The 20 Best Places to Live in San Francisco

North Beach

If you’re planning a move to San Francisco, then it’s important to shop around before you decide on which neighborhood you want to live in. There are quite a few different parts of this large city and some are better than others. We’ve looked at the most highly recommended places to live in San Francisco based upon the livability score which includes ratings for safety, affordability, available employment and housing, and quality of education. In most cases, the better neighborhoods are more expensive because of their desirability, but some of them are remarkably affordable for the amenities that are offered. Based on these criteria, here are the 20 best places to live in San Francisco.

Alamo Square

20. Alamo Square

Alamo Square is a neighborhood in the city of San Francisco that has a population of 7,337 residents. It is ranked as the 20th best place to live in the city. This is an urban area with the majority of residents renting and the minority are homeowners. The crime rate is average and the schools are also rated as being above average with higher graduation rates. The overall score for this neighborhood is an A+. Alamo Square is a largely liberal neighborhood that is loaded with parks, coffee shops, restaurants, and bars. The cost of living is a little higher than some of the less attractive neighborhoods but it is moderate with ample job opportunities.

Lower Nob Hill

19. Lower Nob Hill

Coming in just behind Alamo Square is the Lower Nob Hill Neighborhood, also given an A+ overall grade. The population is higher with 21,618 residents living in the area. This is a densely populated urban neighborhood with mostly renters. It’s an area with highly rated public schools and the larger portion of the population is young professionals with liberal views. There are parks, coffee shops, bars, and restaurants in high numbers to choose from. The crime and safety rating is slightly above average but housing gets a low score for lack of availability and the cost of living is high. This is a diverse neighborhood with plenty of job opportunities and great venues for nightlife activities.

Aquatic Park/Ft. Mason

18. Aquatic Park/Ft. Mason

This city has a population of just 3,805 residents and it’s ideal for those who like to avoid more densely populated areas, although there is a dense urban feel to the neighborhood. Unlike in some other neighborhoods, most residents own their homes versus renting. There is a good balance of young professionals and retirees, most with liberal views. The public schools are highly rated and the crime rating is above average which means that it is one of the safer places to live. Housing ratings are average with plenty of job opportunities, good diversity, and an excellent nightlife scene. This is a good place to raise a family but the cost of living is high with a D+ rating.

Pacific Heights

17. Pacific Heights

Pacific Heights has a population of 29,024 residents. The neighborhood has an urban feeling with most residents renting their homes instead of owning. There are more young professionals in this neighborhood with highly rated public schools. The crime and safety rating is above average and the housing is more readily available than Aquatic Park and comparable neighborhoods. The cost of living is just a little below average and there is great diversity within the community. The nightlife gets high marks and there are ample health and fitness opportunities as well as a great nightlife scene.

Duboce Triangle

16. Duboce Triangle

Duboce Triangle has a population of just 4,956. As neighborhoods in San Francisco go this is a small neighborhood but it has a dense urban ambiance. The majority of residents are renters. This place gets an A+ rating for health and fitness opportunities, the weather, and the nightlife venues. There are ample outdoor activities available with average housing, safety ratings and above average rank for job availability.

The Mission

15. The Mission

The Mission is a neighborhood that shares a population of hipsters and traditional Latinos. Here you will find a variety of amenities with a focus on art galleries, quirky shopping venues, and a variety of Chinese and Peruvian restaurants. Public schools are above average and it gets an above average safety rating as well. There are ample job opportunities and the neighborhood is diverse and good for families. The population is just over 10,000 in this densely populated neighborhood with most residents renting their homes.

Bernal Heights

14. Bernal Heights

Bernal Heights is on the outside edge of San Francisco and of all the neighborhoods on our list, this is the one that is still in the middle of the city with the feeling of being in the country. The streets are lined with trees and the neighborhood is family-oriented. The safety rating is above average but the cost of living is a little high. The public schools are above average and there are a lot of amenities including good shopping venues, coffee shops, bars, restaurants and opportunities for entertainment and recreation. The population is 23, 178 and most of the residents are homeowners. Safety is slightly above average and there are plenty of job opportunities. The cost of living is a bit expensive, but this is a good place for families with housing availability slightly below average and good diversity in the neighborhood.

Parkside

13. Parkside

Parkside is a neighborhood in San Francisco with a population of 27,761. It’s a densely populated community with an urban feel. The schools have an excellent rating and there are great amenities for shopping, dining, coffee shops, recreational and outdoor activities, and great employment opportunities. Housing and the cost of living are expensive, but young professionals raising a family find this to be an excellent place to live. It has a high livability score and the safety is above average.

Noe Valley

12. Noe Valley

The population in Noe Valley is 21,074. This is an urban area with a fairly dense population. The cost of living is very affordable and the safety rating is above average with one of the lowest crime rates in the city. There are great job opportunities, but housing is hard to find and the cost of living is very expensive. The main drawback is the public schools which are not given a high score so it’s not the best place to raise a family, but it is a good place to retire. This neighborhood has evolved through the decades from a sleepy little community to a hustling and bustling area with a higher population density and parking is hard to find due to the number of vehicles on the road.

Excelsior

11. Excelsior

The excelsior neighborhood has a dense population of 37,796. This neighborhood is highly rated for its amenities including shopping, dining, coffee shops, recreational and outdoor activities and a good selection of venues for a vibrant nightlife. The crime rate is higher and the community gets a D score for safety and the schools are not highly rated. Housing is hard to find and it is expensive. This is best for singles who enjoy an active social life who want to be in the heart of the activity but not recommended for kids in school.

