Moving to Oceanside

Regardless of what brings you to Oceanside, CA, perfect weather and miles of beautiful beaches are waiting for you. Oceanside is the northernmost beach town in San Diego County, and with Vista and Carlsbad, it forms the tri-city area. With Camp Pendleton, one of the nation’s largest Marine bases located just north of Oceanside, you’ll find a mixture of both permanent residents and transient military personnel. The economy is stable, and housing is more affordable in Oceanside than many other Southern California communities.

You’ll also find no shortage of fantastic outdoor activities. From surfing to sport fishing to whale watching to golfing, there’s bound to be something that will get you out for some fun in the sun. Oceanside is also a pocket for entertainment and the arts in North San Diego County, and home to several museums and art-focused events. Oceanside is a great landing spot if you want to live the classic California coastal lifestyle.

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Living in Oceanside, CA: What to Know Before Moving to Oceanside

Housing on the California coast is notoriously expensive; however, Oceanside is among your best options to find a more affordable home. With great access to the surrounding metro areas, including Los Angeles to the north and San Diego to the south via the I-5, this centrally located city has a suburban feel with fantastic options for things to do.

Pros and Cons of Living in Oceanside

Pros:

  • Weather – Simply put, you won’t find better weather anywhere else. Expect temperatures to hover in the mid-seventies to mid-eighties year-round.
  • Relative housing cost – Oceanside housing is more affordable than the suburbs closer to San Diego or Los Angeles.
  • Outdoor recreation – From surfing to sailing, and hiking to golf, Oceanside offers plentiful opportunities for year-round outdoor fun.
  • Arts and culture – The beach towns between Oceanside and San Diego are a hotbed for musical talent—think Jason Mraz—and Oceanside also boasts art and surf museums.
  • Suburban location – Far enough away from the city, but close enough to both San Diego and Los Angeles for a day trip, you get the best of both worlds in Oceanside. 

Cons:

  • Traffic – Because the I-5, which runs the length of the State of California, heads right through Oceanside, you’ll likely experience traffic during peak hours. 
  • Cost of living – While the cost of living might be low relative to other parts of the Golden State, if you’re moving from another area of the country, you might face sticker shock.
  • Sprawl – As Oceanside continues to grow, traffic and density will become more of a problem. 
  • Distance from metropolitan areas – If you are looking to distance yourself from the big towns, Oceanside is a great place to find suburban living, but it might be a bit slow going for those who prefer living in larger cities.

Tax Rates

  • Property Tax: The average property tax in Oceanside is .781%, which is just over half of the national average of 1.211%, according to smartasset.com. On a home with a median value of $537,800, expect a property tax bill of approximately $4000.
  • Sales Tax: The combined sales tax in Oceanside is 8.5%, which is just about average for California cities, according to avalara.com.
  • Income Tax: Income tax in California is a variable percentage of income, ranging from just 1% for those with income in the lowest bracket to 13.3% for those in the highest bracket, according to taxfoundation.org. The upper end of CA state income tax is among the highest rates in the country.

Housing Market

As reported by bestplaces.net, renters make up just 40% of Oceanside’s population. As of September 2019, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,772, according to apartmentlist.com. Zillow.com reports a median home value of $537,800, which is relatively affordable compared to LA’s median home value of $700,000, and San Diego’s median home value of $638,000. If you feel like you can’t swing a half-million-dollar home, check out neighborhoods away from the coast—like Rancho del Oro or San Luis Rey.

Cost of Living

According to bestplaces.net, at 160.2, the Oceanside cost of living is below the state’s average of 168.6, but well above the US average of 100.  If you’re set on making the Golden Coast your next home, Oceanside will be one of your more affordable California options. 

In terms of expenses like groceries at 103.7, and utilities at 100.5, Oceanside comes in close to the national average. Health costs are lower than average at 85.4. As in other California cities, housing is the biggest driver of living costs. The housing index, at 285.5, is almost triple the national average. 

According to epi.org, a family of four can expect an estimated $97,547 in annual expenses when living in San Diego County. The highest expense is housing, coming in at just over $20,000 for the year. 

