The community covers about 24 square miles and, as of the 2000 census, had about 55,000 residents and almost 18,700 household units. Census data also indicate a fairly diverse population.
San Marcos, because of its inland location, tends to offer a somewhat warmer climate than adjacent Carlsbad, although the west side of San Marcos gets some of the coastal climate (marine layer, ocean breezes, cooler temperatures).
The town is a healthy mix of residential and commercial areas, as well as undeveloped space, and due to Route 78 provides easy access inland to Escondido and the 15 (north to Riverside County, south to San Diego) and west to Oceanside, the 5 freeway, the coast and the beaches. San Marcos is also home to California State University - San Marcos and Palomar College.
The largest, and newest, housing area in the San Marcos real estate market is the master planned community of San Elijo Hills (established in 2000)but still under construction), located on the southwestern edge of town, bordered by Rancho Santa Fe Road and Carlsbad to the west and south. Located high on rolling hills (actually the highest point in North County), this community is a town in and of itself, with schools, post office, gas station, and a few shops, with more retail establishments planned including a grocery store, and a true town center that continues to grow and change.
San Elijo Hills has over 1100 acres of open space (including Double Peak Park - enjoy the slide show at the bottom of the page), 18 miles of hiking trails and a large park for the residents. San Elijo Hills was voted one of the top master planned communities in the US a few years ago, and some new homes are still being built. Once completed, San Elijo Hills will have around 3,400 homes.
Some of the other well known neighborhoods of San Marcos include Santa Fe Hills, Discovery Hills, Discovery Meadows, Twin Oaks Valley, Rancho Dorado and the self-contained golf resort/residential community of Lake San Marcos - Lake San Marcos offers a wide range of housing including a 55+ community. There are many other small neighborhoods and gated communities as well.
New construction is available as well as more established housing (both rentals and for purchase).
San Marcos real estate offers a range of housing including apartments, condos, attached and detached homes, several 55+ communities, and assisted living facilities. In general prices are more affordable than along the coast.
San Marcos is known for having a large commercial and retail area, with numerous shops, shopping centers, restaurants, and a host of other retail establishments. While you won't find much high-end shopping, you can pretty much find whatever you need here, with lots of choices - home improvement/remodeling, electronics, appliances, landscaping, clothing, furniture (residential and office, especially along Furniture Row), gardening, cars/trucks, wines and liquor, and much more, as well as numerous small businesses and non-profit organizations.
Much of the San Marcos shopping is located along Grand Avenue, Rancho Santa Fe Road, and San Marcos Boulevard, the main thoroughfare running roughly east and west (to Carlsbad).
San Marcos is not known as an eating mecca, however there are many restaurants and fast food eateries here covering a wide array of foods and styles, from extremely casual to relaxed upscale, and to fit every budget.
Old California Restaurant Row, on San Marcos Boulevard, has about 18 restaurants, as a good example. If you like a variety of food and are not looking for expensive restaurants, you will be very happy with the broad range of places to dine in San Marcos.
More upscale eating is nearby in Carlsbad (visual tour with music) and further south in Encinitas.
There are 3 golf courses located in San Marcos; Twin Oaks Valley toward the east, and two courses at Lake San Marcos. All are public. Other nearby courses include Omni La Costa Resort and Spa and Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad, and the newer public golf course, The Crossings, also in Carlsbad.
There is a man-made lake at the Lake San Marcos Resort that offers boating. The Chamber of Commerce publishes a list each month of the activities going on in San Marcos. Nearby Carlsbad provides a wealth of other things to do, including Legoland, The Flower Fields, and wonderful beaches along the coast.
Students in San Marcos attend a number of schools in the San Marcos Unified School District, depending on location and grade level; there are a number of schools at all levels: elementary, middle, and high school. A number of students in the eastern side of Carlsbad also attend the schools in San Marcos.
While San Marcos is not on the coast, the community offers a wide range of housing, home prifes and neighborhoods to suit most budgets. The climate is a mix of coastal and inland, with moderate temperatures much of the year.
For home buyers, San Marcos is a more affordable community than those along the coast, and with the range of homes available, there are lots of opportunities for first time, as well as move up, buyers. Compared to coastal communities like Carlsbad and Encinitas, you get a lot more for your money in San Marcos.
There are lots of amenities near to many of the neighborhoods, and it is relatively easy to get to the beach or to the business communities of San Diego, Riverside and Orange Counties, given the proximity to the 15, the 5, and the 78.
If you are a first time buyer, San Marcos may be an ideal community given the housing options, prices, and amenities. If I can provide more information about this community, or answer general questions about market conditions in San Marcos and surrounding areas, please don't hesitate to ask.