San Francisco is undoubtedly one of the best cities in the nation, known for its abundance of tech startups, drool-worthy dining options, and open-minded mentality. A thriving arts scene, great public transportation system, and lots of diverse neighborhoods dot the city’s 49 square miles. Choosing the right neighborhood to live in is no easy task, as each one has a distinct character and personality of its own.
Here’s a highlight of the best neighborhoods in San Francisco and the awesome things each has to offer.
Homes along Marina Blvd. Image: Nouhailler
Residents of the Marina can see the gorgeous view of the Golden Gate Bridge from their doorstep. Home to the more preppy crowd, this neighborhood by the water has lots of boutiques, restaurants, and cafes along Chestnut and Lombard Streets. Chrissy Field, a huge recreational area along the city’s northern waterfront, is essentially your back yard. If you’re an athletic type, have a large salary, and want to live close to the water, the Marina’s the neighborhood for you.
Median rent: $4,500
The up-and-coming Mission neighborhood is known to have some of the best culinary offerings in San Francisco. Although it does have areas with higher crime, it’s gradually gentrifying, and the array of coffee shops, taquerias, bakeries, and restaurants draw in residents from all across the city. The Mission is one of the larger neighborhoods in the city, but getting around is no problem with both the MUNI bus system and BART metro stations running through it. This neighborhood is also home to one of the oldest structures in San Francisco: Mission Dolores, built in 1791. And did we mention that the Mission also gets the most reprieve from the San Francisco fog? Hipsters, foodies, and sun-loving San Franciscans, the Mission is calling your name.
Median rent: $3,750
Named for the classic San Francisco hills (and wealthy magnate), Nob Hill was once the site of many grand mansions, some of which you can still find today. The hillcrests offer incredible views of the bay, and can be easily traversed by cable cars as well as the MUNI bus lines that run through the neighborhood. Nob Hill is also pretty central to Chinatown, Little Italy, The Marina, Union Square, and the Financial District. You can also find some grand hotels built in the beaux-arts style in Nob Hill, such as the Fairmont Hotel and Mark Hopkins Hotel. This safe, convenient, and picturesque San Francisco neighborhood is for anyone who doesn’t mind living on a (steep) hill.
Median rent: $3,250
Image: D&S McSpadden
The NoPa neighborhood is also referred to as Alamo Square or Lower Haight. Short for “North of the Panhandle,” the NoPa neighborhood is home to a few of the classic Victorian homes of San Francisco, many of which were spared destruction in the 1906 earthquake. The downtown skyline serves as a backdrop for the “Painted Ladies” (the houses from the Full House sitcom) at Alamo Square Park, and stylish homes line the surrounding streets. More retail shops and trendy restaurants have been opening in the area, contributing to the rise in rents. Another perk is that it’s centrally located to The Mission, Pacific Heights, and downtown neighborhoods. Check out Divisadero Street for dining and nightlife, or pick up some ice cream at Bi-Rite and walk to the Alamo Square to enjoy the view. If you’d like to live in a quiet neighborhood that doesn’t feel like it’s in a big city, NoPa is the neighborhood for you.
Median rent: $3,552
Image: Allan Ferguson
If you can scrounge up enough money to afford the rents in Pacific Heights, you’ll find large, elegant homes – as opposed to the smaller Victorian houses you’ll find in other neighborhoods. View some spectacular homes while getting a workout at the Lyon Street steps, or shop and dine on Fillmore and Sacramento Streets, home to many small boutiques and sidewalk cafes. If you can afford it, Pacific Heights is a quiet and scenic neighborhood that embodies old-world San Francisco elegance.
Median rent: $3,850
Of course, these are just a few of the great neighborhoods of San Francisco – what neighborhood do you live in, and what do you think makes it great? Share with us in the comments below.