San Diego is revered for its relaxed lifestyle, excellent Mexican food and mostly sunny skies. If you're moving here and ready to start checking out apartments in San Diego, here are some tips to start you on your path to the SoCal lifestyle:

The basics
The current rental market in San Diego is more of a landlords' market – the vacancy rate is about 3 percent, the sixth lowest in the country for major cities. The average one-bedroom rental rate is around $1200 per month while the average two-bedroom rate is about $1,450 per month. Of course, like any city, this varies from one neighborhood to the next. There's no "off season" for moving in San Diego, so the rental rates don't generally fluctuate based on time of year.

San Diego has public transportation, including buses, trolleys and regional trains. If you live downtown, you can get by with public transit; otherwise, it's best to have your own car.

The neighborhoods

  • Downtown Centre City: Like most cities, the downtown area is one of the most expensive and also most popular areas. You'll have to pay a premium to live in Gaslamp Quarter, which has a rich history that's evident in its architecture. In the 1800s, it was the red light district. Today, it's home to trendy restaurants and bars. A slightly less expensive option is East Village, just east of Gaslamp Quarter. This former warehouse district used to be a bit seedy, but it's the newest trendy place – home to PETCO Park, several art galleries and high-end restaurants.
  • North San Diego: There's a lot of variability in rental prices in North San Diego. Torrey Pines is an upscale area located near a golf course and a scenic nature preserve. It's mostly inhabited by families as the rental prices average over $2,000 per month – prohibitive for many young adults. Kearny Mesa is a much less expensive option, though it's pretty far from good public transit options. However, it's a vibrant area with a mix of cultures, and you'll find excellent food choices here.
  • The Peninsula: Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach and Point Loma are the three neighborhoods on the Peninsula, a popular spot for surfing, sunbathing and touristing. Prices vary widely here, depending on proximity to the beach and amenities, but you're highly unlikely to find a decent one-bedroom apartment for under $1,400 here.
  • Northeast San Diego: North Park is an edgy, artist neighborhood that is a favorite of those with hipster inclinations. It hosts the San Diego Indie Fest every year and monthly art walks. You'll find fabulous coffee shops, taco stands and much diversity in this neighborhood. The best part? Prices are fairly low here! Hillcrest is another nice northeastern neighborhood, known for its gay community, diverse cuisine and welcoming attitude. It hosts San Diego's annual Gay Pride Festival each year.

The scoop
If you're bringing a car, you should know that it's important to register your vehicle in California. Additionally, be aware of the parking restrictions around your area. San Diego really likes keeping the streets clean, and you'll pay a fine of $160 if you leave your car there on street cleaning days.