Weather & Natural Disasters

Moderated by cool ocean currents and maritime winds, the mild temperatures are fairly consistent throughout the year along the Oceanside coast. You’ll relish the 266 days of sunny skies and moderate, mild days and nights. The two warmest months are August and September, with average highs of 71 and average lows in the 60s, according to usclimatedata.com. The two coolest months, December and January, have highs in the 60s and lows in the mid-40s.

Annually, Oceanside only receives about 13 inches of precipitation, mostly during the rainy months of January and February. If you’re moving to get away from snowy winters, this is the perfect place for you. The only snow you’ll see will be on far mountain peaks after a storm.

While the day-to-day weather might be idyllic, there’s always the chance of natural disaster threats in Southern California, primarily in the form of earthquakes, wildfires, and tsunamis. Oceanside rarely sees any of these disasters; however, you should always be ready. The Oceanside Fire Department’s website, ci.oceanside.ca.us, has helpful resources to prepare for a natural disaster. 

Economy & Job Market

The median household income in Oceanside is $58,385, which is higher than the national average of $53,482, according to bestplaces.net. The job market increased by 1.4% over the past year, and the unemployment rate is 3.4%, slightly lower than the 3.9% US average. 

Many work opportunities revolve around the tourism, retail, food, education, and pharmaceutical industries. Some major public employers are Oceanside Unified School District, MiraCosta College, Camp Pendleton, and the City of Oceanside. Other major private employers include Te Connectivity, Hydranautics, Genentech, Gilead Sciences, Nitto Denko, and Hobie Cat. 

If you are looking for work in Oceanside, lots of online job boards have extensive lists of available employment opportunities. Check out jobs on linkedin.com, indeed.com, simplyhired.com, and many more. Be sure to polish up your resume!

Traffic and Transportation

Due to its central location along the Southern California coast, Oceanside has great access to public transportation options that can take you as far north as the Canadian border and south to San Diego and the Mexican border. The Amtrak Pacific Surfliner and its other trains run the length of the Pacific Coast, while the North County Transit District (NCTD) offers the Sprinter, Metrolink, and Coaster light-rail commuter trains, and BREEZE buses throughout San Diego County. You can hop on any of these trains or busses at the downtown Oceanside Transit Center. 

The main thoroughfares through Oceanside include the I-5, traveling north-south; the San Luis Mission Expressway, AKA Highway 76, running east-west; and the Ronald Packard Parkway, AKA Highway 78, also running east-west. During peak hours, you can expect traffic on the freeways, and throughout Oceanside, to be fairly congested. However, traffic problems are far less of a headache than what you see in San Diego or Los Angeles. 

Pacific Coast Highway, AKA Hwy 1, turns into Carlsbad Boulevard to the south and is the main north-south surface street through town. Downtown, you’ll be able to make way by bike or on foot, but Oceanside’s Walkscore is just 35 out of 100, so outside of the downtown area you’ll need a car to get around. The transit score is 33, and the bike score is 28 due to few bike lanes. The most walkable neighborhoods are South Oceanside, Downtown, and East Side Capistrano.

What to Do

If you’re an outdoor fan, Oceanside is the perfect place to land. You’ll have easy access to miles of Pacific Ocean beachfront, or if you venture inland, check out Guajome Regional Park, home to Guajome Lake and the Rancho Guajome Adobe historic hacienda. You can bike, walk, or jog the San Luis Rey River Trail from Guajome Park to the beach. You’ll even find public greenspace downtown, like Buccaneer Beach Park with basketball courts and ocean views – a perfect, quiet spot to relax in your new hometown – and it’s pet-friendly, too. 

The Mission San Luis Rey, founded in 1798, is a National Historic Landmark, and one of 21 missions built by the Spanish. It continues to function as a parish church and retreat center. The mission museum and grounds are worth visiting to get an understanding of the history and founding of your new home.

