What San Francisco Neighborhood is Best for Me? (Quiz)

Year-round perfect weather, a scenic coastline, nearby mountains for skiing and hiking, and tech — these are all reasons to live and enjoy the neighborhoods in San Francisco.

Tourists visit the usual hot spots — a stroll down Lombard Street, takeout in Chinatown and a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. But if you’re looking to make a San Francisco neighborhood your new home, there are specific areas with unique characters, flavors and a sense of community.

The most popular San Francisco neighborhoods … and Oakland

You may have already done your research and narrowed down your choices to specific neighborhoods based on family- or pet-friendliness, proximity to parks or greenery, or public transportation. Either way, take our San Francisco neighborhood quiz to find out which suits you best.

Mission Bay

mission bay

Despite the fact that in the 1890s Mission Bay was once called Dumpville due to the garbage that flowed downhill, it has evolved to be one of San Francisco’s most beautiful neighborhoods.

Located adjacent to the downtown SOMA (South of Market) area, it sits right on the water and is bordered by China Basin on the north. It’s close to the action but offers outdoor recreational activities, such as walking along the water and green parks.

Mission Bay, which is home to newer high rises and developments, are great for young families and professionals who may not want to be so centrally located in SF and away from the hustle and bustle.

Expect to spend about $3,900 for an average one-bedroom apartment here.

North Beach

north beach san francisco neighborhoods

North Beach is known as “Little Italy” and is perfect if you enjoy old school, traditional Italian food and cafes. Despite its name, it’s not close to an actual beach. However, it’s a prime location if you want to be close to the pier and near the Embarcadero, which is just a ferry ride away from the East Bay or Sausalito.

North Beach is a walk-friendly neighborhood, close to restaurants, bars and cafes. It’s conveniently located near Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown where you can get your pizza, gelato and egg noodle soup!

Nob Hill

nob hill san francisco neighborhoods

Who doesn’t want to live in Nob Hill? It’s one of S.F.’s signature neighborhoods, centrally located in the heart of the city and close to shopping at Union Square, a Trader Joe’s and Grace’s Cathedral. Nob Hill is known for its historic mansions, city landmarks and luxury hotels that border Huntington Park. However, the neighborhood isn’t pretentious and is influenced by the diverse residents and close proximity to the downtown surrounding areas.

Although it’s close to Lombard Street and can get quite hilly, you can always hop on the cable car to get up the hill.

Dogpatch

dogpatch san francisco neighborhoods

Source: Avalon Dogpatch

This oddly-named neighborhood in S.F. consists of mostly single-family homes and duplexes. It’s an area full of designers, artists, creative entrepreneurs and musicians. Dogpatch has evolved over the years with newer developments, art galleries and a mix of trendy restaurants and has a hip, industrial vibe to it.

The main drag, on Third Street, is full of indy boutiques, local artisans, bakeries and cafes. The area, which is located right next to Potrero Hill, is also relatively flat, so it’s great for riding your bike around town. It has a laid back vibe and feels like a small community tucked away in a big city.

A one-bedroom apartment in Dogpatch will cost an average of $3,670 each month.

Rincon Hill

rincon hill san francisco neighborhoods

Rincon Hill is a part of SOMA and is bordered by Folsom Street, the Embarcadero, Bryant Street and Essex Street. If you look up, you’ll see the Bay Bridge, which connects the city to Oakland.

It’s considered one of S.F.’s best places to live, since it’s a part of the downtown area and easily accessible by public transportation. It’s also home to the infamous Salesforce Tower and at one point, had one of the priciest penthouses in the city, at $42 million.

It’s also one of the most expensive neighborhoods for renters. Your average one-bedroom apartment here only costs $5,700 a month.

Parkmerced

parkmerced

If you’re new to S.F., you’ve probably never heard of Parkmerced. It’s the opposite of what the rest of S.F. looks like, with cookie-cutter high-rises and townhomes. The area is also difficult to get around if you don’t have a car.

Tucked away near San Francisco State University, it’s further out and feels more like a real suburb. Parkmerced is centered around Lake Merced, a freshwater lake located in a 614-acre park that’s adjacent to Daly City, close to the ocean and centered around Lake Merced.

The area was originally conceived by MetLife Insurance Company, which purchased a large plot of land to build a “small city” for middle-income families. While you’ll be outside of the hustle and bustle of the city center, Parkmerced is a fine choice if you want to be around peaceful surroundings but still close to the heart of S.F.

A one-bedroom apartment in Parkmerced will cost a little under $3,000 a month on average.

Tenderloin

tenderloin san francisco neighborhoods

Situated between S.F.’s famous Union Square shopping area and Civic Center, the Tenderloin can be viewed as a controversial neighborhood. Some might call it dangerous or problematic because of the homelessness, others say it’s full of character and remains one of the most unchanged parts of S.F., and rich with character.

The neighborhood is thriving and full of artists and activists, as well as immigrants. The rental market in this up-and-coming area may still be affordable, which makes it a viable choice for young professionals who are just starting off in their careers.

Living in Tenderloin will set you about $3,800 a month for an average one-bedroom apartment.

Oakland

oakland

Yes, we know, Oakland isn’t part of San Francisco. But it’s just a few miles away across the Bay Bridge. It’s also the third-largest city in the area and has its own Chinatown, man-made lake (Lake Merritt) and an up-and-coming downtown area.

