rents have increased in San Diego, other large cities nationwide have seen rents grow more modestly, or in some cases, even decline. Compared to most comparable cities across the country, San Diego is less affordable for renters.

  • San Diego's median two-bedroom rent of $2,020 is above the national average of $1,160. Nationwide, rents have grown by 3.0% over the past year compared to the 4.6% rise in San Diego.
  • While San Diego's rents rose over the past year, some cities nationwide saw decreases, including DC (-0.5%) and Miami (-0.4%).
  • Renters will generally find more expensive prices in San Diego than most similar cities. For example, Phoenix has a median 2BR rent of $1,020, where San Diego is nearly twice that price.

For more information check out our national report. You can also access our full data for cities and counties across the U.S. at this link.
City Median 1BR price Median 2BR price M/M price change Y/Y price change
San Diego $1,560 $2,020 0.6% 4.6%
Chula Vista $1,620 $2,100 0.4% 7.2%
Oceanside $1,750 $2,270 0.1% 5.6%
Escondido $1,410 $1,830 1.1% 3.7%
Carlsbad $1,840 $2,390 0.0% 2.8%
El Cajon $1,270 $1,650 1.1% 9.4%
Vista $1,390 $1,800 0.2% 5.3%
Encinitas $1,800 $2,340 0.4% -1.5%
La Mesa $1,410 $1,820 0.4% 6.6%

Methodology - Recent Updates:

Data from private listing sites, including our own, tends to skew toward luxury apartments, which introduces sample bias when estimates are calculated directly from these listings. To address these limitations, we’ve recently made major updates to our methodology, which we believe have greatly improved the accuracy and reliability of our estimates.

Read more about our new methodology below, or see a more detailed post here.

Methodology:

Apartment List is committed to making our rent estimates the best and most accurate available. To do this, we start with reliable median rent statistics from the Census Bureau, then extrapolate them forward to the current month using a growth rate calculated from our listing data. In doing so, we use a same-unit analysis similar to Case-Shiller’s approach, comparing only units that are available across both time periods to provide an accurate picture of rent growth in cities across the country.

Our approach corrects for the sample bias inherent in other private sources, producing results that are much closer to statistics published by the Census Bureau and HUD. Our methodology also allows us to construct a picture of rent growth over an extended period of time, with estimates that are updated each month.

Read more about our methodology here.

About Rent Reports:

Apartment List publishes monthly reports on rental trends for hundreds of cities across the U.S. We intend these reports to be a source of reliable information that help renters and policymakers make sound decisions, and we invest significant time and effort in gathering and analyzing rent data. Our work is covered regularly by journalists across the country.

We are continuously working to improve our methodology and data, with the goal of providing renters with the information that they need to make the best decisions.

San Diego Renter Confidence Survey
National study of renter confidence in the economy, homeownership, and cities
Here's how San Diego ranks on:
A- Overall satisfaction
B+ Safety and crime rate
C+ Jobs and career opportunities
B+ Recreational activities
D Affordability
B+ Quality of schools
A Weather
B+ Commute time
C State and local taxes
B+ Public transit
A- Pet-friendliness
Best Worst
Full data available when viewing on a non-mobile device.
Overview of Findings

Apartment List has released results for San Diego from the second annual Apartment List Renter Satisfaction Survey. The survey, which drew on responses from over 30,000 renters, provides insight into what states and cities must do to meet the needs of the 105 million American renters nationwide.

“San Diego renters are generally satisfied with their city overall” says Andrew Woo, Director of Data Science at Apartment List. “Most categories received average or above average ratings, with some exceptions.”

Key findings in San Diego include the following:

  • San Diego renters gave their city an A- overall in satisfaction.
  • The highest-rated categories for San Diego were weather (A), access to major roadways and freeways (A-), and pet friendliness of the city (A-).
  • Renters seem to be generally satisfied with things like safety (B+), quality of local schools (B+), and access to public transit (B+).
  • The biggest source for dissatisfaction here is affordability/cost of living (D). Local jobs and career opportunities are also causing some dissatisfaction, with a rating of C+.
  • Millennials seem to be slightly more satisfied with the city than renters who are parents, giving San Diego an A overall, compared to a B+ from renters who are parents.
  • San Diego is one of California’s top cities in terms of renter satisfaction. Also with an A- satisfaction rating is San Francisco, while other cities like Los Angeles (C), Sacramento (C), and San Jose (C-) seem to be less satisfactory for renters.
  • The top rated cities nationwide for renter satisfaction included Arlington, VA; Lincoln, NE; Pasadena, CA; Boston, MA; and Madison, WI. The lowest rated cities included Newark, NJ; Bronx, NY; Bridgeport, CT; Baltimore, MD; and Salinas, CA.

Renters say:

  • “San Diego has perfect weather. It is a young, modern, up-to-date city. The beaches are great. The suburbs are very nice, and any type housing can be had.” —Howard S.
  • “I love how there is so much to do here. You can never get bored! And there are so many types of bars, breweries, and restaurants, you could probably go to a new one that you have never ever been to before every night for the rest of your life. I also love the different vibes of each neighborhood. I just wish San Diego were prettier and had a prettier natural landscape surrounding/throughout it, but that is something that can't really be helped given the type of biome this city is situated in.” —Tiana M.
  • “I love the area. The cost of rent is very high.” —Suzanne L.
  • “San Diego is a city of neighborhoods with little public transit infrastructure. Though the weather is pretty nice, it is expensive to live here and hard to get around without a car. While the city in general is pet friendly, most apartments are not dog friendly or charge an arm and a leg for you to have one.” —Kathryn H.