How to Find An Apartment in San Diego: 4 Apartment Hunting tips

With a new school year and the end of summer right around the corner, it’s peak moving season and San Diego apartments are going quick. Rent and housing prices have been steadily rising since last year, with an influx of people moving to San Diego searching for outdoor activities, endless sunny days and that laidback SoCal lifestyle.

Apartment hunting tips in San Diego - Infographic
With so much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 lockdowns, fewer and fewer people are moving out of their current apartments. As a result, inventory is extremely low. And the real estate market is hot. There are currently more buyers than homes for sale in the San Diego housing market, and median home sales prices are increasing steadily with the number of buyers. All that overflow of unsuccessful buyers ends up flooding the rental market even more.

All that being said, finding an apartment in San Diego is a little bit tougher than usual right now. Your price range might be a little bit too low, or your desired location might not have anything on the market. But don’t let yourself get discouraged when you don’t find the perfect house on Zillow. Instead, take a look at our five tips on how to find an apartment and make the process fun again.

Downtown San Diego skyline

Consider your timeline

The circumstances of your move can affect your timeline, rental prices, and application deadlines if you don’t do the proper planning. When you start your search, determine whether or not you have a definitive move-by date. Is your current lease ending? Are you planning on returning to school or starting a new job? Your answers to these questions will determine what type of apartments you should be looking for. As a rule of thumb, most landlords won’t hold a property for more than two weeks, so you may have to wait to find your dream pad at the last minute, or pay on both apartments for a bit of time.


Short Move-In Timelines

If you need to move somewhere fast, look at home rentals on an apartment database site like Home or single-family apartment owners are more likely to take applicants looking for immediate move-in. When reaching out to advertisements for immediate move-in, you’ll probably be facing some competition, so be quick to apply as soon as possible.


Long Move-In Timelines

If you have a little bit more time to plan things out or you’re waiting for a current lease to end, we suggest looking at larger apartment complexes. Property management companies can plan their move-ins and move-outs two to three months in advance, so you can plan ahead with a bit more ease by working with one.

Tip: A huge perk of larger, luxury apartment complexes like Ariel, is that they tend to have more available inventory. They can usually work with either a long or short timeline depending on your needs.

Couple packing up boxes to move


Choose a few different location options

San Diego is home to a variety of different neighborhoods and boroughs that each have a unique personality. In Pacific Beach, you’ll find surfers, college students, and recent post-grads; in La Jolla, you’ll find families and a more relaxed suburban feel. Wondering what to expect from a Downtown San Diego apartment? Take a trip to the area and get a feel for what’s around you. In downtown, you’ll have walking access to the best restaurants, bars, clubs, marinas, and waterfront areas in the county. Plus, it’s centrally located to many other neighborhoods in the city.

Our suggestion is to choose a few options when it comes to location. Don’t get your heart set on an area like Mission Hills at a low budget because you might not end up there. Get to know the neighborhood you see yourself in and choose some backup options.

Pacific Beach neighborhood of San Diego


Do some budgeting

Determine how much you’re able to spend before getting too far ahead of yourself. The 2020 median rental price for San Diego reached $2,700/month and has continued to rise ever since. Rental prices will be higher at the end of summer due to the peak moving season, so if you can wait a month or two for prices to drop back down, it might be worth your while.

Give yourself a strict cut-off for rental prices, and don’t forget to factor in your utility costs. Repeat charges like SDGE, Wifi, and water can end up pushing you past your monthly limit! You’ll also want to budget for furniture and other move-in purchases like a security deposit in the first month. On that note – don’t forget to run through an inspection checklist for moving in!

Couple budgeting our their expenses

Consider amenities

What do you want to have at your new apartment? Start to think about amenities you want to see and use regularly. Moving into a place with a gym or pool can end up saving you money on memberships in the future. Other considerations are security, pet allowances, storage, bike locks, electric car chargers, parking and more. Figure out what your requirements are as you tour new apartment complexes.

apartment complex pool and gym

Searching for great apartments for rent in San Diego? Look no further than Ariel Apartments. We offer amenities and budgeting options to our tenants and do what we can to make the moving and living process as fun as possible. Schedule a tour today and create your new home at Ariel.