When my wife and I first moved to California, we were very excited, sandy beaches, sunshine, glamorous images of the life style etc. After 18 months, we left pretty disillusioned, that the images we had were not real. The sea is cold and polluted, the beaches featureless, concrete freeways everywhere. The places just seemed soulless. We have since returned, more out of circumstances than desire, and have spent another year trying to come to terms with our lot. We live in LA, and have visited SD several times. I personally prefer SD because its size is more manageable, and it has focal points; Gas Lamp district, La Jolla, and the Old Town. It also has places like Encinitas, with little restaurants. You can also swim out in the sea. The main downside is that you are trapped by a border to the south with a not-so-friendly neighbor, and the sea to the west, so that limits where you can go. It gets my thumbs up on a comparative rating but California is by and large pretty over-rated, and has a very over-priced real estate market.