Let’s play a game and pretend that money is no object! Fun, right?! Where would you choose to live in San Francisco? With every neighborhood having its own special feel and charm, this can be a tough decision. Here are 10 of the best places to live in San Francisco for a few essential qualities like their views, their vibes, their food, and their overall uniqueness.
1. North Beach / Telegraph Hill
This is classic San Francisco, with steep hills, sweeping views, and a little grit mixed with a lot of class. Good coffee, excellent food (especially if you dig Italian), an intriguing history, and a central location (particularly if you work in the Financial District) make North Beach one of San Francisco's sunnier and more vibrant 'hoods.
2. Russian Hill
Another moneyed spot, this neighborhood (which once was home to a Russian cemetery, hence the name) offers its residents spectacular Bay views and has been the backdrop for many books and films (including Steve McQueen's
Bullitt). It sits near North Beach, and the shops and cafes of Polk Street give residents a wealth of options. You must enjoy climbing hills daily (see image for evidence!), and if you don't mind a constant stream of tourists at your doorstep, you could even live on the famed crooked street of Lombard.
3. The Mission
The once predominantly Latino and artist-friendly neighborhood has seen a lot of gentrification over the last decade, but step into its innards and you'll find the Mission is still a truly colorful and dynamic place to live. Stuff yourself at a taqueria (or two), the famed Tartine Bakery, or any number of critically acclaimed restaurants and cafes; get involved with the local art scene, or at any number of non-profits aiming to help immigrants, women, and low-income families; and hang out at local fave Dolores Park, where you can enjoy one the sunniest and warmest spots of the city.
4. Hayes Valley
Another bustling, centrally located neighborhood, Hayes Valley sits next to the Civic Center and near all the sophisticated cultural happenings, including the opera, ballet, and symphony. You'll also be steps away from high-end boutiques; sunny outdoor patios; top restaurants, bars, and cafes, and some very cool urban gardens.
Just west of Hayes Valley, this spot, located north of the Panhandle (aka NoPa), is prime real estate given its proximity to the Panhandle, Alamo Square, and Golden Gate Park. You can eat and drink your way down the main drag of Divisadero, buying fresh-baked bread at The Mill, specialty groceries at Bi-Rite, and an incredible meal at the neighborhood's namesake Nopa; then ending your night with live music at The Independent.
6. Pacific Heights
This is where several affluent San Franciscans built their homes after their others were destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fires. So, you could get yourself a classic Victorian home here, then blow your dough at any number of chic boutiques and high-end restaurants lining Fillmore Street. Take your pampered pooch to Alta Plaza Park or to the nearby Presidio, and take a stroll along "Billionaire's Row."
This half-industrial area along the waterfront has quickly grown into the hottest new place to live. You're near AT&T Park (so get yourself a Giants season pass) and you've got a great selection of restaurants, bars, cafes, specialty design boutiques, and food shops (think: chocolate, cheese, ice cream).
8. Outer Sunset
This neighborhood is for the beach lovers, because while you may be far from downtown and all of the above places, at least you have the ocean, Golden Gate Park, and other great green spaces within walking distance of your pad. This all means slightly cheaper rent, more space, more peace, and more local quirks. The food scene here is diverse, from mom-and-pop gems to innovative coffee roasters, bakeries and Trouble Coffee's (in)famous $4 toast.
9. Cole Valley
A much quieter and quainter 'hood than its next-door neighbor Haight-Ashbury, Cole Valley has an almost small-town feel with local cafes, bakeries, and restaurants hidden between grand, gorgeous Victorians. You're steps away from nature with Golden Gate Park and Sutro Forest nearby—this is a place where it's easy to forget you're in the middle of a big city.
10. Sea Cliff
Remember: Money is no concern for this list. This affluent neighborhood, which sits on the edge of the beautiful northwestern coast of San Francisco, means you're within walking distance of China Beach and Baker Beach and the exquisite trails of the Presidio. Some famous residents of Sea Cliff have included: the late comedian and actor Robin Williams, photographer Ansel Adams, actress Sharon Stone, and Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett.