Best Neighborhoods On The West Side Of San Francisco

The west side of San Francisco is experiencing rapid growth, driven by several factors. The opening of the Chinese American International School in September 2024, the renovation and expansion of St. Ignatius Prep school, and the extensive $4+ billion overhaul of UCSF Parnassus by 2030 are attracting thousands of new residents to the area.

The pandemic that began in 2020 served as a significant catalyst for a demographic shift toward the west side. Many people sought more space and more affordable housing options, whether for rent or purchase. With remote work arrangements becoming more prevalent in San Francisco, if not entirely remote, the demand for properties on the west side has continued to surge.

Nowadays, individuals are looking for larger homes with better layouts that can accommodate one or two home offices in addition to bedrooms for their children. Consequently, there's a high demand for single-family homes with four or more bedrooms, especially those with scenic views and spacious, usable lots.

Having resided in San Francisco since 2001, I am intimately familiar with most of the neighborhoods. Here are my rankings for the best neighborhoods on the west side of San Francisco.

Best Neighborhoods On The West Side Of San Francisco

There are no bad neighborhoods on the west side of San Francisco. You could live in any one of the below 12 west side neighborhoods and feel safe and comfortable.

  1. Forest Hill
  2. St. Francis Wood
  3. Golden Gate Heights
  4. West Portal
  5. Inner Sunset
  6. Inner Richmond
  7. Balboa Terrace
  8. Ingleside Terrace
  9. Parkside
  10. Monterrey Heights
  11. Outer Sunset
  12. Outer Richmond

Below is a map of all the neighborhoods in San Francisco. The west side of San Francisco is closer to the beach and Golden Gate Park, which is larger than Central Park in New York City.

In addition, residents of the west side also have easy access down south toward Burlingame, San Mateo, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto. It's very easy to get on 19th avenue to get onto 280 south.

San Francisco neighborhoods - best neighborhoods on the west side of San Francisco

The Best Five Neighborhoods On San Francisco's West Side

Let me provide some color on the best five neighborhoods in San Francisco's west side.

1) Forest Hill

Forest Hill stands out as the premier neighborhood on San Francisco's west side, offering a sense of exclusivity akin to a gated community, albeit without the physical gates. Nestled into the hills, it exudes an air of privacy and exclusiveness, coupled with tranquility due to minimal traffic and a reputation for safety.

Comprised solely of single-family homes, Forest Hill boasts a family-friendly atmosphere, further enhancing its allure. The residences occupy larger-than-average lots, many exuding an old-world charm that adds to the neighborhood's appeal.

Its prime location adds to its allure, with easy access to amenities such as JP Murphy playground, Golden Gate Park, Stonestown Mall, the Zoo, Pomeroy Center, Irving Street Shops, West Portal, the Chinese American International School, Andronico's, Safeway, Larsen Park, and more.

Home prices in Forest Hill typically range from $2.5 to $5.5 million. Notably, a property at 266 Pacheco Street is listed at $9 million but is expected to sell closer to $7 million.

Moreover, Forest Hill benefits from the Forest Hill BART station, facilitating a seamless commute downtown sans car.

First home in Forest Hill
First home built in Forest Hill, completely remodeled asking $9 million

2) St. Francis Wood

St. Francis Wood emerges as a close runner-up for the best neighborhood on San Francisco's west side. Similar to Forest Hill, the homes here boast larger-than-average lots, exuding a grandeur that sets them apart.

For residents commuting to the South Bay, the neighborhood's location is particularly advantageous. St. Francis Park, a private park exclusive to the residents, stands out as one of the premier playgrounds in San Francisco, nestled in a serene valley.

However, St. Francis Wood's proximity to bustling thoroughfares like Portola Drive, Junipero Serra Boulevard, and Monterey Boulevard can detract from its tranquility compared to Forest Hill. Unless situated at the highest points of St. Francis Wood, residences may experience a busier atmosphere. Additionally, bordering streets like Yerba Buena Avenue contribute to a busier feel as commuters use these streets to get to the various highways.

Homes in St. Francis Wood typically command prices ranging from $2.5 to $5.5 million, mirroring the pricing trend observed in Forest Hill. Notably, residents can access the West Portal BART station conveniently for commuting purposes.

150 Santa Paula Avenue in St. Francis wood asking $4.8 million

3) Golden Gate Heights

Golden Gate Heights stands out as a prime destination for property investment in San Francisco. Many single-family homes in this area offer breathtaking panoramic ocean views at relatively affordable prices—a rarity in major cities worldwide, where such views often command hefty premiums.

Moreover, Golden Gate Heights boasts a tranquil ambiance with minimal homelessness and low crime rates. Its strategic positioning often shields it from the marine layer, resulting in more favorable weather conditions compared to neighboring areas like the Outer Sunset, Outer Richmond, and Parkside.