For some fun indoors, check out the Oceanside Museum of Art or the California Surf Museum – you’ll find both right downtown on Pier View Way. If you keep making your way towards the ocean, grab a bite at Ruby’s Diner, a regional chain, located at the end of the Oceanside Pier. At almost 2000 feet long, the pier, originally built in 1888, is one of the longest in the western US.

Schools and Universities

According to niche.com, Oceanside schools receive a B+ grading. The Oceanside Unified School District, Vista Unified School District, Bonsall Union School District, and Carlsbad Unified School District serve the city’s 17,617 students. Teacher to student ratios are 24:1 for grades K through 3; 34:1 for grades 4 through 8; 32:1 for middle school; and 38:1 for high school. According to greatschools.org, the highest-rated public schools are Mary Fay Pendleton Elementary School 10/10, Ivey Ranch Elementary School 8/10, Santa Margarita Elementary School 8/10, Empresa Elementary School 8/10, Bonsall West Elementary School 8/10, and Mission Vista High School 10/10

MiraCosta College, a public community college, is located in Oceanside, and California State University at San Marcos, a public state university, is a 17-mile drive southeast from Oceanside. 

Crime

According to bestplaces.net, Oceanside crime rates are equivalent to US crime rates. The violent crime rate is 19.9, compared to the US average of 22.7. The property crime rate is 36.6, compared to a US average of 35.4. You can check out the bestplaces.net crime map by clicking the link above to see which areas of Oceanside have higher and lower incidences of crime.

Utility Providers

  • Gas and Electric service: San Diego Gas & Electric – You can start service right from their homepage
  • Water service: Oceanside’s Water Utilities Department – Start service here at the City of Oceanside’s website 
  • Trash pick-up/recycling service: Waste Management – Request service here on their website. Enter your new address for residential waste and recycling pickup. 
  • Internet/Cable service: Oceanside has access to several internet and cable providers. Check out the websites below for more information on packages available and to start service. 

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Best Neighborhoods in Oceanside, CA

South Oceanside

This southernmost neighborhood is nestled along the beach, bordered by Oceanside Blvd to the north and the I-5 to the east. South of downtown, the main boundaries are South Pacific Street along the coast, Oceanside Blvd running east-west on the north, I-5 on the east, and Vista Way on the south. On and off-ramps for the I-5 are conveniently located right in the neighborhood. 

If you dream of living right by the Pacific Ocean, this neighborhood is a prime option. With South Oceanside Beach in your backyard, this neighborhood is one of the only two that runs along the coast within Oceanside city limits. The beach is a mile and a half long, running from Saint-Malo, a private community, to the south and Oceanside Blvd to the north. Spend your mornings walking through Buccaneer Beach Park, along the sand, or down to the Buena Vista Audubon Society – a haven for birders located along the Buena Vista Lagoon. 

Carlsbad Blvd is the main strip in the neighborhood, with plenty of food and drink options. Check out Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub, an eclectic local favorite serving up sushi and fresh, local seafood dishes. If you’re in the mood for a weekday pick-me-up, head over to Revolution Roasters, a local roastery and shop serving up craft, top-quality coffee. And if you’re after something a little more substantial for your first meal of the day, Beach Break Café, a diner-style joint serves up breakfast until 2 pm each day. 

  • Population – 5,782, according to city-data.com
  • Home Price – Median list price is $799,000, according to redfin.com
  • Rent Prices – Average rent is $1,711, according to rentcafe.com
  • Employers – Employment opportunities in South Oceanside are limited to retail, hospitality, education, and tourism jobs
  • Schools – South Oceanside Elementary School, Ditmar Elementary School, Lincoln Middle School, Oceanside High School, Ocean Shores High School

Ivey Ranch-Rancho Del Oro

Ivey Ranch-Rancho Del Oro is a centrally located neighborhood bordered to the south by Oceanside Blvd, to the north by the San Luis Rey Mission Expressway, to the east by Temple Heights Dr, and the west by El Camino Real. The main thoroughfares in the neighborhood are Rancho Del Oro Dr, running north-south, and Oceanside Blvd. As one of the larger areas in the city, the neighborhood features many residential side streets and cul-de-sacs, and office parks.

