I moved to San Francisco from New York twenty years ago, and frequently work with many New Yorkers who have relocated here. New York is definitely a world of its own, and I must admit that I was a bit worried when I moved to San Francisco; in my mind, I’d have to drive everywhere, and things wouldn’t be as central. After all, San Francisco’s layout is different in that downtown feels like Manhattan, but everywhere else seems like outer borough neighborhoods strung together—at least, at first. It takes some time to realize that many San Francisco areas are little New Yorks unto themselves.
But as time went on, I found myself gravitating toward certain neighborhoods that either had a New York feel to them, or which had the attributes I appreciated about Manhattan life. For all you New Yorkers thinking about moving west, here are my picks for San Francisco neighborhoods that will make your transition easier:
1. Hayes Valley. Home to a mix of old and new buildings, Hayes Valley has an extremely central location near Civic Center and downtown. It’s also the performing arts center of San Francisco and boasts the SF Jazz Center, ballet, symphony and opera house. You can easily jump on Muni or BART, or jump on the freeway to head south. The neighborhood has steadily developed over the past several years into one of the city’s premier restaurant neighborhoods, and great little shops and boutiques line Hayes Street.
2. Nob Hill. Perched above downtown, Nob Hill is old San Francisco at its best. It has the most New York feel of all the neighborhoods listed, and has some excellent little restaurants. It’s also in close proximity to Chinatown and North Beach, and Russian Hill. A big bonus is views, which come naturally due to the elevation. In other words, if you can’t afford a view condo, you can at least see views when you walk around outside.
3. Mission Dolores. With a more hipster feel to it than that of the other neighborhoods, Mission Dolores is a hotbed of cafes and restaurants. You’ll feel right at home waiting on line behind the cordons for BiRite’s ice cream on a weekend afternoon. Muni rail lines and BART whisk Mission Dolores dwellers to any point in the city. Though you might miss Central Park, Mission Dolores Park is not a bad substitute if you’re looking for a place to lay your blanket. And it has excellent city views from some points in the park. Head east past Valencia, and you’re in the heart of the Mission District’s restaurant kingdom.
4. Noe Valley. I’m a little biased on this pick, as I live in Noe now. Actually, I’m in what’s called Upper Noe, which means I can walk to the Mission/Bernal Heights, as well as the 24th Street retail strip in Noe Valley. We’re ten minutes’ walk from BART, and nearby Church Street hosts the J line that runs downtown. There’s also a nice microclimate, particularly when you’re located in the east portion of the neighborhood. Noe is big on kids and dogs, but having them isn’t a requirement.
5. Lower Pacific Heights. Fillmore Street’s retail strip runs right through Lower Pac Heights, and the housing stock is varied. You can find large buildings with spacious floorplans, or Victorian-era properties that smack of quintessential San Francisco. It takes about 15-20 minutes at the most to drive from the area to any other neighborhood in the city, and there are plenty of bus lines that run in all directions. You can walk to Japantown, Pacific Heights and Alta Plaza Park, and even downtown if you’re so inclined.
Give me a shout if you’re in the process of relocating. I handle sales exclusively, but also know some rockin’ leasing agents that could point you in the right direction of you’re planning to rent. I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org | 415.823.4656.