Serving Southern California & Beyond

Serving Southern California & Beyond

Chip Martin
Chip Martin

Irvine vs San Diego 🆚 | Pros & Cons of Living in San Diego Versus Irvine CA

Are you thinking about moving to Irvine or moving to San Diego but aren’t sure which city is a better fit for you? Both Irvine and San Diego have their positives and negatives, but either one is a great choice.

Irvine is a city in Orange County, California, and is a part of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Irvine is known for its low crime rate, wonderful schools, and beautiful nature. San Diego is located on the coast of Southern California and is the county seat of San Diego County. This popular city is known for its gorgeous beaches, family attractions, and diverse neighborhoods. If you are ready to call one of these cities home, then check out this comparison of San Diego vs. Irvine.

Irvine to San Diego Distance

It is 85.1 miles from Irvine, CA to San Diego, CA. This is about a 1 hour and 14-minute drive.

Pros & Cons of Living in San Diego vs. Irvine

Before choosing which city to call home, you should consider the advantages and drawbacks of each area. Here are the pros and cons when it comes to San Diego vs. Irvine.

Living in Irvine pros

Irvine is a wonderful place to live for families who are looking for safe neighborhoods. The Irvine crime rate is much lower than both San Diego and the United States. Irvine also provides a higher average salary and higher median household income.

Living in Irvine cons

While living in Irvine can be wonderful, there are a few negatives to consider. Irvine has a higher cost of living than San Diego, and the home prices are only rising. The rent in Irvine is also on the rise as more people move to the area.

Living in San Diego pros

San Diego is a great place to live for people who want a big city feel, as it has a much higher population than Irvine. When living in San Diego, you will never run out of fun things to do and places to go. San Diego also has lower rent and real estate prices.

Living in San Diego cons

There are many challenges to living in San Diego. San Diego has a higher crime rate than Irvine. San Diego is also not as bike and pedestrian friendly as Irvine is. When living in San Diego, you do not have access to as many sports teams as you do when living in Irvine.

Comparisons of Irvine vs. San Diego

When choosing between San Diego or Irvine, you should consider the strengths and weaknesses of each city. Here’s how the two cities compare.

San Diego vs. Irvine demographics

Irvine Demographics:

  • Population: 307,670
  • Sex ratio: 50.8% female, 49.2% male
  • Median age: 33.8
  • Educational attainment: 96.2% high school degree (or higher), 68.6% bachelor’s degree (or higher)
  • Median household income: $114,027
  • Racial and ethnic composition: 42.9% Asian, 37.4% White, 11.9% Hispanic or Latino, 8.9% two or more races, 1.9% Black or African American
  • Foreign born population: 39.4%

San Diego Demographics:

  • Population: 1,386,932
  • Sex ratio: 51% male, 49% female
  • Median age: 35.2
  • Educational attainment: 89.3% high school degree (or higher), 47.6% bachelor’s degree (or higher)
  • Median household income: $89,457
  • Racial and ethnic composition: 42% White, 30.1% Hispanic or Latino, 17.2% Asian, 10.3% two or more races, 6.0% Black or African American
  • Foreign born population: 25.1%

Cost of living in San Diego vs. Irvine

The cost of living in San Diego is less than the cost of living in Irvine, although both cities are quite expensive. The Cost of Living Index in San Diego is 147.2, which means that it is 47.2% more expensive than the national average of 100. The Cost of Living Index in Irvine is 153.9, which means that it is 53.9% more expensive than the national average and 6.7% more expensive than San Diego.

There are pluses and minuses when it comes to the cost of living in each city. Here’s a quick breakdown from Numbeo of common expenses in each area.

  • Grocery prices are 3.3% higher in Irvine
  • Gasoline is 3.3% more expensive in San Diego
  • Utilities are 41.6% more expensive in San Diego
  • Child care is 22.5% more expensive in Irvine
  • Rent is 5.2% more expensive in San Diego

The cost of living in a given city greatly depends on your lifestyle. If you have children, then you will likely pay more for childcare in Irvine. If you use your car often, then you will probably spend more money on transportation in San Diego.

How does San Diego real estate compare to Irvine real estate? When it comes to Irvine vs. San Diego home prices, San Diego comes out on top. According to Redfin, the average home price in San Diego is $910,000, while the average home price in Irvine is $1,362,500. Although prices in Irvine are higher, the market is less competitive. Homes sit on the market in Irvine for an average of 27 days, compared to 11 in San Diego.

