San Diego Vs. Miami: Which City Is Better To Live In?

Upgraded Home Team
by Upgraded Home Team

While both San Diego and Miami boast miles of coastline and beautiful weather, there are some stark differences between these two cities. Located on opposite ends of the country, Miami and San Diego have several differences that help designate one city superior to the other.

San Diego is a better city to live in because of the much higher quality of life and better earning potential. This city offers terrific schools, fantastic entertainment opportunities, and some of the most diverse cultures. Plus, compared to other major urban centers around the country, San Diego has about half the crime, making this the perfect location for a family.

Of course, not much can compare with the incredible Cuban cultural influence in Miami, making this town a different location all its own. If you are trying to determine which city is best for you and your family, try to reach out to the respective chamber of commerce for each town, to get a real feel and better understanding of the aspects that make each city so unique.

Which City Is Better: Miami or San Diego?

Deciding which city is better between Miami and San Diego is a difficult decision that requires several considerations. Our research wants to consider how the average person lives in a city and focus on how a normal person works, looks for entertainment, and feels safe within their surroundings. Our research looks at both measurable and intangible elements of each city.

Quality of Life

Determining the quality of life for an individual city looks at how an individual will live and move throughout the city. Often, these metrics are intangibles but just as important as measurable components. San Diego has a much higher quality of life compared to Miami.

Residents in San Diego will have more purchase power in this city, better healthcare, a better climate, and an easier commute. Some features in the quality of life between the two cities are the same, though. The cost of living is relatively close, and pollution is just about the same in the two cities.

Winner: San Diego

Cost of Living

Being able to afford the city you live in a massive decision-maker for many. In general, Miami will be about 23% less expensive compared to San Diego. A large portion of this expense is housing, which is about 49% cheaper in Miami. Further, food will be 22% less expensive, and utilities 7.1% less in Miami.

Not entirely more expensive, residents will be able to save some money on day-to-day costs in San Diego. Residents can expect to pay about 20% less on transportation and 11% less for healthcare.

Winner: Miami

Housing Costs

The most significant difference between these two cities is the cost of housing. Miami is 49% less expensive than San Diego for rent and the purchase price of a new home. Curious though, despite the lower housing costs, about 70% of the population rents in Miami. In San Diego, only about 53% rent, despite sky-high housing prices.

MiamiSan Diego
Median House Price$329,900$645,300
Average Rent 1 Bedroom$1,183$1,695

Winner: Miami

Job Market

Defining success for the job market is difficult when comparing two cities. While Miami has a much higher unemployment rate, it also has more significant projected job growth in the next ten years. However, Miami also has a lower income median, which would indicate that San Diego may have a better job market.

In Miami, primary industries include aviation, banking, and tourism, with Royal Caribbean being one of the biggest employers in the city. San Diego has strong defense research, manufacturing, and trade industries. Sanyo, Sony, and Cubic Corporation are all based out of San Diego.

MiamiSan Diego
Projected 10-Year Growth42.7%34.9%
Median Household Income$39,049$79,673
Median Personal Income$28,804$41,112

Winner: San Diego


Heavily influenced by the incredible diversity, San Diego has a beautiful blend of cultures. The culture is strongly influenced by a fusion of American Indian and Mexican culture. There is a robust outdoor vibe that is relaxed and content to enjoy nature simply. The strong military presence throughout this city is also felt through the culture and feel to the town.

If there is one word to describe Miami culture, it is Cuban. This town has 35% Cuban origins and infuses Cuban art, music, and food into every aspect of Miami life. The city is relaxed and casual during the day but lively and entertaining at night.

Winner: Miami


Nature lovers will surely take advantage of the beautiful weather in San Diego, enjoying as much time spent outside as possible. This city has endless parks and nature centers which allows people to enjoy the great outdoors. Plus, there are many museums, botanical gardens, and famous beaches to visit like La Jolla Beach. San Diego is also home to the famous San Diego Zoo and is close to Legoland. History buffs will enjoy visiting the USS Midway Museum as well.

