I just moved back to Massachusetts from SD. Born, and partially raised there. You wont find a nicer city on the westcoast, and one of the nicest in the country. The weather is unbeatable (70-80 and sunny virtually everyday, with no humidity!), and the city/area is beautiful.
As far as the PD goes, SDPD is a very busy department that has all the toys. The city pop. is approximately 1.3 million people at last check. They are very selective in their hiring process, however they do hire on a regular basis. I tested, went through the process, and was hired for the City/County Animal Services Department, and because this department are also "Peace Officers" the process is similar. I did not do the out-of-towner testing though. I believe you will have a written exam, if you pass, you will sumbit your Personal History Questionaire/PIQ (background packet), then you will have the PAT test I think. Its usually done at Miramar College, thats the location of the San Diego Regional Law Enforcement Training Center. (http://www.miramar.sdccd.cc.ca.us/programs/adju)
For this you will run up and down a large set of cement stairs several times, run several laps around 2 large aircraft hangers, dummy drag, etc. All while wearing a vest.
I believe after the PAT test, you will be scheduled to return to SD for Oral Board Interviews, Psych, and Polygraph/VSA tests. The last step is usually the medical physical done at a contracted facility called "Health South." Its a standard LEO physical, but bring your medical records with you, as they will need them before they will clear you. Trust me, I had to have mine faxed to them 3 days before the academy started because I did not bring them when I moved.
After that, youre off to the academy for 32 weeks, 26 at the SDRLETC, then several more doing various field training. ( I went to the SDRLETC, but not the full academy like SDPD, ours was abbreviated to 16 weeks for animal services.) While youre there, you will train with SDPD recruits, SD Sheriff recruits, college dept recruits, lifeguards, animal services officers, etc. You may even get lucky and get to go to the range with one of the local Navy SEAL teams.
After graduation youre assigned an FTO, and an area station, (western division-Beaches, South East-Barrio Logan, Northeastern-Mira Mesa, and many more...)
Just remember, California is a long way away from Boston, I made the move, was there for a year, and then got home sick and moved back to Mass. Good luck, and let me know if you need more information.
The cost of living is relatively high, and prices of houses are ridiculous just like here. As far as renting goes, you should be all set. There are many more apartments available in SD than there are here in MA. San Diego is the second most populous county in the State, after LA county of course. Therefor, the area has many, many apartment complexes, and because of this, you may be able to find something reasonably cheap. I was renting a 1 bedroom, with a garage, central AC, a pool, sauna, and all the ameneties, for $720 a month. Let me know how things go, and if it looks good, I will let you know the areas you should look in, and where you should stay away from. You want no part of southeast San Diego, Logan Heights, Barrio Logan, parts of City Heights. Near the beaches are ok, but expensive. I lived in the "college area" near San Diego State University. Not too bad. Let me know how you make out.