General Question

Cartman's avatar

Where is the best place to live in San Francisco for a family on a budget?

Asked by Cartman (3044points) October 17th, 2009

My wife and I and our newborn are moving to the Bay Area. We know it’s expensive as can be but unfortunately we’re on a budget as we’re starting a new business (again). What’s the best place to live for us?

We like eating out (doesn’t have to be fancy), walking, having dinner and drinks outside and we would like a nice big book store not too far away as well as things and people to look at. The area has got to be safe and not too far to drive into SF. Please help! All ideas are welcome

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

24 Answers

Cartman's avatar

Bay Are, it should be the Bay Area not only San Francisco. Sorry for that.

Response moderated
The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Honestly, San Francisco is not a good city for people on a tight budget.
Consider neighboring areas such as Daly City. This will be easier on your pocketbook but it still within easy BART access.

derekfnord's avatar

I’m sorry to say that, the best of my knowledge, a place with all four of the elements you described (not too expensive, in or near a little dining / booky / artsy area, safe, and not too far from SF) does not exist. :-(

Places that meet the last three criteria, fail the expense test. And places that aren’t too expensive are either much further away, or not safe…

And honestly, depending on where you’re coming from, you might feel like no place in the Bay Area is reasonably priced until you start getting an hour’s drive from SF or more. Even the cheap and rough parts of the Bay Area are expensive by the standards of most of the country (outside of some other expensive major cities).

Wish I had better news / advice! :-(

PandoraBoxx's avatar

@Cartman, you described as ideal is most of the Midwest, not SF.

filmfann's avatar

The Bay Area is wonderful in many ways, and very pricey.
Daly City, Concord, Crocket, Pinole, Hercules, San Lorenzo, and South San Francisco all fit most of your criteria, but you will need to make a few concessions.
Where is your new business?

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@filmfann It bears mentioning that Crockett and Hercules are very far from SF and prohibitive to commuting by car since Bay Bridge traffic is nutty during commute hours.

Cartman's avatar

@filmfann thank you. My new business is mostly from home but for business, and other, related, reasons I need to be in the general SF area. Say no more than an hours drive or if at all possible within the BART system.

Any more information and thoughts will be much appreciated.

filmfann's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic But very commutable by BART

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

@filmfann You’d have to drive to Richmond which is not a city I’d advise anyone to commute through.
Certainly you don’t want to leave a car there.

Cities accessible by BART:
Union City
San Leandro
Daly City
San Francisco
Walnut Creek

filmfann's avatar

I occasionally work in Richmond, and it does have bad areas, but the BART station is in an okay area.

Cartman's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic but which ones are nice huh?

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Stay away from Richmond, Pittsburgh, and East Oakland as residences. Hayward can get gnarly along Mission Blvd but up in the hills is nice.

Of the areas listed, Berkeley, Daly City, Walnut Creek, are pretty good.
All of the Bay Area is going to be expensive though. Be ready for that.

Cartman's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic I’m prepared, mentally at least, it’s the financial part that’s lagging. Where would you rather live Berkeley, Daly City or Walnut Creek?

Thank you for your advice.

filmfann's avatar

I would rather live in Berkeley for the culture and weather, or Walnut Creek for lower crime rates, but they are both not cheap areas to rent.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I agree with @filmfann that those two areas are nice and worth checking into even if they aren’t the cheapest on the list. Both have very low crime rates comparative to other Bay Area cities.
Check around because there’s some great deals on rentals to be had.

Cartman's avatar


Thank you both! That was my initial guess too, even though I had hoped for a miraculous appearance of a new part of town through Fluther intervention. You are wonderful people!

Note to others: please don’t stop arguing for other alternatives.

nikipedia's avatar

Berkeley is great. There are parts of Oakland that I think meet all your criteria, but they’re not too far from the ooky parts.

If it were up to me, I’d look for cheap neighborhoods in the city. The Outer Richmond and Outer Sunset probably meet all your criteria, as does the nameless neighborhood by the Glen Park and Balboa Park BART stations.

filmfann's avatar

I was born and raised in Oakland, and there are fantastic parts to it. The city has largely gone to hell, but you can find beautiful, idealic spots in the hill area.

andrew's avatar

As nikipedia suggest, I think east bay would be perfect, especially Berkeley. Cost of living is lower, you get more room for less money, and you can BART into the city (or bribe your friends to come see you).

There’s also Bernal Heights.

lrk's avatar

I’d echo @nikipedia‘s suggestion—if Berkeley prices are feasible for you, it’s possible that West Portal, Outer Sunset / Parkside, Richmond could be doable for you within SF.

Cartman's avatar


I’m craigslisting. Are there any part of Oakland that you would recommend or stay away from in particular?



filmfann's avatar

Anything below MacArthur blvd, unless it is close to the lake.

Cartman's avatar

@filmfann thank you!

Wishing you an excellent day!

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther