Ocean Beach was the first place we landed when we arrived in San Diego as a friend of mine had an Airbnb and offered it to us for 10 days before Christmas. It was so nice to have a destination to head for once we had arrived. The original plan was to find a hotel and figure it out from there. With the Airbnb cottage, we at least were able to spend Christmas in a cottage and not a hotel.
Not to deviate from talking about the Ocean Beach neighborhood, but since I am talking about Christmas, I thought I would share that we spent a few days before Christmas with David’s side of the family. He has an aunt and cousin who live in Loma Linda. Aunt Helen’s son, Bill and his family live in Texas and Alaska. Bill and his children/grandchildren stayed in Ocean Beach and the relatives from Loma Linda came for a day.
It was so wonderful to see Bill again and to meet that whole side of the family. I have been married to David for close to 31 blissful years and honestly, thought I would never meet them. What a wonderful gift to spend the Christmas holiday with them all!
Christmas Day, David and I drove to Oceanside (about 35 minutes north from Ocean Beach) to spend the day with our nephew, Patrick, who has been living out here for close to 4 years. He treated us to a lovely Christmas dinner of ham, fish, scalloped potatoes, asparagus, green bean casserole, and corn! I was very impressed with Patrick’s culinary abilities…they are much better than mine!
The day ended with a nice walk along the beach. Patrick is fortunate enough to have the beach in his front yard!
Now, back to Ocean Beach…It is a quirky little community. I describe it by saying “they never got the memo that the 60s decade is over!” There are many people – young and old – walking around in tie-dye clothes, hair with dreadlocks or whatever other “hippie look” they might create!
The downtown area is built around the beach and they, too, have a pier.
Funny story about Dog Beach! David and I were walking around the beach saying hello to any dog who would stop long enough from playing or fetching a ball to say hello to us. We were walking back towards the “people beach” when I stopped to take a picture of the pier. There were two large dogs romping behind me…the next thing I knew, I was flat on the ground. One of the dogs had “body checked” me in his excitement of playing with his buddy. David didn’t see it happen as he was looking the other way. When he turned to tell me something, he found me sprawled on the beach….”What happened to you?” he asked. I was just laughing….it all happened so quickly. I told him and he helped me up and brushed me off. Although I am fine, my camera is a little worse for wear thanks to the fall!
There is quite a busy downtown area of Ocean Beach with gift shops, several restaurants, bars, coffe shops, grocery stores, banks, library and post office. The population is about 11,500 people.
Wednesday afternoons from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM, there is a farmer’s market on Newport Street, one of the main streets for Ocean Beach. It is a great farmer’s market with organic veggies, fruits, food trucks, a variety of other vendors and live music. It is a fun place to hang out to be part of the beach community funky vibe!
Ocean Beach is on a hill, which made morning walks good and challenging. I would often walk up a hill on one street, cut over and walk down the next street until I made my way over to Sunset Cliffs Nature Park.
Sunset Cliffs Nature Park is 68 acre of land, along the ocean, dedicated as a park in 1983. It is a beautiful spot to enjoy the views of the ocean as well as looking towards Ocean Beach and the pier.
Odds and Ends for Ocean Beach….
I enjoyed my morning walks. I was never quite certain what I would discover. When we first arrived in December, the weather tended to be overcast in the mornings but one day, we had clear, brilliant blue skies. I just had to click pictures of the palm trees against the blue!
Along with the squawking parrots, were the airplanes taking off from the San Diego airport. The San Diego airport is literally downtown. The airport was built on what used to be a smelly, tidal marsh, Dutch Field. There was a proposal to build an airport in that area because it was close to downtown, the post office, and the train station. Have you ever flown into San Diego? It is considered the fifth most dangerous airport in the US…not a warm, fuzzy feeling. If you have flown here before, you will know that landing planes skim the top of the downtown buildings in their approach. Planes taking off, fly directly over Ocean Beach. You can pretty much set your clock dialy to 6:30 AM when the planes start to take off. It is loud…especially when you are sitting in your backyard. It was one of the many reasons that we decided not to make Ocean Beach our permanent neighborhood.
