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San Marcos

Scenic views of ocean and mountain ranges permeate this affluent suburb

  • Scenic
  • Great Schools
  • Family-Friendly
  • Colleges
  • Upscale

You’ll want to add this premier Southern California suburbia to your wish list of places to live. With both mountain and ocean views, there’s nothing more scenic than living in this city. Enjoy upscale apartments, modern condos and townhomes, and houses for rent that resemble the west coast lifestyle. Palm trees, luxurious pools, and Southern California style permeate through these pristine rentals!

San Marcos houses California State University San Marcos and Palomar College, and the city is known for its renowned public schools in the San Marcos Unified School District. If you’re commuting to nearby cities for work, such as San Diego, located just 35 miles south of town, you’ll appreciate access to major interstates and a light rail system.

Let’s get back to San Marcos scenic views, shall we? Just a few miles east of the Pacific Ocean, this city boasts incredible ocean views that pair perfectly with views of Palomar Mountain and the Cleveland National Forest to the east. The best place to admire these views, other than from your apartment, is from the wonderful community parks around town. Enjoy stunning views of Palomar Mountain, lush lawns, and a dog park at Sunset Park, or venture over to Double Peak Park for hiking trails with unbeatable ocean views!

Explore the City

Rent Trends

As of September 2018, the average apartment rent in San Marcos, CA is $1,794 for a studio, $1,745 for one bedroom, $1,971 for two bedrooms, and $2,565 for three bedrooms. Apartment rent in San Marcos has increased by 7.8% in the past year.

Beds Avg Sq Ft Avg Rent
Studio 567 $1,794
1 BR 706 $1,745
2 BR 967 $1,971
3 BR 1,188 $2,565


46 Walk Score® Car-Dependent
31 Transit Score® Some Transit

Living in San Marcos

  • Restaurants

    Local joints and well-known restaurant chains sit side-by-side in San Marcos, so you should be able to find any flavor you’re looking for, from authentic ethnic to American eclectic. San Marcos boasts a low-key nightlife. Those seeking a faster-paced scene can head into downtown San Diego, where the party goes all night.

    An authentic San Marcos farm-to-table experience provides an excellent way to enjoy local flavor. The Bellows features fresh, wholesome dishes in a trendy upscale atmosphere. The whiskey burger is beyond compare. Made from grass-fed California beef, it's a flavorful option. Don't leave without trying one of this restaurant's signature wood-fired flatbreads, which have ingredients such as prosciutto and roasted red pepper-tomato coulis.

    Visit Restaurant Row on San Marcos Boulevard for lots of great places to eat all within walking distance from one another. Make your way to the Old California Coffee Company to sit on the patio and sip some award-winning java while you enjoy the neighborhood vibe. If you’re hungry, order a simple but scrumptious sandwich. The BLT on sourdough delivers crispy perfection — and the vegetarian menu is full of equally satisfying dishes, like the savory garlic and herb falafel wrap.

    As you walk along Restaurant Row, stop by Churchill's Pub & Grille to play some pool or watch a game. This beloved bar serves a staggering selection of beers, from imports to local fare; enjoy sample sizes for tasting. The fish and chips at Churchill's can't be beat. Plus, this establishment make a vegan Reuben that's almost indistinguishable from its meaty counterpart.

  • History

    From legendary stories of Spanish discoverers to an account of how an entire town moved a few blocks down the road when the first railroad came through, San Marcos has plenty of tales to tell.

    To delve into local history a bit more deeply, visit Heritage Park, where you’ll find a historical library, a native plant garden and several carefully preserved historical homes. You can also arrange for guided tours or sign up for fun family activities. Stick around and explore the rest of Heritage Park and surrounding Walnut Grove, with its acres of playgrounds and open spaces.

    Home to a handful of higher learning institutions, the San Marcos community values education and the arts. The internationally recognized San Marcos Boehm Gallery at Palomar College hosts installations and exhibitions by students and established artists.

  • Transportation

    San Marcos sits about 45 minutes north of the San Diego International Airport via I-15 or I-5. Like anywhere in San Diego, San Marcos sees its fair share of traffic congestion. Parking is fairly easy to find on most days, and many places provide free or inexpensive parking for visitors and patrons. Just make sure you don't let your meter expire, as parking rules are thoroughly enforced here. If you want to avoid driving, the area is very well served by local mass transit. Designated bike lanes make cycling a good option too. There are some great places to take a stroll in San Marcos, but trying to get around the area on foot isn't really practical.

