Good neighborhood near BART?
February 1, 2011 1:49 PM   Subscribe

Where to live in San Francisco that is close to BART?

My wife and I are considering a move to the Bay area for 3-5 years. I've got a job opportunity in Concord, but we would really want to live in San Francisco to make the most of this experience. We would want to live close to a BART station so I could avoid driving to work. What neighborhoods should we be looking at? We will probably be starting a family while we are there and want to be somewhere that feels like we are in the city (we're from a small town) and be very walkable. Also is $2500 a month a realistic budget for rent?

I've read some previous threads, but was hoping to get some info more specific to our situation.

Thanks for the input.
posted by bajema to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (28 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Glen Park is a lovely area that has a city feel and is close to a BART station. It is also relatively affordable as San Francisco goes.

It is one of the hillier parts of San Francisco, which may be something to keep in mind.

The Mission is great too, though not for all tastes -- and depending on where in the Mission you want to live, $2500 likely won't cut it for a 2-bedroom apartment.
posted by eugenen at 1:55 PM on February 1, 2011

This is a map of BART stations in San Francisco, though it doesn't show Glen Park or Balboa Park The Mission, South of Market, the Tenderloin, and Hayes Valley, Glen Park and Balboa Park are the names of the neighborhood that BART runs through or near, although they're all pretty big and varied, and living in SoMa (for instance) doesn't necessarily mean that walking distance is practical or safe.

This is the BART map.

$2500 for what? How many bedrooms? How close a walk to BART (five minutes will cost more than 20 minutes)? Craigslist is very active for finding places to live here, so do a search there to get a ballpark of what you want and how much it might cost.
posted by rtha at 1:57 PM on February 1, 2011

2 bedrooms would be great but not necessary. 15 minutes to BART would be ideal, either by walking or bus.
posted by bajema at 2:05 PM on February 1, 2011

I know you state SF, but you could try the Rockridge neighborhood in Oakland, which has the neighborhood feel you're looking for, but is accessible to SF. I don't know what their rent rates are like.

Quoting here:
"Rockridge has been the subject of several academic and government studies regarding the integration of public transportation and residential neighborhoods. The Rockridge BART station has been cited as the model of weaving retail, commercial and residential interests into a workable neighborhood. The area around the Rockridge BART provides transportation by train, bus, and casual carpool to all Bay Area airports, downtowns, and entertainment districts, while surrounded by open air markets, cafes, bars, shopping, and homes."
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 2:06 PM on February 1, 2011 [3 favorites]

Would you consider living near a Muni train line and then transferring at one of the Market St. (such as Embarcadero) stations that have both? If so, you have more options.
posted by Danf at 2:10 PM on February 1, 2011

SFgate recently had an article about how the realtors in sf define neighborhood boundries. They linked to SF Realtors neighborhood map which comes multiple versions. I'd prolly check out the pdf version which is detailed enough with the micro-neighborhood names and shows you where the bart and muni metro stations are.
posted by sammich at 2:18 PM on February 1, 2011

Seconding living near Muni and taking it to BART - that will open up a lot more neighborhoods for you. Cole Valley is a lovely little neighborhood and has a Muni stop at the center of its little "downtown" (Cole & Carl).

Here's the Muni map (pdf), although it's not super helpful in terms of neighborhoods/actual streets. This map (pdf), albeit more difficult to pick out the Muni stops, does give a better sense of Muni coverage by neighborhood/streets.

Oh, and taking Muni is (usually, barring breakdowns or delays) much faster than taking the bus.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 2:19 PM on February 1, 2011

Precita Park, on the north side of Bernal, just below Cesar Chavez. It's a part of the Mission referred to as 'SoCha' and is 12mins walk (or shorter if you grab a bus) from 24th St BART station.

