San Marcos, CA - One of America's Best Cities to Live

A City to Discover Life's Possibilities

Your Guide to Moving and Living in San Marcos, CA and of course Your Real Estate Resource

San Marcos, CA is named one of the best suburbs in America to live and when you visit, it’s easy to understand why!

GOBankingRates conducted a comprehensive study analyzing the cost of living, quality of schools and safety in suburban areas surrounding the biggest cities across the country. Factors in this study included:
San Marcos Real Estate Market – Median home list price and median monthly rent, sourced from Zillow’s May 2019 index
Annual cost of groceries, healthcare, utilities and transportation, sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2017-18 Consumer Expenditure Survey
Quality of school districts, sourced from Niche
Violent and property crime rates per 1,000 residents, sourced from Neighborhood Scout

Nestled between Escondido and Vista, San Marcos is a mountain-view community in San Diego’s North County region that’s quickly growing because of its local economy, great weather, and convenient proximity to beaches.

With over 290 acres of park land for you to recreate in, San Marcos really lives up to its nickname “San Parkos”. With our 24 community parks,  13 neighborhood parks, and 3 recreation centers San Marcos is are the perfect destination/location for community gatherings, outdoor sports, or a family picnic.  The City’s extensive and growing 63 mile trail network is great for hiking, biking, running and equestrian use. use… The mission of the City of San Marcos is to improve the quality of life of those who live, work or visit San Marcos by providing a safe family atmosphere that is rich and diverse in cultural and natural resources and promotes economic and educational opportunities.

Located in the beautiful foothills of northern San Diego County is San Marcos, a progressive community of more than 90,000 residents who enjoy a fantastic quality of life. From miles of trails in the local hills, to unique dining and make sure to check out the restaurants of  Old California Restaurant Row and shopping opportunities in its retail centers, San Marcos has all the ingredients that make living enjoyable.

The City of San Marcos, CA has an extensive network of hiking, walking, and biking trails. One of the most popular routes in the area is this hike up to Double Peak, a small, local park with an impressive panoramic view. Just a 35-mile drive south takes you to downtown San Diego, while a short jaunt west takes you to the majestic shores of the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

Although San Marcos has experienced rapid growth over the last decade, it continues to maintain the small town atmosphere and values that attracted so many new residents here which continues to add a boom to the San Marcos Real Estate Market

The San Marcos Unified School District is one of the largest in the county and consists of 19 different schools with classes for kindergartners all the way through adult education students. The San Marcos Unified School District serves over 17,850 students across the city of Carlsbad, San Marcos, Vista, Escondido, and several unincorporated areas of San Diego County. San Marcos Elementary School, San Elijo Middle School, and San Marcos High School are three primary options.

Home to Palomar College and California State University San Marcos, the City has also become the heart of education in San Diego North. Additionally, San Marcos works diligently to maintain its low crime rate, historically having one of the largest sheriff’s contracts in the county. It also has some of the best fire emergency response times around. A dedication to parks and community services is another priority for the City of San Marcos. In addition to its rich recreational and cultural programs for children, teens, adults and seniors, the City has constructed 60 miles of trails, 29 new parks and 11 recreation centers over the past 25 years.

Quality community development like the Creekside Marketplace, Nordahl Center and Grand Plaza have all become popular shopping and dining destinations, and plans for thoughtful future developments like the San Marcos Downtown Creek District, Palomar Station Apartments and University Village Apartments will quickly put San Marcos on the map as a regional shopping, dining and entertainment destination.

Total Population 96,165
Population in Households 95,381
Population in Families 79,298
Population Density 3,948
Diversity Index2 80
Average Household Income $105,769
Total Households 31,054
Average Household Size 3.07
Family Households 22,415
Average Family Size 4

These elements all combine together to create the unique community that is San Marcos.


92069  – Total Population 51,518, Average Household Income $92,940
92078 – Total Population 50,790, Average Household Income $115,988

Places to Visit and things to do  in San Marcos, CA

Lake San Marcos – Occupying about 80 Acres, and with a population of 4,713, Lake San Marcos is an unincorporated area of San Diego County, approximately 5 miles north of La Costa Spa and 7 miles east of the Pacific Ocean.  In 1963, the Frazars purchased the property, raised the height of the dam, reshaped the shore line, and increased the lake’s size to its present 80 acres.  They subdivided the surrounding property and over the years condominiums and single family homes were built. The uninterrupted Pacific breezes provide nature’s air conditioning, with temperatures seldom above 80 degrees.  The Cerro de Las Posas mountain on Lake property and the San Marcos mountains to the north, with an eastern exit, create a wind tunnel preventing smog from settling in our valley. In Lake San Marcos there are a lot of restaurants, coffee shops, and parks. Many retirees live in Lake San Marcos and residents tend to have moderate political views. The public schools in Lake San Marcos are highly rated.

Antique Village  – 10,000sq foot mall, home to over 60 different booths with antique furniture, collectibles, tools, china, glass, pottery and much more! Our dealers are always hunting for new and exciting wares and new merchandise arrives daily -definitely worth visiting, explore and uncover that unique treasure

Double Peak Park  Double Peak Trail from Discovery Lake is a 3.9 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near San Marcos, California that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.

