San Marcos California - A Thriving Inland Residential Community

Real Estate Agent with eXp Realty of California, Inc. CA DRE #01490977

San Marcos CA

A Thriving Inland Community


 The San Marcos Valley surrounded by mountainsSan Marcos, in San Diego's North County, is located about 6 miles inland from the ocean, and about 30 miles from the downtown San Diego.


The community covers about 24 square miles and, as of the 2021 census, had about 95,000 residents. 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 same 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 and built over a number of years) located on the southwestern edge of town. San Elijo Hills is 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, multiple retaliers, 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), 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 after being built. San Elijo Hills has around 3,500 homes.


 La Playa at Restaurant Row in San MarcosSome 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).


 Restaurant Row in San MarcosSan 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. You'll find the restaurants occasionally change from time to time. 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 dining can be found in Carlsbad, especially in the Village, and further south in Encinitas.

 Lake San Marcos in San Marcos CA


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 the Park Hyatt Aviara Golf Club 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 Carlsbad Flower Fields, and 7 miles of 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.


 Lake San Marcos in teh Lake San Marcos resort on the west side of San MarcosWhile San Marcos is not on the coast, the community offers a wide range of housing, home styles and prices, and neighborhoods to suit most budgets. The climate is a mix of coastal and inland, with moderate temperatures much of the year although it can get pretty warm during the summer in the eastern area further inland.

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 planning a relocation, check out my video series on Relocation Tips and Advice on my YouTube channel.


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. 


Please reach out to me directly or via text at (760) 840-1360 with any questions. I am happy to help!!

Posted by

Jeff Dowler, CRS
Certified Residential Specialist / Realtor®

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Comments (11)

Monika McGillicuddy
Prudential Verani Realty - Atkinson, NH
NH Real Estate Broker
Oh wow!!! I'm sounds like an awesome place!
Mar 17, 2007 06:23 AM
Caleb Mardini
Bellevue, WA

I wish i were somewhere near the place. it really is awesome and great to feel to be near to such places as you have featured in this wonderful site of yours.

I am from the Philippines but i love looking at wonderful places like this one you have featured here.

thanks a lot. 

Mar 17, 2007 07:04 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Monika - Thanks for visiting california! I imagine it looks pretty good comapred to what is happening there. Are you getting snowed in?

Master Casuncad - thanks for your comments. Glad you enjoyed it.


Mar 17, 2007 07:07 AM
Monika McGillicuddy
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Verani Realty - Hampstead, NH
Southern NH & the Seacoast Area
We have well over a foot of heavy wet snow...Brrr it's cold outside!
Mar 17, 2007 07:25 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Oooh, I feel for you I recall those snowy days all too clearly. Stay warm!


Mar 18, 2007 04:16 PM
Brian Brady
Matthews Capital Markets - Tampa, FL
Nice summary of San Marcos.  Didn't you do something on San Elijo Hills?
Mar 21, 2007 01:38 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hey Brian. Not yet but I am working on it. I have some pics but need to get more information - I'm not the expert yet!! Thanks for stopping by (and when I do Solana Beach in ther near future, I will be in touch with you  - lunch? share your expert opinions?). You can be my interview!

I have been focussing on the community profile first for each town, then doing the neighborhoods.


Mar 24, 2007 06:18 AM

I hear the schools in San Marcos are pretty bad and the gangs are tough too.

Dec 30, 2008 12:57 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Don - I'm not sure that you can say that about the schools in general. Buyers who have looked at some of the school research sites find otherwise. I have also gheard that the high school continues to improve, scores are going up, and it is now on the Newsweek Top 1500 schools report.


Mar 14, 2011 10:44 AM