How To: Move to San Diego

How To Move To San Diego

This is a post inspired by pure frustration.

I write it because there are at least a dozen in my immediate circle who’ve wanted to make a transition out of their present situation but have fallen victim to the path of least resistance.  I’ve also learned that for every problem I know of first hand, there are thousands who share the same troubles.  If I can reroute the routine of at least one person hesitant to change, my time has been well spent.

But first, let me clarify a couple things:

  1. I don’t write this post out of any sense of personal superiority.  This isn’t about me.  This is about situations.  One situation is living life as a victim, constantly fearing what could possibly going wrong, and drowning in regret.  The other situation is taking chances, allowing yourself the opportunity to fail, setting and striving for goals, and turning the less than ideal scenarios into learning situations.  I’ve lived on both sides.  I know first hand that the latter is superior.
  2. Although I use San Diego as the subject of this post, I’m not trying to say that it’s objectively better either.  I know plenty of people who would truthfully not enjoy it here (see: Gingers) (yes, that’s coming from a semi-ginger).  I genuinely get bummed out if I go long periods without the sun, am exposed to temperatures below 20 F, or have to spend my weekends inside because a monsoon won’t let me play basketball.  But, that’s just me.

Enough beating around the bush…I now present to you the Good Badger guide of

How To Move to San Diego

If while reading this, you hesitate and wonder, “wait, is he talking about me?”, the answer is yes.  This is about you.

The bad news is I’m calling you out.  I’m getting on your case.  I’m done taking your crap.

The good news is I want to help.  Making you happy makes me happy.  You complete me.  You had me at hello.  (Jerry McGuire was on TBS last night)

But certainly a project as large as moving out to a vacation city like San Diego couldn’t be broken down into concrete steps meant for the masses.  Actually, it can.

1. Set a Goal

Sorry to get so Tony Robbins (aka the multi-millionare motivational speaker who resides in San Diego) on you, but the importance of goal setting can’t be overstated.  You need to both write your goal down on paper (or blog) and tell as many people as you can.  Make your goal a throbbing sense of pride for you.  Don’t worry about how you’ll be perceived by others.  Those who matter will support you and those who don’t envy your ambition.

Make sure that when setting your goal, you are both very clear in what it is that you want (i.e. “move to San Diego” versus “get out of current town X”) and you give yourself a realistic time frame for when it needs to be accomplished.  I’m convinced there is some sort of supernatural force that helps create a desired reality if you’re serious enough about setting goals and assigning them deadlines.

2. Stop Making Excuses

I know all of the reasons you can’t move to San Diego.  You don’t have a job lined up.  You have no idea what you’ll do for a living situation.  You haven’t saved enough money.  You want to pay off your debt before moving.  You [insert generic problem] + [implied sense of self-defeat].

This past weekend Alex Montoya, a good friend of mine and fellow employee of the San Diego Padres, ran his first marathon.  True he was only one segment of a relay team who completed the race.  That’s one aspect he had going in his favor.  But there were a couple aspects working against him.  Actually, to be precise there were 3 things working against him.  Limbs.  Born a triple amputee out of Columbia, South America, Alex can now add a marathon to his long list of accomplishments.  This list also includes, graduating with a full scholarship from Notre Dame, carrying the Olympic torch, working his dream job as the head of Latino marketing for his favorite baseball team, and being a published author amongst many other things (I left off the ability to memorize every phone number ever created).

Sorry, what was your reason for not being able to move to a new city again…..?

Instead of making excuses, allocate that energy to finding answers.

3.  Utilize Your Resources

One reason making a big life transition seems so daunting is because a lot of people fall under the false assumption that they have to do everything themselves.  Don’t let your pride impede your dreams.

I was lucky enough to have a job lined up prior to moving into paradise, but to take full credit for the position would be somewhere between ignorance and delusion.  While at the University of Wisconsin there were two things I was felt strongly about: 1) I needed to be in San Diego and 2) I wanted to be in sports.  The first was a necessity, therefore it was going to happen regardless.  The second was a hope.  Although I’m a passionate sports maniac, I wasn’t going to let it get in the way of my escaping Ice Hell.

