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Buying vs. Renting a Home in San Diego

Are you asking yourself, “Should I buy or rent a home in San Diego?” If yes, let’s help you compare the pros and cons of Buying vs. Renting a Home in San Diego.

For most people in San Diego, the answer depends upon one’s financial condition, lifestyle, and goals. Each one contains different factors to consider.


  • Buying a home depends on your financial condition.

  • Your lifestyle is very important too.

  • Your long-term goals determine the type of home you want.

  • What is the current rental market in San Diego?

  • Learn the Pros and Cons of renting in San Diego.

  • Understand the Pros and Cons of buying a home in San Diego.

  • Should you Buy or Rent depends on what we show you here.

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What is Your Financial Condition?

In San Diego, the median home value in April 2022 was $900,000 up 20% over the past year. While the sold median home price was $911,000. Since homes vary in size, consider a $681 per square foot listing price.

What does it take to buy a $900,000 home in San Diego? If you don’t have all cash, you must secure a mortgage loan.

According to an online mortgage calculator from the San Diego County Credit Union (SDCCU) here is what you will pay for a conventional mortgage.

Based on a 20% down payment ($180,000) on a fixed 30-year mortgage at 5% interest for a $900,000 home you will pay $4,140 per month (including principal & interest, property tax, and insurance).

Based on your monthly income can you afford $4,140 per month with enough left to pay necessities and for emergencies?

Don’t Panic if it's too much. There are federal, California, and San Diego programs for lower mortgage rates and down payments. These include active military service members and veterans, first-time home buyers, and others who qualify.

What is Your Lifestyle?

Whether to buy or rent in San Diego depends on your lifestyle. Do you want total control over your home? Homeownership gives you that. Or, are you happy letting a landlord make all the maintenance and repairs in your home?

Do you want to deal with paying homeowner’s insurance, property taxes, and dealing with state and local officials?

Do you take pride in owning things? Or, are you content with leasing a car, home, and staying in a hotel in your favorite vacation spot?

What Are Your Goals?

How long do you plan to live in San Diego? If you aren’t sure or are applying for jobs in other cities then renting makes sense.

On the other hand, if you plan to live in San Diego for a long time, maybe buying is the way to go? If you are single and thinking of marrying a local and raising a family, buying is a better option.

Let’s explore the Pros and Cons of renting versus buying.

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Renting in San Diego

If you aren’t planning to live in San Diego forever or you can’t afford to buy a home, renting makes sense.

Pros of Renting

Less financial strain is important for renting. Avoid a large down payment and high monthly expenses by finding a reasonably priced apartment or house.

Lower upfront expenses by only making a returnable deposit with the first and last month’s rent.

Low-cost renter’s insurance to protect your personal property from damage or theft. It only costs between $15 to $20 per month in San Diego. Of course, if you don’t own expensively replaceable property, you can avoid paying renter’s insurance.

Fewer responsibilities for maintenance and repairs for the landlord’s property. Just call the landlord or property manager if something needs repair. Make sure your lease agreement doesn’t hold you responsible for items that break due to your improper care.

Lower monthly cost than buying. Compared with the average monthly cost to buy in San Diego for a conventional mortgage at $4,140, renting costs less. On May 20, 2022, the average rent in San Diego for a 1-bedroom apartment was $2,450. This was an increase of 29% over the past year.

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Cons of Renting

California laws allow landlords to increase rents every year based on 5 percentage points above the Consumer Price Index for each county. XXX Cite the law Thus, San Diego County landlords can increase rents by 9.1% from August 1, 2021, to July 31, 2022.

Yet, San Diego rents increased by 29% since May 2021 according to the Zumper San Diego Rental Report. Rents should continue to rise due to inflation and the normal cost of living index. Home prices should equally rise giving you more equity.

Leases expire forcing you to move if the landlord drastically increases the rent or doesn’t want to extend the lease. This forces you to move and find another rental.

Your application to rent may get rejected. Moving to another rental requires an application process. Maybe the new landlord won’t like your credit score or your past landlord gives you a bad reference? Something in your background check makes the new landlord weary. The application process may take too much time.

Lack of freedom when residing on another person’s property. Any changes like floor coverings, paint colors, and updating furniture or appliances require prior approval,

Pets may get rejected or require a deposit. If you get a pet after moving in, the landlord may need to approve it before your new furry friend can move in.

Money wasted on rent could go towards building equity in a new home. The $2,450 average monthly rent adds up to $29,400 per year.

Buying a Home in San Diego

If you can afford to buy a home in San Diego you will find many advantages.

Pros of Buying a San Diego Home

Equity grows. Buying your home means that every monthly payment gets you closer to complete ownership. Also, you can make upgrades to further increase your home’s value.

Less expensive neighborhoods in San Diego. Like most cities, there are very expensive neighborhoods and less expensive ones. Choose the one fitting your lifestyle and budget.

First-Time San Diego buyer’s programs are available to help you to fund a down payment or closing costs.

Tax deductions include mortgage interest, property tax payments, and other expenses along with capital gains deductions when the home is sold according to the Tax Policy Center.

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Cons of Buying a San Diego Home

High prices to buy a San Diego home as mentioned above like the $900,000 median home price as of May 2022. Some people can’t afford to buy even with the federal, state, and San Diego programs to reduce interest rates, down payments, and closing costs.

Property ownership costs include a mortgage, homeowners insurance, property tax, maintenance, and repairs.

Have More Questions About Buying a San Diego Home?

View our recent blog post answering common questions asked by San Diego buyers. Also, it explains our unique RealScout program that helps our buyers find their dream home faster. "House Hunting San Diego Questions 2022".

In addition, many buyers wonder about getting pre-approved for a mortgage. We answers all your questions in our blog post explaining: How To Get Pre-Approved For A Mortgage In San Diego.

Plus, another of our blog posts explains everything you need to know about how to save thousands of dollars with "San Diego First-Time Homebuyer Programs".

Learn about San Diego's 2022 real estate market in our blog post San Diego Home Prices.

Buying vs. Renting a Home in San Diego – Conclusion

The three most important factors for buying vs. renting a home in San Diego are:

  1. Financial condition (Can I afford to buy a home?);

  2. Lifestyle (Do I take pride in homeownership?); and

  3. Goals (How long will I live in San Diego?).

The advantages of renting include:

  • Lower monthly costs than buying;

  • Fewer responsibilities;

  • Lower upfront expenses;

  • Low-cost renter’s insurance; and

  • Less financial strain.

The disadvantages of renting include:

  • Rents will always increase;

  • Leases expire forcing you to move;

  • The next landlord may reject your application;

  • Lack of freedom;

  • Your pets may get rejected or cost more; and

  • Wasted rent payments with no equity.

The advantages of buying include:

  • Growing equity leads to profits when you sell;

  • Option to buy in less expensive neighborhoods;

  • Tax deductions; and

  • First-Time San Diego buyers’ programs and federal and state buyers’ programs.

The disadvantages of buying include:

  • High home prices in San Diego; and

  • Property ownership costs.

Thinking of Buying a Home in San Diego County?

Whether you are a first-time or experienced home buyer or switching from a renter to a homeowner, SoCal Lifestyle Realty can help you find your dream home.

What you learned from this blog post is that buying a home in San Diego allows you to build up valuable equity instead of throwing away rent money every month.

If you plan to live in your new home for at least 5 years, you can build up tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in net gain when you sell.

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Contact us now to see what homes are available in San Diego County that meets your financial condition, lifestyle, and goals.

Steven Rich, MBA – Guest Blogger


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