Fans of Coastal San Diego

This site is for the many fans of coastal San Diego, those who have lived here for years, as well as those new to the area. Here you can learn more about the different communities, the many things to do and places to visit in and around San Diego, share your experiences, and ask for advice and recommendations for restaurants, shopping, visitor activities, places to live, and more! Buyers thinking about moving here will find lots of information to help, too!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Few Pros and Cons about Living along the Coast

Potential buyers might be inerested in some od the advantages and disadvantages of coastal living. For those of us living here and familiar with the area, none of this will be a surprise. But if you are moving into the area from out of town, there are things that are helpful to know as you consider where you want to live and the pros and cons of living there.

First, as in many areas of California, the freeways play an important role in allowing people to travel significant distances without stopping (unless of course you have an accident or the highway patrol is engaged in one of their pursuits), primarily in a northerly direction. Interestingly it is more complicated to go east and west directly. Everyone is aware of the huge traffic issues we face daily, with the expectation of more to come, so seeing the freeway (the 5 in our area) as an advantage, particularly when you are stuck in rush hour traffic, is tough. The freeway has a major presence through the coastal communities from Oceanside to downtown, and with that comes noise. The interesting thing about the freeway noise is that it can vary dramatically depending on the direction and intensity of the wind, the time of year (e.g., cooler, dry air), whether you are on a hill adjacent to the freeway, or east vs. west of it, among other factors. And, of course, whether you are west of the 5 or not plays a role in real estate marketing, and impacts the value, price and desirability of individual properties, in general. So, if noise is an issue for you, be sure to investigate thoroughly the areas you like relative to the freeway noise. And consider the tradeoff of having easy access with the increased possibility of noise. For many, having ocean views more than makes up for the fact that you are overlooking, and listening to, the freeway.

The weather also impacts those of us living along the coast in different ways. I touched on this a bit previously, so there is not a lot to add to that. Keep in mind that you will have more of a marine layer and coastal fog nearer to the coast, and the temperatures will be lower than further inland, in general. Depending on your preferences, this may or may not be an issue. Quite frankly, I like that it rarely gets above the low 80s (the exception being the heat wave and humidity we all experienced earlier this summer) and generally is in the high 70s at best. But we sometimes have less sunny weather than further inland. On some days, however, it is clear near the coast but one can see lots of clouds over the inland areas. You can't change any of this, of course, but I suggest doing your homework and getting a good sense of the climate that suits you best when searching for a home.

Value, and price, of course, are huge issues impacting the coastal areas, since so many people want to live there. The closer you are to the water (and having views) the greater the price tag, and waterfront property comes at a huge premium, while you get more for your money further inland. Value varies with the particular community (as you head south from the North County border the median price goes up by community) and within community due to location, schools, views, newness of construction, home and lot size, and the particulars and desirability of the individual subdivisions (and what about all the subdivision names...that is a rarity back in the Boston area, as are gated communities - a new experience here in California). Consider all these factors as you search for the right neighborhood and home.

Congestion and traffic...what more can we say, except that it is a huge problem, is not getting better, and what you trade off for living near the beaches, the freeway and numerous amenities in the coastal towns is having more people, cars and general congestion around you. As the migration to southern California continues, with the popularity of the lifestyle and weather, these issues will only get worse, and towns are struggling with how to manage their development (some are better at this than others, e.g., planned communities in Carlsbad, restrictions on home size vs. lot size in communities like Del Mar and Solana Beach, the impact of the coastal commissions, etc.). Again, just something to consider as you think about where you would like to live.

Having a knowledgeable Realtor to assist you in examining these issues as they impact your home search is critical. But ultimately YOU have to weigh all the issues and determine what best suits your needs. There are always tradeoffs, you just need to decide what you want and what you are willing, or need, to give up. And I speak from some experience, having made the move from city living in the Boston area to Carlsbad. Good luck with your search, and let me know if I can help in any way.


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Jeff Dowler (RE/MAX Associates): Real Estate Agent in Carlsbad, San Diego County, California on