The La Costa area of Carlsbad (link is to a virtual tour of Carlsbad with music - turn up your sound), primarily zip code 92009, is one of the better known residential areas along the San Diego North Country coast.
The area began growing in 1965 when several thousand acres of land were purchased and turned into a golf course (now part of the La Costa Resort and Spa), homes constructed, and the Rancho La Costa Inn built for visitors.
The original resort has had several owners and was later renamed La Costa, thus giving the surrounding area its name. Formerly a separate "town" the area was annexed and later became part of Carlsbad, but many still refer to it by its original name.
In the early days La Costa had a reputation as a playground for the rich and famous, many from Hollywood, the Rat Pack being the most well-known. A number of celebrities had homes here along the golf course (Robert Young, for example) or rented properties in the area.
Despite several changes in ownership, the resort remains a popular golf, tennis and spa destination and hosts several golf and tennis tournaments annually, as well as weddings and corporate functions. Recently the owners have developed a series of whole ownership condos on the grounds which have proven to be wildly popular, and expensive (averaging $600/SF and more and usable 120 days out of the year - owners can rent them the remainder of the year for income).
The La Costa real estate market covers a broad range of housing options in many styles, including apartment rentals, condominiums, and detached homes, many with reasonably large parcels of land.
High-end properties tend to be gated, and there are a small gated communities along the golf course.
A number of people own second homes here as well as investment properties. Because of the hilly terrain, many homes offer panoramic and beautiful views of the Batiquitos Lagoon, the ocean, the La Costa Resort, and the back country hills. The proximity to the resort and to the beaches make this area a prime vacation and rental market.
LA COSTA REAL ESTATE:
As of this writing there were 183 detached Carlsbad homes on the market, ranging in price from $475,000 to $2,750,000; occasionally homes priced in the $3M - $5M range appear on the market as well. For 2006 the median price was $826,00 (essentially unchanged from 2005), with an average price of $877,371 (Note, however, that prices have appreciated 84% since 2001).
A total of 443 detached La Costa homes sold (through the MLS) in 2006 vs. 754 in 2005. Marketing time averaged 63 days, and homes sold at 96% of the asking price, on average, in 2006.
Affordability is an issue in the Carlsbad real estate market, and the California Association of REALTORS reports that less than 10% of the population can afford to purchase the median priced home in the La Costa area of Carlsbad. The good news is that prices, on average, are less than neighboring Encinitas) to the south, and the Aviara area of Carlsbad, to the west, and homes tend to be larger for a comparable price. With the current inventory, buying a home here now may be a good decision, depending on your circumstances and budget.
(8/08 NOTE: Affordability has improved in this area since this article was orignally written).
Depending on where you live, and the current geographic boundaries, your children may go to different school districts. Part of the area is served by San Dieguito Union High School District (Encinitas) and the Carlsbad Schools; others attend schools in the San Marcos School District.
La Costa offers an idyllic Southern California lifestyle, given the area is primarily residential, has beautiful views, and experiences a very pleasant coastal climate all year round.
There are two small shopping centers as well as upscale shops at the resort. Nearby shopping of every description, however, can be found along El Camino Real, a major thoroughfare running north and south from Oceanside to Cardiff.
The Forum (below left), in South Carlsbad is probably the best known upscale shopping area, but residents have easy access to the Carlsbad Premium Outlets Mall to the north. The area is close to the 5, without the noise, so travel to downtown San Diego (about 30 miles) and to LA (about 100 miles) is easy (except during rush hour traffic).
There are few restaurants in the community itself, the best being at the La Costa Resort (Bluefire Grill), however residents can enjoy upscale dining close by in other areas of Carlsbad including the Village, at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort nearer the coast, and in Encinitas. Vigilucci's (photo below right)offer waterview dining and extraordinary sunsets.
Nearby attractions for residents include miles of Pacific Ocean beaches (South Carlsbad State Beach - photo above right, off coastal Highway 101 to the west), camping facilities, the Flower Fields (off Palomar Road, top right photo), the Museum of Making Music, Legoland, and the historic Rancho Carrillo.
If you are searching for that Southern California home near the ocean, with golf, tennis, shopping and restaurants in and around the area, in a primarily residential community, but with easy access to the city and other coastal amusements, then the La Costa area of Carlsbad may be the ideal choice for you.
The diversity of La Costa homes offers many options for first time, move-up, downsizing, and vacation-home buyers.
And for those of you in other parts of the country, relocation to La Costa may give you the year-round lifestyle you are seeking, away from the cold and snow.
By the way, I have lived in La Costa and know the area very well, so I can provide you with much more information and photos of the area if it appeals to you. I'd love to hear from you if I can assist in any way.