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May 27, 2006 9:51 PM   Subscribe

Where should a Hastings student and a Caltrain commuter live in San Francisco?

A friend and I are moving to San Francisco in June or July and we'll be living together in a 2 bedroom place. He is going to UC Hastings (1 block east of Civic Center), and I will be doing the daily Caltrain commute down to Silicon Valley.

We're in our early twenties and are looking for a fun neighborhood with places to go, young people to meet, bars, cafes, etc. We can afford a $1,500-2,400/month place (2 br). Since I'll be doing a long commute on the train as it is, I don't want to be more than 20-30 minutes away from a Caltrain station.

Based on that information - are there any neighborhoods or areas you suggest in particular? Or any related advice? Some people have suggested Hayes Valley or the Mission. Where do you think we should live, and why? Thanks!
posted by natan to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Mission or Portrero Hill. For you its close to 22nd Street Caltrain station and for him its close to Bart & bus lines. Quite frankly, those are great neighborhoods that are very very convenient. Lots of great places to eat, bookstores, good residents, diverse, fun to walk in... I live near the Mission and I love it.
posted by zia at 10:39 PM on May 27, 2006

Hayes Valley would be a long walk to the Caltrain or straight shot with a bus.
posted by mathowie at 10:55 PM on May 27, 2006

Some people call the Mission "diverse" while others call it "ghetto." ;-)

It really depends on what *YOU* like and what you're comfortable with.

Since you're going to be on Caltrain, you may consider the SOMA area as well.
posted by drstein at 11:00 PM on May 27, 2006

Friend of mine lived in the Inner Sunset and took the N Judah in to downtown to Hastings for three years. I live in the Inner Sunset and like it pretty well (been here seven years, in fact).

You can easily find a 2BR in that budget in the Inner Sunset. It's generally a safe neighborhood, there are grocery stores and plenty of shops in the area. Lots of bus lines cross through here as well, so the N Judah wouldn't be your only option to get to class.

You can search for "Inner Sunset San Francisco" online and find plenty of stuff. If you want to see what it's like around here, I've got a whole photo album up of the neighborhood here.

We live in a decent 2BR that we pay well below $2400 for, but which we pay a little more than $1500 for.
posted by smallerdemon at 11:16 PM on May 27, 2006

Response by poster: How is the public transit situation (length, convenience) from the Inner Sunset to Caltrain?
posted by natan at 11:24 PM on May 27, 2006

Best answer: I take Caltrain to work and live in San Francisco. I've lived in SF since 1992 and have lived in The Haight, Hayes valley, Polk, The Marina, Potrero Hill, The Mission and Bernal Heights.

Right now I live in North Bernal Heights and go to the 22nd St street Caltrain station.

The only neighborhoods I'd want to live in if I had to take Caltrain everyday is:

-The Mission (fantastic neighborhood. not ghetto-ey at all! but diverse and thriving. East of Mission st is an area I feel safe walking in 24 hrs a day. Personally, my favorite neighorhood)

-Potrero Hill (great, great neighborhood but can be pricey because its so small. But almost all of P Hill is an easy walk to the 22nd St. station)

-South SOMA (SOMA varies wildly. I dont go there that much because the wide streets remind me of Los Angeles but its an ok neighborhood)

I love Hayes Valley (although parts to the East which border the Western Addition are indeed ghetto-ey) but getting to Caltrain from there or Inner Sunset will be a nightmare.

I have a friend who lives in Hayes Valley and uses Caltrain. The bus service is so unreliable that she walks to the 4th and King Caltrain station - walking all through SOMA. This takes her 45min to an hour each morning. Then, the commute itself on the train is nearly an hour. She justifies it because she sees the first hour as her morning workout.

If you need any more advice, email is in my profile.
posted by vacapinta at 12:44 AM on May 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh, and regarding the Hastings commute - they can take a bus line. The best bus service of the neighborhoods above would likely be the Mission - close to Mission St. Hayes Valley would be walking distance which is perhaps why it was recommended.

You might also consider Noe valley - which is an upscale neighborhood just East of the Mission. To get to Caltrain, you take the 48 bus to the 22nd st station. To get to Hastings, you walk down to Mission st. and catch a bus or a BART.
posted by vacapinta at 12:51 AM on May 28, 2006

Response by poster: vacapinta: Why is the transit from Hayes Valley to Caltrain that nightmarish? It seems the 47 runs often (every 7-8 mins) and is a 20 minute ride to 4th and King. There's also the possibility of taking the N Judah from Market and Van Ness to the Caltrain station, a 17 minute ride.
posted by natan at 1:12 AM on May 28, 2006

Some clarification: I wouldn't trust the 47 farther than I could throw it (I don't know where you're getting the idea it runs at a certain frequency, but that's not at all how MUNI works; you're more likely to see no bus for 45 minutes, then three of them bumper-to-bumper), and boarding the N at Van Ness is going to be like scaling a wall of humanity.

