Best Places to Live in San Francisco

Esquire’s Picks: Top Neighborhoods to Settle in San Francisco.

Unveiling San Francisco’s Top Residential Neighborhoods: A Guide to the City’s Best Living Spots

San Francisco is a beautiful and vibrant city full of history and culture. There are plenty of neighborhoods to choose from if you’re thinking of moving to the Bay Area, and each one offers something different. But with a city the size of San Francisco, it might be hard to narrow down your choices.  

The best places to live in San Francisco for singles, young adults, and young professionals might look a little different than the best neighborhoods for families. There are lots of things to consider, depending on what kind of atmosphere and culture you’re looking for – schools, businesses, nightlife, and safety are usually key considerations.   

To help you decide, we’ve compiled a list of the best neighborhoods in San Francisco for families and the best places to live for singles! Keep reading to find your dream neighborhood in sunny San Fran!

Best Places to Live in SF for Families

Best Places to Live in San Francisco for Families

Bernal Heights

Topping many lists of the best neighborhoods in San Francisco for families is Bernal Heights. With the nickname “Maternal Heights,” it’s easy to understand why.

Located in southeastern San Francisco, Bernal Heights is full of residential areas, parks, and playgrounds – making it ideal for families. There is a commercial district full of kid-friendly restaurants, bakeries, and cafes. The prominent hilltop is home to a beautiful, sprawling, 26-acre park, full of native flora and fauna, and offers a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge and downtown San Francisco.

Bernal Heights is also famous for its steep streets, which can be found especially in Holly Park. Don’t forget the popular open-air Alemany Farmers’ Market, named after the nearby Alemany Farm, which operates every Saturday and has been open since 1947.

This family-friendly neighborhood also includes lots of school choices for the little ones and plenty of activities to keep the whole family busy. However, housing prices can be fairly steep, but competitive.

Pros of Bernal Heights

  • Quiet and peaceful
  • Above-average public schools
  • Lots of family activities
  • Good mix of urban and suburban
  • Plenty of parks and recreation areas

Cons of Bernal Heights

  • Moderate crime rate
  • High property values
  • High cost of living
  • Limited nightlife
  • Very steep hills

The Inner Sunset

Looking for a family-friendly neighborhood that still embodies the hustle and bustle of San Francisco? Look no further than Inner Sunset. This ocean-side community is located between Golden Gate Park and Vicente Street and lies only three miles from the Pacific Ocean. The only downfall of being so close to the beach is the frequent fog, which is something San Fran is well-known for.

Inner Sunset has the perks of any family-friendly neighborhood while still offering a vibrant, modern district full of coffee shops and restaurants, not to mention easy access to some of the hippest areas in San Francisco, like Haight-Ashbury.

There are plenty of schools in the area, two museums to explore, a farmers’ market to enjoy, and easily accessible sidewalks. Residents here say they love the atmosphere and feel safe enough to stroll the streets at night.

Pros of the Inner Sunset

  • A mix of trendy and casual atmosphere
  • Easy to walk anywhere
  • Lots of restaurants and shopping
  • Low crime rate
  • Diverse population

Cons of the Inner Sunset

  • Foggy weather
  • High property prices
  • Dense population
  • High cost of living
  • Lack of parking

The North Beach

Called San Francisco’s version of “Little Italy,” the North Beach neighborhood is home to a large Italian American population. This area is full of fun activities for the family, with lots of shops, Italian restaurants, cafes, and bakeries. Nearby is the infamous Pier 39 as well as the Bay Aquarium. North Beach (as the name suggests) is close to the Pacific Ocean, making it a great place to take in the sunshine and enjoy the picturesque views.

North Beach has a trendy and vibrant atmosphere that tends to attract a lot of tourists, but families love it here for the variety of entertainment options as well as the low crime rate. This area was a famous stop for the “beatnik” generation of the 1960s, and much of that culture remains. If you do have little ones, however, you might want to avoid the city’s nightclub district on Broadway – an area popular for its adult entertainment clubs.

