5 Popular San Francisco suburbs for expats
San Francisco, sometimes referred to by its nickname Bay City, is a popular location for expatriates from around the world. The city offers an attractive quality of life, long sunny days and iconic views of the Golden Gate Bridge. There are also good career opportunities in a wide range of industries, a solid healthcare system and efficient public services.
San Francisco has plenty of desirable residential areas to consider when moving to the city. There are over 100 neighbourhoods, with something to suit every lifestyle. Some are closer to the main city and the nightlife, while others are a short commute away. The San Francisco suburbs are family-friendly with large homes and wide-open spaces.
Here is our guide to the best neighbourhoods in San Francisco for expatriates relocating to the city.
Noe Valley is among the most prestigious and desirable prime locations in San Francisco. It retains a small-town feel, thanks to its position in a valley surrounded by hills. Its attractive Victorian houses give the area a certain charm. The streets are lined with upscale boutiques, cafes and restaurants. There is a strong community feel, with a purpose-built square for a weekly farmer’s market, live events and activities. It’s perfect for professionals moving with family, especially as it has excellent local schools. It has easy commuter access to the main city.
As the name suggests, Sea Cliff (or Seacliff) is right on the water’s edge. Large houses overlook the ocean and the famed Golden Gate Bridge. The area attracts many well-known personalities and business owners, drawn to the neighbourhood’s unique location. It is close to the main city, making it an easy commute by car, though there isn’t much public transportation. It is close to Lands End, a landscaped trail along the coast and a popular tourist walk. The mixed architectural styles of the grand homes give it a distinct, prestigious feel.
High up in the hills is Pacific Heights. The streets here are how you may envisage San Francisco from popular culture. Large Victorian homes line the steep roads, with sweeping views of the Bay from the top. The area has grown in popularity since the 1800s, with the introduction of cable cars to reach the higher ground. It is a mainly residential, though there is Fillmore Street for designer shopping and fine dining. It attracts singles and couples, as well as families, with a wide range of properties to suit.
The Marina District
As with many areas in San Francisco, the Marina was unoccupied and undeveloped until an earthquake in 1906. In 1915, this area hosted the Panama-Pacific International Exposition with its grand buildings and exhibitions. Most of the buildings were demolished to make way for a new neighbourhood. Only the Palace of Fine Arts (POFA) remains. The area quickly developed into a prime real estate location, with another earthquake in 1989 leading to further redevelopment. It attracts single professionals and couples who work hard in the city and make the most of the extensive nightlife. Those with families may prefer Cow Hollow next to the Marina District.
To the east of the city is Potrero Hill. It is a little out of the way and the public transport system is patchy. However, it has a strong community feel and is a safe, quiet neighbourhood. There are fantastic views of the San Francisco Bay and the city skyline. It is one of the sunniest neighbourhoods, with a relaxed vibe. This more low-key way of life is in stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city centre. Once it was a working-class neighbourhood, but since gentrification in the Nineties, it attracts upper-class families. There are some good private and public schools in the area.
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