While homes in Golden Gate Heights tend to be smaller, they come with more accessible price tags compared to those in Forest Hill or St. Francis Wood. For both foreign and domestic investors, acquiring single-family homes in Golden Gate Heights presents an exceptional investment opportunity.

However, it's worth noting that homes in Golden Gate Heights typically feature less usable land due to their hillside locations. Prospective buyers should prioritize properties with ample driveways and spacious decks to maximize outdoor living space.

There is a recently remodeled Golden Gate Heights Park at the top of the hill, which consists of a playground and a nice open area for children and pets to run around and play. Finally, Grand View Park in Golden Gate Heights has the best views in all of San Francisco.

A 3/2 with 2,204 sqft asking only $1.6 million with ocean views, will likely sell for $2 million

4) West Portal

West Portal emerges as a sought-after neighborhood on San Francisco's west side, boasting the convenience of a BART station for easy downtown commuting.

Homes in West Portal typically occupy standard-size lots, averaging around 2,500 square feet, with living spaces ranging from 1,500 to 2,500 square feet. Priced between $1.9 million and $3 million, these residences offer a more affordable alternative for those unable to invest in properties in Forest Hill or St. Francis Wood.

120 Lenox Way for $795K over asking to $2.56 million on April 9, 2024

West Portal Avenue serves as a bustling hub, featuring a variety of restaurants, bookstores, bakeries, and other establishments. The neighborhood exudes a lively atmosphere, particularly closer to West Portal Avenue.

While most homes in West Portal lack panoramic views, they often come with usable backyard spaces. Additionally, apartment buildings are relatively scarce in this area.

West Portal Elementary School and Clarendon Elementary School are esteemed educational institutions in the neighborhood, adding to its appeal for families.

West portal muni station - best neighborhoods on the west side of San Francisco
K Ingleside LRV Exiting West Portal Station on Centennial of Line

5) Inner Sunset

The Inner Sunset stands out as one of the most affordable neighborhoods for purchasing a single-family home. It boasts a lively atmosphere, with bustling shops lining Irving Street and Noriega Street, along with the convenience of the N train running along Judah Street and proximity to UCSF Parnassus.

Single-family homes in the Inner Sunset tend to be more modestly sized and typically range in price from $1.4 million to $2.5 million. It's common to find properties priced below $2 million in this neighborhood.

The Inner Sunset's favorable location near Golden Gate Park adds to its appeal, providing residents with easy access to the park's amenities. Additionally, the neighborhood is home to Stepping Stone Preschool and Explorer Mandarin Immersion Preschool, enhancing its appeal for families.

The West Side Of San Francisco Is The Place To Be

The north side of San Francisco is renowned for its upscale neighborhoods such as Presidio Heights, Pac Heights, Sea Cliff, and the Marina. While these areas offer luxury living, they also come with a higher price tag and a sense of seclusion. However, neighborhoods like Russian Hill and North Beach provide relatively easy commutes to downtown.

On the east side of San Francisco, downtown dominates the landscape, with numerous condos catering to urban living. However, with the rise of remote work, this area is experiencing a shift, resulting in more vacancies. If you're in the market for a condo, you may find attractive deals on the east side, although single-family homes are scarce.

For those seeking the charm of single-family home living, the west side of San Francisco offers a compelling alternative. With more space, a quieter atmosphere, and a thriving local economy, this area presents favorable conditions for homeownership.

Big tech and artificial intelligence companies are growing rapidly. There is a large infusion of cash into private growth companies in San Francisco. Firms like Rippling are quadrupling their office space in downtown San Francisco. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is set to finally cut rates by the end of 2024.

We're past the bottom of the real estate cycle with better times ahead. If you're thinking about buying a home on the west side of San Francisco, 2024/2025 is a good time. By the time mortgage rates drop significantly, pent-up demand will bid up prices.

Wishing you the best of luck in your property search!

Invest In Private Growth Companies

With tech and artificial intelligence booming in San Francisco, consider investing in private growth companies through an open venture capital fund. Companies are staying private for longer, as a result, more gains are accruing to private company investors. Finding the next Google or Apple before going public can be a life-changing investment. 

Check out the Innovation Fund, which invests in the following five sectors:

  • Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
  • Modern Data Infrastructure
  • Development Operations (DevOps)
  • Financial Technology (FinTech)
  • Real Estate & Property Technology (PropTech)

Roughly 35% of the Innovation Fund is invested in artificial intelligence, which I'm extremely bullish about. In 20 years, I don't want my kids wondering why I didn't invest in AI or work in AI given we live in San Francisco!

The investment minimum is also only $10 for the Innovation Fund. Most venture capital funds have a $250,000+ minimum. Further, you can see what the Innovation Fund is holding before deciding to invest and how much.

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