I'm moving moving, out out, to Cali Cali
May 29, 2009 1:01 PM   Subscribe

Moving from Milwaukee, WI to take a job in Carlsbad, CA - what should I know, and where should I live?

I just found out I will be changing positions at my job, which entails a move across the country to work in Carlsbad, California. I need to start planning, but I do not have a ton of time to research everything I normally would in making such a move.

As far as I know the city of Carlsbad is expensive to live in- are there cheaper areas close by where I could get by making about $2,000 a month on average? I realize this is not much, but I am intentionally keeping it a conservative estimate. I will likely bring in more than that, but I want to plan economically.

I am looking to live in a younger neighborhood (I'm 24) - I like art and music, lots of good cheap food (I can taste the burritos already) and just a fun scene to be around. I do not mind commuting, though I would rather keep it at a minimum. I have a car, but would love to use public transportation as well.

Crime is a rather important aspect as well. Though I've grown up in bad neighborhoods by Midwest standards, I would rather not live anywhere where I need to have barred windows or constantly have to watch out at night. I certainly don't need an idyllic situation, but something reasonable.

I would like to keep rent, including utilities capped at about $1,000 / month. I really have no idea if that number is fantasy land by that area's standards, so if it is, let me know. I am not 100% opposed to moving in with others really, though as an introvert I would prefer my own space.

If anyone has experience with a similar move, please fill in your experiences. I've been all over California before doing road trips and what not, but is there anything special I should know/expect going into a full move out west?
posted by Never Better to Travel & Transportation around Carlsbad, CA (14 answers total)
Carlsbad is on the 5 freeway between South OC and San Diego, just south of Camp Pendelton. So there's not going to be a lot of public transportation around there. Most of that area is suburb, the closest place with a young neighborhood is probably San Diego. Might be farther than you want to commute, but you'd be going the opposite direction of traffic. Other towns around there are Oceanside, Vista, Encinitas and Escondido-- if you do some apartment searches you should be able to get a feel for price.

I have some friends that live in San Clemente, which is the first city in OC north of the Marine base. It's a nice town but I don't know that it has that young vibe-- when you say that I think college town and it's definitely not that. Maybe I'm just too old to be where the young folks are when I'm down there.
posted by InfidelZombie at 1:28 PM on May 29, 2009

Yeah, good luck with public transportation in North County. It's shite. I used to live in Escondido, CA and rent for a one bedroom place was only about $700. Wasn't more than $800 with utilities. I actually really liked the downtown Escondido area. It's a very small city, but it has an art scene, a music scene and some pretty good food (especially mexican!).

There's also San Marcos, CA, which is a little closer to the coast, but I think Escondido is way more vibrant a place to live. San Marcos is a little more expensive and more of a suburb. I have to say that I'm not a huge fan of San Diego in general, but if you like outdoorsy stuff (rock climbing, surfing, hiking, etc.) it's a pretty cool place to live. I used to commute down the freeway over Lake Hodges from Esco to Rancho Bernardo and it was pretty beautiful.

I must warn you that there is a large contingent of douchey frat type "bros" who hang out and party in Carlsbad all the time. Not to mention all of the military dudes and families. San Diego County might be one of the most conservative places in all of California, which might not be a problem for you, but really rubbed me the wrong way.

But yeah, by car, it's only a 20 minute commute from Esco to Carlsbad by car. I really am not familiar with the public transportation situation. I only ever took the train from LA to San Diego and back. When I actually lived in San Diego county I drove or rode my bike everywhere.
posted by runcibleshaw at 1:59 PM on May 29, 2009

Best answer: What part of Carlsbad are you going to be in? The Coaster runs through there, which might be a good public transport option. Can you be more specific about what types of art and music you like? Carlsbad is pretty far from any sort of cool young person's neighborhood, but if you're willing to commute, you might enjoy some of the central San Diego neighborhoods: Hillcrest, North Park, South Park (my favorite), Golden Hill, Little Italy... all of those are great places to live.

I live in Escondido and absolutely would not recommend it. It's not very close to Carlsbad (not closer than San Diego), and isn't a nice place to live at all.

Once you start work, treat yourself to pizza and beers at Pizza Port. If you like beer, San Diego is a great place to live. And if you need someone to show you all the best beer-places, email me. :D
posted by booknerd at 2:36 PM on May 29, 2009

Best answer: I'm pretty sure the north/south traffic on the 5 would be flowing in the opposite direction -- most people would live in Carlsbad and commute south. Public transportation isn't really an viable option, but you might be able to bike to work.

You could take a look at Solana Beach -- it's got one of the best music venues in the county (The Belly Up), a design district, and a fairly bustling night scene compared to some other areas of SD (which have none). Actually, there's an Amtrak coaster station in Solana Beach and in Carlsbad, though I'm not sure it would be worth it for a daily commute.

