Are There Any Natives in San Diego?


I moved to San Diego 12 years ago and it seemed to take a year before I finally met a native San Diegan.

When I arrived in town not knowing a soul, I went to work with a big company, played volleyball on South Mission a couple times a week, and spent a lot of time making new friends and acquaintances.

Time after time, each conversation turned into stories about similar experiences growing up or going to college on the East Coast or in the Midwest and eventually finding our way to paradise. Almost everyone I met had ‘just’ moved to San Diego. The rest had moved to San Diego maybe 5 – 10 years earlier. We referred to them as ‘San Diego natives’ since they had a lot more local experience than the rest of us.

Twelve years later, one of my first questions to a new person I meet in San Diego is still, “Where are you from originally?”.  Nine times out of ten, they’re from someplace else and once again the conversation turns into stories about how we found our way to San Diego.

On the rare chance the person says they were born and raised in San Diego, that too turns into quite a conversation. The natives seem to be used to the surprise and take pride when someone is in shock they’ve met a ‘real native’.

Well, a recent study on California demographics addressed that very issue. You can see in an age-sorted chart that the number of adult Californians born in foreign countries and other states has far exceeded the number of those born in the Golden State.

But, the tide has been changing. In 1980, the number of San Diegans born in California was just over 35%. Now, the figure is approaching 50%. (Keep in mind, many California-born San Diegans are from the Bay Area and L.A. so the number of San Diego-born locals is still in the minority.)

If this trend continues, my favorite ice-breaker may become less relevant but until then, I look forward to asking you, “Where are you from originally?”.

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5 Responses to “Are There Any Natives in San Diego?”

  1. Robert Castle says:

    I was born March 21 1951 at Villa View Hospital , in La Mesa. LIved here my whole life.

  2. Cathy Brinks says:

    I was born at the Storks Club in San Diego in 1963. Graduated from Poway High School in 1981. Lived in San Diego, Escondido, Valley Center and most recently San Marcos. I have three friends I met in high school and we still see each other often. We are all four San Diego natives born and raised in Poway and still remember when there was only one stop light there. My three sisters (two older/one younger) are also SD natives. I am the only sibling still living in San Diego County.

  3. Aaron says:

    I’ve been in the north county area of San Diego since 1985 (stationed at Camp Pen). I’m from Pittsburgh, PA. When I was 7, my brother and I spent a few weeks at my Aunt and Uncle’s home in San Diego. By the time I was in the 11th grade I new I wanted to move to San Diego. Like many people, I have the military to thank for making that possible. I think, beyond the fact that this area is so great in so many ways, the fact that there are so many Navy installations in San Diego, plus Camp Pendleton has a big influence on how many non-natives there are living in the area.

  4. Nancy says:

    My grandfather followed his in-laws to Ocean Beach in 1924. He has 18 grandchildren.

    To many relatives to list, but my mother was born at Paradise Valley Hospital in 1931.

    Lots of siblings and cousins all born in America’s finest city.

    In 1960 I was born in Monterey, Ca. but have lived hear most of my life.

  5. Green Hope says:

    Born and raise in Rancho Santa Fe!

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