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Best Suburbs of San Francisco

Thinking about moving to San Francisco? SF is recognized as one of the best places to live on the West Coast, but its elevated home prices and cost of living can make it difficult to find an affordable place to settle down. Fortunately, there are cities in and around the San Francisco Bay Area that provide similar amenities to the Golden Gate City without the astronomical price tag. Check out these five best suburbs of San Francisco!


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  • Home Price: $1,059,500 median purchase price; $1,767 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 8% of California cities
  • Perfect For: Singles, students, young professionals, families, retirees

This San Francisco suburb is best known for being the home of the University of California, Berkeley, but its charm extends beyond its collegiate atmosphere. While Berkeley has plenty of restaurants, cafes, and bars along Shattuck Ave that attract young adults to the area, families and retirees can also find a great home among the city’s tree-lined, suburban streets. Plus, there are excellent schools like Cragmont Elementary School and Berkeley High School. It’s an ideal locale for job seekers—the median household income for Berkeley residents is well above the state and national averages. In addition, it presents residents with more affordable living options than San Francisco while remaining less than 30 minutes from the Golden Gate City.

Things to Do in Berkeley

Learn the words to “Fight for California” so you can sing along when the California Golden Bears football team (NCAA D-I) scores during a game at California Memorial Stadium. Immerse yourself in nearly 20,000 pieces of artwork and thousands of international films and videos at the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive. Collect your thoughts during a peaceful stroll through the rosebush-lined paths of the Berkeley Rose Garden. Challenge your friends to a game of pool or life-sized Jenga at Tap Haus. Gather with friends for a relaxed meal of rotating dishes crafted with local and seasonal ingredients at Chez Panisse, the restaurant widely considered to be the birthplace of California cuisine. Grab a loaf of Beer Rye bread, some Buffalo Burrata cheese, a Parbake Pizza, and other baked goods and cheeses at The Cheese Board Collective. Introduce your tastebuds to the wonders of Cajun cuisine with Angeline’s Gumbo, Wild Mushroom Jambalaya, and Voo Doo Shrimp at Angeline’s Louisiana Kitchen. Or savor craft cocktails like a Morenada, Slow Electric Slide, or Palace of the Brine at Tupper & Reed.

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  • Home Price: $730,000 median purchase price; $1,539 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 0% of California cities
  • Perfect For: Singles, young professionals, families, retirees

Oakland is often the first city people turn to when seeking an affordable place to live close to San Francisco. Located just across the San Francisco Bay, both housing and living expenses are far lower in Oakland, offering a more budget-friendly way for people to experience life in the SF metro. As one of the most ethnically-diverse cities in America, Oakland welcomes people of all backgrounds and walks of life—which is reflected in this San Francisco suburb’s embracing of self employment, encouraging startup community, flourishing foodie scene, and excellent schools like Bishop O’Dowd High School and Elmhurst United Middle School. Whether you want to have some fun in Uptown, embrace Asian cuisine and culture in Chinatown, or raise a family in the quiet neighborhoods around Lake Merritt, Oakland has something for everyone!

Things to Do in Oakland

See more than 850 species of animals at exhibits like the African Savanna, Wild Australia, and Tropical Rainforest at the Oakland Zoo. Thrill the young ones with some of the fun things to do in San Francisco with kids, including rides on the Jolly Trolley and shows at Storybook Puppet Theater at Children’s Fairyland. Root for the Oakland Athletics (MLB) during a game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Learn all about the Golden State with exhibits, artwork, and historical artifacts at the Oakland Museum of California. Book a Dining Room reservation, Bar Reservation, or Private Dining Reservation for larger groups to see why Commis earned two Michelin stars. Chow down on a Carne Asada Burrito, Carnitas Burrito, or Lengua Tacos at one of San Francisco’s top food trucks, Tacos Mi Rancho. Sample some of the Bay Area’s best seafood with Crab & Brie Stuffed Salmon, Surf & Turf, and Blackened Fish Tacos at Lake Chalet. Or join your buddies for Ballpark Nachos, a BBQ Carnitas Sandwich, or Mac n Cheese on the scenic rooftop at Mad Oak Bar.


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  • Home Price: $1,056,100 median purchase price; $2,570 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 85% of California cities
  • Perfect For: Singles, young professionals, families, retirees

If its name alone has you thinking this might be one of the best places to live in the Bay Area, you’re not wrong! Located about an hour east of San Francisco, Pleasanton is the headquarters for ICE Mortgage Technology, Safeway, and Blackhawk Network. With only a 2.3% unemployment rate, it’s a great place to find a job near San Francisco. If you want to work in SF or another nearby suburb, there’s plenty of public transportation, including two Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) stations (Dublin/Pleasanton and West Dublin/Pleasanton), to help you get there. When you’re ready to have some fun, Pleasanton offers multiple golf courses and wineries along with a bustling downtown scene along Santa Rita Rd. And if you want to settle down and start a family in the Bay Area, Pleasanton is one of the safest options available and has several great schools like Vintage Hills Elementary School and Harvest Park Middle School.