Ocean Beach was our destination arriving in San Diego. Originally, we thought that we would just arrive and get a hotel room. Although we had lived in California from 1989-2000, we had never visited the San Diego area. It was all very new.
The “hotel plan” changed when I learned that a high school friend of mine had an Airbnb rental in Ocean Beach and yes, it was available from Dec 16 to the 26th. As we got closer to our destination, we were so grateful that we had a “place” to go to and a “place” to be in over Christmas. To say the least, this Christmas was a difficult one for me. The holidays are not the best time to move…I didn’t put up any Christmas decorations, mail out any cards and being among palm trees and at a beach, I just didn’t have that Christmas-holiday-kind-of-feeling.
The cottage that we were in was so adorable and about 2 blocks from the beach….an added bonus.
It is very, very cute, no?
Knowing that we only had 10 days to find another place, we hit the ground running. Everyone said that the best way to find a rental in San Diego was to look on Craig’s List but to be careful of possible scams. Wouldn’t you know that the first place we liked/were hopeful about turned out to be a scam in La Jolla? We actually ran into three of them in the La Jolla area. These people are very good at deceit…I can understand how easy it is for someone to fall for the fraud.
We took the day Monday to look on Craig’s List for possible rentals and to find a windshield repair shop. The appointment was made for Tuesday morning to get it repaired. In the meantime, we had also found a nice place in La Jolla that was available for rent…a furnished, two bedroom house, all utilities for $2,000. It came with pictures inside and out and was lovely. We texted the person saying we were interested and asked when could we meet to see it. They replied that it was available after December 28th for viewing because they were out of town for the holidays. They gave us the address so we could drive by and see where it was located.
Before driving to La Jolla, we went to get the windshield fixed. We got talking with the owner and explained that we were moving to San Diego and asked his opinion on which area to live. He recommended the Tierrasanta area which is east of downtown…halfway between San Diego proper and Santee, where David’s office is. He even gave us the name of an apartment complex. We then shared about the house in La Jolla that we were hoping to rent. He said that was a scam…there was no way that we would get a furnished house in La Jolla for $2,000. The house we were describing would easily start at $5,000. With his information and the warning we heard earlier, we proceeded with caution.
We went to the Tierrasanta after our windshield was repaired and took a tour of the apartment complex. It was a nice area but not for us. It was more of a residential neighborhood. There were no stores, restaurants, library, etc within walking distance. We would have had to buy a second car living that far out. A second car is something that we are trying to avoid. Plus, the apartment complex living is definitely something we wanted to stay away from. 30 years ago when we were first starting out, it was fine but honestly, the “stamped out” apartments stacked one on the other is not for us now. Tierrasanta was not for us.
Onto La Jolla, which is a very charming community. We drove by the house. It was a little further away from the downtown area than I would have liked but it was adorable…it even had a tri-level deck with an ocean view. It was perfect! We texted that we were very interested in it. They texted back that we would have to fill out an application and in order to see it we had to pay the first month rent and security deposit upfront. The reason for this was to screen the inquiries and only get people who were really serious about renting. They didn’t want a bunch of people just walking through the house. They then said that they would sign some kind of legal paper to ensure that we would get our money back if we decided not to rent it. That is when I knew we were dealing with scammers.
I guess the saying, “if it is too good to be true, then it is” applies here. We had two other similar episodes with La Jolla rentals. The ad claimed that the one bedroom, furnished cottage was $2000/month. After texting our interest, they gave us the address. We drove by and noticed a management sign in the front yard. The phone number on the sign was different from the one I had been texting. When we called the number on the sign, they told us that it rented for $5000/month. The person we spoke with went on to explain that somehow, they copy the ad off the internet….hence, the actual photos of the inside of the cottage and create their own ad to try and scam people. So very sad, no?
Needless to say, we were very discouraged…we liked Ocean Beach and decided that we would look for another AirBnB for at least another month so we could have some more time to explore and look for an area that we would want to live in. We found another cottage on the other side of town. It was in a good, quiet location in the back of the owner’s home, away from traffic and it had a great backyard.
It was actually difficult to get a photo of the exterior of the cottage but here is are pictures of the inside.