It’s convenient for folks who want to be close to the city, but also live in a house and have a car. Oakland offers a trendy mix of restaurants, coffee shops, bars and even has its conveniently located Redwood Regional Park for a day hike. Some of the trendier areas in Oakland include Temescal, Rockridge, Piedmont, Grand Lake and Uptown.

Certain neighborhoods in Oakland are more expensive than others, but as a whole, you can expect to pay an average of $3,380 for a one-bedroom apartment in the city.

Find the best San Francisco neighborhood for you

Still undecided about your San Francisco neighborhood? Just answer a few questions and we’ll tell you!

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Which San Francisco Neighborhood Should You Call Home?
Mission Bay

Mission Bay

Despite the fact that in the 1890s Mission Bay was once called Dumpville due to the garbage that flowed downhill, it has evolved to be one of San Francisco's most beautiful neighborhoods. Located adjacent to the downtown SOMA (South of Market) area, it sits right on the water and is bordered by China Basin on the north. It's close to the action but offers outdoor recreational activities, such as walking along the water and green parks. The neighborhood is home to newer high rises and developments and is great for young families and professionals who may want to be away from the hustle and bustle.

Find Apartments in Mission Bay
North Beach

North Beach is known as “Little Italy" and is perfect if you enjoy old school, traditional Italian food and cafes. Despite its name, it's not close to an actual beach. However, it's a prime location if you want to be close to the pier and near the Embarcadero, which is just a ferry ride away from the East Bay or Sausalito. North Beach is a walk-friendly neighborhood, close to restaurants, bars and cafes. It's conveniently located near Fisherman's Wharf and Chinatown where you can get your pizza, gelato and egg noodle soup!

Find Apartments in North Beach
Nob Hill

Nob Hill

Who doesn't want to live in Nob Hill? It's one of S.F.'s signature neighborhoods, centrally located in the heart of the city and close to shopping at Union Square. Nob Hill is known for its historic mansions, city landmarks and luxury hotels that border Huntington Park. However, the neighborhood isn't pretentious and is influenced by the diverse residents and close proximity to the downtown surrounding areas. Although it's close to Lombard Street and can get quite hilly, you can always hop on the cable car to get up the hill.

Find Apartments in Nob Hill
Dogpatch

Dogpatch

This oddly-named neighborhood in S.F. consists of mostly single-family homes and duplexes. It's an area full of designers, artists, creative entrepreneurs and musicians. Dogpatch has evolved over the years with newer developments, art galleries and a mix of trendy restaurants and has a hip, industrial vibe to it. The main drag, on Third Street, is full of indie boutiques and local artisan and bakeries and cafes. The area is also relatively flat, so it's great for riding your bike around town. It has a laid back vibe and feels like a small community tucked away in a big city.

Find Apartments in Dogpatch
Rincon Hill

Rincon HIll

Rincon Hill, which is now called the East Cut, is a part of SOMA and is bordered by Folsom Street, the Embarcadero, Bryant Street and Essex Street. If you look up, you'll see the Bay Bridge, which connects the city to Oakland. It's considered one of S.F.'s best places to live, since it's a part of the downtown area and easily accessible by public transportation. It's also home to the infamous Salesforce Tower and at one point, had one of the priciest penthouses in the city, at $42 million.

Find Apartments in Rincon Hill
Parkmerced

Park Merced

Tucked away near San Francisco State University, this neighborhood is further out and feels more like a real suburb. Parkmerced is centered around Lake Merced, a freshwater lake located in a 614-acre park that's adjacent to Daly City, close to the ocean and centered around Lake Merced. The area was originally conceived by MetLife Insurance Company, which purchased a large plot of land to build a “small city" for middle income families. While you'll be outside of the hustle and bustle of the city center, Parkmerced is a fine choice if you want to be around peaceful surroundings but still close to the heart of S.F.

Find Apartments in Parkmerced
Tenderloin

Situated between S.F.'s famous Union Square shopping area and Civic Center, the Tenderloin can be viewed as a controversial neighborhood. Some might call it dangerous or problematic because of the homelessness, others say it's full of character and remains one of the most unchanged parts of S.F., and rich with character. The neighborhood is thriving and full of artists and activists, as well as immigrants. The rental market in this up-and-coming area may still be affordable, which makes it a viable choice for young professionals who are just starting off in their careers.

Find Apartments in the Tenderloin
Oakland

Oakland, a large port city in the East Bay, is just a few miles away from S.F., just across the Bay Bridge. It's the third largest city and has its own Chinatown, man-made lake (Lake Merritt) and an up-and-coming downtown area. It's convenient for folks who want to be close to the city, but also live in a house and have a car. Oakland offers a trendy mix of restaurants, coffee shops, bars and even has its conveniently located Redwood Regional Park for a day hike. Some of the trendier areas in Oakland include Temescal, Rockridge, Piedmont, Grand Lake and Uptown.

Find Apartments in Oakland
Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments. Data was pulled in September 2020 and goes back for one year. We use a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.
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Claire TakClaire Tak is a writer who previously served as head of content and chief editor for FinTech companies in New York and San Francisco. Her work has appeared on FOX Business, Bloomberg and Forbes. She writes regularly about travel, money and being a good human. Traveling and snowboarding are her two favorite things to do.

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