With all of the neighborhoods and micro-’hoods populating San Francisco’s 46.9 square miles, some transplants may find relocation here a bit daunting. Fortunately, the city’s myriad options mean that there’s something for everyone if you know where to look. Here are five areas that are perfect for newcomers, whether you’re a single 20-something, a busy parent or an empty nester.
Cow Hollow attracts young professionals and families. Nestled right next to the Marina District, it shares many of the same great characteristics as its seaside neighbor, including proximity to a number of great bars and restaurants on Union and Fillmore Streets. For daytime fun, Allyne Park is an incredible resource for dog owners and parents with active kids. It’s also one of the city’s most vehicle-friendly neighborhoods, with plenty of parking spaces for city-dwellers set on keeping a car. For those without their own wheels, the neighborhood is conveniently serviced by the 30, 45, 41, 49, 3 and 43 bus lines.
Nob Hill boasts an impressive mix of new and old architecture, combining the best of the city’s past with some cutting-edge sights. If you don’t mind sharing your space with the tourists who stay in Nob Hill’s swanky hotels, this is a great choice for families, young professionals and well-heeled seniors looking for great schools, charming neighborhoods or stunning views. Nob Hill isn’t known for its restaurants, but it’s an iconic neighborhood that some residents describe as “living in a postcard.” Its density and cable cars make owning a car optional, and access to the Financial District and SOMA is especially easy. Huntington Park has a great playground, free wi-fi, and trees equipped with power outlets.
If you’re looking for an authentic neighborhood that’s got classic San Francisco character in abundance, North Beach is the place for you. Cars are unnecessary, as several bus lines serve the area. The neighborhood features great dining (including a number of Italian restaurants), cheap dive bars and late-night food options. Residents have a short walk to the Embarcadero waterfront, and access to a number of parks. Washington Square Park is one of the city’s oldest and is bordered by sidewalk cafes and restaurants. The bustling park hosts festivals, movie nights and other events, and is a wonderful place for tai chi, dog walks, and people-watching.
The Tenderloin is a great option for young people looking for affordable housing. It’s a mix of older medium-rise apartment buildings and newer high-rises. Many of the buildings are rent-controlled and there’s great rental stock to choose from. The bus and metro service the area, so there’s no need for a car, and it’s a convenient walk to the Financial District. Its younger residents and vibrant bar and restaurant scene make this neighborhood a little busier than most, although there are plenty of parks for those seeking a respite. Boeddeker Park was recently renovated with a modern playground, outdoor fitness equipment, a walking path, open lawn and basketball court. Nearby Tenderloin National Park is a hidden gem, a community garden lush with trees and plants and outfitted with end-to-end artwork. The park serves as a perfect complement to the Tenderloin’s artsy vibe and incredible roster of galleries.
SoMa, located just south of Market Street, is home to an abundance of museums, loft apartments, and tech startups. While the area does have some Victorians and single-room occupancy housing, it’s best known for high-end high-rises, rife with amenities like pools and tennis courts. Many residents are employees of tech companies that operate here, although the 12-Folsom cuts through the neighborhood if you’re looking to live here and work elsewhere. Residents also have the Yerba Buena Gardens at their disposal, which contains galleries, museums, and theaters, as well as the Children’s Garden, a kid’s paradise with a playground, labyrinth, historic carousel, bowling, ice skating, and more. For sports fans, SoMa is home to the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park, which is teeming with concerts and waterfront entertainment in between baseball games.
One of the most cosmopolitan destinations in America, San Francisco manages to contain the feel of both charming small towns and high-tech havens nestled within its acreage. There’s a reason this city has been a beacon for dreamers and wanderers over the centuries, and that tradition is still alive today. No matter your budget or tastes, San Francisco has the perfect neighborhood for you.