What to Expect When You PCS to San Diego

Mon, Jun 01, 2015 @ 08:06 AM Karina Gafford Military Life, PCS Moves


Located just north of the Mexican border in California sits the sunny city of San Diego, a dream PCS destination for many military families. San Diego is home to a number of military bases, which you can see from our list below:

Despite over 9,000 homes available throughout 48 privatized military neighborhoods in the San Diego area, the demand for military rentals and homes for sale remains large, particularly as the warm and welcoming city attracts so many military families back after the end of their military career. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why San Diego holds such great appeal for military families.

Commute and Housing

Organized as a city of villages, San Diego offers a wide variety of housing options, but you may want to expect a commute to work. According to the 2013 American Community Survey, the average commute in the U.S. is 26 minutes each way for full-time workers; San Diego is not far behind with an average commute of almost 25 minutes. If you’ve lived in other big cities where public transportation has helped you live further from work to save money, know that this isn’t one of those cities. The primary mode of transportation is by car, less than one percent commute by bike, and just over 10 percent commute by bus. Trains aren’t an option, and given that the average commute by bus is 125 minutes (eek!) to include walking to the bus, waiting for the bus, and the bus ride itself, I’d say that the bus isn’t a good option for most military families either.

san_diego_homesPhoto credit © welcomia.com / Dollar Photo Club


San Diego houses are a little pricey. The average family spends over 35 percent of their income on their mortgage, and though military families calculate housing expenses differently than civilian families, this is a figure to keep in mind if you’re planning to rent or sell after you PCS away. As for rental prices, an average price for a three bedroom apartment outside of the city center is approximately $2,300 while it costs approximately $195 per square foot to buy a similar apartment. To get a better idea of how much you can expect to spend on housing in San Diego, here are a sampling of BAH rates for 2015:

  • E-5 with Dependents: $2,325
  • E-8 with Dependents: $2,568
  • O-3 with Dependents: $2,610
  • O-6 with Dependents: $3,174


Thousands of businesses and tens of thousands of jobs in the city are directly related to the defense industry. Home to much of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, San Diego is also headquarters to a large number of defense contractor companies. As with Orlando, though, it seems that the defense industry has taken up residence in a tourist-haven, as cruise ships and the city’s many attractions entice tens of millions of tourists each year. The unemployment rate in San Diego currently sits at 5.1 percent, which is lower than the unemployment rate throughout the U.S, making this a better than average location for military spouses to find employment.

Things to Do!

Though known for its great coastline, the coast isn’t the only great geographical attraction in San Diego. One of the predominant features of the San Diego landscape is its hills, which make for great hiking.


Photo credit ©samantonio / Dollar Photo Club 

San Diego also has one of the best park systems in the U.S., making it an attractive place for military families who love the outdoors. If you’re looking for activities in the San Diego area, MilitaryByOwner keeps military families informed of events and activities that relate to them through the San Diego Facebook page.

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