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Living a College Town Lifestyle in San Rafael, California

San Rafael is a city and the county seat of Marin County,California with a population of 58,502 (2012). It is located in the North Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, and is named after Archangel Raphael, the Angle of Healing, as it was once a mission set up for the sick in the 1820’s. The mission was abandoned in 1844, but was rebuilt in 1949, and today is a popular city landmark. With the arrival of George Lucas and Lucasfilm in the 1970’s, San Rafael became a center for the entertainment industry for a short time as portions of THX 1138 and American Graffiti were filmed there. Schools that are home to San Rafael include Dominican University, the Ali Akbar College of Music which was founded by an Indian musician to teach Indian classical music.

Where to Retire in San Rafael and Home Prices

San Rafaelis made up of several neighborhoods as well as some active adult communities (see link for Active Communities on left). reports the median home value was $1,359,114. in late 2021.

What Is Special about San Rafael

San Rafael is located on the San Francisco Bay just 30 miles north of San Francisco.  The city has a quaint downtown with shops, and restaurants, and the new San Rafael City Plaza hosts farmers markets and concerts.

What Is Not Special about San Rafael

The high cost of living is the biggest drawback.

Climate and Physical Environment

San Rafael experiences a Mediterranean climate with mild winters that seldom reach the freezing mark. The average January temperature is 48 degrees.  The average July temperature is 68 degrees.  It rarely rains June through September so it’s safe to plan summer picnics anytime.

Restaurants & Cultural Scene

San Rafaelis a great town for patrons of the arts with its “Discover Art on Fouth”- an art community downtown on Fourth street where galleries and art studios are showcased. The city is also home to the Marin Center which has provided  a wide spectrum of performing arts for over 40 years.  Museums within the city include the recreated Mission San Rafael Arcangel  and the modern Frank Lloyd Wright Civic Center.  San Rafael also boasts twelve parks and open spaces and is host to several festivals throughout the year.


San Rafael's crime rate is slightly above the national average.

Medical Facilities

Kaiser Foundation Hospital;  Marin General Hospital is 3 miles away in Greenbrae.


San Rafael has local bus service through Golden Gate Transit and Marin Transit; Greyhound is located in San Rafael; the nearest international airport is 30 miles away in San Francisco; Amtrak is 10 miles away in Richmond.

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