Due to its inland location, Ivey Ranch-Rancho Del Oro will likely be one of the more affordable areas to find housing within Oceanside. It also offers great access to some of the largest employers in the city proper – Genentech Inc, Gilead Sciences, and Brixton, among others. The neighborhood is home to the SoCal Sports Complex, a premier athletic complex for amateur soccer, lacrosse, and rugby competition. 

Even though you’ll find yourself inland from the beach in this neighborhood, there’s no shortage of things to do. For a bite, check out Upper Crust Pizza or Big Bob’s Best Pizza on either side of the neighborhood, both serving up pies and casual Italian fare. After a long day in the Southern California sun, beat the heat with a pint from Belching Beaver, a regional craft brewery serving up some of the best beers San Diego has to offer. With the sheer number of breweries in the area, that’s saying something. For those who enjoy hitting the links and looking to up their game, Ivey Ranch-Rancho Del Oro is home to the Titleist Performance Institute, a premier player development center. 

  • Population – 24,696, according to city-data.com
  • Home Price – Median list price is $566,000, according to redfin.com
  • Rent Prices – Average rent is $1,920, according to rentcafe.com
  • Employers – Genentech, Inc., Gilead Sciences, Brixton
  • Schools – Ivey Ranch Elementary, Martin Luther King Middle School, El Camino High School

Townsite

When you think of living in a beach town, Townsite is likely what comes to mind. Stretching from Oceanside Harbor at the north, the Pacific Ocean on the west, Oceanside Blvd to the south, and the I-5 to the east, Townsite is where you’ll find a new home steps away from the beach. The main thoroughfares in this neighborhood are South Pacific St along the coast, and South Coast Highway running parallel just inland. Townsite also has good access to the I-5 via Mission Ave. 

Property is some of the most expensive in Oceanside, due to its location right along the coast. If you’re able to afford your next home here, you won’t regret it. The neighborhood is home to the Oceanside Pier, Oceanside Strand Beach, and Oceanside Harbor beach, where you’ll find the Clapping Circle, a local historical landmark. Suffice to say, you’ll have plenty of sand and sunshine to go around in Townsite.

When you’re not soaking up the sun, you’ll have plenty of options for fun things to do in Townsite. Along Coast Highway, you’ll find great food and drink options, like Swami’s Café, serving up health-friendly dishes from local, responsibly sourced ingredients; Miss Kim’s, your new go-to BBQ joint offering classic fare with cocktails and draft beer. And if craft beer is your thing, beer here, check out Breakwater, Kilowatt Brewing, and Stone Brewing to get into the West Coast beer mix. 

  • Population – 14,090, according to city-data.com
  • Home Price – Median list price is $850,000, according to redfin.com
  • Rent Prices – Average rent is $1,711, according to rentcafe.com
  • Employers – Employment opportunities in Townsite will be limited to retail, hospitality, and tourism jobs
  • Schools – Laurel Elementary, Jefferson Middle School, Oceanside High School

Morrow Hills

Morrow Hills is the northeastern-most neighborhood in Oceanside. While it covers a large amount of terrain, the population is relatively low. This neighborhood sits within the boundaries of Sleeping Indian Rd, N River Road, and Morro Hills Road. The main thoroughfares are Sleeping Indian Rd running north-south, and N River Rd running east-west. This neighborhood has good highway access to the San Luis Rey Mission Expressway, AKA Highway 76, and the I-5 is a short drive west. 

Properties are more spread out relative to other Oceanside neighborhoods, so if you enjoy your privacy, this might be a good area for your next home. And because of its location, property here is relatively affordable when compared to coastal housing. Average rent prices are high, likely due to the number of single-family homes and fewer apartments in this neighborhood. 

This neighborhood is largely residential, so there won’t be much in the way of things to do, but other neighborhoods are just a short distance away and have plenty of options for all types of cuisine and activities. Morrow Hills is right next to the Arrowood Golf Course, a hill-top, 18-hole course with driving range, clubhouse, and restaurant. Plus, Morro Hills is also home to Beach House winery, serving up award-winning wines with panoramic views of San Diego County.

