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Safe, Affordable Neighborhoods in San Francisco

Moving to San Francisco? Golden Gate City has beautiful neighborhoods to call home, with median home prices in SF sitting around $858,800 and median rent at $1,632. Whether you’re looking for budget-friendly NorCal places or community-oriented neighborhoods in SF, here are five safe, affordable neighborhoods in San Francisco!

Bernal Heights

  • Home Price: $866,685 median purchase price; $1,787 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 53% of San Francisco neighborhoods
  • Perfect For: Singles, young professionals, families, retirees

Dreaming of a sunny and safe California neighborhood with small-town charm? Consider living in Bernal Heights! This affordable San Francisco neighborhood is known for its amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge and its prominent location in the San Francisco metro. Bernal Heights is a hub for LGBTQ-owned businesses and great schools in SF like Paul Revere Elementary School and Leonard R. Flynn Elementary School. Residents living in this walkable neighborhood can find a variety of housing options—from modern condos to Victorian-style homes—alongside San Francisco attractions, restaurants, and neighborhood events like Fiesta on the Hill or the largest community garage sale in San Francisco. Need to commute to other areas in San Francisco? Catch the underground train at the nearby Glen Park BART Station.

Things to Do in Bernal Heights

Hike the hill with your pup for breathtaking views of San Francisco sunsets in Bernal Heights Park. Learn about solar energy, environmentally-friendly ways to use water, and more with the kids at College Hill Learning Garden. Take the family to storytime, join the origami club, or check out the latest bestseller from the Bernal Heights Branch Library. Plant fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruit trees at Bernal Heights Community Garden. Find everything from quail eggs to fresh squash at the Alemany Farmers’ Market, the first farmers market in California. Order Paneer Tikka Masala Sauce Pizza or Tandoori Prawns at Zante Pizza & Indian Cuisine. Sip a margarita on the patio or catch Dolly Parton-themed drag at LGBTQ bar El Rio. Or treat yourself to a scoop of Chocolate Caramel Crackle, Rum Raisin, or Thin Mint ice cream at Mitchell’s Ice Cream.

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Front view of two story home with white siding and singel car garage underneath. Photo by Instagram user @encinasleonre

Photo via @encinasleonre

  • Home Price: $646,360 median purchase price; $1,511 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 59% of San Francisco neighborhoods
  • Perfect For: Singles, young professionals, families, retirees

Located on the south side of the Bay Area, Excelsior is an affordable neighborhood where SF residents can rent an apartment or buy a home well below the city’s soaring median prices. Excelsior also remains one of the most ethnically-diverse San Francisco neighborhoods, with large Hispanic, Black, and Asian-American populations calling Excelsior home. Excelsior’s neighborhood events help nurture the already-strong community atmosphere, with neighborhood clean-up days and local concerts hosted by the Excelsior Action Group. Families living in Excelsior don’t have to look very far for good San Francisco schools either, as the neighborhood is home to Monroe Elementary School and Cleveland Elementary School. And even though this affordable SF neighborhood is slightly removed from city life, residents can easily get around without a car via Muni buses or the Glen Park and Balboa Park BART stations.

Things to Do in Excelsior

Plant seeds at the community garden, explore seven miles of hiking trails, or play a round of golf at McLaren Park. Attend the annual Jerry Day—a music festival to honor the memory of Grateful Dead member and former Excelsior resident, Jerry Garcia. Swing the bat, lay out a picnic, or dig in the sandbox at Excelsior Playground. Sign your teens up for after-school art classes, workshops, or summer internships with the Youth Art Exchange. Savor Hawaiian-style BBQ dishes like Loco Moco, Kalua Pig, or Teriyaki Steak at Hawaiian Drive Inn. Visit an Italian delicatessen with imported meats and cheeses, and order a sandwich with their famous garlic spread at Calabria Bros! Try the Cheese and Meat Quesadillas, Super Taco, or Steak Breakfast Burrito at Don Chuy’s Mexi-Mercado. Or finish your day with Northern California wine or craft beers like Harmonic or Fort George at The Dark Horse Inn.

Noe Valley

Exterior shot of yellow Victorian house with white trim and black garage doors and walk-up stairs that lead to front doors with red curtain in Noe Valley San Francisco. Photo by Instagram user @noevalleysf

Photo via @noevalleysf

  • Home Price: $1,219,727 median purchase price; $2,076 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 88% of San Francisco neighborhoods
  • Perfect For: Families, retirees

Whether you’re looking to buy or rent a home in San Francisco, Noe Valley is one of the best neighborhoods in California! Located in Central San Francisco, just south of the Mission District, this safe SF neighborhood is ideal for those craving a small-town atmosphere away from city life. Noe Valley offers colorful Victorian houses and spacious Edwardian-style homes beside small boutiques, quaint bakeries, Noe Valley Town Square, and plenty of open green spaces. Known by San Francisco locals as Stroller Valley, the Noe Valley area is great for young families living in San Francisco thanks to nearby schools like James Lick Middle School and St Paul’s School. SF residents can easily commute on one of the close public transit stops to find fun things to do in Downtown San Francisco or on 24th Street!

