San Francisco has a vibrant, unique personality; attracting tourists from all over the world who like to get dim sum in the second largest Chinatown in America, take iconic pictures next to the Golden Gate Bridge, visit the infamous prison of Alcatraz Island, and much more. But for a city with so much individuality to distinguish itself from other major cities, it is also known to many to as not just a tourist hot spot but instead, a popular living destination.
Within the interconnected districts of San Francisco, there are even smaller, more defined neighborhoods that are rich with their own independent culture which are vital to keep in mind when choosing where to live. Each neighborhood has a different price point, demographic, nightlife scene, and reputation. With the current housing crisis making affordable housing rare, HomeShare provides a solution to finding a cheap, yet luxurious room through their wide selection of SF neighborhoods like the Dogpatch, SoMa, Civic Center, and more.
See the pros and cons of each one below, and find the SF neighborhood that fits your lifestyle.
In the hustle and bustle of SF’s financial district, some can find a home. Expect to be surrounded by some of the best eateries and steps away from luxury shops at Union Square and the Ferry Building marketplace. Enjoy the skyscrapers and city-wide views, but beware of super populated streets and city noise of road-rage drivers at 5PM!
Famously being one of the first gay neighborhoods in SF, there are a lot of LGBTQ+ residents as well as a nice mix of places to eat and drink. In the district, Castro Theater ranks high on San Francisco’s landmark as a historic movie palace. You will also find a low population of homeless in the Castro.
Presidio/Richmond is one of the most popular neighborhoods to live in. It must be the cheaper cost of living, great restaurants, easy transit location in between the Golden Gate area and the Presidio! On Saturday nights, you will find the streets of Inner Richmond busy with locals who are looking to unwind and enjoy what the city has to offer.
The Inn at the Presidio is historic and often appears on “top 10” lists. If you’re fortunate to be staying near the Presidio, make sure to enjoy an afternoon or evening there.
The Mission is the heart of San Francisco’s Latino and Hispanic culture, with more restaurants and art venues than you can count. There are also excellent views of downtown San Francisco, particularly from the popular Dolores Park. Easily SF’s most popular neighborhood thanks to the sunshine and bar scene, the Mission is also at the heart of almost every housing development and gentrification debate.
Hispanic families; blue-collar workers; hipsters; tech workers; 20-somethings tend to be the main demographic of people in the Mission District.
SoMA is one of the best districts to live in if you are looking for a strong vibe and culture. In SOMA, you can access to all nice restaurants, nice square, and it’s close to Mission. The only downside is that there aren’t that many friendly parks.
SoMa used to be warehouses and seediness; now it’s charmless loft apartments and startups. Still, it is home to the Giants and there are some great food and drink options. During the week, anyway. Truthfully, this neighborhood is hard to define because it’s so sprawling.
Most people that stay in SOMA are tech junkies as well!
Great place to live if you love sunny weather. Lots of hills, which can be a downside if you don’t like walking, or a positive if you are into fitness (hey that new Fitbit commercial was filmed here). Amazingly, has two of the most famous punk rock venues (Thee Parkside and Bottom of the Hill), and the Anchor Steam brewery tour is one of the best (though waiting list is months long). With all the Dogpatch/Mission Bay construction going on, there are lots of new wine bars and restaurants popping up. Getting a taxi used to be a problem because of less foot traffic than the Mission or say, North Beach, but Uber was the most recent solution. Easy access to southbound 101/280.
The Sunset/Richmond district
The Sunset/Richmond is a perfect mix of all the best things SF has to offer: great food, culture, and fun things to do outdoors. Yes, you’re a little bit further out from jobs in Downtown/SoMa but MUNI is actually pretty fast and reliable to get down there and you’re very central to many other cool neighborhoods in a way that you wouldn’t be if you were living in, say, North Beach, SoMa, or the Outer Sunset. Being surrounded by a wide variety of affordable, tasty ethnic eateries and fun bars on Clement St plus having Golden Gate Park, Lake St (for running and biking), the Presidio and its golf course all a short distance away makes the Inner Richmond one of the more underrated places to live in the city.
Bonus points for being an actual neighborhood with character and a diverse group of residents including families, older people, and students/recent graduates.
Today, San Francisco’s Chinatown, bordered by Broadway, California, Kearny, and Powell streets, is the oldest in North America and the largest outside of Asia.
Although frequented by tourists, the area continues to cater to local Chinese shoppers, who throng the vegetable and herb markets, restaurants, and shops. Tradition runs deep here, and if you’re lucky, through an open window you might hear women mixing mahjongg tiles as they play the centuries-old game. (Be warned: You’re likely to see lots of spitting around here, too—it’s part of the culture.)
Looking for the best Chinese food in the city? Don’t miss out on Chinatown!
Japantown is a true hidden gem in San Francisco. Most people don’t tend to think about Japanese related culture when thinking of San Francisco, but Japantown is jam-packed with original Japanese culture.
Three indoor malls, and a pedestrian-only block, are lined with a fascinating variety of authentic Japanese shops and restaurants.
In a way, it’s like taking a quick trip to Osaka and immersing yourself in Japanese culture, old and new: anime, ceramics, kimonos, sushi, manga, Japanese fashion, and sweets… a huge variety of Japanese items calling out to be purchased or eaten!
On sunny days, people wander in and out of fashionable boutiques and cafes whose tables and chairs spill onto the sidewalk along Fillmore Street. For a great night, late night or date night, Fillmore Street has a handful of live music venues. The Fillmore, the famous concert venue built in 1912, still rocks. The Fillmore West was the epicenter of the “San Francisco Sound,” frequently booking the seminal rock bands of the 1960s. With a capacity of 1,150, its open dance floor attracts concertgoers to the historic venue at the corner of Fillmore and Geary. Nearby, Boom Boom Room shakes, rattles and rolls six nights a week as it has since 1997. Sheba Piano Lounge offers jazz in a living room atmosphere while serving cocktails and Ethiopian food.
Fillmore District shopping is a pedestrian-friendly experience extending about a dozen blocks between Japantown and Pacific Heights. Its temptations range from antique stores to a Saturday farmers market and from European fashion labels to hardware.
Fillmore is loved by all foodies and jazz lovers.
We hope this Guide opens the door to some of the hidden and most interesting ways to spend time in the City. It is simple, just hang around one of these great neighborhoods.
San Francisco is also an awesome place to move into whether you are looking to improve your social life or find a high paying job. One of the most difficult things about moving into a big city like San Francisco is finding long-term rentals that’s affordable. Our mission over here at HomeShare is to help you find the best and most affordable housing hassle free!
If you’re on the hunt for housing, why not check out some of our listings and promotions directly here!