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I would like to say this is one of the last affordable districts in San Francisco, but that is changing rapidly. Bayview/Hunters Point, with its proximity to I-280, Potrero Hill and the T-Third MUNI rail line is experiencing some growing pains. As San Francisco becomes more and more expensive, areas that were once more affordable are no longer so. Because of the geography, housing is all over the map, with some areas with astounding views-others in the flats closer to public transit. New development is in full tilt mode at the Shipyard, creating much needed housing. Third St. is the main shopping hub.

Mission Terrace is right across the freeway from Glen Park and Sunnyside, adjacent to the Outer Mission. This is an oasis, literally, with San Jose Ave. and Alemany Blvd. bounding both sides. A mix of detached single family homes built in the early 1900’s.

The Outer Mission contains a variety of housing; both row houses and detached in a variety of styles. The main shopping areas would be along Mission, Geneva and Ocean Ave.

The Crocker Amazon has some detached phenomenal bungalow architecture from the early 1900’s. Geneva is the main shopping area.

The Excelsior is adjacent to the Outer Mission and Crocker Amazon, closer to I-280. The housing stock ranges from the early 1900’s to the 1940’s and mostly row houses. I consider this the Sunset of east San Francisco. Mission St. is the main shopping area.

Portola and Visitation Valley are on the Highway 101 side of district 10. McLaren Park is a wonderful and huge(!) park in this area. Housing stock ranges from early 1900’s to 1940’s row houses. Mission St. and San Bruno Ave are the main shopping areas.

Little Hollywood is an interesting enclave of houses on the very southern edge of San Francisco, off 3rd St. Not many listings come up out there. Architecture is early 1900’s.


The Mission is hot, hot, hot! It’s been speculated to be the place of change since the 1980’s and in the last expansion starting around 2011, it really did. I consider the Mission New York-ish. Lots of activity, options, diversity and some really fantastic restaurants and shops in the middle of areas you wouldn’t expect.

Bernal Heights has changed tremendously over the years I’ve been in SF. It really is it’s own village, with Cortland Ave as its hub. The houses have a bit of Bernal Heights funk, with a bohemian flare.

Potrero is a city within a city. The view vantage points are astounding; looking at downtown SF, but maintaining its own identity. Convenient to I-280, the area is popular to residents commuting down the peninsula for their tech jobs. 18th St. is the main commercial hub with neighborhood haunts including a wine bar, cute shops and some very good restaurants, including a Potrero Hill staple-Goat Hill Pizza.

SOMA is still quite industrial; the fabric includes loft developments scattered throughout. Commercial areas are scattered throughout; make sure and visit South Park-a very cool urban park is at the center and is very active at lunch time.



Ranging from seedy to exceedingly swanky, district 8 encompasses a wide cross-section; this is the original San Francisco.

Downtown San Francisco is also known as the Financial District. Although there are housing units downtown, it’s mostly commercial and gets quiet at night. Interestingly, there is a significant portion of the bay that was filled in to increase the geographic footprint of downtown. If you get the chance to see a map showing this, it’s worth it. Story is that pilings were driven into the bay and through whatever was in its path, including through sunken cargo ships. An unofficial adjacent neighborhood is the Tenderloin, which is quite gritty.

Chinatown is directly adjacent and is very active at all times of the day and night. Very colorful, eclectic and dense. You’ll feel like you are in China; don’t miss it.

North of Downtown and Chinatown are the toney areas of Telegraph Hill, Nob Hill and Russian Hill. Make sure to spend time getting lost on the hills, including taking stairway walking tours-exhausting but fun and make you feel like you are in old world San Francisco. There are some homes in this area that are only accessed off these stairs.

North Beach and North Waterfront are in the flat section of District 8, adjacent to the bay. Historically home to San Francisco’s Italian population, you can still find plenty of Italian restaurants and coffee shops. Make sure to go to Caffé Trieste on Vallejo St., as well as Original Joe’s and Acquolina on Washington Square.

To the west is Civic Center. This is the home to City Hall and United Nations Plaza and the former auto row (Van Ness Ave.) There is a large collection of mid to high-rise condominium complexes in this area.

Each of these areas have their own commercial hub with their own personality.



Immortalized by the movie “Pacific Heights”, this area is the home to that neighborhood (although the movie was actually shot in Potrero Hill). This area is also known for its high prices and very swanky properties. Be sure to get lost and explore. There is a wide range of prices due to its wide housing stock, from studio condominiums to mansions. This neighborhood truly has lots to offer, with sun, trendy shopping areas, night life, and great restaurants. The ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ house is at 2640 Steiner St.

The main shopping areas are hip Chestnut St. and Union St.


If you have seen the Painted Ladies on Alamo Square with the City Skyline in the background, you have seen an important part of District 6. This is an interesting area, in that there are areas of great transition with great potential.

Lower Pacific Heights, the Western Addition, and the North Panhandle (now known as NOPA) are full of unit buildings with architectural integrity and much potential for owner occupancy of rental property and condominium conversion. NOPA is the new hot ticket and has a hip demographic. The show ‘Full House’, although the opening credits are on Alamo Square, is actually at 1709 Broderick in Lower Pacific Heights.

Hayes Valley is already trendy and very dense, has great shops and restaurants and is well located at the center of the City for convenient freeway and public transportation access. This area is also near City Hall, the Symphony and the Opera.