Very quiet and safe. As for family friendly, it's been called "the new Noe Valley". The Armoir clan, recently upgraded to a three-count, sure does like it.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 2:21 PM on February 1, 2011

Living near Muni and taking that to BART is fine. I just would like to keep my commute from being to much longer than an hour.
posted by bajema at 2:22 PM on February 1, 2011

And if 15 minutes to a BART station would be ideal, you should look into living farther out along a Muni metro line. Yeah it can be as slow and unreliable as buses, especially out on the west side, but naturally if there's an underground tunnel along the way it speeds things up considerably. For example the N Judah will take you from Cole Valley to Downtown in 15 minutes-ish
posted by sammich at 2:24 PM on February 1, 2011

The BART ride from Civic Center to Concord is already 46 minutes. A transfer will boost your commute over an hour if you factor in waiting for trains. The Pittsburg/Bay Point line comes every 15 minutes.

I second taking a look at neighborhoods near the Rockridge BART (23 min to Concord). The Elmwood neighborhood and College Ave are great for walking. Lots of restaurants and bars and it is easy to jump on the BART to get into the city. A quick look at the Oakland Craigslist suggests that your money may also go further. You could also consider living in Berkeley although rent prices are boosted due to the student population.

The area is also very bike-able and you're living right next to the hills where there is good hiking. Living in the East Bay is cheaper and does get more sunlight, but does suffer from not actually being San Francisco.

Depending on how small your small town is, Berkeley and Oakland will feel like enough of a city.
posted by just.good.enough at 2:44 PM on February 1, 2011

Adding the Muni to a 45 minute BART ride would make me an unhappy commuter. So I'd focus on the Mission (especially in the 'Mission Dolores' section, in general the side west of Valencia is nicer), the Eastern side of Noe Valley (nearer the Mission and the BART) and Glen Park. Oh, and Hayes Valley.

The Rockridge area is a good East Bay alternative. I've considered moving over there myself.
posted by grapesaresour at 2:54 PM on February 1, 2011

I live in Ingleside, near Balboa Park BART.

Ingleside and the nearby neighborhoods of Sunnyside and the Outer Mission aren't the most exciting places in San Francisco. However, they are some of the only places in San Francisco where there's affordable (by San Francisco standards) housing for small families near decent schools. Much of Ingleside is only a 5-10 minute walk to the Balboa Park BART station, the MUNI J, K or M lines, and there's a nearby on-ramp to highway 280 for when you need to drive. It's easy to get downtown, and it's also easy to get out of the city.

Glen Park (and Sunnyside and Cayuga Terrace) are very similar, but a nicer and more expensive.

You should definitely be able to rent a small 2 or 3 bedroom house or flat near Balboa Park or Glen Park for $2500 or less. Here's the Craigslist search for that.

I would disregard the advice from those recommending you take MUNI to BART if you're commuting out to Concord, though. It's a ~45 minutes trip to get to Concord from the downtown BART stations, and depending on when you're leaving, those trains may be spaced out by ~10 minutes -- meaning that your commute from station to station on BART all by itself can be almost an hour. While BART generally runs smoothly, MUNI is far from predictable, and there's no guarantee that what you think should be a 15 minute bus or streetcar ride will actually be that. I really don't think that your commute will only be around an hour with a transfer to and from MUNI in the mix.

The suggestion about Rockridge is a good one if a short commute is a good one.
posted by eschatfische at 3:09 PM on February 1, 2011

If Oakland/Berkeley is at all an option, I would suggest the Rockridge or Temescal neighborhood as well. I like the Temescal neighborhood a lot. It's right on the Rockridge border and it's pretty "hip". And you can get to downtown SF/mission/SOMA just about as quickly from some east bay areas as you can from areas in SF.
posted by phelixshu at 3:10 PM on February 1, 2011

Glen Park. Your budget should be fine. That's $2500 for rent only and not necessarily utilities and parking, yes? Because you are not likely to get parking included in any of the places you're looking.

I would not want to commute to Concord from either Cole Valley or Hayes Valley. The N train (or 71 bus) is not THAT reliable - just sayin'.

If you look at Mission / Noe, focus on the area bounded by 22nd to the north, Church to the west, Cesar Chavez to the south, and Valencia to the east.

