San Francisco, California

Karl The Fog

San Francisco Bay From Pac Heights
San Francisco Bay From Pac Heights
Pacific Heights Mansions
Pacific Heights Mansions
Chinatown, San Francisco
Chinatown, San Francisco
Golden Gate Park
Golden Gate Park



Sunny Days: 160
87100 Affordability
89100 Schools
66100 Diversity
59100 Safety

San Francisco is the only city I can think of that can survive all the things you people are doing to it and still look beautiful.
— Frank Lloyd Wright

The Best Thing About San Francisco

Random Beauty

It is the most irrationally designed city in the country with some grid-like blocks surrounded by fabulous Dr. Seussian roads and neighborhoods. This randomness results in wonderful moments where you’ll end up on a street you’ve never been on before, that winds through a neighborhood you never knew existed, and yields a view of a part of the city or bay or ocean, that will continuously amaze you even decades after you first move here.

In the words of Gary Kamiya:
At any moment, as you move across this city’s convoluted terrain, behind a storefront or a neon sign, a strange hill or piece of unfamiliar water will suddenly rise up in the distance, as mysterious and enticing and otherworldly as one of those unknown landscapes in the background of a Renaissance painting,” he writes. “At every step, San Francisco offers you the universe, for free.

For more reviews of what living in San Francisco is like from locals check out: The Reviews

The Worst Thing About San Francisco


The homeless population is surrounded by stratospheric wealth and signals both the hypocrisy of tech-culture and the difficulty in tackling wealth inequity, housing shortages and a mental health crisis.

Here's a local on the possible reasons for the homeless crisis:
The weather, the abundance of social services that have created an industry around the homeless, other cities sending them here, access to good drugs, etc. etc. The city has attempted to show compassion and tolerance at times, which isn't to say that ever stopped the homeless from getting harassed, but they do sweeps like pre-Super Bowl, they still allowed tent cities as long as they're out of general sight.

For more reviews of what living in San Francisco is like from locals check out: The Reviews

How You Living?

In A Charming/Or Not So Charming Neighborhood

San Francisco is dominated by small neighborhoods with single family and multi-unit homes, a smattering of low-profile apartment buildings, and a batch of boutique coffee shops, restaurants and absurdly expensive mixed with amazingly cheap second-hand fashion retail. Depending on your age and preferences chances are you’ll live in one of these little hamlets. Younger, tech go-getters are flocking more to the newer high-rises in the Market Street, South-of-Market areas that are driven by: proximity to work, gyms, organic food, and massive quantities of coffee and THC distribution centers.

Lifestyle In San Francisco

Work Hard, Play Hard (outside)

San Francisco exists for many residents as a jumping off point for everything that surrounds it. Set on, and surrounded by, what is possibly the most beautiful land in the country, San Francisco residents in many cases work to get out and play in the outdoors when not plugging away on their computers. This “play” can include everything from hiking in the hills of Marin to hitting the beaches of Santa Cruz to hanging in Golden Gate or Dolores Park and enjoying the fresh but often foggy air. One of the great things about these playtime activities is they are all free. Which means if you can afford to live here you do get the benefit of much of your recreation time not costing a penny.

While people do drink in SF it isn’t a raging city in the way east coast or midwestern cities can be. The degree to which people are grinding to try to strike gold here probably contributes to some of that more mellow night-time vibe. Expect music events, performing arts, hanging out with friends at brunch or drinks after work to dominate the non-outdoor playtime.

A typical weekend day/night might include: waking up for a workout, getting a cup of joe at your neighborhood boutique coffee shop, meeting friends at the park or the Headlands for an afternoon of chill hanging/hiking, and then grabbing a Burrito in the mission and a beer(or two) at a local bar before calling it a night.

One oddity of San Francisco: it has the lowest per capita for people under 18 for a major city in the country. An old running joke. Question: “what do you get a kid in San Francisco for his 5th birthday?”. Answer: “a house in Marin”. While that is a privileged answer (Marin is really expensive), the truth remains that it is hard to raise kids in SF due to cost of living and either quality of public schools or cost of private schools. So, a lot of people hit the eject button when their kids reach school age. Given a lot of people sell their homes when they are older, and use the $$ for retirement, SF can feel a bit like a college, or maybe a grad school. The population runs hard to older Gen Z’s, Millennials and some Gen X’ers who bought early in the housing market or struck it big in the tech scene.

If you're interested in good ways to meet people in SF check out this handy guide from

Worklife Of San Francisco

The Grind

San Francisco is an amazing city for landing a job. It has the largest concentration of tech jobs in the world, a big banking and finance industry, massive healthcare and BioTech companies, and plenty of jobs via the largest category of employers in the city: tourism.

