Financial Advisor magazine is doing a series on what advisors say it costs to retire in many locations. See the end of this article for links to previous articles in the series.

Like the old joke about real estate, how much you need to retire in San Diego depends on location, location, and location.

"If you live by the coast, your cost of housing is much, much greater," said Bridget Grimes, president of Wealth Choice, a financial planning firm in San Diego. For instance, she added, "The average price of a house in Coronado is $1.7 million, and many of the other coastal communities have similar prices."

On the other hand, home prices are much lower further inland. "My clients that live inland where housing prices are much lower have smaller mortgages and often more modest lives," she said. "One of my clients makes $150k, owns a house, has a small mortgage and is about to buy a second home in another state. We estimate her retirement income needs to be about $80,000 a year after taxes, but she could live on far less given her modest life. Her portfolio will be about $2.5 million when she retires, and when you add Social Security, she will have plenty to live on."

Overall, the median home value in San Diego is $623,700, as measured by the real estate website That's a jump of more than 8 percent from a year ago, and it's expected to rise more than 9 percent in the next year.

Because San Diego home values are so high, the size of a client's mortgage can dictate how much he or she will need to live on in retirement, said Grimes. That's why she encourages clients not to carry their mortgages into retirement. "We try to have our clients pay them down by retirement or take the equity they have in the current house and use it to buy a house for cash when they retire," she said.

For renters, the median one-bedroom apartment was recently clocked at some $1,800 a month, roughly 7 percent higher than the national average. But the San Diego Union Tribune reported that vacancy rates are rising, so the rate of rent increases may be slowing.

Of course, lifestyle is another big determinant. Grimes noted that she starts with how much a client's life costs now, before retirement. "Then we anticipate what it will cost in retirement, depending on the quality of life they want," she said. "That serves as a guideline for my clients to get an idea of what we need to shoot for, depending on how much we determine they need."

With so many variables, it's hard to zero in on how much a client needs to retire in San Diego. "My best guess is something close to $1.5 million at minimum, plus Social Security," said Barbara Malone, managing director at Stolper & Co., a wealth management firm in San Diego. "That should allow you to rent a decent two-bedroom apartment in a good location, pay our high taxes and enjoy our nice weather."

Read other articles on what advisors have to say about retiring in San Francisco and New York City.