where should I live in san francisco?
July 9, 2007 10:53 PM   Subscribe

What neighborhood should I live in SF?

Hello. I'm looking to move to SF soon, and I'm having some trouble deciding where to live.

I'm young (just graduated from college), and work at a tech company in the south bay, to which I would be commuting to via caltrain.

I'm looking for a warm, sunny neighborhood with a lot of restaurants, bars, young people, artsy stuff, interesting shops, etc. I could bring my car up there or bike to the caltrain stop in the morning, so some place on the eastern part of the city near the stops would be great. Also, street parking would also be nice.

The mission looks pretty cool from what I've seen, but I'm afraid of the crime. Is it really that bad? I can't really afford to replace a window on my car all the time if someone breaks into it, and I would probably crap my pants if i got mugged.

I've also heard the lower haight is fun, but is it any safer than the mission? Is it just like mission-lite?

If there are any other cool neighborhoods, please let me know. Thanks!
posted by I like to eat meat to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
See my previous comment here.

I'd add that "The Mission" is a big part of town with sketchy parts and also very safe parts. I wouldnt consider Haight if you're going to Caltrain it. I'd consider Potrero Hill.
posted by vacapinta at 11:02 PM on July 9, 2007

I'd just steer clear of renting too close to the large housing projects over toward Cesar Chavez, but the Mission would be the only neighborhood I'd consider if I were to move my family back to the city, based on sunshine and the relative flatness (former Upper Haight dweller here).

Just from personal observation and experience, it's a non-starter to hope for easy parking in SF.
posted by padraigin at 11:08 PM on July 9, 2007

Oh you said "lower haight." No, lower haight is about as sketchy as the Mission but much much smaller.

Maybe its me but I've never known anyone that got mugged in the Mission. What violence there is is mainly Latino street gangs - them beating up on each other. My car did get broken into once but it was a convertible and I had been parking it on the street there every day for four years.
posted by vacapinta at 11:09 PM on July 9, 2007

The Mission, Western Addition, Duboce Triangle, Lower Haight, and Portrero Hill are all good places to live. There's also a thin slice of the Mission between Guerrero, S. Van Ness, 16th and Market that I think is on its way up right now, judging by the growing trickle of businesses moving there. These places can all be a little sketchy, but that's kind of the price you have to pay for living in a hip neighborhood. In my opinion, it's worth it.

You're really going to want to get rid of that car. You won't have to pay for getting the windows replaced when they're broken, and you'll be so much happier not having to stress about parking it and paying for the inevitable tickets. If you're commuting via Caltrain, buy a bike and ride it to the 4th & King station in SOMA.

Also, Vacapinta: the last mugging I heard about in SF happened to a friend on 18th & Castro; just goes to show that even supposedly-safe areas can have their problems. Geography is no guarantee of safety.
posted by migurski at 11:24 PM on July 9, 2007

Actually, more like Dolores, S. Van Ness, 16th, and Duboce.
posted by migurski at 11:29 PM on July 9, 2007

Perhaps selling the car will also free up some money to get a nicer place.
posted by mdonley at 12:42 AM on July 10, 2007

Are you sure you want to commute to South Bay on Caltrain from SF? I did this for a while in 2000 and I had to wake up at 4am just to get to work by 8 in Sunnyvale. Now, granted, I lived just about as far away from the Caltrain station as its possible to get (Sunset, a neighborhood I absolutely *love*, and if I were moving back to SF you bet I'd live there) so maybe it won't be a problem for you, but maybe you'd like to visit SF and do a few Caltrain runs to see how long it takes?
posted by the dief at 4:32 AM on July 10, 2007

You Caltrain commute will be pretty brutal if you live somewhere further away from the train than the Mission or thereabouts. The Mission above Mission St. (Guerrero, Dolores) is now sufficiently gentrified and as safe as it gets in the city (although street parking is brutal.) I would have no problem living below Mission either. Safer than that is to go further east to Portrero Hill. Another option would be Hayes Valley (north, and a little east of lower Haight); I loved living there. Easy access to downtown, etc. and also gentrified enough to be safe for your vehicle, etc. But that tends to be a slightly older (than you) crowd. If I moved back to SF I would look in the Mission because of the sunniness factor and the access to the great neighborhood restaurants.
posted by picklebird at 4:46 AM on July 10, 2007

I really love living in Cole Valley. My friends with a car easily find street parking on their block, the N-Judah line (which now terminates at the Caltrain station) is a block away from my house, and Haight is nearby if I'm looking to go out in the evening.

As far as the neighborhood is concerned, it's much safer and quieter than Haight. It sports a french pastry shop, a coffee shop, a few nice restaurants, a few good neighborhoody-bars.
posted by cior at 7:48 AM on July 10, 2007

I live near Fillmore and California. I love riding my bikes. The one evening a week or so I take Caltrain back from MV and then ride a bike home from 4th/King is more for curiosity's sake and for entertainment than for a glorious commute. I'm not sure I'd enjoy doing that every day.

That being said, if I had to choose between moving closer to Caltrain for a job on the penninsula and finding a job in SF so as to stay living where I am, I'd do the latter. :) I think the usual progression is to live and work down there -> move up to SF and commute -> get sick of the commute and find a job up here, too.
posted by kcm at 8:01 AM on July 10, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. So is it basically impossible for me to park my car in the evening in the mission?

Biking to the 22nd st caltrain is a possibility, but it would be a huge pain for me to change back into my work clothes and find some place to lock up my bike. How would you guys do it?
posted by I like to eat meat at 11:05 AM on July 10, 2007

Any chance your job is cyclist-friendly? Maybe they have a shower? You could also bike to 4th & Kind instead of 22nd st., which has the advantage of being a flat ride. You won't get as sweaty, so you might not need to change clothes.
posted by migurski at 5:10 PM on July 10, 2007

4th & King, I mean.
posted by migurski at 5:12 PM on July 10, 2007

I used to live in a loft in Potrero Hill, in easy walking distance to the CalTrain station at 22nd, for my commute down to the south bay. There were things I loved about living in the city, but a lot I would do differently.

The commute was really tough. walking to the train, then the train ride, then a shuttle to the work campus... once you do that round trip, there's 2.5 hours out of your day. Or you can drive and do battle with the freeways every day, and get that down to maybe 1:45 or 2 hours.

I dealt with one vehicle break-in (shattered window, trashed dash, stolen radio), and another scar/scratch job from an attempted break-in.

Pot Hill is too far away to casually walk to the really great bars and restaurants in the city. And far enough away that my other friends in the city weren't thrilled about coming over to visit.

Freeway noise was intense in the lofts, constant dust/soot from auto exhausts, and no green space to play in.

If I was determined to live in the city again, I'd want to work in the city, or work from home. I'd live in a neighborhood with easier/closer access to The Mission. I'd have at least a minimal speck of garden to play in. And I'd have my friend Jess find my next place; she always found the sweetest digs in SF! :-)
posted by browse at 3:18 PM on July 11, 2007

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