Where to Live in San Francisco If…

Ahh, San Francisco. A city jammed with unique, walkable neighborhoods that cater to people’s various daily rhythms. Stroll around the city, and you might find the right spot for you.

If money is no object…

Pacific Heights is truly an architect lover’s dream neighborhood with each mansion carved into a distinctive veneer and framed by San Francisco Bay views. Victorian, Edwardian, Mission Revival, chateau, and ultra modern themed houses dot this hilly area. The sloping streets will be a workout on your calves, but whom are we kidding – if you can afford to live here, you’ll be pulling your fancy wheels straight into your multiple car garage.

Broadway Avenue in this well-to-do area also boasts Billionaire’s Row – home to Oracle Executive Chairman Larry Ellison, billionaire philanthropists Ann and Gordon Getty, Apple’s Chief Design Officer Jony Ive, and other notables. In 2017, a spec house along this tony Pacific Heights strip sold for $42 million (according to Zillow), making it the most expensive home ever sold in San Francisco.

When your personal chef has the night off and the fridge is empty, you can wander on down to Fillmore Street in Lower Pac Heights to fuel up on great eats and shop at high-end stores. Pacific Heights is flanked by the Cow Hollow neighborhood to the North and the Presidio to the West and tends to be isolated from the cool ocean breeze.

If you’re a first-time home buyer…

This is where things can get tricky in San Francisco. After you’ve collected all the coins from under your couch cushions, called in money favors to family and friends, cashed out all your retirement accounts, sold your plasma for dollars, and just plain saved all you can for as long as you can, use a mortgage calculator to determine how much you can afford. Then, start looking at all the different San Francisco neighborhoods.

The median single-family home price has now risen to $1.61 million, according to a recent report. Despite the seven-figure sticker shock, San Francisco home sales are notoriously competitive with sellers who juggle multiple offers.

The Outer Sunset and Outer Richmond  neighborhoods both offer homes with a bit more room to breathe – with added square footage and land for your money. These neighborhoods might appeal to families and roommates alike. Plus, these are ideal areas to live in if you’re a surfer or sunset watcher since you’ll be close to Ocean Beach.

Of course, buyers also are attracted to studio apartments, condos, or teardowns in all parts of The City. It’s a matter of where your wallet – and the competition – takes you within these 7×7 square miles.

If you’re a young professional…

Renting is an attractive option for young professionals in San Francisco, and there’s no shortage of cool neighborhoods that will fit your vibe. Before heading out with a list of apartments to see, know that just like the buyer’s market, this desirable city also has a tough rental market and demand often outpaces supply. The average monthly rental rate for a one-bedroom in San Francisco is $3,295.

The Marina District tends to draw the post-college, sorority and fraternity folks while still offering a nice mix of long-time San Francisco residents. The Marina is ripe with quaint bars and restaurants, along with chain and locally owned stores. It’s a stone’s throw to the San Francisco Bay framed by the famous Presidio, beautiful Crissy Field (note: Crissy is the correct spelling) and historic Fort Mason, making this nature-packed neighborhood an ideal spot for runners, walkers, cyclists, and dog owners. If you’re lucky, you might snag an apartment with Golden Gate Bridge views.

The recently renovated Mission Bay area also is hot right now thanks to newly constructed condos and apartment buildings – a rarity in San Francisco – and the addition of a University of California, San Francisco medical center.

If you’re an artist or musician…

The Mission and South of Market neighborhoods offer one-of-a-kind nightclubs, live music venues, music festivals, recording studios, art galleries, and studios. The heavily gentrified Mission District is a haven for hipsters and families alike, with the vein of the subway system (BART) running through it, making it easy to buzz downtown or get to the airport.

South of Market, or SoMa, is alive with new hotels, loft apartments, art spaces, and tech companies and teeming with nightlife and well-known street fairs. SoMa also houses the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of the African Diaspora, and AT&T Park, home to the San Francisco Giants. The nearby train station is a great commuter option for SoMa residents who work in Silicon Valley.

If you love food…

San Francisco neighborhood restaurants draw foodies from all over the world, making it nearly impossible to peg just one district as “the” foodie mecca. From burgers to burritos to sushi to foie gras to things we can’t pronounce – San Francisco has it all in dive locations to white table linen spots.

The Mission has traditionally been a foodie haven and always boasts the best burrito haunts like La Taqueria and El Farolito. The area sandwiched between Guerrero and Dolores Streets on 18th Street claims the famed Tartine Bakery – run by James Beard Foundation Awards’ pastry chefs — Bi-Rite Creamery, Delfina, and more yummy locales.

Theater, ballet, and symphony goers know Hayes Valley is a sure spot to grab gourmet eats before a show. Barcino, Cala, Jardinière, Little Gem, and Monsieur Benjamin are just a few of the restaurants packed into this densely populated, vibrant neighborhood.

Still not sure? Take this clever quiz to find out what neighborhood best suits you.



Janet Haney