Oh the great Southern California debate! No, we’re not talking about which taco shop is best, we’re talking about whether it’s better to live in San Diego or Los Angeles! Specifically, we’re talking about the differences in the cost of living in these two cities, which is an important consideration if you’re deciding which city to call home in Southern California.


Let’s start with some population stats. The City of San Diego is home to about 1.4 million people and the entire county of San Diego has around 3.38 million people. The City of Los Angeles has 3.9 million residents and the county of L.A. has 10 million people, making Los Angeles about three times as big as San Diego! (Keep this in mind as we go through each factor that differentiates these two cities!)

Cost of Living

Los Angeles is about 8.2% more expensive overall than San Diego. The median home price in Los Angeles is 6.8% higher than it is in San Diego. This may not sound like a huge difference, but it can certainly add up in the long run! If we take a look at housing rental prices, San Diego averages $2,393 per month for a 2-bedroom apartment vs. $2,820 for a comparable unit in Los Angeles. Sales tax is also a little higher In Los Angeles, especially in certain areas of the city, while property taxes are about the same.


The average cost for childcare in San Diego is slightly higher than its northern neighbor. The average cost in San Diego comes to $1,119 per month vs. $1,064 per month in Los Angeles. These prices can vary depending on the neighborhood and what kind of childcare option you choose.


Keep in mind that both cities are very car-centric, so gas prices are something to keep in mind while budgeting. Although gas prices change from week to week, the average gas price in San Diego is $3.53 a gallon and Los Angeles’ average price is $3.64 a gallon.

Internet Prices

We all need WiFi! The average internet price in San Diego is $58 a month, and L.A. is slightly higher at $63 a month.


If you’re a moviegoer like me, you’ll appreciate this stat! In San Diego County, movie tickets cost on average $14.12 per ticket and in Los Angeles County prices average $ 16.10 a ticket. Again, this can vary depending on what theatre you choose or the time of day. But you could save about $2 a movie in San Diego!

Job Market

The job market is another important topic to cover. The average salary in San Diego County is $83,000 a year and Los Angeles’ average salary is $70,000. Obviously a lot depends on your profession and industry, but living in San Diego means you could actually be taking home more money than if you lived in Los Angeles.

Generational Stats

This one came as a bit of a surprise to me! San Diego is ranked #3 in the United States for the size of its millennial population; that’s 27% of our overall population in San Diego County! Though Los Angeles is not far behind us, with 25% of their population being Millennials.

Entertainment Industry

If you’re looking to work in the entertainment industry, Los Angeles is the obvious winner! In fact, Los Angeles is ranked the #1 entertainment location in the United States. San Diego, not so much.

Commute Time

Traffic is a hot topic here in Southern California! The average commute time in San Diego County is 22 minutes while Los Angeles has an average commute time of 29 minutes. I thought this gap would be larger, but take it from me- Los Angeles definitely has the worst traffic by far!

Walk Score

Another surprise is that the walk score in Los Angeles is actually higher than in San Diego! San Diego scored a 53 and Los Angeles scored a 68. Walk scores are based out of 100. These numbers of course depend on the neighborhood you live in, but both cities are trying to improve their walkability and public transportation to cut down on those long traffic commute times!

Have you lived in both Los Angeles and San Diego like me? Leave me a comment below and let me know which city you prefer and if any of these stats surprised you!

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