It’s expected that the cost of living will be higher in a coastal city than inland, especially in California. But housing prices in San Diego have soared to record levels during the pandemic, and inventory—the number of houses available for sale—has dropped by more than half. A recent report from CoreLogic found that prices here are expected to rise even more—by 8.3 percent this year, the greatest increase in the nation. These headlines can be discouraging for anyone who is looking to move, especially for first-time homebuyers. But don’t toss your moving boxes just yet. Our choices of neighborhoods for this year’s real estate feature (page 44) weren’t just based on places we thought were cool, or where we’d dream of living someday. Instead, we called in the experts.
The San Diego Association of Realtors, which produces monthly and annual reports on the county’s housing market, let us in on the places where everyone is moving, including where you can get the most bang for your buck. One of the featured neighborhoods, Otay Ranch (page 53), continues to expand with new developments—and most of the houses there are fairly new to begin with, because the community didn’t even exist in the late ’90s and early 2000s. Our copy chief, Dan Letchworth, says that when he was growing up in Chula Vista, he used the future site of Otay Ranch Town Center as a backdrop for a sci-fi film project because the bare, leveled plain resembled another planet. The guide also has the scoop on a North County neighborhood where urban dwellers are moving for more space, and an alcove near Balboa Park that is still affordable. You can also find design inspiration from a home in Encinitas that was renovated from the ground up (page 56), and DIY renovation tips (page 62) you can use to turn your current home into a haven.
Although housing supply is short, the same can’t be said for office space, and it’s especially noticeable downtown because so many people have been working remotely since last spring. The streets around our office have felt deserted for the past year: Barely anyone is walking around, and the noisy restaurants filled with people on their lunch break have been eerily quiet. Writer Ian Anderson delved into what’s happening downtown, and found out how many offices in those high-rises were vacant in 2020 (the number may surprise you). But there are some new things on the horizon, like UC San Diego Extension’s new campus, coming to the East Village soon. Find out more on page 54.
If you’ve driven through or near Mission Valley since last fall, you’ve likely seen one of the biggest changes in San Diego real estate: SDCCU Stadium, formerly Qualcomm, formerly “The Murph,” being torn down to make way for a $3 billion development that’s bringing more homes, stores, and public transportation to Mission Valley, plus a new stadium for San Diego State University. Troy Johnson, a lifelong San Diegan, pays homage to the historic edifice, and the teams and people who played there, in “Goodnight, Sweet Murph,” (page 14), and photographer Sandy Huffaker captured shots of the icon before it’s completely gone. While the stadium’s demolition is a mark of an era gone by, it’s also a sign of progress. This city we all call home has big things to look forward to in the near future.