Why I'm Staying

San Diego's beautiful Ocean Beach

I never wanted to stay in San Diego after moving back to the U.S. In fact, the plan was to get the hell out just as soon as I could. If you’ve kept up with me on Tumblr, you might recall a judgy post I wrote in which I listed various reasons for not wanting to stay: It’s boring, the people lack ambition, flip-flops are widely accepted as fashionable, etc. I’m still grappling with that last one, but as a whole, I was unfair.

My feelings were triggered in part by the mostly unfortunate time I spent in San Diego shortly after graduating college. For a year I did soulless work for an insurance company and struggled to make real connections with people who seemed indifferent about new friendships. I had been frustrated, and the experience had tainted San Diego a little bit for me.

When I lived in Seoul, I was surrounded by some of the best people I’ve ever met, and dull moments were tough to come by. My three-month adventure in Europe this summer allowed me completely unfettered freedom and exploration. Coming back home in July and moving in with my family felt particularly suffocating in comparison.

So this summer when I started looking for work, I was hell bent on moving to a big bustling city, preferably San Francisco or NYC. As it turns out, big bustling cities are also ridiculously expensive. Who would’ve thought? While pondering my options, I applied for an editing/writing job at a tech company here on a whim, not really expecting much. And then when they offered me a job I felt completely rattled. This wasn’t the plan! I’m supposed to get out of here and explore new places!

But it seemed insane to turn the job down just to continue working at Urban Outfitters (R.I.P. my 40 percent off employee discount).  And as my brother-in-law put it, when life throws something good your way, don’t turn it down. And besides, he said in mock reproach, there are worse places to be for a few years than San Diego. 

Sunset Cliffs, San Diego California

And so far he’s been right. I work about a block from a gorgeous beach, and there are days when, as part of my job, I am required to write blog posts that include cat GIFs. So all in all, I feel like I’ve made the right decision. I’m a firm believer in second chances, so why not give San Diego another shot?

Here are some other reasons why I’m looking forward to sticking around:

The weather

I figured I’d begin with the most obvious. The stereotype is that San Diego has incredible, near-perfect weather most all of the time. This stereotype is, in fact, true. Case in point: It’s almost January and I’m still wearing the windbreaker that got me through the colder parts of my Europe trip this summer. If I were in Seoul right now, I would be bundled up to my eyeballs and rushing from one heated indoor area to the next. Everything would be desolate and gray and dead. San Diego, on the other hand, is still lush and green and a lovely 60 degrees on the average winter day. I was walking around near the beach the other day, and people were lying out in their swimsuits. So the hype about the weather here? Definitely true. 

Downtown San Diego skyline, California

 

The Mexican Food

Being about 30 minutes from the border means amazing, authentic Mexican food everywhere. It’s almost laughable that the 24-hour, drive-through Mexican joints here—where you can get an entire meal for $6—are a thousand times better than the trendy Mexican restaurants in Seoul. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Vatos, and your overpriced, undersized, onion-ravaged tacos. Ahem). And I still can’t help getting a little giddy when I go to the grocery store and purchase an avocado that is perfectly ripe and not $7.

The Craft Beer Scene

San Diego is widely considered to be one of the best craft beer cities in the country. I’m no beer aficionado, but I know, and appreciate, a decent cold one from a pint of Cass. Who wouldn’t want to live in a city where there are more specialty brewpubs than you can count and there always seems to be some kind of beer festival going on?

The Fam

Both my mom’s and my dad’s families live here, so I’m surrounded on all sides by people who care about me. Being close to immediate and extended family after being away from them for three years has been unbelievable. I am truly blessed to be in the same city as such a supportive group of people.

The Healthy Lifestyle

Another accurate stereotype about California is that it’s full of health nuts. Gluten-free/organic/vegan/vegetarian options abound in San Diego, and the gorgeous weather makes everyone want to be outside doing sporty things all the time. People here care about how they look for sure, but if you can embrace that without letting it consume you, San Diego can be a great place to really be active and fit. Even the company I work for encourages periodic walks throughout the day and walking meetings. We even do yoga every Wednesday afternoon!

 

Sunset over sea in Ocean Beach, San Diego, California

So while I was initially bummed out about not moving somewhere new, I’m realizing San Diego has plenty of reasons that make it a great home base for a few years or more. Has a place ever pleasantly surprised you the second time around? If you’ve been to San Diego, what are your thoughts on this seaside city?