Pros and cons of retiring early in San Diego
It's that time of the year (finally!), I'm on vacation...at a beach. San Diego's Mission Beach has to be one of the most beautiful beaches on the western US coast. Joining me this year is my 3 year old toddler who loves the sand and splashing in the water. As usual, I like to imagine what it would be like to live here permanently if we retired early.
- Internation airport with direct flights from London to Shanghai. Being near an international airport is important for us because we like to travel and we value our time. Having a layover often adds half a day to a day to a travel plan and that's a day we could be spending enjoying our time at a new location.
- Great weather all year round. San Diego coastal temperatures range between 65F - 80F year round and gets very little rain fall, which means we can be outside on the beach, visiting a zoo with my kid or just taking a walk in my neighborhood all year round.
- Mission Beach - One of the best beaches in the United States, and probably the best beach on the West Coast near a major city.
Everything is 20-30min drive away. Unlike the neighboring city of Los Angeles, San Diego is less of a sprawling city yet it has great roads and highway to help you get to different parts of the city faster. Within 20min, I can drive from the Gas Lamp district to Boboa park or Mission Beach. Want chinese food, I can drive 25min to
- California - state funded health insurance for older retirees. Health care becomes one of the biggest expenses as you get older, so I'm glad the state is providing this as a benefit for a large portion of its citizens. Hard to say whether this would be underwater by the time we retire, so we can't really count on this being a pro.
- More child friendly compared to San Francisco - the zoo is huge, and there's not 1 but TWO of them! You have Dreamworld in your backyard and Disney Land is only 2 hours drive away. Plus, lots of playgrounds and other families. Unless you live in the western neighborhood in San Francisco, you will hardly find any families or children.
- California taxes - california taxes all capital gains as ordinary income, which means you get none of the tax advantages of living off of selling stocks for long term capital gains like you do at the federal level. California is one of the few states that does this, making it the highest tax state in the US.
- California problems - growing homeless population, underfunded public schools and overregulated economy. San Diego tends to be a little better run than LA and SF, but many of the problems still exist.
- Expensive - while home prices are lower compared to San Francisco, desirable real estate is still very expensive. Homes on Mission Beach sell for well over $1000/sqft, and 2000/sqft for ocean front!
There's a lot that I like about San Diego, with everyone working remote, I would series consider moving here in the near future if I didn't already purchase a home in San Francisco...maybe in a more distance future. According to my Airbnb host, COVID19 has actually helped business, the first 3 months were rough, but as of October 2020 he has more than made up for it for the year. When you can work from anywhere, you'll want to optimize for quality of life, and San Diego's mission beach is clearly one of few winners while the rest of the country is suffering from the economic consequences of the pandemic and lock downs. Prices in desirable areas have shot up! I would wait for more people to return to the office as we get the pandemic undercontrol to get better deals.