Tijuana Housing Alternative to S.D.

 The Bajalta development will include 400 condos, a hotel and office building and mall. (Artha Capital)

Question: With housing costs rising in San Diego, is Tijuana a viable alternative?

Kelly Cunningham
Kelly Cunningham

Kelly Cunningham, National University System

YES: With 14 out of the nation’s 15 least affordable housing markets located in California, including San Diego at 10th, housing costs continue to rise ever higher. Somewhat less expensive housing options for San Diegans require driving 1 to 2 hours to Riverside or Imperial County, but time and commute costs are significant factors as well. Tijuana is the only reasonably close affordable housing option left. The SENTRI (Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection) program can significantly help shorten border crossing times.

David Ely
David Ely

David Ely, San Diego State University

YES: Low vacancy rates for apartments and a lack of inventory of homes for sale have pushed up housing costs in many areas of San Diego to excessive levels.  With close proximity and significantly lower rental rates, commuting from Tijuana may be preferred over spending a large share of a paycheck on expensive housing or long commutes from distant communities in the United States. Acquiring a SENTRI card can shorten the wait to cross the border.

Gina Champion-Cain
Gina Champion-Cain

Gina Champion-Cain, American Investments

YES: But only for those willing to exchange reduced living costs for a wide array of “inconveniences” they currently do not encounter living in San Diego.  There is a large contingente of Mexican Nationals and Mexican Americans living in Tijuana and working in San Diego.  As the cost of San Diego housing increases so, too, will the number of current San Diego residents willing to trade lower housing costs for non-potable water and hour-long border waits.

Alan Gin
Alan Gin

Alan Gin, University of San Diego

NO: There are undoubtedly some people who already live in Tijuana and commute to work in San Diego on a daily basis.  While they do have lower housing costs, they have to endure long waits at the border crossings as a consequence.  It becomes a tradeoff as to whether the lower housing costs outweigh the opportunity cost of the waiting time at the border.  For most people, it would not be worth it.  Added to that are possible quality of life issues.

James Hamilton
James Hamilton

James Hamilton, UC San Diego

NO: The most precious resource any of us have is time.  To give up hours every day commuting and waiting in line in order to be able to afford a bigger place to live is really not the way to improve the quality of your life.  Sharing an apartment or looking for something more modest in San Diego is a better plan for most of us.

Gary London
Gary London

Gary London, London Group of Realty Advisors

YES: Presently, the only viable out-of-SD County option for affordable housing is Riverside County. There is a dramatic difference in housing prices between Tijuana and San Diego, a fact not lost on a growing number of persons unable to afford a home in our county. The key to Tijuana being part of the solution is easier border crossings so that San Diego employed persons can move through the border more reliably. Perhaps  the third border crossing, now in planning, is a solution, coupled by technological improvements in security screening.

Norm Miller
Norm Miller

Norm Miller, University of San Diego

YES: There are already residents living in Tijuana and working in San Diego.  Most challenging for them is the prediction of border crossing time even with a Global Online Enrollment System pass.  Yet for those who do not need to cross frequently, can work remotely or are retired,Tijuana is a real option. Of course, reducing the border crossing time could spawn all types of new developments.

Jamie Moraga
Jamie Moraga

Jamie Moraga, IntelliSolutions

YES: We have a friend who lives in Tijuana and commutes to San Diego for work.  He said housing and cost of living is affordable, his home is near the beach, and with the SENTRI pass his commute over the border is doable.  Demand is rising for housing in Tijuana; in a recent article Realtors estimate a 20 percent increase. High-rise luxury condos are being built with more to come in the next several years. Price tags start at $200,000 while rent in Tijuana for a two-bedroom can start around $300.  For some, Tijuana is worth a consideration.

Gail Naughton
Gail Naughton

Gail Naughton, Histogen

YES: It has become too expensive for people with lower incomes to live in San Diego. Average rents in San Diego are over 680 percent higher than comparable units in Tijuana and the purchase price for a home is almost 670 percent greater. Tijuana is experiencing the biggest residential building boom in over a decade and most new developments are already financed, guaranteeing their timely completion. New luxury condominiums in Tijuana offer many appealing and high-end amenities.

Austin Neudecker
Austin Neudecker

Austin Neudecker, Rev

YES: For few people, living in Tijuana and commuting to San Diego is doable, but requires an extreme commute with the current rush-hour border lines. This becomes increasingly tenable when considering industries that work atypical hours (especially if telecommuting). These include the thousands of jobs we have created at Rev. As globalization continues, we must reduce wait times at the border, embrace part-time & telecommuting jobs, and adopt new technology -like self-driving cars- to remain competitive.


Bob Rauch, R.A. Rauch & Associates

YES: But for a small population today. The wait times for crossing have improved over the years, however, for it to be a real viable option for a larger population, the border crossing infrastructure needs to be greatly improved. During peak periods the wait times are still long. San Diego needs to plan for 10 years from now when crossings double and triple, causing the economy to subsequently expand. More crossings are better for business.

Lynn Reaser
Lynn Reaser

Lynn Reaser, Point Loma Nazarene University

YES: The speeding-up of border crossings and sharp drop in the peso are making Tijuana an attractive option for homebuyers and renters. This is especially true for Mexicans who work in San Diego and have close family, cultural, and language ties in Tijuana. U.S. citizens face legal barriers to ownership. The current building boom in Tijuana is also concentrated in high-rise condos, which means that south-of-the border housing will solve only a small part of San Diego’s housing shortfall

John Sarkisian
John Sarkisian

John Sarkisian, SKLZ

YES: For many the daily commute over the border has become a reality. Continued improvements and expansion of the border crossing have significantly reduced border crossing times. Opportunities to own homes in new and safe communities south of the border are attracting many retirees as well as those who work in the San Diego area. Our shared economy with Mexico continues to grow and become an asset for all in the region.

Dan Seiver
Dan Seiver

Dan Seiver, San Diego State University

Not participating this week.

Chris Van Gorder
Chris Van Gorder

Chris Van Gorder, Scripps Health

NO: While housing costs are lower in Tijuana, I don’t think it’s going to become the alternative housing location for most due to difficulty in crossing the border daily, security concerns and language barriers unless you are bilingual. I think we will see more people looking for less expensive housing away from the coast.

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