The 15 Best Places to Live in San Francisco
A booming economy, great weather, endless career opportunities, a world-class food scene, and a melting pot of cultures with expats from across the world – it’s no wonder San Francisco was rated the 7th best city in America to live in (CNBC, 2019).
The best thing about this vibrant city? There’s something here for everyone – if you know the right places to go, that is.
So, if you’re thinking about heading to The Golden City, here are the best areas to scout out before you settle on a spot.
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Best neighbourhoods in San Francisco for cheap property
1. Hayes Valley
If you’re moving to San Francisco, brace yourself for the steep property prices.
Hayes Valley is one of the areas on the cheaper end of the scale – though still tear-jerkingly expensive – with the average property price at $2,312,500. If you’re looking to rent a property here, it’s likely to cost you around $2,381 a month.
Similarly, Tenderloin will ease the strain on your purse strings slightly – though we can’t say it’s exactly cheap. Here, the average property will put you out roughly $1,260,000, while renters should expect to pay around $2,388 a month.
3. Van Ness – Civic Center
You’ll be pleased to know that this district has an average property price that is below $1 million – hurrah!
Of course, these prices aren’t exactly doable for everyone. That’s why, to get the best of both worlds – the San Fran experience and affordable property – a lot of people decide to buy or rent in surrounding cities and commute in for work.
Some more affordable commuting cities include:
|City||Average property price||Average commuting time|
|San Leandro||$570,000||32.4 minutes|
The San Francisco skyline with the famous Painted Ladies buildings sitting in the foreground
Best neighbourhoods in San Francisco for green space
4. The Richmond
The Richmond district is as green as it gets in San Francisco. Located right next to the Golden Gate Park, living in this region of the city will put you near a section of greenery larger than New York City’s Central Park.
If you fancy a spot of golf, you can also pop to Lincoln Park, which sits on the coastline overlooking the famous Golden Gate Bridge. You’ll never get tired of the view of the bridge peeking above the foggy coastline.
5. Presidio Heights
Residents in Presidio Heights have the best of both worlds: close access to downtown San Francisco and peaceful greenery at home.
From up here, you can find a few hidden natural beauties – including some of the best views of the city, which go on for miles past the rolling rows of houses.
Head over to Mountain Lake Park to explore hidden-away nature trails and peaceful forests, or gaze over the bridge at Fort Winfield Scott.
6. Nob Hill
Nob Hill is home to one of the city’s most famous green spots, Huntington Park, which is placed between some of San Francisco’s most notable structures.
Here, you can take a moment to rest whilst admiring the likes of the Grace Cathedral and the Pacific-Union Club – both praised for their bold architecture.
There are plenty of green areas in San Francisco, like this one, overlooking the bay at sunset
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Best neighbourhoods in San Francisco for schools
7. Laurel Heights
Many families new to San Francisco swarm to this prestigious neighbourhood. Not only does Laurel Heights have lower crime rates compared to other San Fran districts, but it’s also home to several excellent education options, including the award-winning Roosevelt Middle School.
As an added bonus, Laurel Heights is a rare part of the city that is relatively flat – useful for little legs walking to and from school.
8. Outer Sunset
This neighbourhood is very kid-friendly, which is perhaps why 30% of Outer Sunset’s households have children. Not only can your little ones enjoy day trips to the beach, parks, zoos, and playgrounds, but they’ll also benefit from some of the best schooling around. In fact, half of the top 20 ranking schools in San Francisco are located within Outer Sunset's limits.
Best neighbourhoods in San Francisco for culture
SoMa, also known as South of Market, is jam-packed with cultural goodies and unique experiences. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – just one of the many museums dotted around the area – is a must. This world-class arts institution has a huge collection that spans from the Modern era through to today.
If art isn’t your forte, you can pop down to the AT&T Park to see a Giants game, explore the range of unique breweries in the area, head to the all-year-round ice rink, or get lost in the interactive light and sound exhibits at OneDome.
10. Haight Ashbury
The streets of San Francisco are etched with musical history – especially in Haight Ashbury. Once home to some of the world’s most talented musicians, today Haight pays homage to its musical past with its colourful murals. Any fans of Jimi Hendrix or the Grateful Dead can even pop by to see their old digs.
Music enthusiasts will also want to pop down to Amoeba Music to explore the endless supply of timeless vinyl records, audio cassettes, movies, and other gems.
On top of this, the extravagant Haight Ashbury Street Fair takes over this corner of San Francisco every June, with its musical stages, countless food stalls, and range of other activities.
Best neighbourhoods in San Francisco for food
11. The Mission
One of the only downsides to moving to The Mission district is that you’ll have to practice the art of self-control – there are just too many places to treat your tastebuds.
No other place in San Francisco packs as many different styles of food into such a small area. Within the same street, you can get your hands on some “Mission-style” burritos, tuck into a mouth-watering pizza, or bag yourself some freshly made pastries. It has it all.
And, on the opposite end of the spectrum, you can also find a handful of Michelin-starred restaurants.
12. Pacific Heights/Lower Pacific Heights
Another area in San Francisco that boasts a handful of Michelin star restaurants. Treat yourself to an elegant meal from Octavia, or a high-end pasta dish from SPQR.
With an array of restaurants spanning all sorts of cultures, this area of San Francisco leaves no man behind – we’re talking pizzerias, seafood joints, American eateries, and French bistros, plus endless Asian food in Japantown.
Moving to San Francisco? Better get used to the hills then – they're everywhere and merciless
Best neighbourhoods in San Francisco for nightlife
13. Potrero Hill
People in Potrero Hill get the best of both worlds – colourful, quaint homes, and a roaring nightlife.
Around 18th Street, you’ll find the streets lit up with life on the weekends, as people make their way through the area's series of nightclubs. If you fancy something more on the down-low, there are plenty of places to sip at a luxurious wine of your choice.
Alternatively, you can scout out some of San Fran’s best bands and emerging talent at popular music venue Bottom of the Hill.
14. North Beach
This buzzing neighbourhood is famous for its thriving nightlife scene. If you’re after a place where you can weave your way through crowds from one bar to the next, look no further.
If it’s a more relaxing night you’re after, head on down to Broadway to catch one of the shows on offer. Alternatively, you can dip into North Beach’s rich Italian heritage on Columbus Avenue, and try its authentic Italian restaurants.
Located at the heart of the city, downtown San Francisco boasts a range of eclectic nightlife venues. Class up your night with a cocktail from one of the many rooftop bars, or chill out in one of the more traditional pubs.
If you’re a music fan, Union Square is a must. Or, for a more sophisticated night, go see some live Jazz music at the Burritt Room and Tavern.
San Francisco has a mosaic mish-mash of cultures – there’s truly something here for everyone. Whether you’re ready to paint the town red, explore cosy coffee shops, learn about the city’s rich history, or simply socialise and meet new people, you’re sure to find the right home for you and your family.