Miami lives and breathes outdoor life with its endless, famous beaches. There is also a lively nightlife scene, plenty of shopping, and fantastic cuisine to sample from countless bars and restaurants throughout the city. Animal lovers will enjoy a visit to the Miami Zoo.

Winner: San Diego


Although 80% of the residents in San Diego rely on a personal car for transportation, there are plenty of public transport options. There is an Amtrak station that services the city and a trolley and limited light rail system that reaches most of the top locations throughout the city. There is also a great highway system that connects San Diego to other large and popular cities throughout California.

Miami far outperforms San Diego when it comes to transportation. About 72% of the community will rely on personal vehicles for transport, while the remaining 28% use public transport options. This city is laid out in an easy grid that is simple to follow and has several rail options that connect the city to the international airport and the residential areas.

Winner: Miami


San Diego is a diverse and exciting city with a range of demographics. Most of the people living in this city, about 20%, are between 25 and 34. This city is a highly educated area with 19% of the residents possessing a Master’s degree, 27% a Bachelor’s degree, and 27% an Associate’s degree. In this city, 45% of the population self-identifies as White, 6.7% Black, 29% Hispanic, and 16% Asian, making this a very diverse city.

Comparatively, Miami’s average age is more spread out, with 30% of the population over retirement age. This city is also highly educated, with 12% owning a Master’s degree and 18% having a Bachelor’s degree. This city has a population that is 60% Hispanic, 12% White, 19% Black, and 1% Asian.

Winner: San Diego


The very best of the best public and private schools are found in San Diego, with student test scores outperforming the rest of the country. Both public and private schools offer loads of opportunities academically and athletically for students. San Diego is also home to many top universities and colleges, including the University of San Diego, the University of California, and San Diego City College.

Still incredibly competitive, Miami has some amazing schools at the public level. There are several private school options available, but test scores prove public schools are a better route for students. There are many colleges and universities in Miami, including the University of Miami, Miami Dade College, and Florida International University.

Winner: San Diego


Is it even really possible to compare the weather in these two amazingly warm and temperate cities? San Diego has some of the best weather around, with summers reaching the mid-70s and winters staying in the high 60s. There is barely any rain or humidity, and the weather stays beautiful for most of the year.

Miami also has some fantastic weather for residents to enjoy. Summers usually hit the high 80s, while winters are never below 70 degrees F. Unfortunately, Miami is home to some powerful storms and can be prone to hurricanes. Not only can this make living conditions difficult and dangerous, but it can increase the price of insurance for your home and property.

Winner: San Diego

Crime Rates

For a major city, San Diego is incredibly safe. Looking at violent crime statistics, this city routinely falls well below the average number of murders, assaults, and rapes in the country. Not surprisingly, property theft and burglary are also well below the national averages and are only about 50% of what the rest of the country experiences.

Unfortunately, the same is not valid for Miami. This town has significantly higher violent crime rates that are nearly double the national average. Both assault and murder statistics are painfully high, yet rape is slightly below the national average. Property crimes luckily are on par with the average number of criminal cases in the United States.

Winner: San Diego

Related Questions

How high are HOAs in Miami?

Because there are so many condos in Miami, many locations charge a Homeowners Association Fee. These prices range from $0.57 per square foot to $0.97 per square foot. Although these fees certainly include valuable assets like access to a gym, pool, or the opportunity to live a maintenance-free life, they can be an added expense to your housing costs. The average HOA fee in Miami is about $415 per month.

Is $150,000 per year a good salary in San Diego?

Determining if your salary is “good” in San Diego really comes down to what is important to you and your family and how you will spend your money. Keep in mind that housing is extremely expensive in this part of the country, and living in a desirable neighborhood will take up a large portion of your income. A house in a nice neighborhood will average $700,000 and will be in a very competitive market.


Choosing just one city between these two beautiful locations is difficult, but the winner in this city-to-city battle in San Diego. Not only is this a wonderful city to live in because of the endless job opportunities, amazing school system, and low crime rate, but the city offers something for everyone to enjoy. As a bonus, the infused culture, diverse demographic makeup, and high quality of life make this an enjoyable and entertaining city to call home.

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