San Francisco is a city full of icons: Lombard Street’s serpentine coils, the trolley trolling up the hillside, the sweet smell of fresh sourdough on the wharf. And while the icons are appealing, if you’re looking to live here, you shouldn’t choose a neighborhood based on photographic vistas and iconic items alone. San Francisco neighborhoods range from independently residential to urban hubs of entrepreneurship, and who you are here in part hinges on which neighborhood you decide to call home.
San Francisco neighborhoods are unique across the board, but they all have different things to offer. Here are a few of our favorite San Francisco neighborhoods you should consider before moving in:
Our Favorite San Francisco Neighborhoods
Photo Source: The Bold Italic
Average one-bedroom rent: $2,895
Unlike so many other San Francisco neighborhoods, Cole Valley feels like you’ve stepped into another land – a land that isn’t San Francisco. It’s a neighborhood with small-town vibes, but easy access to all the best parts of SF (Golden Gate Park is on one side, and downtown isn’t far on the other). It’s the perfect location for those who want to live in SF, but aren’t sure if they’re ready to commit to a true urban lifestyle. Bonus: it’s far on the cheaper side than most San Francisco neighborhoods!
South of Market (SoMa)
Photo Source: Time Out
Average one-bedroom rent: $4,085
An area with a lifestyle similar to downtown, SoMa is an up-and-coming former industrial zone with plenty of new apartments – and unfortunately, rampant homelessness. While most reports say that SoMa is improving its past record of criminal activity, a large portion of San Francisco’s homelessness resides in SoMa. But don’t let that stop you from moving into this massive neighborhood full of new development and tech startups galore.
Photo Source: Search SF
Average one-bedroom rent: $3,840
It’s a millennial paradise in Cow Hollow, home to a multitude of renters, busy main streets, and public transit that makes it easy to get pretty much anywhere. There’s a fair amount of overspilling tourists from The Marina, but historical architecture and hole-in-the-wall restaurants and shops make Cow Hollow feel separate and homey. Just be careful of how much homey costs – Cow Hollow isn’t a cheap neighborhood to call home.
Photo Source: VRBO
Average one-bedroom rent: $3,995
Come to the Marina district for the views, stay because you’ve got plenty of cash to spend. This San Francisco neighborhood isn’t cheap, but for those willing to shell out, the views of the water, the Golden Gate Bridge, and even the other houses is well worth it. But beware: this is a tourist-heavy neighborhood, and you may need to fight back some overzealous midwesterners for a spot in your favorite sunny-weather park.
Photo Source: Spinlister
Average one-bedroom rent: $3,995
Hipsters and curious adventurers alike will fall in love with the Mission District, a neighborhood filled with quality nightlife, excellent food and drink, and eye-catching art. While this also falls on the pricier side of all San Francisco neighborhoods, the Mission feels less like a place to rest your head and more like a lifestyle. With deep Latino roots and a rich history that comes alongside it, it’s easy to fall in love with the Mission District, and in most residents’ eyes, worth the extra cost to call it home.
Photo Source: Traveller
Average one-bedroom rent: $3,448
Before rainbow crosswalks were common across cities, and before Pride became an officially-sanctioned citywide celebration, the Castro was the center of San Francisco’s queer identity. This pocket-sized neighborhood is a cornerstone of gay history, and as such, it’s a diverse and vibrant place to live. History marks every corner and entertaining food and drink line each block, so for the high-energy adventurers, the Castro may be the home you’ve always wanted.
Photo Source: Bon Appetit
Average one-bedroom rent: $4,110
Just like the Castro, Dogpatch is a tiny neighborhood – but don’t let that fool you into glancing this one over. Formerly a quiet hub of warehouses and industry, Dogpatch has transformed into the latest up-and-coming San Francisco neighborhood, complete with new apartments, new restaurants, and new nightlife. That doesn’t mean it’s not rough around the edges, but living in Dogpatch is an investment in the neighborhood’s potential – and the possibility of big returns in the future.
Photo Source: Good Migrations
Average one-bedroom rent: $1,800
On the edge of San Francisco’s urban center is a neighborhood that might just make you forget you live in infamously expensive San Francisco: Excelsior. Residents cite low rents, actual backyards, and spacious houses as their reasons to call Excelsior home, and those are just some of the benefits of this family-friendly neighborhood. Residents from all backgrounds rent and own here, making this a great place to not only save money, but to savor a piece of the melting pot culture San Francisco is known for.
Photo Source: Escapism Magazine
Average one-bedroom rent: $2,600
The first thing you need to know about living in Tenderloin is that it’s a very mixed bag. It boasts a great location, close proximity to downtown, and cheap rent. But it’s also notorious for high crime rates and the high percentage of the homeless population that temporarily resides here. For those who won’t have a problem with the latter traits, you’ll find a diverse neighborhood that’s proud of its history, and always working to improve its identity – not to mention a bargain on rent with a great commute.
Photo Source: Airbnb
Average one-bedroom rent: $3,295
A beautiful neighborhood perched atop one of San Francisco’s most iconic vistas, Nob Hill is a bit of an outlier from the rest of San Francisco. For one, it’s earned an unhappy nickname, Snob Hill. But it’s also a tourist mecca, with well-known views at its crest and plenty of films shot in this very neighborhood. And of course, there are the tourists streaming by on the trolley every few minutes. It may feel like a cliche to an outsider, but if you came for the Hollywood version of the San Francisco experience, Nob Hill is your best bet to get it.
Photo Source: SF Weekly
Average one-bedroom rent: $3,845
Once considered the last San Francisco neighborhood you’d want to call home, Hayes Valley has been completely transformed in the past few decades, and now stands as a beacon of nightlife, culture, and local support. It’s one of the few areas in San Francisco that doesn’t allow chain shops, so everything from the bodega on the corner to the boutique jeweler down the street is owned and run by locals. And with bustling nightlife, it’s a busy town – perfect for the nightlife-seekers willing to spend a little extra buck for a great experience.
Photo Source: Airbnb
Average one-bedroom rent: $3,495
Yes, it’s where Lombard Street is. No, that isn’t all there is. Russian Hill is a perfect neighborhood for those looking to do everything without leaving a few blocks. There are plenty of cafes, a sea of beautiful architecture, and pockets of greenery within this small San Francisco neighborhood. If you do want to leave, you’re right next to downtown, and both bridges are just a quick drive away – and no, you probably won’t actually need to go down Lombard Street to get there.
There isn’t a bad neighborhood to move to in San Francisco, but there is a bad way to move. Ditch the pickup truck rental and don’t try to sucker your new neighbors into helping you move with pizza and beer. Instead, book a Dolly, and we’ll send Bay Area locals with pickup trucks to help you move. Let Dolly worry about moving your couch up the hills – you sit back, relax, and enjoy your new home.
Miranda is the Marketing Coordinator at Dolly. She’s moved nine times in the past six years, and while she’s grateful for the moving expertise, she’s hoping she doesn’t need to move a tenth time anytime soon.