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Cost of Assisted Living in San Marcos, California

Page Reviewed / Updated - July 09, 2019

This guide is written for seniors, their caregivers, family members and other loved ones in the San Marcos area. It's directed toward seniors who need safe and comfortable living arrangements, starting with knowing the options available and likely costs associated with each level of care.

Another purpose of this guide is to clarify which programs and services are open to San Marcos seniors to make living at home as easy and comfortable as possible. Finally, this guide is meant to highlight helpful resources specific to the San Marcos area that can lift some of the cost of independent living and make it as easy as possible for seniors to live on their own.

For more information about senior living in San Marcos, please read our comprehensive guide to paying for senior care in California.

The Cost of Senior Living and Care in San Marcos

The cost of senior care in San Marcos is generally close to the average price in the rest of California at large, according to the 2018 Genworth Cost of Care Survey. Assisted living in San Marcos, for example, costs an average of $4,500 a month, which is exactly the reported average cost in California. Monthly costs are nearly as close for adult day care, which costs $1,733 in San Marcos and $1,679 in California.

Note: Senior care cost data wasn’t available for San Marcos, so the data for the closest city, San Diego, was used.

How much does Assisted Living Cost in San Marcos?

Assisted living in San Marcos costs an average of $4,500 a month. This is identical to the average cost for the rest of California. Los Angeles also reports monthly costs of $4,500 for assisted living. Sacramento is close to this range, at $4,473 a month.

By contrast, San Francisco and San Luis Obispo have some of the most expensive assisted living averages in the state. Seniors in these two cities pay $5,500 and $5,450 a month, respectively. Seniors in Bakersfield pay some of the lowest costs in the state. Assisted living there runs to an average of just $3,150 a month.

How much does Home Care Cost in San Marcos?

Home care in San Marcos costs an average of $4,767 a month, which is in line with the exact total Los Angeles and Sacramento report. All three cities are somewhat less expensive than the state average, which is $4,957 a month for home care. San Francisco and San Luis Obispo seniors pay some of the highest costs in the state for this service, at $5,5,625 and $5,053, respectively. Seniors in Bakersfield pay some of the lowest home care costs in the state, at just $4,385 a month on average.

How much does Adult Day Care Cost in San Marcos?

Adult day care costs an average of $1,733 a month for San Marcos seniors. This is exactly the cost seniors pay in Sacramento and San Francisco, though it is a little over $50 more per month than the $1,679 seniors pay across California on average. Many California cities cluster close to the middle for adult day care costs, though one outlier, Chico, reports an average monthly cost of $2,134. Los Angeles rests on the other end of the price continuum, at just $1,565 a month for adult day care.

How much does Nursing Home Costs in San Marcos?

Nursing home care in San Marcos averages $8,517 a month, roughly $150 a month more than the average cost in California, which is $8,365 for a semi-private room in a skilled nursing facility. Sacramento matches San Marcos' average price, at $8,517, while San Francisco tops the list of surveyed cities at $9,148 a month for nursing care.

Some of the lowest costs seniors pay in California are in San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles, where costs average $7,604, or in Bakersfield, which reports an average price of $7,513 a month.

Financial Assistance Programs in San Marcos

Medicaid Program in San Marcos

Seniors in San Marcos who earn up to 138% of the federal poverty line may be eligible for financial assistance through the state Medicaid program, known in California as Medi-Cal. Medi-Cal pays for basic medical care, some medications and much of the cost of residential care for seniors who qualify for the program. Unlike some assistance programs, Medi-Cal is an entitlement, which means any eligible resident of California who meets the income requirements may apply and receive care with no waiting periods or annual enrollment caps. 

Annual income thresholds are based on federal poverty guidelines, which are adjusted upward every two years. In 2018, seniors applying for Medi-Cal could get no-cost healthcare if they earned less than $16,395 a year from all sources combined. Married couples are allowed to earn up to $22,108 a year and may apply individually or together. Each additional adult who lives in the household raises the allowed income level by an extra $5,741, whether that adult is applying for Medi-Cal or not.

Medi-Cal delivers health coverage through an in-state network of private health insurance companies, such as Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Kaiser Permanente. Medi-Cal plans offered through these carriers can be examined, and seniors may choose the one they prefer, through the Covered California website. Applications can also be submitted through a county Human Services office. Medi-Cal plans can be either HMOs or PPOs, and seniors must choose their preferred option during the annual open enrollment period at the end of the year.