Inner Sunset

10. Inner Sunset

The Inner Sunset neighborhood has a population of 27,720 residents. The main commercial area of this neighborhood is between 5th Avenue to 12th Avenue along Irving Street with numerous restaurants for casual and fine dining and plenty of shops. The cost of living is high with average home values above a million dollars but the median income is high at around $112,050 per year. There are plenty of jobs available in this area and it is packed with amenities. The crime rate is low making this a safe place to live and the schools are rated as being excellent with high graduation rates. Housing is harder to find but it’s worth the search and extra expense because this is a great place to raise a family.

Seacliff

9. Seacliff

The Seacliff community has a smaller population of just 1,429. The neighborhood is situated in the northwestern portion of San Francisco. There are a lot of large homes with ocean views, thanks to the work of landscape architect Mark Daniels. This is a master-planned resident park within the city with a high median income and an excellent array of job opportunities. The schools are excellent and the neighborhood has a low crime rate and high safety rating. There are plenty of amenities including outdoor and recreational activities, great shopping, dining, and more. The only drawback to living in Seacliff is that the homes are in short demand and it’s expensive to buy or rent.

Outer Richmond

8. Outer Richmond

Outer Richmond is a San Francisco community wtih a population of 36,055. The livability score has been steadily climbing higher in Outer Richmond. The crime rate is very low in this neighborhood making it a very safe place to live. The schools are rated as being excellent with high average grades and graduation rates. There are a lot of great employment opportunities adn the median income is higher than in many neighboring communities. The only drawbacks to living here are the cost of living which is high, and the difficulty in finding housing which is also expensive. It’s a great place to raise a family if you have the financial means.

Haight-Ashbury

7. Haight-Ashbury

Haight -Ashbury has a population of 23,717 residents. People who live here tend to have a higher median income of just under $130,000 per year. This is an excellent place to live for the job opportunities which abound with higher than average wages, and the schools have an excellent A+ rating. There are tons of amenities here with shopping, entertainment, recreational opportunities and more. The main drawbacks of living in Haight-Ashbury are the high crime rates, the high cost of living and the low availability of housing.

West of Twin Peaks

6. West of Twin Peaks

The population for the West of Twin Peaks neighborhood is 21,375 residents. This is a neighborhood that has moved up 6 places over the past 12 months in its livability score. The median income is $153,714 and the cost of buying a home is over a million, but it’s lower than most other neighborhoods known for affluence. The schools are rated as being excellent and the crime rate is about average making it a safe place to live and raise a family. There are tons of amenities with coffee shops, dining options, places to shop, lots of outdoor, recreational and entertainment venues, and more. The cost of living is extremely high and it’s hard to find housing. When you do, it’s expensive, but the higher wages for skilled workers is also commensurate with the cost of living.

Presidio Heights

5. Presidio Heights

Presidio Heights has a population of 8.734 residents. The median home value is $1.5 million which is the second-best in the city, and the median income is $137,831 which is the fourth-best. The public schools are among the most highly rated in the state and the employment opportunities are abundant with higher than average wages. There are a lot of great amenities with shopping, dining, recreation and entertainment venues in great supply. The crime rate is average making this a generally safe place to live. The cost of living is very expensive and so is the cost of housing, when you can find it.

Russian Hill

4. Russian Hill

Russian Hill is a San Francisco Neighborhood with a population of 17,133 residents. This neighborhood is nestled in the rolling hills portion of the city. The amenities in the community are outstanding with plenty of activities available for a vibrant nightlife as well as outdoor, recreational and entertainment venues. There is also great shopping available and good places to eat. This is one of the better places to find a good job and the wages are higher than average. The schools are above average, but the housing is hard to find and very expensive.

The Tenderloin

3. The Tenderloin

The Tenderloin is a neighborhood in San Francisco that is situated in the central portion of the city. This is a great place to live if you don’t drive because of the high walkability score, good bike ratings and available transit services. There is also a subway with a lot of great options for public transportation. The cost of living is highly affordable with cheaper homes that sell for half the price of some of the more affluent neighborhoods in the city. The amenities are highly rated with lots of things to do, places to eat, great shopping, and lots of parks and playgrounds for the kids. The culture is highly developed but crime is an issue making this one of the less safe places to live.

North Beach

2. North Beach

North Beach is a casual neighborhood in San Francisco that is close enough to Chinatown and the Fisherman’s Wharf to walk. It’s a relaxed neighborhood The public schools are above average adn there are great employment opportunities. The amenities and list of things to do are outstanding with plenty of parks and outdoor, recreational, shopping and entertainment venues. There are also great places to eat. The crime rate is below average which boosts the safety rating to above average. The cost of living is high though.

Ocean View

1. Ocean View

Ocean View is a neighborhood in San Francisco that has a population of 30,618. This is a great place to live if you’re a retiree or a single person or couple not raising children. The schools get a failing grade so if you do have kids you can compensate by using private schools or using a different public school. The crime rate is very low and this is a safe neighborhood. There are plenty of jobs available and the amenities are nothing short of amazing. The median home value is just under $ 700,000 which is less than half of some other neighborhoods but the cost of living is high with housing availability low.


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