Wow, what a start to the year it’s been! It’s been almost a year since the original Shelter-in-Place order and, well, look at us go. We got some outdoor dining back, we landed a rover on Mars, there are now several approved Covid-19 vaccines, and we’re still here providing you with fun content and up-to-date market information for all of you current and prospective homeowners. We had a lot of fun putting together this issue, so read on and we’ll see you at the bottom!
Affordable Alternatives to San Francisco's Most Expensive Neighborhoods
Forget those “Top 10 Neighborhoods in SF” lists. Try these more affordable alternatives! Have you ever heard of the “Eat This, Not That” books? They compare menu items at popular chain restaurants, and suggest the healthier of two options. (Did you know that at CPK the BBQ Chicken Pizza is actually better for you than the BBQ Chicken Salad?!)
Our version of an affordable San Francisco neighborhood guide is called “Live Here Instead of There”. Are you priced out of your #1 top-pick neighborhood? First, you’re in good company. Second, here are some great alternative and affordable San Francisco neighborhoods that you might just fall in love with.
Priced Out Of: Noe ValleyMedian Price SFR: $3,100,000Try: Glen Park or Bernal HeightsMedian Price SFR: $1,550,000 (Bernal Heights) and $1,860,000 (Glen Park)
Both Glen Park
and Bernal Heights
have the same diversity of architecture, central location, and residential streets next to retail corridors as Noe Valley
. Plus, Glen Park and Bernal Heights have the edge when it comes to parks and green space. Compare St. Mary’s Park Rec Center in Bernal Heights and Glen Park Rec Center to the popular Noe Rec Center. Bernal’s Cortland Ave and Glen Park’s Diamond Street are as charming as 24th
Street in Noe, with local eateries, shops and watering holes in abundance.
Priced Out Of: West PortalMedian Price SFR: $1,900,000Try: Inner Parkside, Mt. Davidson Manor, or Westwood ParkMedian Price SFR: around $1,600,000 in all three neighborhoods
Still walkable to popular West Portal
Ave, Inner Parkside also has detached homes with that classic 1930s vintage vibe, at a slightly lower cost. The Taraval Trio of Parkside Farmer’s Market, SF Wine Co, and Guerra’s Meats make grocery shopping a delightful, European-style experience. West Portal Playground, Larsen Park and Stern Grove are all close at hand, and the L-Taraval is a quick ride to downtown.
Mt. Davidson Manor and Westwood Park will win you over in an instant. The hallmark architecture is 1920s and 30s detached homes on graceful, huge-for-SF lots. Nearby Ocean Avenue is packed full of shops and restaurants, with its own MUNI line and Whole Foods. The Ocean Ave retail corridor is upping its game every day, and we think this is the closest thing that San Francisco has to an “up and coming” neighborhood.
Priced Out Of: Bernal and Glen Park
Media Price SFR: $1,550,000 (Bernal Heights) and $1,860,000 (Glen Park)
Try: Mission Terrace
Median Price SFR: $1,250,000
This under-the-radar gem is just on the other side of 280, and offers a much friendlier price. Here you’ll find mostly Mediterranean style homes with nice, flat backyards. Balboa Park is an absolute neighborhood treasure with a pool, a fantastic playground, and more. They have an active neighborhood association and a yearly garden tour. There’s also access to not one but two BART stations, as well as the J-Church MUNI line. Truly tremendous value for single-family homes here.
Priced Out Of: Hayes Valley Median Price Condo: $1,140,000Try: Van Ness/Civic CenterMedian Price Condo: $750,000Hayes Valley
has commanded some of the highest price per square foot in San Francisco in recent years (the median price per square foot has often exceeded $1,400). If you’re willing to walk an extra 1-9 blocks to Rich Table or a Mano, you can score a relative steal in Van Ness/Civic Center (where the median price per square foot has been hovering at around $1,050). Keep an eye on the future. When the Van Ness construction is finally
finished, a stylish and attractive boulevard will replace the earth movers and caution cones that currently inhabit the area. Pro tip: If the often-high HOA dues make you squeamish, try negotiating an HOA credit from the seller.
Priced Out Of: Inner Sunset or Inner RichmondMedian Price SFR: $2,050,000 for Inner Sunset and around $2.2m for Inner RichmondTry: Central Sunset or RichmondMedian Price SFR: $1,570,000 for Central Sunset and around $1.9m for Central Richmond
The housing market is still very
competitive in Central Sunset
and Central Richmond
, with homes routinely selling for 20-40% over asking. But 19th
Ave (in the Sunset) and Funston (in the Richmond) create a psychological barrier for a lot of buyers, so homes west of those boulevards carry a lighter price tag than those in the “Inner” locations. If a walkable neighborhood is important to you, try walking from 30th
and Lincoln to 9th
and Irving. Or from 25th
and Cabrillo to the shops on Balboa or Clement. The western neighborhoods are relatively flat, and it might be a quicker stroll than you imagine!
With more than 90 distinct neighborhoods in San Francisco
, there really is something for everyone. Keep an open mind during the home buying process, and you might be pleasantly surprised.
Also read Part 2 in this series
, where we explore some of the other Best and More Affordable Neighborhoods in San Francisco (and reveal where you can buy a home for less than $1 million and still walk to a coffee shop).
*median prices listed above are prices from Q1 2021. You can email us anytime for updated info on home prices in San Francisco.