Pros of the North Beach

  • Lots of activities
  • Close to the ocean
  • Close-knit community
  • Diverse population
  • Low crime rate

Cons of the North Beach

  • High property value
  • Tourist area
  • High cost of living
  • Dense traffic
  • Inconvenient travel

Presidio Heights

If you’re looking for a little bit of an upscale experience, the Presidio Heights neighborhood in San Francisco is the place to be. Filled with luxurious, high-end homes, this area is great for families looking for a larger space.

Presidio Heights boasts a spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge but is removed enough from the Bay area to enjoy a quiet, peaceful atmosphere filled with green spaces and hiking trails, as well as a local golf club. There are shopping and dining options nearby, many of them matching the upscale feel of this elite area.

Despite being filled with eight-figure homes, there are plenty of multi-unit options along Sacramento Street. But be aware that even these smaller rental properties command a very high price.

Pros of Presidio Heights

  • Upscale and elite
  • Beautiful, million-dollar homes
  • Quiet and peaceful
  • Famous golf club
  • Fine dining options and shopping

Cons of Presidio Heights

  • Sky-high housing costs
  • Limited nightlife
  • Lack of available properties
  • Limited community events
  • High cost of living

Noe Valley

With a central location that makes travel to nearby neighborhoods relatively easy, Noe Valley is a prime location for working families in San Francisco. There are plenty of public schools in the area as well as several family-friendly parks and green spaces. And if you’re looking for a bit of culture, Noe Valley is home to the Rabbit Hole Theater, where locals send their kids for lessons in theater and dance.

Noe Valley is a favorite for families because of its low crime rates, tranquil communities, and welcoming atmosphere. Art and culture are abundant here, and the homes in this neighborhood embody the Victorian mixed with the contemporary feel San Francisco has become well-known for.

Families will find a plethora of activities in Noe Valley. Dog parks for frolicking with your furry friends, playgrounds for the little ones, and a community garden where members plant and tend to personal gardens. There are also a variety of family-friendly restaurants and bakeries for residents to enjoy.

Pros of Noe Valley

  • Low crime rate
  • Family-friendly
  • Quiet and peaceful
  • Centrally located
  • Easily walkable

Cons of Noe Valley

  • High housing cost
  • High cost of living
  • Limited nightlife
  • Congested traffic
  • Highly desired real estate
Best Neighborhoods in San Francisco for Singles & Young Professionals

Best Neighborhoods in San Francisco for Singles & Young Professionals

San Francisco has lots of neighborhoods that are great for young professionals and singles looking for a space to live and work. These neighborhoods were chosen for this list based on their wide variety of housing options, central location, and vibrant, bustling energy. Filled with diverse populations and plenty of arts and culture, as well as energetic nightlife options, these are some of the very best neighborhoods for singles and young professionals in San Francisco.


SoMa is one of the best places to live in San Francisco for a lot of different reasons. Short for “South of Market Street,” SoMa provides easy access to many of the most popular areas in the city, including Fisherman’s Wharf, Downtown, the Yerba Gardens, and more.

There are lots of real estate options suited for young professionals and singles here, and plenty of converted warehouse spaces that are often used as combination live and workspaces. Many of the residents of SoMa are in the tech industry, and the offerings of SoMa match the trendy, young feel of these individuals.

Mixed in with nightclubs, bars, and restaurants are public gardens, museums, music halls, and plenty of shopping options. Singles will love SoMa for its vibrant, energetic feel, making it the perfect location for singles to live and work.

Pros of SoMa

  • Lots of real estate options
  • Hip, trendy atmosphere
  • Easy access to the city
  • Diverse population
  • Live and work combo spaces

Cons of SoMa

  • Congested traffic
  • High homeless population
  • High crime rates
  • Higher housing costs
  • Noisy atmosphere

The Mission District

The Mission District is one of the best neighborhoods for singles and young professionals and is popular for its Latin culture and prominent LGBTQ community. This is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city and was named after the Mission San Francisco de Asis, which was built in 1776 and is the oldest standing building in the city.