Things to Do in Noe Valley

Practice your backswing or jump shots at Upper Noe Recreation Center. Give your dog belly rubs while you take in the stunning views of Downtown San Francisco at Douglass Playground. Catch golden hour at Twin Peaks for sun-kissed hills and winding trails. Sign the little ones up for summer theater camp, get cozy during movie night, or attend a puppet show at The Rabbit Hole. Pop into an author event or receive a signed cookbook at Omnivore Books on Food. Start your morning with a Florentine Scramble, Oatmeal Griddle Cakes, or Breakfast Burrito paired with an Iced Coffee at Chloe’s Cafe. Treat yourself to Greek favorites like Spanakopita or Moussaka and save room for a piece of Baklava at NOVY. Or sit down at Firefly Restaurant for Fried Heritage Chicken, Okra and Collard Green Gumbo Z’Herbes, or Lentil-Cauliflower Stuffed Acorn Squash.

Outer Richmond

Exterior shot of brown gray and white Rousseau home with single car garage and bay windows in Outer Richmond San Francisco. Photo by Instagram user @sf_daily_photo

Photo via @sf_daily_photo

  • Home Price: $1,024,713 median purchase price; $1,700 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 82% of San Francisco neighborhoods
  • Perfect For: Families, retirees

If you want a low-key neighborhood in San Francisco with oceanside views, check out Outer Richmond! Though houses in this area can be a bit pricey, it’s still possible for SF residents to find affordable Queen Anne or Mission Revival-style options in one of the safest neighborhoods in San Francisco. Families living here appreciate the proximity to quality California schools like Presidio Lafayette Elementary School, Presidio Middle School, and George Washington High School. Outer Richmond residents also value being within walking distance of many iconic San Francisco attractions, including Sutro Baths, Legion of Honor Museum, Lincoln Park Steps, and Baker Beach.

Things to Do in Outer Richmond

Shoot birdies, eagles, and pars with the Golden Gate Bridge as your backdrop at Lincoln Park Golf Course. Let your kids steer the ship, climb the mast, or walk the bridge at pirate-themed Cabrillo Playground. Have tea time at the Japanese Tea Garden or take a segway tour through Golden Gate Park at the Conservatory of Flowers. Munch on popcorn during a screening at Balboa Theatre. Feast on Fried Snapper, Baked Scallops, or Stuffed Trout at Pacific Cafe. Mix the flavors of Moroccan cooking with Californian flair in dishes like Braised Lamb Shank or Whole Branzino at Aziza. Get your Southern food fix with a bowl of Gumbo Soup, Po-Boys, Cajun Meatloaf, or Spicy Fried Chicken at Hard Knox Cafe. Or savor Russian delicacies like Borsch soup, Beef Stroganoff, or Rack of Lamb at Red Tavern.

Outer Sunset

Front view of a small home with yellow and neutral colored stone home. Photo by Instagram user @susieberenson

Photo via @susieberenson

  • Home Price: $833,912 median purchase price; $1,619 median monthly rent
  • Crime Rate: Safer than 97% of San Francisco neighborhoods
  • Perfect For: Singles, young professionals, families, retirees

Part of western San Francisco (locally called The Avenues), the quiet locale of Outer Sunset is one of the safest neighborhoods in San Francisco! While still a starting point for surfers trying to catch a wave, everyone from young professionals to retirees calls this Golden Gate City neighborhood home. Families in Outer Sunset can send their kids to top-rated schools like Lowell High School, Sunset Elementary School, and Ulloa Elementary School. Because the Outer Sunset is removed from the buzz of downtown, SF residents can settle into suburban life inside brightly-colored stucco duplexes or affordable townhomes. Need to commute to The Financial District or visit Fisherman’s Wharf? Catch the Muni Bus at Sunset Blvd & Judah St.

Things to Do in Outer Sunset

Host a bonfire or watch surfers hang ten at Ocean Beach. Visit top attractions in San Francisco, like the Golden Gate Park Windmills & Tulips and Bison Paddock inside Golden Gate Park. Play your favorite tune on the Flower Piano or meditate among blooming flowers at San Francisco Botanical Garden. Snag artisanal goods or catch a live concert and local art exhibits at Mollusk Surf Shop. View contemporary works inspired by the meeting of land and water at The Great Highway. Prioritize your mind, body, and soul by taking a yoga class at Yoga Beach. Venture to nearby Andytown Coffee Roasters for a fresh-baked pastry or their signature drink: The Original Bird—an espresso cream soda. Brunch right with Boule, Dutch Pancakes, or Avocado Toast at Outerlands. Enjoy fresh seafood dishes such as Ceviche + Chips or Fish + Chips at Hook Fish Co. Or visit Devil’s Teeth Baking Company for Zucchini Fig Bread or Shortbread Shark Cookies.


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Neighborhood statistics from AreaVibes

Pinterest graphic: San Francisco, CA: 5 Safe, Affordable Neighborhoods

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.