Precita park (noted above) is nice too, and you can pick either 24th st BART or Glen Park, though it would be a bit further to walk than either of the above choices.
posted by rkent at 3:13 PM on February 1, 2011

I meant to say: The suggestion about Rockridge is a good one if a short commute is a priority. My brain is broken, apparently.
posted by eschatfische at 3:13 PM on February 1, 2011

Muni + BART = sucky ass commute. From Cole Valley, are you kidding? There are four BART stations outside of downtown, two are in the Mission, 16th street and 24th Street. The Mission is heavily Latino, funky (style-wise), bohemian, artsy and hip and bit on the grungy side. I love it but it's not for everyone. And like a lot of SF neighborhoods, there are great Victorians next to SROs and other down-at-the-heels places. It's a mixed bag. BART is on Mission street, which is a bit grungier than Valencia, Guerrero and Dolores, which are just a few streets over. Lots of fab restaurants of all kinds, a hundred taquerias, lots of hispanic grocery stores with affordable produce, great little boutiques and coffee shops. The Mission is one of the sunniest neighborhoods in SF.

The other BART stop is Glen Park. Nice residential area with a village feel. Lots of fog but nice on nice days and a little bit off the beaten path. Not as easy to get to other parts of the City quickly and easily. Glen Park is foggy. This bears repeating. It's quiet and has easy access to the freeway. Kid friendly.

Three BART stations are downtown, lots of concrete and tall buildings. Not entirely dead in the evenings but not kid friendly. And there's not much residential right in the middle of downtown and most people would live in the South of Market (SOMA) area. The other station is Civic Center, which is in the Tenderloin (one of SF's poorest areas) but it's also next to Hayes Valley, another small, charming neighborhood. It's a 10 minute walk to BART and it's also next to SOMA. The Tenderloin does have some gems, Little Saigon, Hastings School of Law, City Hall, a farmer's market twice a week, the SF Opera/Ballet/Symphony so it has some good things going for it. It has a lot of homeless. A lot. But most of the really gritty areas can easily be avoided.

A budget of $2500 is at the very low end for a two bedroom but definitely doable for a one bedroom. You're going to have check things out to see the different areas and try the commuting times, preferably during commute hours. Coe Valley is a cute little neighborhood but I personally think the commute would be too long. YMMV.
posted by shoesietart at 3:33 PM on February 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

BTW: Glen Park= one of the foggy in summer bits of SF. Not the worst, but not the best either. You're certainly more likely to find stuff in your price range there than in some other parts of the City. I'm not sure you could find a decent 2 bed in the Mission for 2500.

I second Rockridge, in Oakland. You're on the line, and won't have to transfer trains like you will in SF (3 out of four trains will not go to Concord, you'll need to transfer at West Oakland or McArthur, or both, depending on the line. Not horribly onerous, but something to keep in mind). Temescal is a little cheaper, and closer to McArthur station. Oakland is sunnier than SF generally, and also somewhat cheaper, though Rockridge is getting up there. Both neighborhoods are as walkable as parts of SF, though less dense.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:58 PM on February 1, 2011

So I'm new to the area, but live a less than 10 minute walk to MacArthur BART in the East Bay - that's one stop down from the Rockridge area. Where I live (between Temescal & Piedmont) is pretty nice, but more transitional. Plenty of people with small children, though. I suspect both Rockridge will feel plenty "like a city" to you if you've moved from a small town. Heck, I moved from right smack in the middle of Atlanta, and both neighborhoods feel more like a city to me.
posted by deludingmyself at 4:56 PM on February 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Subtract one "both" from that sentence, and memail me if you want more thoughts from someone who did this move recently.
posted by deludingmyself at 4:58 PM on February 1, 2011

Another benefit if you do go with the East Bay options is that it's much, much cheaper. And you won't want to sell your soul for parking. Unless you plan on going out to SF nearly every night, you might as well think about broader options.