The Mission includes four sub-districts, including Potrero Hill, where many tech startups are based. The northwest district includes Dolores Park and is filled with the Victorian mansions San Francisco is known for. The Valencia corridor and the 24th Street corridor are the places to be for nightlife, art galleries, restaurants, and bars.

Don’t miss Clarion alley to check out a full block of murals painted by local artists, the Roxie Theater to catch a movie, the annual Carnaval celebration, and an opportunity to play some indoor minigolf. Young professionals will feel right at home in the Mission District, where music, arts, and culture fill the streets.

Pros of the Mission District

  • LGBTQ friendly
  • Arts and Culture
  • Diverse housing choices
  • Lots to do
  • Public festivals and parades

Cons of the Mission District

  • High housing costs
  • Congested traffic
  • High crime
  • High tourist area
  • High cost of living

The Marina District

The Marina District is located along the San Francisco Bay and offers singles and young professionals a central location with easy access to public transportation, as well as access to the waterfront. This neighborhood was built after the 1906 earthquake and chosen as the site of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition to celebrate the city’s rebirth.

Much of the Marina District was built on land filled with sand and soil from the Bay itself, which can cause a condition known as liquefaction during earthquakes.

Today, the Marina District looks very much the same, although the only building left standing after the 1915 Exposition is the famous Palace of Fine Arts. There is also a campus of the Academy of Art University along the Southern edge of the neighborhood. The Marina Green is a 74-acre park and marina along the bay where you will find the famous wave organ, a sculpture made of 25 organs that are activated by the waves themselves.

Pros of the Marina District

  • Central location
  • Easy access to transportation
  • Waterfront Access
  • Arts and cultural hub
  • Lots of activities

Cons of the Marina District

  • High housing costs
  • Busting tourist area
  • Congested traffic
  • Unstable ground
  • Lack of diversity


Of course, Downtown is one of the most popular locations for young professionals and singles in San Francisco because of its bustling energy and liberal feel. It’s easy to walk anywhere Downtown in a matter of minutes, and here you find some of the finest restaurants in the city. Waterfront access also makes this a popular spot for young people to live and work.

Downtown has a hip, urban feel and is filled with plenty of bars, cafes, coffee shops, and shopping options. There are also several internationally known museums here, including the SFMOMA, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum at the Mint. Downtown San Francisco is a cultural center of the state.

Most of the residents Downtown rent their properties, and although still on the high side, the properties here are fairly inexpensive compared to other areas inside the city. As is true of any downtown area, crime can be a problem here, but young people flock to this area for its bustling nightlife and ability to work and live within proximity.

Pros of Downtown

  • Inexpensive housing options
  • Art museums
  • Walkability
  • Fine dining options
  • Liberal hub

Cons of Downtown

  • Congested traffic
  • Little parking options
  • Busy tourist area
  • High crime
  • Few green spaces

Nob Hill

If you’re a young professional or single looking for upscale living, Nob Hill is a perfect choice. Famous for its numerous luxury hotels and historic mansions, this neighborhood is popular with the upper class. In its early days, this area was filled with affluent millionaires, but following the 1906 earthquake, many of these residents moved to other areas of the city. Since then, the neighborhood has become a popular location for young, urban professionals.

With easy access to downtown and an easy commute to the nearby Silicon Valley and financial district, it makes sense why so many young professionals choose Nob Hill. There are plenty of housing options here, many of which still represent the Victorian-style architecture that is famous in the city. There are also high-rise apartments and condos for rent here.

Residents of Nob Hill have access to plenty of green spaces, trendy shops, and eateries, as well as some of the finest dining in the state of California. Nearby Polk Street is filled with cafes and bars or you can stroll to Chinatown for some ethnic eating. Huntington Park is a popular place for relaxing and recreation.

Pros of Nob Hill

  • A mix of trendy and traditional
  • Easy access to surrounding neighborhoods
  • Plenty of housing options
  • Diverse neighborhoods
  • Green spaces

Cons of Nob Hill

  • Congested traffic
  • High housing costs
  • Tourist area
  • High cost of living
  • High crime
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