But I figured, as long as society was going to force me to get a job, I might as well find one that I actually enjoy.  Although UW didn’t offer any sports specific degrees, there were still plenty of valuable resources freely available to me.  I joined a Sports Business Club, attended one of their seminars, introduced myself to the presenter (the general manager on behalf of the presenting company), and got an internship with said company.  Once on the job, I was repeatedly audible (some may say “annoying”) about the fact that I wanted to be in San Diego.  Turns out that my boss used to work with one of the higher-ups for the Padres.

Here I am.

The point is, without the sports business club, or its seminar, or the presenter who made himself available to questions afterward, or the internship which was benevolent enough to help set up an interview, I would still be fighting upstream to get a job as awesome as working inside of a baseball stadium.  I didn’t get the job because I was the best at what I do (whatever it is that I do), I got the job because I was good at using my resources.

Find your resources.  Use them.

4.  Be Flexible

I don’t mean in terms of staying the course with your goal.  Stay strong to your vision.

However, you do need to stay flexible in your approach.

Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing and expecting different results. If you had a nickle for every time you’ve heard that cliche (not an actual definition) you’d have enough money to fund the first few months in your new vacation homeland.  As much as I hate cliches, this one is worth its weight in gold (bonus irony points).

If money is a problem, maybe your routine of unsatisfying work and stress blowing sessions at the bar on the weekend is stunting your progress?  If needing a job secured before moving (which I don’t believe) is what you’re holding out for, perhaps isn’t going to be your get out of jail free card.  If wanting to see how your dying relationship with your significant other plays out, maybe rehashing the same arguments and following the same procedures isn’t going to get you to a more solid ground?

Serious change in your life can’t occur until you start implementing change in the more common situations.  If your weeks start to blend together, clearly you’re following the same routines.  Take a second to see where this routine train is headed, and ask yourself, do you like the destination?  If you don’t, pull a Christian Slater and blow that train up.

5.  Soak in Accomplishment

If you really follow through with the previous four steps, #5 is an inevitability.  Don’t let set-backs derail you (I love train metaphors).  Take a second to consider the alternative of not following through with your dream and find what will motivate you to move in that direction.

————–end oversimplified breakdown——————–

The above serves more as a rough blue print for accomplishment than a road map to the Pacific.  You probably have no interest in to moving to San Diego.  That wasn’t the goal of this post (it’s actually an upcoming post).

However, in the off chance you’re reading this, and a change of pace is something you’ve been desiring, please stop punishing yourself.  You only live once.  Come learn what it feels like to say “70 degrees”, “outside”, and “December” in the same sentence.

  • i 2nd this whole thing…

  • jim

    I thought setbacks were a real estate metaphor.

    How very, very wise

  • Reading your blog and your sage advice I thought, “Don’t change a single thing.”

  • Zach, good words indeed. But a serious question (I know the Good Badger isn’t exactly the forum for those), what kind of savings should someone expect to have before taking the calculated risk to move to San Diego? How does cost of living compare to say…Chicago?

  • zachrd99


    A very good question – one in which I intend to touch upon on an upcoming post – but I’m quite confident no one reads the comments so I’ll try and answer as concisely as possible.

    I don’t think there’s a correct dollar amount to save up prior to moving to a place like San Diego. It varies from person to person. Some may feel the need to hold out for a “career” while others are satisfied with a “job”. Obviously the latter is going to be much easier to find and with adequate persistence, can happen in little to no time. Also, it depends on how willing the person is to ask for favors. Some would feel the need to stay in a double tree while others are perfectly okay asking to sleep on a friend’s futon. I think if it were the right circumstance, someone could move out here with as little as 1G and be on their feet in no time. For the type who’s going to be holding out for their ideal job, it’s probably not going to happen right away unless they pull all of the right strings. For that person, a few extra Gs is probably a good idea.

    As for cost of living, gas, food, booze, and rent, are all objectively more expensive out here. There are parts of SD where living is cheaper than Chicago, but you don’t move to San Diego to live in the those parts of the city. With that said, someone who’s spent their days in Madison and Chicago likely isn’t going to have their foundation rocked that hard. It’s more, but not outrageously more.