You could definitely find a place almost anywhere in the county for under $1000/month by sharing with even one person, but living solo in any of the coastal towns for that money will be harder -- you'll find cheaper living further inland. I'm not very familiar with the housing market there, so it coastal may still be doable for that money. However, as you go east, it gets way more suburban and, by extension, comparatively boring. Escondido may be an exception -- I haven't spent a lot of time there.

You'd probably really like the mid-city communities (Hillcrest, North Park, University Heights, etc), but I doubt the commute would allow you live that far south, and it would definitely require you to drive rather than bike.

On preview, booknerd covered most of what I just said.
posted by natabat at 2:44 PM on May 29, 2009

Oh, and just to address your housing/expense concerns. If you don't have pets and are okay with living in an apartment, $2,000/month is totally sufficient. You'll want to budget for car insurance and a car, because going 100% public transport would severely limit your social life. Most of the rentals around here are done through Craig's List, so scope that out.
posted by booknerd at 2:59 PM on May 29, 2009

Best answer: This Google Maps and Craigslist mashup can give you an idea of rents in the different areas of San Diego. The Caltrans traffic page can give you an idea what your commute might be like at different times of the day.

I currently live near UCSD and haven't lived any further north than Del Mar so I couldn't tell you much about Carlsbad. They do have some nice beaches up there, and Pizza Port is, indeed, awesome.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 3:05 PM on May 29, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks so far for all of the suggestions.

Booknerd, I especially love pizza and beer! I am huge on craft brews, and am looking forward to getting Stone's Russian Imperial Stout as well as anything from Russian River and AleSmith. That is a huge perk for me actually. I will be bringing an aged Dark Lord or two down, so if you'd like to meetup after July, I would love to know someone who knows the beer scene. I am also big on strange pizza toppings, so Cali is like a holy visit.

From the words I'm hearing, it definitely looks like commuting out of San Diego may be in my future. I am very happy to hear that the traffic generally is going the other way. I will be working just north of the McClellan-Palomar Airport, near Legoland. It appears on cursory look that it is about 45 minutes up Hwy 5 from the Hillcrest or North Park neighborhood.

Thanks also for the link to the Coaster - does this sound viable? Get a monthly Coaster and bus pass, catch the Coaster in Old Town, take that up to a stop off Hwy 5 in Poinsettia Village (just past the Batiquitos Lagoon) and catch a Bus to the McClellan-Palomar Airport?

I will literally be working in walking distance from the Airport - like a 2-5 minute walk. I have to imagine buses to the airport (it looks small by google map standards, but it's an airport) are common and on a tight enough schedule to make commuting easy enough.

As far as art, I love to see live music - I have a very broad taste, and love anything from jazz, to indie rock, to world fusion, to underground hiphop, etc. Think the Bonnaroo set.
I love browsing art galleries, and performance art is a favorite of mine. Any good comedy clubs similar to the Upright Citizen's Brigade in NY?

The frat boy scene is Carlsbad doesn't bother me too much - I'm not especially looking to live there as much as work there. But yes, I would like to avoid living in Fratville.

Outdoor activities like surfing (I'd like to learn at least), rock climbing, and just jogging, biking, etc. are also big.

Hope these answers clarify, and once again, thank you all for the help so far.

I'd imagine there is a big Mefi community in San Diego, and that is another big perk of moving there. Metafilter rocks!
posted by Never Better at 3:18 PM on May 29, 2009

Best answer: When are you moving? I'm organizing the anniversary meet-up at Stone Brewery, if you'll be here that soon. There are quite a few MeFites in the area, but I've never met most of them, since meet-ups haven't seemed to happen lately.

The Coaster link also provides bus info in North County. It looks like there's a bus from the Coaster to the airport that run about every hour in the morning and afternoon commuting times. Between the two of them though, that would prove to be a loooong commute, time-wise. You might try it at first and get sick of it quickly. There's also a chance someone at your new job might live in San Diego and want to carpool.

I can be bribed into answering all of your other questions in detail with aged Dark Lord. I'll even sweeten the deal with some of the older, rare Alesmith barrel-aged something-or-other (Wee Heavy, Decadence, or Old Numbskull). If you lived in North Park or South Park, you'd be happily close to Toronado, Hamilton's, Ritual Tavern, Blind Lady, and lots of other wonderful places.
posted by booknerd at 3:51 PM on May 29, 2009

Best answer: The Encinitas/Solana Beach area will be the closest young, hip neighborhood. It should be within your price range, and in addition to Pizza Port, you should definitely check out the Belly Up Lounge for music and Lous for records. The drive into Carlsbad will be 5-10 minutes up the freeway from those communities.

San Diego does not have any great comedy clubs that I've heard of, but we do get tours through here frequently. I just saw Upright Citizens Brigade perform at UCSD a few months ago.