  • Population – 7,350, according to city-data.com
  • Home Price – Average home value is $548,717, according to city-data.com
  • Rent Prices – Average rent is $1,939, according to rentcafe.com
  • Employers – Because of its residential nature, Morro Hills doesn’t have many employment options within the neighborhood
  • Schools – Bonsall West Elementary, Del Rio Elementary, Cesar Chavez Middle School, Mission Vista High School

Fire Mountain

Located just east of South Oceanside, across the I-5, Fire Mountain offers great highway access for those commuting to nearby cities, plus it’s close to any of Oceanside’s beaches. Bordered by the I-5 to the west, Fire Mountain stretches east to El Camino Real, north to Oceanside Blvd, and south to the Ronald Packard Parkway, AKA Highway 78. The main thoroughfares in Fire Mountain are The Ronald Packard Parkway and Oceanside Blvd running east-west, and Downs St, which turns into Vista Way, running north-south. 

This neighborhood offers the best of just about everything. With its elevated terrain, many of the properties have ocean views, as well as larger lots that offer a bit more room than in other neighborhoods. The Friends of Fire Mountain is a local community-run organization devoted to keeping the neighborhood clean, safe, and thriving. 

Home to several strip malls running the length of Vista Way, this neighborhood has a suburban feel. You’ll find many regional and national chains for dining and shopping options. You’ll also have great access to Joseph Carrasco Park, a small, family- and dog-friendly green space, perfect for some fun in the sun. The neighborhood is flanked by golf courses – to the east is El Camino Country Club, a premier golf and lifestyle club, and to the west is Goat Hill Park, a public, 18-hole course. If days on the golf course are your idea of fun, Fire Mountain is a prime location for your new home. 

  • Population – 6,876, according to city-data.com
  • Home Price – Median list price is $815,000, according to redfin.com
  • Rent Prices – Average rent is $1,711, according to rentcafe.com
  • Employers – Among various retail options, the Friends of Fire Mountain Networking Group connects residents with local small businesses to encourage growth within the neighborhood
  • Schools – Palmquist Elementary, South Oceanside Elementary, Lincoln Middle School, Ocean Shores High School

San Luis Rey

This neighborhood is located along the San Luis Rey Expressway, mostly to the north, stretching as far as the San Luis Rey River Trailhead. Offering a semi-rural landscape, San Luis Rey is a centrally located, family-friendly area with a deep history. The main thoroughfares are the San Luis Rey Expressway and Mission Ave, running east-west, and Douglas Dr, Rancho Del Oro Dr, and Old Grove Road running north-south. 

San Luis Rey offers more affordable properties than other Oceanside neighborhoods. In addition to single-family homes, mobile homes and apartments are available for rent or purchase. Amenities are complete with grocery stores and convenient shopping. With a handful of parks sprinkled throughout, plus the Mission San Luis Rey, those in search of a quiet attractive area and fascinating history will want to consider San Luis Rey. 

The neighborhood’s namesake, the Mission San Luis Rey, was founded in 1798 and is the largest of the 21 Spanish missions throughout the state of California. Offering self-guided tours, as well as several events, this is a place like no other, and it’s in the heart of your new neighborhood. Just a short walk away from the mission, you’ll find Heritage Park, which was created in the 1970s as a symbol of the city’s legacy. The park is commonly used for special events and weddings and offers a scenic space right in your backyard. 

  • Population – 13,001, according to city-data.com
  • Home Price – Median list price is $455,000, according to redfin.com
  • Rent Prices – Average rent is $1,939, according to rentcafe.com
  • Employers – Mission San Luis Rey, as well as a variety of retail options
  • Schools – Catholic Old Mission Montessori School, Mission Montessori School, Nichols Elementary, Louise Foussat Elementary, San Luis Rey Elementary School, Cesar Chavez Middle School, El Camino High School

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