I've got $1200 for a nice 2 BR place down near Chinatown in Oakland by the Lake... It takes about 20 minutes between walking to the BART and riding the BART to get to San Francisco.
posted by yeloson at 5:04 PM on February 1, 2011

If you want to experience San Francisco, live in San Francisco. Rockridge and Berkeley are nice, but they're not SF. In many ways they are superior, but not if you want to experience what San Francisco has to offer.

For 2br under $2500, you're looking at the areas around the Glen Park and Balboa Park BART stations. If you can live with a 1br, it'll open up big parts of the Mission, Hayes Valley, and some of the areas of town closer to downtown (parts of SOMA, Nob Hill and North Beach are within a 10-15 minute walk of BART)

I live in the heart of Hayes Valley (near Hayes and Gough). It's a 10 minute walk to the Civic Center BART stop from here. The Realtor definition of Hayes Valley has drastically expanded (see also: Western Subtraction), but big parts of it are definitely within a 15 minute circle of Civic Center.
posted by toxic at 6:00 PM on February 1, 2011

nthing that you should look into Rockridge. It's where I live. Not that that automatically makes it awesome. My complaints are that it's a bit more expensive than I'd like (but it sounds like you can afford it) and there are lots of little kids (but you want to start a family) . As you can see from a map, it's the closest urban place to Concord. Parts of Berkeley would also work for you but the BART commute would be a bit longer because you'd have to change trains. (Unless you live somewhere around, say, College and Alcatraz.)

But you will probably not go into SF as much as you're thinking you will right now. And a lot of us who are carless in the East Bay find that we only know the parts of the city around BART stations. (Your mileage may vary, because it sounds like you have a car.)
posted by madcaptenor at 6:31 PM on February 1, 2011

I also live in Rockridge and have a great place considering how much I pay. Keep in mind, though, that BART stops at about midnight, so if you plan on having some late night fun in the city, you'll either have to catch a ridiculous bus ride or drive back home. Or crash on someone's floor if you're as fancy as I am.
posted by OrangeDrink at 7:56 PM on February 1, 2011

If you want to experience San Francisco, live in San Francisco. Rockridge and Berkeley are nice, but they're not SF. In many ways they are superior, but not if you want to experience what San Francisco has to offer.

For 2br under $2500, you're looking at the areas around the Glen Park and Balboa Park BART stations.

Balboa Park is an hour to Concord Station, more than the OP wants. I also wouldn't call it particularly walkable around there. Nor would I call it a "San Francisco Experience". At that point, it seems far more akin to a "Daly City Experience", which is not even remotely the same thing.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:26 PM on February 1, 2011

... and yeah, all the people I know that lived near Balboa Park did so because schools were good and they could afford to buy a nice house. There's nothing wrong with that part of town, but it is not where I would point people who have urban fun in mind.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:30 PM on February 1, 2011

I have a unique perspective on commuting because I freelance, always work at different locations (some of which are easily transit accessible and many that are not), and do not own a car which has forced me to acquire a vast knowledge of all public transit in the Bay Area during commute hours.

Pretty much anywhere in San Francisco to Concord is going to take over an hour on BART. I know because I have and client there and it takes me about that long - after factoring in waiting for trains, getting in and out of stations, and transferring (because almost none of the trains go to Concord) - and I live in Oakland. Having to transfer from MUNI or a bus is going to make you hate your life - realize that going way out there to Concord is going to be a long commute no matter where you live in SF. Rockridge is more SF-like than Balboa Park, for sure, and Oakland is sunnier anyways.

If it's worth it to you to live in SF, I would avoid a MUNI transfer at all costs. If you live more than a few minutes walk from the station RIDE A BIKE! This extends the range of neighborhoods you can live in and reduces the amount of time you spend hating your commute. SF is aggressively bike friendly and the weather is so mild you can do it year round.
posted by bradbane at 9:48 PM on February 1, 2011

How close is your Concord job opportunity to the Concord BART station? That's where things might get sticky.
posted by Lazlo at 11:09 PM on February 1, 2011

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