Just Bought a House in San Diego – Getting Moved-In

Just Bought a House in San Diego – Getting Moved-In

Welcome San Diegan!

In recent articles, we’ve talked about several of San Diego’s beautiful local neighborhoods (like the incomparable Coronado Island and intimate South Park). And we’ve talked about lodging, and where to exercise, if you’re just visiting. Here we talk about a few resources for the “I just moved to San Diego!” crowd. We’ll focus on a few particular neighborhoods. This is by no means an exhaustive list of resources but will get you started. Prepare for a little inside knowledge!

We’ll cover little stuff like mailbox services and where to find Trader Joe’s. And we’ll repeat now (mentioned in another article) that you really don’t want to jaywalk here — the tickets are real. We’ll also touch on some big stuff, like where’s the nearest beach? OK, maybe that can wait. But you might want to know where to find the Department of Motor Vehicles and to learn about a few coworking options.

Your real estate agent will probably give you plenty of resources. We can fill in some of the gaps here. Read on!


People want to protect their privacy by setting up external mailing addresses. The postal service is one option. Private mail companies are another.

For example, in the Golden Hill neighborhood (northeast corner of Balboa Park) you’ll find Express Postal Business Center, a friendly local business that offers three sizes of boxes (personal, family, and business), with rates beginning at $14.00 per month. There’s a taco shop and a Starbucks within one block.

Downtown, you could opt for a franchise by going with a PostalAnnex+. There’s a location in the Marina District (near Gaslamp Quarter but closer to the waterfront). There are other franchises throughout town if you’re in a different neighborhood — they’re received a lot of positive reviews.

GROCERY OK, I promised to tell you where to find Trader Joe’s. If you’re like me, you’ll be looking for TJ’s shortly after landing. Good news: There are several here. Closest to downtown is the Hillcrest neighborhood location (northwest corner of Balboa Park) on University Avenue. Another is in Pacific Beach — one more great reason to live at the beach.

Not far from TJ’s in Hillcrest (across University Avenue) is a Whole Foods with friendly staff, lots of decorative plants, and a great selection of delicacies.

University Heights neighborhood, just north of Hillcrest, has a neighborhood store called Sprouts (on Park Boulevard), where you’ll find lots of organic fruits and vegetables, and supplements. Anyone in Hillcrest will be able to direct you to Sprouts, and it’s within walking distance from Hillcrest (about 15 minutes).

A popular store near the waterfront downtown — among several condominium buildings near the Marina District — is Ralph’s. It’s a good, large store for general needs, with a balance of well-established brands and other “healthy eating” options.


San Diego’s blessed with a wonderful, 35-branch library system. In addition to branches throughout the city (Coronado Island has a separate library system), San Diego opened a new

Central Library recently, complete with a charter school, a multi-purpose room with seating for hundreds, an outdoor courtyard, 22 study rooms, a café, and a three-story domed reading room. For now, the upper floors offer a tremendous view of the South Harbor. Construction is underway on condominiums that will likely impact the view so be sure to visit soon.


OK, this might not be your thing. But it seems that either tattoo lovers flock to San Diego or something in the air here cultivates love of tattoos. Lots of people here have ink. And you’ll soon notice that tattoo studios are almost as common as Starbucks cafes.

In South Park, there’s a tattoo studio called the Vishuddha (which they explain is the name of the throat chakra) — in the same building as Progress, the wonderful boutique home goods and furniture shop. It’s worth peeking into Vishuddha’s studio to see the creatively-appointed workspace.

Tattoo artists, like web designers, are easy to find in San Diego but a few stand out: Buju Tattoos in Pacific Beach, Remington Tattoo Parlor in North Park, and Propaganda Tattoo in Point Loma.

OTHER RESOURCES Shared workspaces. Do you work remotely, or for yourself? You’ll want to visit the San Diego Coworking Alliance website. It provides a list of shared workspace options in San Diego. For example, Co-Merge downtown and 3rd Space in University Heights. As in other cities, people will “camp” at cafes to work here, too. So far, café owners go with the flow and let people stay as long as they like (as long as they’re ordering).

Recycling. Here, most houses have one blue recycling container (some have more than one). Two sizes options are available: 64 and 96 gallons. Visit the City’s website to learn how to obtain or replace yours. A word to the wise: In San Diego, trash and recycling collection trucks have an arm that lifts and empties the containers — drivers never get out of the trucks. So on pick-up day (both are picked up the same day), put your containers out on the side of the street (where a car might park) so the trucks can reach them, not on the sidewalk.

An easy way to get your new driver’s license here is to make an appointment first. If you make an appointment, and you have the necessary paperwork (probably a form DL 44), you’ll likely go through smoothly. Go to the Department of Motor Vehicle’s website and follow the links for what you need. If it’s a new license, and you have a license from a different state, it could be as easy as making the appointment, filling out the DL 44, standing in a couple lines briefly, having your picture taken, and taking the multiple choice test. The staff are — honestly — friendly at the Hillcrest location! Drive safely!

Hillcrest has a great local Ace Hardware store on University Avenue. Their staff is really friendly and the selection’s extensive for a neighborhood shop. Some people don’t realize at first that there’s a second floor downstairs that’s even bigger than the main floor.

San Diego has 50 recreation centers all over the city. (Click the link, then enter your zip code to locate the nearest center.) You might see that the Morley Field Sports Complex, near the northeast corner of Balboa Park, has a pool. Be aware that it’s Bud Kearns Memorial pool is closed temporarily for much-needed upgrades. Check out this list of pools for a full list of locations.

It’s been a hot summer here, so be sure to cool off somewhere. Pools are great for laps but there’s no substitute for sand between your toes and diving into the surf. Hit the beach when you can. Maybe this calls for a review of the local beaches…

Welcome to San Diego!

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