    Additionally, there are factors that are overlooked when evaluating “the cost of living”. Inside of the that cost, is the cost of happiness, which can be measured in what you do with your free time to remain happy. In the midwest, when the weather is bad (see: most of the time) you’re forced to spend money to achieve enjoyment (go to bars, movies, always eating out, etc). Out here, almost any day of the year, you can pick up your shit and go run through a national park, play catch at the beach, or just aimlessly wander (a favorite hobby of mine). Also, there is little to no need to ever pay for heating or AC. My utility bill is a joke. I could go on (only shopping for 1.5 seasons, reduced need for vacations, etc) but like I said, upcoming post.

    If you’re thinking about making the move, pad your bank account a bit, live frugally, and make the transition.

  • I need to move to San Diego, but I’m so awesome that I’m not sure if it could handle me. How about that for a Reason #2 excuse?

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  • Clive

    Great article as FDR said “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”

  • yeah

    this was pretty annoying to read. Very little practical information with a lot of try-hard verbosity.

  • Marie

    Hi Zach. Thank you for the post above. Every time I want to give up the idea of moving, I read your 5 steps to keep me motivated. I am trying to figure out how much do I need to save to survive in SD while I’m looking for a job over there. Transportation is another thing I need to consider since I will not have a car and will need to take transit to commute. In your 2010 post, you suggested 1G. Has the $ changed much since 2010?

  • Terri

    Thank you very much, this was informative, factual, and inspiring:)

  • Alice Marie Davis

    This was a great article. I have been wanting to move back to San Diego, and ran across your blog. Love it. Can’t wait to make it back to beautiful sunny and 75.

  • mellow2017

    Thank you so much Good Badger your letter made my day. I actually started a vision board a few days ago and San Diego is my retirement place. I have been thinking about retirement for a few years and just couldn’t decide where I wanted to retire to and suddenly I ran across an article about the 10 top places in America to retire in…damn that’s my spot. I will retire in 2017 and that is my vision. I am an art therapist in Detroit Michigan. The winters here are hard and cold..I don’t know how many more winters I can take. I love the sun and the beach…San Diego has both. I am also a hugh bike rider..ride about 11 to 12 miles a day…when I can. We had a limited summer and the winter looks like it is going to be hell. So once again thank you for your words of wisdom. I look forward to keeping in touch with you and the other a big thank you

  • Janika

    Can I just say that this article is everything. Thank you so much for making me sleep at night again! My weeks have definitely “blended” here in Maryland, but for the longest time, I have just managed to come up with every excuse possible not to make the move. A few months ago, I set my January 2015 deadline, and was there last week to look at apartments and fell in love with little Italy and east village. Long story short, I closed my eyes and signed a lease and will be officially in San Diego on my birthday in January! Though I have some savings, I do not have a job lined up which is what’s causing most of my anxiety. Reading your articles just justifies that I made a good decision and that everything will be ok. I believe that my happiness in an awesome city far outweighs the reasons why I shouldn’t move. My family is the type who takes awhile to commit because they feel the need for extensive research and preparation for anything (this includes everything from buying a pair of shoes to picking out a restaurant)– I have always been the one to just take things as it is, but sometimes, my family’s genes come out once in awhile! I start thinking of the things that could go wrong, but I just have to stick to the goal, right? I am currently in healthcare and wish to continue that over there, but I am also not above taking any “job” and living below my means of that’s what it takes to make it work. I am sticking on to that cliche saying that if there is a will, there is a way. It’s now or never. It might not be easy, but it will be worth it. It’s just money, it comes and goes. Better the money than the opportunity.

    Also, any tips on how to spend my first week there would be greatly appreciated! (Setting up my place, the beach and looking for a job are definitely a given)

    Thanks again!

  • Janice

    I am planning on moving in March 2015. Keep me posted. I am doing the same exact thing. Moving with no job in hopes of a miracle.

  • jky14

    So glad I read this…I think its perfect. I’m on the right track =]

  • WillEz

    Great article, thanks! Planning on moving to SD in October!!

  • Paulina

    I am moving to SD in Jan as well from Kansas. I am currently looking for a job since I am a single mother. I know the odds are against me but I need change. I feel that if it scared me then more reason I need to do it. I hope your journey is amazing. Keep us all posted on your transition.

  • Ӏ’ⅿ а bеаսtіfսⅼ ցіrⅼ ԝhο ԝаոոа bе уοսr ⅼоⅴеr аոⅾ frіеոⅾ! You will fi︆nd me here

  • Chanel