Graph of the median sale price in San Diego, CA

Should you rent in Irvine or San Diego? According to RentCafe, the average rent in Irvine is $3,069, and the average rent in San Diego is $2,917. Although rent is expensive in Irvine, there are many Irvine neighborhoods where you can get a good deal.

Irvine vs. San Diego crime rates

Irvine is a safer place to live than San Diego; however, both cities have a lower-than-average crime rate. The Irvine crime rate is 1,550 crimes per 100,000 people, which is 39.9% lower than the state average and 33.9% lower than the national average. The San Diego crime rate is 2,061 crimes per 100,000 people, which is 20.1% lower than the state average and 12.1% lower than the national average. Irvine also has a lower property crime and violent crime rate.

Things to do in San Diego vs. Irvine

There are many exciting things to do in Irvine and San Diego. Many Irvine attractions are set in nature, such as Tanaka Farms, William R Mason Regional Park, and IRWD San Joaquin Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary. Irvine also has a nice downtown area full of fun shops and restaurants.


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San Diego attractions are more appealing to beachgoers, as there are 31 beaches in the city. San Diego is also much larger than Irvine, so the downtown area has more of a large-city feel. Some of the most popular San Diego attractions include the San Diego Zoo, Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, and Belmont Park.

Irvine vs. San Diego transportation

It is important to weigh the San Diego and Irvine pros and cons when it comes to transportation. Both cities have great options, but there are highlights and challenges depending on your preferred method of travel.

Irvine has bus, shuttle, and rail services provided by the Orange County Transportation Authority. These services can get you around Irvine and can also take you to Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties. Irvine is also a bike-friendly city. There are 113.2 miles of off-road bike trails and 286.4 miles of on-road bike trails in Irvine.

San Diego is served by the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System in the form of trolleys, buses, trains, and shuttles. If you prefer to walk or bike, then San Diego may not be a great option for you. The city is incredibly hilly, making it difficult for bikers and walkers to get around in an efficient manner. However, many people bike in San Diego for athletic purposes.

Weather in Irvine vs. San Diego

The Irvine climate and the San Diego climate are quite similar. Both cities have a Mediterranean climate, which is characterized by warm, dry summers and mild winters. Both Irvine and San Diego are subject to what locals call “June Gloom.” This is a term for a weather pattern that results in overcast skies and an occasional drizzle in the mornings from June to early July. This is a result of oceanic conditions sending fog inland. Because San Diego is closer to the coast, June Gloom often affects the city more than in Irvine. Overall, the weather in San Diego and the weather in Irvine is quite pleasant, with summertime highs in the 70s and winter lows in the 50s.

Jobs in San Diego vs. Irvine

Curious about the Irvine and San Diego pros and cons when it comes to job opportunities?

According to Payscale, the average salary in Irvine is $89,000 per year. Most Irvine jobs are in the tourism, education, and healthcare industries. Some of the top employers include the University of California, Irvine, Irvine Unified School District, and Edwards Lifesciences. The unemployment rate in Irvine is 3.2%.

The average salary in San Diego is slightly lower, coming in at $85,000 per year. Many jobs in San Diego are rooted in tourism, international trade, military, and manufacturing. The top employers in San Diego are the Naval Base in San Diego, Sharp Health Care, and the County of San Diego. The San Diego unemployment rate is 3.5%.

Sports in San Diego vs. Irvine

Is Irvine or San Diego better for sports fans? Luckily, both cities are great for watching sports. Irvine is home to Orange County SC, and the California Strikers FC. San Diego is home to The San Diego Padres and is set to get an expansion team in Major League soccer starting in 2025.

If you don’t mind traveling for a sports game, then Irvine may be a better choice. Irvine is only 39 miles from Los Angeles, where you can watch teams such as the LA Dodgers, LA Rams, LA Lakers, LA FC, LA Clippers, and LA Kings.

Irvine vs. San Diego: Where Are You Moving?

So, now that you know the ins and outs of each city, are you choosing Irvine or San Diego? Both areas provide opportunities and obstacles, but either one is a great place to live! No matter which city you choose, our Irvine movers are here to help! Give Daly Movers a call today at 800-395-6683 to discuss your move and receive a free quote!


Chip Martin
Chip Martin
BA in philosophy, Long Beach State 1974, various trades after college including cabinet maker and boat refinisher, then became a local moving driver in 1976, bought Daly Movers in 1979, managed company, and drove local and long distance until 1995 when I transitioned into sales/office full time. Almost fifty years later Daly Movers and I have sold, worked, and familiarized ourselves with virtually every type of household and O&I relocation.

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