San Marcos, California

San Marvelous

Double Peak Park
Double Peak Park
San Marcos Farmer's Market
San Marcos Farmer's Market
Woodland Park
Woodland Park



Sunny Days: 265
62100 Affordability
100100 Schools
55100 Diversity
91100 Safety

The Best Thing About San Marcos?

Suburban Bliss

San Marcos is a wonderful bedroom community. One that has stunning scenery, amazing weather (albeit a few degrees warmer than the coast) and some of the best schools in the entire state. The homes are beautiful, the yards and parks are built for kiddos and doggos to run around and it’s as safe a city as you can find in Southern California.

The Worst Thing About San Marcos?

Suburban Blues

If you’re not looking for a bedroom community, you’re going to find San Marcos dull and it’s (as of yet) sorely lacking walkability. It’s also a rough spot if you’re commuting as the State Route 78 is the primary way to get anywhere from San Marcos and it can be a bear for commuting.

Lifestyle of San Marcos

Located in the foothills of North San Diego County, San Marcos is mostly a sleepy suburb. However, CSU came to San Marcos in 1989 and the college brings some more buzzy action (and breweries.)

South of 78, it’s subdivisions and the occasional shopping center with decent hiking.

San Marcos started out as a rural area and is still not walkable but the city is undergoing major development including high density housing, mixed use and commercial development. This is raising costs and causing some disagreement. (At the time of this writing there’s quite a kerfuffle about a second Costco for example.)

Nevertheless, the revitalization of Old California Restaurant Row is “envisioned as a vibrant, mixed-use hub that will include updated dining offerings, new retail space, landscaped pedestrian connections, a neighborhood park and a range of housing designed to facilitate a live/work environment. The Project is designed to activate W. San Marcos Blvd. through the inclusion of outdoor dining, street-facing homes to encourage walkability, social gathering spots, opportunities for public art, and other elements that improve this highly visible public space.

Schools in San Marcos

San Marcos is mome to California State University San Marcos and Palomar College as well as six private higher education institutions so education is at a premium here. SMUSD is considered a good school district and gets an A+ grade on San Marcos High School is notably well-regarded as are several grade schools including; Discovery, Paloma, San Marcos, Double Peak, and San Elijah Elementary.

Why You Should Move Here Now?

It's a pretty sweet location that is fairly close to the high priced North County beach locations without quite the steep housing costs and close to highways for commuter access to San Diego. Perhaps for some of you the $2 billion investment they are making in Downtown is the true incentive though. It will take a sleepy suburban town and turn it into a more vibrant, walkable, fun city.

Neighborhoods in San Marcos

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San Elijo Hills


A masterplanned community, San Elijo Hills is a San Marcos favorite. It’s known for its rolling hills and scenic vistas. The neighborhood features a variety of housing options, including single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments. The architectural styles blend traditional and contemporary designs. One of the great characteristics of San Elijo is it is the only community in the city with its own town center. The San Elijo Hills Town Center, offers shops, restaurants, and gives the neighborhood an energy the others lack. Locals can also access miles of hiking and biking trails that wind through the natural landscapes.

The single-family homes are large custom builds, many with 4-5 bedrooms, and generally starting in the $1.5m range.

Lake San Marcos


Lake San Marcos is an unincorporated area of San Diego, situated around a private lake which offers scenic views, boating, fishing, and paddleboarding. The lake is surrounded by walking trails, picnic areas, and parks. There’s also a private country club and golf course. Residents have access to the championship golf course, tennis courts, swimming pools, and a fitness center, that gives locals a resort-like lifestyle. Lake San Marcos also offers retirement living options, including age-restricted communities and is not appealing for young families. Median home prices are ~$852k.

The area also has a strong community association that runs year-round events for families and retirees, and gives the residents a strong community vibe.

Santa Fe Hills


Santa Fe Hills is located in a hilly area, with spacious single-family houses and modern townhouses. The neighborhood has both open and luxury gated communities, if you're looking for upscale and private. The median home price is $855k.

The nearby Double Peak Park, with its hiking trails and views, is beloved by local nature enthusiasts and picnickers. Santa Fe Hills is close to the San Elijo Hills community which has its own town center that provides shopping, restaurants and cafes within just a few minutes drive. Local children are zoned for Carrillo Elementary School, San Elijo Middle School, and San Marcos High School -- all A rated schools. ****

Discovery Hills


This hilly neighborhood is perhaps the choice most appreciated by outdoor lovers. It's surrounded by open spaces and hiking trails, and Discovery Hills Children's Park, a dreamy green space with tons of outdoor play structures for the kiddos. The nearby Discovery Lake is a also hugely popular with families and parents looking to take a break, offering opportunities for fishing, picnicking, and walks along the pretty shoreline.

Discovery Hills is primarily single family homes, with a median home price of ~$1m. They're typically 3-4 bedrooms, newer builds, and at least 2k but also up to 4k sq feet. The neighborhood also has some townhomes for sale in the ~$500k range.

Old Creek Ranch


Old Creek Ranch is another San Marcos neighborhood with a focus on giving locals nature-centric experience. Outdoor living is the lifestyle here and there is an extensive network of walking, running and biking trails with beautiful views of the surrounding hills and green spaces. Old Creek Ranch features a mix of single-family houses and townhouses, with the median home price at $1.5m and townhomes in the ~$600k range.

The neighborhood has wonderful community parks, including Old Creek Park and Al Bar Ranch Park, both with open green spaces, sports courts, trails, playgrounds for the kiddos and doggo areas for Fido. Additionally, residents have access to a community pool, clubhouse, and fitness center, and top-rated schools such as San Elijo Elementary School, San Elijo Middle School, and San Marcos High School.