The main shopping areas are Hayes St. and Divisadero St.


Glen Park and Noe Valley are convenient to both freeway access, MUNI and Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). Noe Valley is also known as ‘stroller town’ because of the number of young families that live in the area.
Clarendon Heights / Ashbury Heights, also known for its fog, has larger, newer (by San Francisco standards) and more expensive homes. There isn’t a commercial area as its hub, so you’ll need a car to get just about anywhere, but you’ll most likely get to enjoy astounding views perched at the top of the hill.

At the geographic center of the city, Upper Market / Eureka Valley (known by locals as the Castro) historically housed a significant gay population, has a very quaint and walk-able neighborhood feel, with the trendy Castro Street Shops being its hub. The demographic is changing, so strollers and school kids in the commercial area are routine. The area is probably the most convenient for public transit (MUNI) if you work downtown. The weather tends to be less foggy in this area than the western sections of the city.

An unofficial area of district 5 is Liberty Hill, located between the Castro and Noe Valley. If you get the chance make sure you go by 3650 21st St at Christmas time. The owners, Tom and Jerry, decorate to the hilt and it’s quite a spectacle.

Cole Valley and Haight Ashbury (known by locals as the Haight) have a bohemian flare to them. The summer of love still exists to a lesser extent in the Haight, reflected in the shops and their patrons. The MUNI underground serves this area as well, so access to downtown is convenient.

Between the Haight and Duboce Triangle, the streets on Buena Vista Hill (and Park) curve around the hill, giving different perspectives and views of the city. Architecture styles range from Victorians to newly remodeled and/or constructed uber modern edifices. Icon James Hormel of Spam fame and former Ambassador to Luxembourg in the Clinton Administration, used to call Buena Vista his home; ‘Casa Spam’ was famously painted pink.

The Duboce Triangle is a transition zone, being strategically located between the Lower Haight and the Castro. This area has come up significantly in recent years and is most trendy.

The main shopping areas are Castro St. and 24th St.


Another area with a large differential in home prices and for its fog.
Sunnyside is the least expensive of these areas, with post war homes boasting quaint detail and access to Interstate 280, allowing a convenient commute to the Silicon Valley.

Diamond Heights is largely a 1970’s development of condominiums (previously built as apartments) conveniently located to the Castro and Noe Valley Neighborhoods.

Midtown Terrace and Forest Knolls are similar to the post war architecture of the Sunset, but are detached and, in many cases, have views.

Miraloma, Sherwood Forest, Forest Hill Extension, Westwood Highlands, Mount Davidson Manor and Westwood Park are areas known for their quaint, traditional, and many detached homes. Westwood Park is most notably known as being a racing track prior to its development, which can be experienced in the oval layout of the neighborhood.

St. Francis Wood, Balboa Terrace and Forest Hill are known for their larger, detached homes, detail, and higher prices. West Portal is a wonderful commercial hub with great restaurants, public transportation access, and affordable to expensive homes with architectural detail. This area was a Mexican Land Grant prior to its development in the early 1900’s. The West Portal Tunnel made this outlying area accessible and increased San Francisco’s area significantly.

The main shopping area is West Portal Avenue.


In this district, there is a huge price differential. Ingleside is more affordable, with more modest homes. This area is in transition-changing rapidly. Ocean Ave is the main commercial hub, which has changed tremendously in recent years. Whole Foods as the most recent addition has really changed the area.
Pine Lake Park, adjacent to Stern Grove, is known for its Parkside like detached homes (district 2) with higher prices. This district is also home to Stonestown Mall (the Lakeside Area), and is considered suburban, with its tailored, traditional, detached homes. Many homes were built starting in the 1940’s.


This is an enormous section of the city known for its fog. Comprised of many “Full-Fives” (meaning five room attached homes), the Sunset’s housing stock generally consists of two bedroom, one bath homes with rooms built out at the garage level. For those of us from the Mid-west, these would be like basement rooms, but at street level. The Parkside Area homes generally have more detail than Sunset Homes, with slightly higher prices. Golden Gate Heights is known for its magnificent ocean views.
Until recently, the neighborhood has been pre-dominantly an Asian population. This is no longer the case, hosting a huge melting pot of San Franciscans young and old. This is reflected in the population, as well as the shops and fantastic cuisine.

Many homes built in the 1930’s to the 60’s. The architecture includes Mediterranean and Post-War Contemporary.

The main shopping area is Irving St. in the Inner Sunset.


From Laurel Heights to Lake Street, this area contains many cultures, price ranges, fog, and the former Army Presidio. North of Lake Street next to the Presidio is very exclusive, with homes coming onto the market infrequently at high prices, as does Presidio Heights. Presidio Heights was made recently famous by the San Jose couple who bought the exclusive private street at a tax auction. Robin Williams was a neighbor in Sea Cliff at one time.

Lone Mountain is formerly famous for its cemeteries; now moved to Colma.

The Richmond District is known for its large Russian and Asian populations with tremendous restaurants and shopping. Laurel Heights is home to University of California Extension, directly adjacent to trendy Sacramento Street. Many homes built in the 1920’s and 30’s in the Richmond, and homes built in the 1950’s in Laurel Heights. The architecture includes Mediterranean, Bungalow and Contemporary Styles.

The main shopping streets are Clement, Geary and Sacramento.

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