Just got back from 5 days in San Diego for the first winter swell of the year. I would much rather live here and surf overhead heaving barrels on pea island than surf overhead blacks with 350 of your best friends. Most of the spots I saw out there were soft and didn't barrel anything like it does here. Yea, Baja Malibu was sick, but I was worried I was either going to get robbed, shot, or both.
This place rules. Period. There are a few other places out there that rival living in the Outer Banks, such as Margaret River Australia, but this is my favorite place. I moved here from Virginia Beach and I made the drive down whenever we got significant swells.....but, that's nothing like actually living here..
It's certainly not for everyone though.
It's tough to make it here year round, esp now with "the economy". It is not as consistent as the west coast, it gets wayyyy colder and less populated in the winter, and has significantly less business opportunities than the rest of the mid-atlantic region and east coast. But, that's what makes it so special to live here.
Yea we get flat spells, but take a quick and cheap trip down to the Carib or Central America if you have to. We've had quite a few fun days of surf in the last month or two, while everyone else is complaining about the flatness. I surfed waist to head high barreling frisco yesterday afternoon and I think I had more fun than when I surfed blacks. Yea it was cold, but I surfed with 3 friends..
So yea, I'm more of a fan of the Right coast. It's all personal preference.