We moved our boat to San Diego from Puget Sound
5-years ago and have lived aboard in San Diego for 2.5 years. Here are some realities of life in SoCal
California will tax you on everything you earn (pension, investments, earned income) no matter where you earn it. My wife receives a nice pension from 32-years work for a large city in Washington
. She never worked a day in California but pays tax on her Washington
Pension. If you live in California less than 6-months a year the taxable base is prorated otherwise you pay for all your income
. You pay approximately 2.5% on the first $58,000 and 6% on the next $22,000 and 8% on the next $21,000.
- Personal Property Tax
San Diego County is 1.18% of the boat’s value. You pay this even if you are not a resident. When we still kept a home in Washington we paid property tax to San Diego
- Sales Tax
8.75% in San Diego on everything you buy
- Use Tax
You pay about 8.25% sales tax on your boat when you bring it into San Diego unless you can prove (receipt from another tax authority) you paid sales tax (called use tax in CA) to another state
- Almost no mooring
balls available for liveaboard usage
- Slip Fee
We pay $770 per month for a 40’ slip
- Liveaboard Fee
We pay an ADDITIONAL $250 per month for the privilege
of living on our boat. Most marinas are limited by Coastal Commission rules that limit the number of liveaboards to 10% of the total number of slips
- Very expensive cost of living
Gasoline in San Diego is consistently $0.85 more than anywhere else in the country. Food prices are 10% - 20% more than in Washington State. Restaurants and bars are often tourist prices (unless you know the locals). Apartment rents are exorbitant.
- Expensive utilities
Our marina charges $10 per month to connect to shore power
and $0.25 KwH for the electricity. Our bill runs about $85/month Dec - June when we have to run an electric
heater when the outside temp drops below 55, which is about 20-nights a month.
- Very expensive boat mechanics
The average low cost mechanic
rate is $60/hour and most yards charge $90/hour
- Very strict environmental rules
Almost no useful bottom paint
is allowed. You can’t sand over the water
. You have to do a super tarp job to work on the boat in a yard…etc
- Very limited “Cruising” and almost no anchorage are available
Almost all sailing you do, outside San Diego Bay, is in the Pacific Ocean
with it's swell, wind
, big ships, navy
boats. There are NO casual anchorages
along the California coast from Pt Conception to the Mexican border.
San Diego bay does not allow overnight anchoring
without a permit
and only 3-days in a month with a permit
. Some anchorages
only allow anchoring
Mission Bay anchorage is only 4-miles North from our slip on Harbor Island- but you have to go 7-miles SSW to clear Pt Loma which makes it a 14-mile trip, six of it in the ocean. There is very limited anchorage room there and a tightly enforced 3-day limit.
Oceanside is the next stopping place going north and is 36NM NW from Pt Loma. There is NO anchorage in Oceanside.
is 22 miles up the coast from Oceanside and Newport
is another 13 miles up the coast from Dana Pt. There may be some short term anchorage space in each of those harbors.
is 68 to 75 NM WNW across open Pacific Ocean
water from Pt Loma, depending on which anchorage you pick on Catalina
. There are some “free” anchorages on the island but are quite removed from anyplace to go ashore. Mooring balls are very expensive and often all reserved.
Ensenada is the first stop going south from San Diego and is about 66 NM. But, you need a lot of paperwork to go there and it will cost you $25 or more dollars. And, you and everyone on board need a US Passport. Returning to the US will cost you $27 when you check in at the Shelter Island customs dock
. There are no anchorage near Ensenada.
The Coronado Islands are just 18NM south of our slip and used to be a nice day sail or even overnight destination
because they have good fishing
. But, now you need a Visa and cruising permit to visit the island. You need the cruising permit ANYTIME you sail south of the border, even if you have no plans to touch shore. Oh, and an expensive fishing license
if you have any fishing tackle on board. And, that fishing license
must be held by every one of your guest. Boat Forfeiture is the penalty.
- The more isolated and exotic island destinations west of Santa Barbara can be a challenge
The anchorages are deep and exposed to many of the winds. The winds in the northern and western islands can really howl for days at a time. The islands are spectacular and very enjoyable for an experienced cruiser
- Every US cruising destination
blows from the WNW to NNW about 325 days a year and the swell from the NW is almost always 3’ to 5’ at 10 to 12 seconds. So, any cruise
is always into the wind and swell.
- Perfect weather in San Diego
It is never hot nor cold. The wind blows 10 – 20 knots in San Diego Bay almost every afternoon from 1 PM till sunset. You can sail 7NM from Shelter or Harbor Island (location of most of the marinas) to SD1 (the entrance buoy out in the Pacific) and then turn around and sail 12NM to the South Bay and back to your home slip and get about 30 NM of good sailing that varies from biggish ocean swells to 12’ calm water in the South Bay.
We love San Diego liveaboard life and have no plans to leave. But, we do pay a significant 'sunshine tax' for the joy of living here.