    The Breeze bus system serves North County, and you can use it to get around San Marcos and the surrounding areas. The Sprinter light rail line runs along highway 78 with six conveniently located interchanges. It’s a fun way to get around, and kids usually love to ride on it. The San Diego metro transit system also services the San Marcos area and connects with the Sprinter at several points.

    Many dependable cab services operate in and around San Marcos. Don't count on hailing a cab from the sidewalk, though. You’ll probably need to call and have one sent. You can also use the Uber mobile app to find your own driver.

  • Cost

    The cost of living in San Marcos runs slightly lower than in many other areas of San Diego. Rent for a one bedroom apartment usually starts at around $1,000, and you can expect to pay up to twice that in more exclusive areas. The monthly rent for a single-family home in San Marcos starts anywhere between $1,500 and $2,000 per month. You can pick up a pint of great local artisan beer for about $6 in San Marcos.

    Gas in this area costs about 11 percent more than the national average. A bus ride will run you about $2.50, and a ride on the Sprinter is around $2 for a regular one-way fare. If you plan to use public transportation to get around, consider getting a day pass. A $5 pass gets you unlimited rides for the entire day on all metro and North County buses, the Sprinter and area trolleys.

  • Shopping

    Large shopping centers can easily be found around San Marcos, along with plenty of big box stores like Costco and Fry’s Electronics (which is not a bad place to visit if you’re in the market for gadgets or gear; the huge aquariums and exotic fish installed as part of the store’s "Atlantis" theme are a hit with kids). There's no shortage of grocery stores like Ralphs and Albertsons in San Marcos. Once a week, the San Marcos farmers market materializes on San Marcos Boulevard. For a true taste of local freshness, sample the wares provided by local farmers, vintners, chefs and artisans.

    Visit The Antique Village to browse through a huge and always-changing collection of antiques, collectibles and interesting objects from the beautiful to the bizarre. Antique lovers will get a kick out of exploring the rows of authentic treasures from the past.

    Need something to spruce up your surroundings or to surprise a loved one? Find Javier Flower and Garden on Twin Oaks Valley Road. These locals grow their own wares in the on-site nursery. Tell them how much you can spend, and they will create a customized arrangement for you. They also do weddings and other events in the area.

  • Parks

    San Marcos encompasses a great many recreational areas. Lakes, parks and green spaces dot the map. Walking, biking and horseback riding can be done along the miles of beautiful trails surrounding the area. The local government keeps a strong focus on natural resource conservation and maintains these places very well.

    Hidden between Rancho Santa Fe Rd and Poinsettia Ave, Sunset Park is worth finding. Clean, with sprawling grounds and no entrance fee, the park features a cool kids’ playground along with a splash pad (which closes during heavy drought periods). There’s also a dog park, a volleyball court, a basketball court and lots of other designated areas for playing. Sunset Park is an ideal place to hold large gatherings or just take a break and enjoy the San Marcos sunshine.

    Walnut Grove Park just off Olive Street has a trail for hiking and biking, plus green space for playing and a jungle gym for the kids. These facilities are all available to the public at no charge. Every October, Walnut Grove hosts the San Marcos Horse Heritage Festival. The family-oriented event brings together music, food and activities, all to benefit Walnut Grove Horse Park (the only public equestrian facility in the county).

    The city maintains several miles of trails around the area. All trails are free to use. For a scenic hike that you can take the whole family on, including your dog, try Hills Loop at Discovery Lake. The soft, easy trail runs for about 2.5 miles and offers gorgeous views of the surrounding wilderness.


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Homes for Rent in San Marcos, CA

Maybe you’re tired of apartment living, maybe you want more space, or maybe you’ve just always dreamed of living in a house. Whatever it is, you’re looking for houses for rent in San Marcos to find your next home. A rental house is the perfect place to make your own, with plenty of space for your family to grow. With hundreds of thousands of active listings all across the country, can help you find the perfect CA house for rent near you. Click on any rental house listing to find out more about the neighborhood, house features, nearby transit, parking, and more. Take a look at photos, too, and start envisioning how you’ll make your new San Marcos rental house into a home. Let be your foundation while you search for your new rental home in San Marcos, CA.

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