What’s nice about the majority of these businesses is that they follow the lead of the leaders and offer amazing perqs and extremely employee-friendly policies. What’s also nice about many of these companies is they are aggressively shifting to wfh policies so do you need to move to San Francisco to work “in” San Francisco? The idea of being able to hang at home and enjoy the perks of the city without having to wrestle with commuting or public transport seems kind of dreamy. Again, provided you can afford the housing costs.

Why You Should Move Here Now?

Everyone Moved To Denver (or Austin or Boise)

Although this might sound a little like a “Yogi-ism”, San Francisco is most compelling to move to when people are leaving. The most innovative, affordable, and interesting times to be here are right after the busts. Cost of living gets better, people get more creative, and the city seems more kind and less $$$ motivated. The recent AI boom is pulling techies back into the city into neighborhoods like Hayes Valley (now affectionately known as "Cerebral Valley) so that short-lived exodus may be ending.

Neighborhoods in San Francisco

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The Bay Area

The Bay Area includes everything from the northern wine country cities of Napa and Sonoma, the city of San Francisco, San Jose and the peninsula region to the south of SF, and Oakland across the Bay. The three big cities in the area include San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose. San Francisco is perched on the end of a peninsula and surrounded by the Pacific to the west and the San Francisco Bay to the north and east.

The closest areas to the city include Marin north across the Golden Gate Bridge, Oakland to the east across the Bay Bridge, and the peninsula south down either the 101 freeway or the 280 freeway. There are commuter trains running around the city, into the east bay and south a bit. That’s supplemented by Caltrain which runs from SF down to San Jose. San Francisco has the largest ridership of buses in the country which help with getting around the extremely hilly city. If you live here you’ll get to know these methods of getting around.

People head north into Marin for hiking and outdoor recreation, some of the best in the world, or farther north to do some wine tasting in Napa or Sonoma, also some of the best in the world. They go east to Oakland or Berkeley for culture and different, less tech-heavy social scenes. Or they go south to the peninsula, mostly for work.

Marina District

Young Professionals

San Francisco is silly with Young Professionals and they live throughout the city but some popular places for them include the Marina district on the north side of the city (more finance types), South of Market, for the tech and health industry peeps, the Mission for the hipster/groovier types, and even out to the Outer Sunset for the surfer/beach types.

The Marina is just blocks from the Bay with plenty of walking, running, biking, dog-walking, volleyball, frisbee throwing and general play along the waterfront area. The walkability of the neighborhood is top-notch with tons of casual bars, restaurants, coffee shops and stores (including an apple store) on the main commercial strip along Chestnut street. The neighborhood is filled with apartment buildings, split level homes and single family homes. You have the added benefit of being right near the entrance to the Golden Gate Bridge so you're minutes from Marin when you're up for a hike or a bike in the hills.

  • Marina
  • SOMA
  • Mission
  • Outer Sunset

Hayes Valley


When youngsters tire of living in the Marina or SOMA they often put Hayes Valley on the shortlist of neighborhoods to move. If you're read that SF is falling apart then someone forgot to tell the residents and shopkeepers of Hayes Valley. The ultra-hip boutique shopping, cafes and restaurants are as casual hip as anywhere in the city and more grown-up locals flock here even if they live elsewhere.

This area is also right at the edge of Market Street so access to public transportation is ideal for heading downtown on Muni or the rest of the Bay Area on the BART system. The housing is generally apartment/condos in split-level/divided homes with bigger buildings going up along Market St within a short walk to the center of the action. Side note: Hayes Valley is also referred to as "Cerebral Valley" because so many AI startups are in the area. So, that's kind of interesting.

  • Hayes Valley
  • Cole Valley
  • Russian Hill

The Castro / Bernal Heights


The Castro neighborhood is probably the best known LGBTQ+ area in the country (maybe the world?). It was ground-zero for the original civil rights struggle and you can feel that activism and ongoing support throughout its streets. The area is home to some of the best gay bars in the city but also a multitude of coffee shops, restaurants and markets that are popular with everyone (locals and tourists) so all should feel welcome here.

The housing is a mix of pricey single-family Victorians and sub-divided homes with single floor flats. Increasing numbers of apartment buildings are going up along Market Street on the northern border of the neighborhood and the public transport is excellent with Muni trains running right up into the heart of the area.

Bernal Heights is another interesting choice to put on your list. It attracts young families and the lesbian community who flock to the community gardens, cafes, fruit markets and cool casual restaurants lining the commercial district of this hillside neighborhood on the southern side of the city.

