5 Things We Learned About the Cost of Living in San Diego

You probably know that San Diego is an expensive place to live. Rents across the region have increased almost 30 percent last year, and if you’re lucky enough to be able to afford a home, good luck getting one. The number of homes on the market has decreased by as much as 80 percent since 2018,according to some counts.

But this is not all. Utility costs, childcare, food and other basic necessities are all rising. Our team at Voice of San Diego dedicated this week explore how these specific burdens affect residents. We’ve heard from families across the county about the bills, and what it takes to survive here.

Here is what we learned.

Numbers Are Stacked Against San Diego

While San Diego home prices are among the three largest in the United States by most measures, median income is not. The median income for a home in San Diego $ 85,507 per year – is lower than many other metro areas.

We spoke with four people who agreed to break down their monthly family expensesto get a picture of how they are making it work.

“You have to roll with the punches,” said Christopher LeFall, a father of two children and a full-time student who lives in Chula Vista. “You have to put one foot in front of the next and just keep moving.”

In the family we talked to, they all told a similar story: Spending comfort in San Diego is becoming more and more a luxury that only the ultra-rich can afford.

Read more about the families we spoke to and see their budget breakdowns here.

Section 8 is not known as the ‘Golden Ticket’

Daniel Palmer, 61, a tenant at North Park Towers and his dog DJ in North Park on March 15, 2022. Palmer has a good Section 8 but has seen a 90 percent rent increase. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler for San Diego Voice

Lisa Halverstadt spoke with Daniel Palmer, a North Park resident who received a Section 8 voucher eight years ago after more than a decade of waiting. She moved from her car to a one-bedroom apartment, but now risks losing her home.

Palmer said: “I’m going homeless.

The 61-year-old has been told that his rent will increase by 90 percent – from $ 1,025 to $ 1,950 on April 1. The San Diego Housing Commission signed the rent increase following a formal request from its landlord. He is currently preparing for an eviction notice.

In his story, Halverstadt explains why a regional housing shortage that has resulted in such high rents and house prices has also spawned a high demand for rental assistance and affordable subsidized housing. Even San Diego residents who receive Section 8 assistance or live in affordable housing – two highly desirable resources sometimes considered golden tickets – will feel the pinch, he writes.

Read more about why housing subsidies can’t keep pace with high rents here.

Transportation costs are often overlooked

Housing and transportation costs go hand in hand. And together, writes Andrew Keatts, they make an already unaffordable housing situation worse.

This week Keatts documented the tough decision tens of thousands of San Diegan made to move out of the county and return to work. But the money spent on cars and driving is not always the biggest cost facing local housing cost savers.

The Lopez-Beltran family moved to Murrieta due to the high cost of living in San Diego. Dohney Castillo (far right) travels daily to work at the Republican Service in Chula Vista. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

“More than that, it’s my family,” said Dohney Castillo, a sanitation worker who travels from Murrieta to Chula Vista every day, missing out on time with his girlfriend, 4-month-old daughter and newlyweds high school. “It simply came to our notice then. I’m looking for something in the area. ”

According to researchers, typical homes in San Diego spend 57 percent of its income on housing and transportation alone – the fifth highest in any region of the country.

Read more about the statistics and transportation costs overlooked here.

We pay more for water even when we use less

Yes, you read that right. San Diegans is using less water, but our fees continue to increase.

This is because it requires a lot of infrastructure to get water from the Colorado River, and we pay for that infrastructure based on how much the region sells to San Diego.

Except, San Diegans is using less water than they used to. This means that the cost of maintaining infrastructure is rising, while the region’s revenue from selling water is declining.

MacKenzie Elmer explains it best a story about why costs went up and what some in the region think San Diego should do to alleviate the growing burden of water spending on local contributors.

Related: If you’re interested in learning more about utility costs, Elmer also broke every charge on your gas and electricity bills and explained why your bill is likely higher these days. Read that here.

Childcare is hard to come by

Finally, we looked at childcare availability in San Diego. For an infant and toddler, full-time care can cost an average of$ 16,000 and $ 20,000per year, but finding a place is not easy.

Scott Lewis found that San Diego alone had enough licensed care to serve about 40 percent of parents working before the pandemic. About 10 percent of these options have been closed since, and many more have yet to re-open.

Dan, husband Sophia Rodriguez, is playing with toy swords with their 4-year-old daughter while holding their 10-month-old son at home in Chula Vista, March 8, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler for Voice of San Diego.

Kim McDougal, executive director of the YMCA Childcare Resource Service, said: “We see a lot of fatigue for mothers, for families who are struggling with stress every day. “This type of chronic stress can lead to negative mental and emotional well-being. This type of stress can affect children throughout their lives.”

In all parts of San Diego’s cost of living crisis, accessibility, and affordability of childcare, seems like one of us might be easier to address, writes Lewis. But so far, political solutions have fallen short and some of them can make matters worse.

Read more about the state of child care in San Diego and the solutions proposed here .

  • “I don’t understand how utility for a condo could be $ 439. I charge an electric car and my biggest SDG&E bill was like $ 140, and water is like $ 120 every two months. ” – danhansmoleman
    • “It’s possible! My utility bill averages anywhere from $ 200-500 in a one-bedroom apartment. I’m disabled and my medical devices need a lot of extra energy. Unfortunately, $ 439 for a condo with two kids is not that absurd. These kinds of bills happen. ” – littlemopeep1
  • “I would like to read a story about the massive development of luxury apartments in Mission Valley and the opportunities wasted, given the first place, to make them at least partially affordable. Instead, they are mini-resorts with match prices. Whatever happened to regular garden-style apartments with a small pool and a gym? Basic housing, middle income. ” – Catherine MacRae Hockmuth

If you appreciate this report and want to show your support, consider giving todaywhile trying to raise $ 150,000 to continue public service journalism. Also, a reminder that we have a group of free text messages! Get texts directly from me and our reporters about their work by texting VOSD at (619) 762-2654 or register here.

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