That said, walking all the way to CalTrain from Hayes Valley is hardly the best transit option, timewise, so don't get the impression that's an ideal route because one person does it.
posted by majick at 6:52 AM on May 28, 2006

I'm a big fan of the neighborhood around City College, on the Ingleside side of 280, not the Excelsior side.

The Balboa Park BART station is right there, as are most of the MUNI lines (as the main MUNI end-of-routes are here). It's public transportation heaven.

BART to Caltrain is an easy switch over at Milbrae. As an added bonus, 280 to Silicon Valley is the only fun commute in the bay area if you ever feel the need to drive.

The rents are cheap, the neighborhood is actually diverse (unlike painfully white Portero and similar) and there are cool little coffee shops and restaurants on the Ocean Ave strip mixed with Mexican bridal stores and authentic Chinese. The neighborhood library sucks, though.

It's also sunnier here if that matters to you, as we're near neither the bay nor the ocean.
posted by Gucky at 7:57 AM on May 28, 2006

Best answer: The mission is a hipsterized ghetto, but it's probably your best choice. Potrero hill is considered remote by many, and has no BART access. Noe Valley (where I live) is very nice but mostly families with children. Richmond and Sunset are way too far from caltrain to be feasable. Bernal heights is like living in the suburbs since it will take you 20-40 minutes to get to the socializing parts of the city. Areas north of Market street are either easy to get to caltrain or bart from but not both. Do not rely on any form of public transit to get you to Caltrain. None is reliable enough. Instead, buy a very cheap car and park it at 22nd st. Expect it to get broken into periodically.

Valencia st near 16th has a lot of good restaurants and bars. It's a 15 minute drive to Caltrain and a block from BART. Half the poulation is hipsters and the other half is in poverty. That's my reccomendation. If you don't want to be surrounded by homeless people, then Noe Valley (near Church st so it's closeish to BART) might be for you, but you'll have to travel a little to see friends.
posted by jewzilla at 9:31 AM on May 28, 2006

natan: majick answered it for me. Also seconding what jewzilla said.

Also,yes, as Gucky points out, if you live near BART you could always take it down to Millbrae where it connects with Caltrain. Drawbacks: 1) The BART itself is very unreliable (Caltrain is amazingly reliable) 2) Cost. I found the price of having to buy both BART and Caltrain passes to start getting ridiculously expensive.
posted by vacapinta at 11:26 AM on May 28, 2006

Best answer: East of Mission St isn't quite the hipsterized ghetto that it's made out to be. (Although I suppose I'm a part of the gentrification, so who am I to talk.) I live around 21st and Bryant, and it's great - nice little bars, nice little coffee shop, etc. It's quite a diverse neighborhood, as the Carnaval parade this morning showed admirably. It's really a hispanic family neighborhood at heart, even still, and I love it here.

But 24th street can be sketch at night, and there are a fair amount of drug dealers (I think?) and men hanging around fixing cars and drinking beer all day. (That's just my specific corner though, as far as I can tell; others seem slightly less "ghetto".)

Anyway, I walk over potrero hill every day to Caltrain - it takes 15-20 minutes to go over the bridge behind the hospital, and over on 22nd. You do past the edge of the Potrero Hill projects, which can be a bit sketch if you're not 6'1 and male, perhaps.

If I were you, I'd try to find somewhere nice in the mission, in a local neighborhood that you really like. I'd buy a scooter to go to caltrain on. And I'd live it up. This is a great place.

So, local neighborhood recommendations? Aim for a few blocks (3 or 4) east or west of Mission itself. Don't live right on Potrero Ave, either. I'm currently in love with Shotwell between 21st and 23rd or so, but I'm sure you'll find a lovely place somewhere in there.

Welcome to the neighborhood!

(Also, for god's sake don't Bart to Caltrain. That is a commute from hell.)
posted by metaculpa at 3:32 PM on May 28, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all your advice! I just got a place near 24th and Castro, and will hopefully learn to deal with the 90+ minute train commute. :)
posted by natan at 5:34 PM on June 8, 2006

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