Things to Do in Pleasanton

Peruse the local produce, baked goods, honey, and more each Saturday at the Pleasanton Farmers’ Market. Challenge yourself with the demanding links at Callippe Preserve Golf Course. Take a vineyard tour, learn how to pair food and wine with a portfolio tasting, or just relax in the Wine Garden at Ruby Hill Winery. Start a game of pickleball or volleyball or consider joining an adult softball league at Ken Mercer Sports Park. Wash down your Mac N Chz Dippers, Jammin’ Burger, and Sausage Platter with a Pilsner or Belgian beer at McKay’s Taphouse & Beer Garden. Treat yourself to an elegant meal of Chicken Piccata with Capers, Gnocchi Barone Style, or Veal Parmigiana at Barone’s Restaurant. Get some of the best pizza in the Tri-Valley area like the Frank’s Special, Maui Special, or Wayne’s World at Gay Nineties Pizza Co. Indulge your sweet tooth with Orange Soft Serve or a Mint Chip or Cookies ‘n’ Cream Pint at Meadowlark Dairy. Or belt out your favorite songs during Karaoke Night while enjoying Street Tacos, Chicken Sliders, or Buffalo Wings at Sunshine Saloon.

San Jose

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  • Home Price: $925,800 median purchase price; $2,232 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 23% of California cities
  • Perfect For: Singles, young professionals, families, retirees

The weather alone makes San Jose one of the best places to live near San Francisco, as the city experiences more than 250 sunny days a year with summer temperatures typically remaining in the 70s and 80s. You’ll also find an abundance of jobs, particularly in the tech industry, as companies like Cisco, Adobe, eBay, and PayPal are all headquartered in San Jose—the heart of Silicon Valley. Plus, with several state parks and mountain ranges nearby, such as the Santa Cruz Mountains and Castle Rock State Park, your next outdoor adventure is only a short drive away. Families in particular love living in San Jose for its high-quality education opportunities at schools like Northwood Elementary School and Evergreen Valley High School. And even though San Jose is about an hour south of San Francisco, it’s a much more affordable place to live!

Things to Do in San Jose

Cheer on the San Jose Sharks (NHL) during a game at SAP Center. Marvel at the baffling architecture, including secret passages and doors that lead to nowhere, during a tour of the Winchester Mystery House. Unleash your inner inventor by solving challenging problems posed by The Tech Studio at The Tech Interactive. View more than 200 films from directors and artists in over 50 countries each March at the Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival. Discover Portuguese cuisine like Codfish Com Natas, Duck Rice, and Shrimp Fritters at Petiscos—opened by the same owners as Michelin star-winning Adega. Grab on-the-go options like Baklava, Koubby, and Gyros In a Pita from Falafel Drive-In, a San Jose institution since 1966. Experience fine American dining like the Bolognese Mafaldine, The Ultimate Pot Roast, and Seafood Squid Ink Pasta at The Table. Sip on craft cocktails like the Tally Me Banana, Putter Up, or a Kodak Moment at Haberdasher. Or experience the best of San Jose nightlife with drinks, live music, and dancing at LVL 44.

Walnut Creek

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  • Home Price: $814,900 median purchase price; $2,247 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 79% of California cities
  • Perfect For: Singles, young professionals, families, retirees

If you’re looking for a San Francisco suburb that offers peaceful neighborhoods, as well as a booming downtown area filled with fun things to do, Walnut Creek might be your new home! Walnut Creek is mostly residential, combining parks, green spaces, and great schools like Bancroft Elementary School and Foothill Middle School to create a wonderful option for raising a family. When you’re looking for a good time, the Walnut Creek downtown area along Main St and N Broadway provides all kinds of shopping destinations, trendy restaurants, and cozy coffee shops. And while Walnut Creek is about 30 minutes north of San Francisco, the suburb’s BART station provides easy access to the big city. That is, of course, if you even need to get to SF—with so much to do and a strong job market, many residents don’t feel the need to leave Walnut Creek!

Things to Do in Walnut Creek

Shop from all kinds of big-box retailers like Nordstrom, lululemon, Macy’s, and more at Broadway Plaza. Spread out for a family picnic while the kids burn off some energy on the playground at Civic Park. Admire Northern California’s natural beauty while you work on your golf game at Boundary Oak Golf Course. Learn how to ride horses, splash around in the swim center, or join a game of pickup basketball at Heather Farm Park. Start your day with a Veggie Eggs Benny, Hick’ry Pit Special Scramble, or a Western Sausage Omelette at The Original Hick’ry Pit. Spend an evening on the patio with a Va de Vi Burger, Cioppino, and Beef Street Tacos from Va de Vi Bistro & Wine Bar. Savor some of the Bay Area’s finest seafood dishes like Dungeness Crab Cakes, Manila Clams, and Dayboat Scallops at Walnut Creek Yacht Club. Or enjoy cocktails like the Incredible Hulkamania, Pretty in Pink, and Duck Duck Goose while you listen to live music and play classic arcade games at Retro Junkie.


Moving to the Bay Area? With facilities conveniently located in and around San Francisco, including the suburbs of Oakland, San Jose, Pleasanton, Berkeley, and more, Extra Space Storage can help your transition go smoothly. Find a storage unit near you!

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About Mike Beutler

Mike Beutler is a writer and digital content specialist who transitioned to self storage in 2020 after several years in the airline industry. His travels cultivated a passion for exploring cities across the U.S. and abroad and inspired him to learn more about practical insights for urban living. With 14 moves under his belt, both locally and cross-country, he also has a passion for minimalism and organization, and sharing tips to help others make any space feel like home while staying organized.