  • Castro
  • Bernal Heights
  • SoMa
  • The Haight

Noe Valley

Young Families

Given the price of housing it is hard to say anywhere is good for young families in SF but let’s start with the assumption that if you’re looking at the city then you’re ready for the sticker shock.
The city tends to pull young families south towards neighborhoods like Noe Valley (Stroller Valley) Glen Park, Bernal Heights, west towards the Sunset and Richmond districts, or even kind of Southwest into neighborhoods like Lakeside or Ingleside/Oceanview. The original homes in these neighborhoods tend to be smaller than the north-side “wealthy” areas but many of the good public and parochial schools are here.

Noe (as locals sometimes say) is popular both for its wonderful commercial district stretched along 24th street, and its perfect location not too far from the rest of the city to the north and the freeways to the south for the tech commuters who don't want to cross the entire city each day. It is known as both kid and dog-friendly with a couple of convenient dog-parks and kid-parks so everyone gets to play. The housing is primarily single-family with the occasional split home and small apartment building sprinkled throughout the blocks.

  • Noe Valley
  • Cole Valley
  • Bernal Heights
  • Glen Park
  • Sunset
  • Richmond
  • Lakeside
  • Ingleside/Oceanview
  • West Portal
  • Outer Mission/Excelsior

Pacific Heights

Established Families

The neighborhoods with the largest and priciest homes tend to be centered on bedrock, and they start on the north side in Pacific Heights, through Presidio Heights and Laurel Heights and then down into Ashbury Heights. Again, these neighborhoods tend to have much bigger homes, great commercial districts of their own and many private schools are in their midst.

Pacific Heights is locally famous as the most expensive, fanciest of the neighborhoods although Presidio Heights and Laurel and Ashbury Heights and others give them a run for their money. Several excellent private schools are in the neighborhood so if you want your munchkins to walk to school and can foot the bill for private this is a desirable spot. Fillmore is the primary commercial street in the neighborhood and is filled with high-end shopping boutiques, excellent restaurants and a 1/2 dozen or so cafes.

While plenty of the housing is single family homes there are also mid and high rise-ish apartment/condo buildings in the area so you get a mix of families and young finance types hanging on Fillmore.

  • Pacific Heights
  • Presidio Heights
  • Laurel Heights
  • Jordan Park
  • Ashbury Heights

Inner Richmond

Families/DINKs/Young Professionals

Parks, Parks, Parks

Inner Richmond is a beautiful neighborhood between Golden Gate Park and the Presidio. Seriously, it’s so easy to walk to both of these parks, so you’ll never be short of things to do on the weekend. Golden Gate Park has the de Young Museum and Cal Academy, and the Presidio is home to the Walt Disney Family Museum, making this area especially family-friendly. Its proximity to USF and UCSF means that the dive bars on Geary Boulevard get overrun with students occasionally, though most weeknights this is a fairly quiet neighborhood. Sure, you can find your classic Victorian homes here, but there are also quite a few Edwardian-style buildings, giving Richmond its own architectural look. Clement St has the best restaurants in this neighborhood, and it even has a farmer’s market every Sunday. There are a few different MUNI buses that will take you downtown, though the 5 and the 38 are the most reliable. This neighborhood has a charming little public library branch, so many diverse restaurant options, and none of the crazy-steep hills that make walking in other parts of the city so strenuous. The BART doesn’t come this far west, and the parking here can be a little annoying if you don’t have a driveway, but getting around is still fairly easy with the buses. While the west side of San Francisco gets more weather than downtown and the Mission, the fog in Inner Richmond usually doesn’t stick around for too long, and there are plenty of sunny days where this neighborhood really shines.

  • Clement St
  • Uncle Boy’s
  • The Bitter End

Outer Richmond


Foggy Beaches

Outer Richmond has the honor of being right next to Ocean Beach, making it a little colder and windier than other parts of the city, but also a great place to go to see beautiful sunsets and surf. This is where you can find the Sutro Baths and the (unfortunately shuttered) iconic Cliff House. This neighborhood is also right next to Golden Gate Park and Lands End, making it a perfect spot for dog walking and outdoor activities. Outer Richmond continues the theme of putting museums in parks, with the Legion of Honor Museum being a great place to see Rodin sculptures in Lands End. Outer Richmond also has some not-so-hidden gems when it comes to restaurants, including Aziza and the world-famous Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant. Little Russia is nearby, meaning there are some great Russian bakeries in this area, as well as the beautiful Russian Orthodox Holy Virgin Cathedral. This neighborhood offers a relatively quiet, family-friendly vibe. The housing paradoxically gets more affordable the closer you get to the beach. Being further from downtown, this area is great for those who want a more relaxed vibe.

  • Fiorella’s
  • Outside Lands Music Festival
  • Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden