A few years ago, my wife and I decided to quit our high school teaching jobs in Michigan and travel the country in an RV with our three children (at the time ages six, five, and two) and our niece. We were conducting running clinics in conjunction with Merrell while also promoting my two books, The Barefoot Running Book and Never Wipe Your Ass with a Squirrel. This'll give you an idea:
Anyway, our travels lasted about two years and covered approximately 50,000 miles. We visited forty-six states and spent significant time in about thirty. We got to see pretty much every major city and geographic region. After all of our travels, we were free to settle anywhere.
We chose San Diego.
Why? San Diego County was, without a doubt, the single best area we visited. We liked the area so much, we spent about a month here during the travels. Having lived here for three years, it's easy to see why this is such a desirable relocation destination. Here are some of the things that caused us to fall in love with the area.
- The beaches. Sand. Surf. Sun. Bikinis. 'Nuff said.
- The mountains. When we first moved here, we were still very active in the trail running scene, and San Diego has countless great trails covering all kinds of terrain. We could train for pretty much any kind of race without leaving the county, including moderate elevation between four and five thousand feet. Since we don't run as much, we still appreciate the sweet mountain views we have from our living room.
- Mexican food. We love food. We really love Mexican food. We've spent significant time in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona and can safely say San Diego's Mexican food blows the rest out of the water.
- Our gym. San Diego is known as a hotbed for mixed martial arts and Brazilian jiu jitsu. My wife and I train both at one of the oldest in the city - the San Diego Fight Club. It's a great way to stay in shape, build confidence, and let off some steam.
- The weather. Specifically, the sun. Back in Michigan, we had constant cloud cover from the Great Lakes (54% of days were mostly cloudy.) It sucked. Here in SD? We get FAR more sun (32% cloudy), especially away from the beach and the 'marine layer' (what the rest of the country calls 'fog.') And the temperature? At the beach, it's pretty much always between 65° and 75°. If you want moderate heat and more sun, go to the inland valleys. Want cold? Go to the mountains (it snows there!) Want extreme heat? Go to the desert east of the mountains.
- The diversity of people. Especially the hotties. Around half of San Diego's population came from outside California. It creates a TON of diversity, which gives the region a strong multicultural feel. And the hottie part? We have miles of world-class beaches, tons of outdoor exercise opportunities, and a huge military population. All that adds up to an exceptionally fit population, which makes trips to the beach even more enjoyable.
- Very few bugs. In Michigan, we had seasons such as 'black fly season', 'mosquito season', and 'deer fly season.' If you went outside and there wasn't snow on the ground, you could count on being inundated with some sort of flying pest. San Diego, given how little rain the area receives, has very few insects. This last year? I killed one house fly. All year. If you hate insects, you'll love San Diego.
- The casual dress and attitude. Flip-flops and board shorts every day? Yes please! This is a function of the general easy-going attitude that dominates the region. The pace of life in San Diego is a lot like Hawaii... it's exceedingly stress-free.
- Ample entertainment possibilities. We don't do a lot of traditional 'tourist' adventures, but San Diego has a wealth of activities. Sea World, Legoland, water parks, museums (including the USS Midway), piers, festivals, farmer's markets, strip clubs, wineries and breweries... you name it, San Diego has it.
- East County is a lot like the Midwest, but more laid back. So my wife and I both grew up in relatively rural areas with a strong small town feel. The East County area sandwiched between the inland valleys and the mountains has a distinct rural feel while still providing all the amenities of the urban lifestyle. Specifically, we get a lot pickup trucks, tattoos, and country music.
- Close to LA, but not too close. Before spending time in the area, I assumed Los Angeles and San Diego were basically the same city. Damn, was I wrong. Each city has its own unique vibe. LA is busier, has more traffic, and feels a lot more like urban sprawl. San Diego is more laid back, easier to navigate, and slightly more conservative. LA feels like Dallas, Houston, or Nashville; San Diego feels like Austin or Seattle.
There you have it. Eleven reasons why we decided to stick around San Diego when our travels came to an end.
San Diego peeps - why do YOU love San Diego? Leave a comment!