Many seniors in San Marcos can streamline their application process if they have previously been approved for certain other low-income benefit programs. These programs use the same enrollment and eligibility criteria as Medi-Cal, and so approval by one or more of them is considered evidence of eligibility for Medi-Cal. Some programs even use the same application form as Medi-Cal. Compatible programs that Medi-Cal intake workers can accept include:

  • TANF, also called Cash Aid or welfare
  • CalFresh, the state's SNAP or Food Stamp program
  • WIC
  • Section 8 housing support
  • Acceptance into subsidized low-income housing
  • Refugee status or federal approval of asylum

Medicaid Waivers in San Marcos

Assisted Living Waiver Program (ALWP)

Seniors who live in San Diego County may be able to pay some of the costs associated with assisted living with an Assisted Living Waiver Program (ALWP) voucher. This voucher applies to seniors who qualify for Medi-Cal and have a medical recommendation to live in a skilled nursing care home. To get the waiver, seniors must opt out of the higher level of care and transition into a participating assisted living facility. ALWP vouchers are only available in 15 counties in the state, including San Diego.

Applications for ALWP vouchers can be made prior to moving into assisted living, through a Medi-Cal caseworker, or after the move through a benefits specialist at the facility. Seniors can also call the San Diego County benefits office through the Choose Well helpline at (619) 795-2165.

Multipurpose Senior Services Waiver

Seniors who choose to remain in their homes in San Marcos may be able to pay some of the associated costs of independent living through the state's Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP) voucher. This voucher covers many of the costs that help keep seniors safe and comfortable in their own homes, including:

  • Expert advice about eligible benefits from case managers
  • Caregiver assistance at home
  • Respite care
  • Adult day care
  • Some mobility-based home improvements, such as new wheelchair ramps and guard rails
  • Approved home repairs and weatherization
  • Vouchers for public transportation, as well as scheduling and payment assistance for medical and disabled ride services
  • Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) hardware, including call buttons
  • Protective supervision in the home for seniors with dementia
  • Translation and interpreter services
  • Meal service
  • Financial advice from certified senior financial advisers

Seniors in San Marcos can apply for the MSSP voucher through their Medi-Cal caseworker. They can also submit an application through the benefits specialist at a residential facility they are transitioning out of, such as a post-acute care home.

Home and Community-Based Alternatives (HCBA) Waiver

Seniors can get some of the cost of moving home from residential care covered by the Home and Community-Based Alternatives (HCBA) waiver program. This voucher pays for miscellaneous reasonable expenses related to the transition back home after time spent in residential care. Applications are usually submitted through the discharge or benefits planner at the discharging facility.

Community-Based Adult Services (CBAS)

San Marcos seniors with unmet financial needs can get some help through the Community Based Adult Services (CBAS) waiver program. This catch-all program helps seniors whose needs might otherwise fall through the gaps with financial assistance paying for, among other things:

  • Adult day care in the home or at a local facility
  • At-home or facility-based meal delivery
  • Scheduled social events with other seniors in the program
  • Physical and mental health therapy delivered either at the seniors' home or in a local facility

Other Financial Assistance Programs in San Marcos

In-Home Support Services (IHSS)

Seniors in San Marcos may be able to get in-home caregiver assistance through the In-Home Support Services (IHSS) program. This voucher pays seniors' preferred caregivers for the hours they work in the seniors' home. Caregivers can be spouses, family or friends of seniors in the program, provided they are CPR certified and attend a training session. Seniors can enroll in IHSS through their Medi-Cal caseworker. Program participants are allotted a certain number of hours per month the state will pay for caregiver help, and they must sign off on hours worked every two weeks to authorize payment.

Paid Family Leave

San Marcos seniors can get temporary caregiver assistance from an immediate family member who has taken up to a six-week leave of absence from work under California's Paid Family Leave Act. This act provides for payroll deductions from employees' paychecks, which can then be paid back out to cover lost wages during family members' illness or transitional periods when coming home from residential care. 

Benefit amounts vary with the workers' previous wages during a three-year look-back period, and with the amount of money, the employee has contributed to the fund over the years. Applications should be submitted as early as possible through the state's Employment Development Department (EDD), which may be done by phone. EDD may require documentation of the family relationship and medical need for support, as well as to conduct a telephone interview as part of the approval process. By state law, employers are required to hold the caregiver's job open for up to six weeks while they are out.

More Senior Living Resources in San Marcos


Phone Number


San Diego County Health and Human Services (HHS) (858) 694-3900 San Diego County provides multiple services that help San Marcos seniors get or stay in affordable housing. HHS administers the local Section 8 housing choice voucher program, offers emergency homelessness assistance and maintains a list of affordable properties in the area. Seniors can get in touch online or by phone.
Aging and Independence Services (800) 510-2020 San Diego County's Aging and Independence Services provides caregiver support, training resources and financial assistance for seniors in San Marcos who wish to remain in their own homes. Seniors can apply by phone.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) (800) 411-7343 San Diego Gas & Electric offers reduced rates to San Marcos residents with qualifying low income through the state-funded LIHEAP system. This program can significantly reduce monthly home energy costs, and seniors in San Marcos can apply for it directly through the mail with SDG&E. Applications can be requested by phone.