Discovery Lake  The loop around Discovery Lake in San Marcos makes a perfect hike for those who want to do a light and easy stroll but still see a diversity of species and beautiful lake scenery. Discovery Lake and Hills Loop is a 0.8 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near San Marcos, California that features a lake and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Golfing in San Marcos and Surrounding Area

San Marcos Family Night  –  Family Night features a low-cost craft or activity hosted by trained recreation leaders at the San Marcos Community Center

San Marcos Fun Friday Nights – Children, ages 4 to 12 years, enjoy a night of games, crafts, pizza & movies. Program is supervisor by trained recreation leaders. San Marcos Community Center or San Elijo Recreation Center

Jack’s Pond Park & Nature Center Jack’s Pond Park is a 23-acre park with picnic areas and a playground.  Jack’s Pond Nature Center promotes the appreciation and enjoyment of nature. The Nature Center offers a science and outdoor education program with hands-on nature study, interpretive hikes and more! offers a K-5 curriculum-based science and outdoor education program with hands-on nature study, interpretive hike and more!

Rip Current Brewing Very Small Brewing Company & Brewer of the Year!Founded in 2011, Rip Current Brewing Company is proud to be an independently owned, operated, and self-distributed craft beer manufacturer located in San Diego County. We were named Very Small Brewing Company and Brewer of the Year at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival. In addition, we have won multiple awards at the most prestigious California beer competitions. Please look for our beer at select locations on tap and in cans around Southern California, or visit one of our tasting rooms in San Marcos and North Park.

Buena Creek Gardens  More than a garden, and more than a nursery, Buena Creek Gardens is above all a beautiful, happy and peaceful place to visit. Here, the natural world takes center stage and welcomes the visitor with open arms. We are not a “big business”, but we offer a truly beautiful, happy and peaceful place to visit and to be inspired by plants and nature.
For more than 20 years, our 4-acre retail nursery and display gardens in North San Diego County has propagated and grown most of the plants we sell in our singular location.

Sky Zone – Sky Zone is a space to move, create and be yourself. And there’s enough room for everyone, so all kids – and kids at heart – can play together. Our vision is a world where everyone plays, every day. Sky Zone is part of CircusTrix, the world’s largest developer, operator, and franchisor of trampoline and active entertainment parks with a network of more than 300 global locations.

View the hottest San Marcos, CA homes for sale and real estate below!

10 reasons to live in San Marcos

With Much to offer in Fitness, Dining, Outdoors and Indoors

Environmental Awareness
San Marcos takes environmental awareness to heart, and is working hard to preserve the San Marcos Creek, ridgelines and sensitive habitat. It actively participates in state, federal and regional conservation programs as well as progressive local air and water quality programs.

Exceptional Educational Opportunities
As North County’s educational hub, San Marcos is home to an award-winning school district, Palomar College and California State University San Marcos. Serving the largest student population in North County, easy commutes are also available to other nearby colleges/universities as well as several employee skills training opportunities.

Excellent Transportation Network 
Located along the SPRINTER commuter rail line with excellent bus service, San Marcos has a solid transportation network. The City is located along Highway 78 and has six interchanges along that route, with easy access to Interstates 5 and 15. Several airports are also close by, including Carlsbad/Palomar Airport (6 miles), San Diego Airport (35 miles) and Orange County Airport (60 miles).

Diversified Housing Market
The San Marcos Real Estate Market is Home to award-winning San Elijo Hills and other master planned communities, San Marcos is the leader in providing quality housing with a wide range of prices and designs.

Business Friendly
As North County’s education hub, this beautiful City has a rich pool of intellectual capital making it an ideal host to incubator programs and new businesses. The City offers a diverse housing stock, an extensive network of parks and trails and easy access to outdoor and entertainment opportunities that have made the area a magnet for entrepreneurs building high-tech, medical and recreation-oriented companies

Quality Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Programs  Click here for  San Marcos Calendar of Events
A master parks and trails program, exceptional community recreation programs, City/school district cooperative programs, access to lakes, beaches and cultural programs enhance the quality of life that residents enjoy in San Marcos.

Strong Local and Regional Economy 
San Marcos enjoys a low unemployment rate and is one of the fastest growing cities in San Diego County. Its low crime rate and strong commitment to promote economic development also add to the community’s value.   Here are the top 10 reasons to live in San Marcos

Central North County Location
San Marcos has an excellent urban (rural) interface setting with small town informality plus easy access to San Diego and southern Riverside and Orange County markets via Interstates 5 and 15.

Quality Medical Care
Local and regional hospitals and clinics, community outreach programs, expanding private and community hospital facilities ensure that residents have quick and quality access to medical care.

 Enviable Weather
It’s hard to beat the mild, year-round climate that San Marcos enjoys.
An average of nine to 11 inches of rain falls annually and average summer temperature hover around 72 degrees.

We hope you enjoyed our San Marcos real estate Market guide

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Home Value Estimates from sites like Zillow Home Values can be inaccurate up to 30% of the time.