You are correct that living in Hillcrest/North Park will be about 45 minutes away on a good day. However, the traffic isn't always going in the other direction, and you should be prepared to have a 90 minute commute, rarely. You should also be prepared to search harder for a good apartment in this area, but deals can be found. I had an ideally located studio in an old mission style building for only $700.

If you're a foodie, the uptown area is your place. If you end up there, you definitely need to check out the Casbah for msuic, and Hamilton's Tavern and Tornado for beer! Both of these places carry a huge variety of craft beer on any given night.
posted by slow graffiti at 3:55 PM on May 29, 2009

And one more thing about crime- if you look in North Park you will find cheap rent, but often those apartments are slightly sketchier. As a rule, the further east you go from Hillcrest, the more you risk that. Do not look east of the 805. Do not even look a block or two west of it if you can help it. The neighborhoods shift somewhat dramatically east of Texas street.
posted by slow graffiti at 4:02 PM on May 29, 2009

Best answer: The Coaster is not great for northbound morning commutes, but they do have a shuttle bus from the Carlsbad station that can get you to your office. Driving north from SD, although technically against the traffic, will still be unpleasant.

I'd actually recommend living in Oceanside. There's enough of a young-ish community there, and some decent stuff to do at night. From there, it's a quick hop to the Belly Up and Lou's Records. I think Solana Beach has a pretty decent art scene, but I don't hang out there much. You can even take the Coaster home from Padres games (although the schedule is kind of funky). Outside of the Oceanside/Carlsbad/North Coast community, it's kind of a wasteland until you get closer to the city of San Diego.

You won't want to go too far inland. Although rents will decrease some, the neighborhoods are less desirable, and the average temperature (in general) goes up a degree for every mile inland you go. I think pretty much any neighborhood with a good walkability score is going to be suitable for what you want (but definitely check on Google street view for evidence of sketchy neighborhoods, as things can turn from very nice to super scary in a matter of a few blocks.)

Regardless of where you decide to live, you will definitely want to stop in at Tip Top Meats for lunch.
posted by stefanie at 4:19 PM on May 29, 2009

I grew up in the North County area and I agree to avoid living in Carlsbad if at all possible, but the commute will be bad from San Diego proper. There always seems to be traffic through the Carlsbad/Encinitas/Del Mar stretch of the 5 in both directions during rush hour times and occasionally on weekends as well. You may find something you like in Encinitas/Cardiff/Solana Beach area -- I've talked to a few people in their 20s who enjoy living in the neighborhoods around the 101. That's where any sort of art/music/good food is anyway. Otherwise, I'd want to live somewhere like North Park/Hillcrest/Little Italy. I suppose the Coaster might be doable, but the cost seems really high to me along with the limited schedules.
posted by wsquared at 5:13 PM on May 29, 2009

Best answer: You may find something you like in Encinitas/Cardiff/Solana Beach area -- I've talked to a few people in their 20s who enjoy living in the neighborhoods around the 101. That's where any sort of art/music/good food is anyway.

I used to work in Solana Beach, and housesit for some people in Cardiff. Both of those places, as well as the rest of Encinitas (Cardiff is one small part that, along with the towns of Leucadia, Olievenhain, and Encinitas incorporated as the City of Encinitas not too long ago) are pretty decent along the 101, and I even though of moving up there back then. But, all the places are pretty sleepy beach towns. There are night spots, but not too many. Leucadia is probably the sleepiest zone - between Encintas and Leucadia Boulevards along the 101. Any part of coastal Encinitas is surfer territory, but Leucadia seems to be ground zero. It does have Lou's Records, which used to be an incredibly awesome music store, but they've downscaled the operation the last couple years with the general decline in hard copy music sales.

Solana Beach has the frequently mentioned Belly Up, which has a range of concert acts - I've seen Blonde Redhead, Unwound, and the New Pornographers there, but they usually cater to a more mature audience with 80s revival acts, reggae stuff, and singer/songwriters. It is an excellent venue, though. The main drag of Encinitas, south of Encinitas Blvd on the 101 has a couple bars, some restaurants, and a second-run movie theater that will also play some rare offerings at times. Cardiff doesn't have a whole lot going on.

I've heard Carlsbad has a decent bar scene to cater to the military population, but I've never experienced it myself.
posted by LionIndex at 7:48 PM on May 29, 2009

IMHO beer choices in the midwest are more numerous. A short drive from Milwaukee
offers choices of the worlds best micro breweries (Founders, Three Floyds) just to name 2.
What's in Carlsbad? Ocean? Send back some Stone and I'll swap you for some KBS oh wait,
I can buy all the Stone I want right here!
Good luck in your endeavor.
posted by justcoffee at 8:48 AM on June 23, 2009

« Older Lost his iTunes playlists, and wants them back.   |   Where to buy asian/indian instruments in Seattle... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.