We liked the cottage. It was only 10 minutes from downtown Ocean Beach in one direction and in the other direction, it was 10 minutes to Sunset Cliffs and wonderful views of the ocean. The only real problem is it was advertised with a washer/dryer but after we moved in, we discovered the machine was broken. The landlords claimed that they had discussed with us…no, they didn’t as I would have definitely remembered that conversation or email. It was a huge inconvenience to have to go to the laundry mat a couple of times a week.
Due to the fact that I had a trip back to Maine at the end of January, we stayed through February. I didn’t want to leave packing and moving to David. As fate would have it, we met Chris, our current landlord. It is interesting how we made the connection with him. While in Chiang Mai, Thailand, we spent a day at an elephant sanctuary and met three young people traveling together. They had all gone to Boston University and now lived across the United States. Alyssa, from Massachusettes, works in Boston; their male friend lives and works in Kansas City, and Syrenna, lives and works in San Diego. We were chatting at lunch while spending the day at the elephant sanctuary and shared that David was considering a job offer in San Deigo. Syrenna graciously gave us her phone number and said that if we accepted the offer and moved to the area, to let her know and she would help us in any way possible.
When David accepted the job, we contacted Syrenna and she gave us the names of a couple of people who might help us find a place to live. After the episodes on Craig’s List, we told her what had happened and she offered to contact her landlord, Chris, to inquire if he might have any rental units. He had a cottage in University Heights that was available until the first of June.
At that time, we thought that we would continue to rent….maybe in different areas using Airbnb for a few more months to finally figure out where we wanted to settle down. The next question to address was do we want to rent for the four years out here or buy? Housing is unbelievably expensive out here! After looking at places for sale in Ocean Beach, we didn’t feel that we could afford living there. A small, one bedroom cottage, around 500 ft can start at $500,000 and go up.
Chris’s cottage is in University Heights. We met Chris and saw the cottage the first of January. We really liked the it and arranged to move in the first of March for 3 months. Chris’s property is really cute. It is three small cottages on the lot and in the back, is a row of small garages with an apartment above them.
We moved into the first cottage.
This was to be our “home” for the next 3 months. The gypsy lifestyle was getting to both David and me….it was fun experiencing different areas but living in limbo wasn’t for us. We both decided that by the end of our 3- month stay, we would figure out where we wanted to live. In the meantime, Chris told us that the middle cottage was being completely renovated and would be available for rent. We were very interested.
We really liked the location of the cottage. Three blocks to the north of us is Trolley Barn Park, the local park. One block to the west, is Park Blvd that has the coffee shops and restaurants. A 10-minute walk to the south is the library and Sprouts Market, a smaller version of Whole Foods Market. There is a Trader Joes nearby as well. Further to the south, about a mile is Balboa Park. This is the public park for San Diego and is truly more than a park. It has 20 museums, a craft village – Spanish Village, hiking trails, tennis courts, a velodrome for cyclist, recreational areas, and the San Diego Zoo.
After looking at the price of real estate, visiting different neighborhoods, looking at all the options…do we want to buy a house, condo, even a mobile home? Do we rent for the next 4 years? We talked to a variety of people to ask for their advice. The general consensus was it would be better to rent rather than to buy. We had been leaning toward renting and this made the decision easier.
At the end of March, the middle cottage was finished and we, hopefully, made our last move while here in San Diego. This is our new home:
Now that we have “roots” we are hoping to become more of a part of the community. There is a newspaper for University Heights. Some of the upcoming events are “Party on Park Blvd,” a night where the street is closed off for entertainment and the restaurants to offer some of delicious items from their menus. “Cycle and a Movie” is offered in May to get people riding their bicycles more and to meet at the Trolley Barn Park for a movie. This weekend, there is a flea market at Trolley Barn Park.
I am meeting people as I walk each morning and I am beginning to feel more of a sense of belonging. Do I want to be here? It wasn’t on my radar to move to San Diego but that said, there are much worse places to end up, no? I am grateful for all that I have. We are so very, very blessed and I truly believe that there is a reason for everything. When I know the reason for us to be out here….I will gladly share it with you! For now, I am saying thank-you that we are supposed to be in San Diego, CA and not Fargo, ND!!!
Until next post, I wish you joy, sparkles, and many blessings!