Tips to Navigating Your Way Around San Francisco as a Renter

What’s not to love about San Francisco, California? It’s home to top-rated universities, employment is booming, and there are cultural opportunities around every corner. Plus, it has some of the best food in the state, and the nightlife is on point. San Francisco also has more than 40 neighborhoods, and each one has a distinct personality. If you’re considering moving to San Francisco, check out the top neighborhoods for renters. Then you can plan your move.

  • Tuesday, February 4, 2020

  Matt Angerer

  Community   Roommate Finder   

What’s not to love about San Francisco, California? It’s home to top-rated universities, employment is booming, and there are cultural opportunities around every corner. Plus, it has some of the best food in the state, and the nightlife is on point. 

San Francisco also has more than 40 neighborhoods, and each one has a distinct personality. If you’re considering moving to San Francisco, check out the top neighborhoods for renters. Then you can plan your move. 

Western Addition

Western Addition just might be the perfect San Francisco neighborhood for you. Rental prices typically skew lower than other neighborhoods in San Francisco, making it easy to enjoy the city without going over your budget. This neighborhood also attracts all types of people, including families, young professionals, and up-and-comers. 

Western Addition also provides residents with lots of fun things to do. The bustling neighborhood is known for its jazz scene, so you can listen to live music when you go out. You can also head to Japantown to get some shopping in, or just walk around and admire the gorgeous Victorian-style architecture. 

Where to Live in Western Addition

If Western Addition sounds like home to you, you’ll need to find a place to live. You have some excellent options, including the Plaza East Apartments. With one, two, three, and four-bedroom units, it’s easy to find a spot here. The pet-friendly complex has some cool amenities, such as onsite childcare, a playground, and sports fields. The units themselves are also loaded with features, such as huge walk-in closets and high ceilings. If you need another reason to live here, your apartment will just be a short walk from public transportation. 

It’s also worth noting the community has undergone some serious changes in recent years. Safety used to be a concern for residents, but now, it’s much safer. Plus, it’s one of the most affordable places to live in Western Addition. 

You can also rent an apartment at The Fillmore Center. The newly renovated apartments include upgraded appliances, new kitchens, and new bathrooms. Also, the units are spacious. Where else in San Francisco can you get a studio that’s 510 square feet or a three-bedroom over 1,100 square feet? It’s practically unheard of, but that’s what you’ll find here. 

This apartment community has other cool features, including a park, social kitchen, and a shuttle service. The shuttle runs to Embarcadero and has multiple stops in between. You can leave your vehicle at home and take the shuttle to work or dinner. 


Eating Out in Western Addition

San Francisco is known for its foodie scene, and Western Addition is no exception. Mealtime is an event in this neighborhood, with locals leaving their apartments and houses to gather at the local eateries.

Nopa, or North of the Panhandle, is easily the hottest spot to grab a burger in San Francisco. What if you’re not in the mood for a juicy burger? No worries, because the restaurant’s menu is full of tasty items. It also has the most popular brunch in the area. The custard French toast is the standout brunch item. It’s so big you can share it with the entire table. That’s an excellent way to chow down without going over your meal budget.


Speaking of affordable meals, you’ll want to check out Tommy’s Joynt. The cafeteria-style restaurant offers dinner platters and fresh-carved meat sandwiches. If you want a full meal, it’s hard to beat the BBQ brisket platter. The brisket is divine, and the mashed potatoes and bread will take you to carb heaven. The huge sandwiches are sure to get your mouth watering, too. One thing to keep in mind. Don’t be surprised if you see a huge line when you walk up to Tommy’s Joynt. It’s popular and always busy, but the staff moves people through quickly, so they keep the wait to a minimum. 


Best Nightlife in Western Addition

San Francisco isn’t just known for food. It’s also a nightlife mecca. There always seems to be something going on in San Francisco, and the Western Addition neighborhood manages to keep the pace with the rest of the city due to its exciting nightlife options. 

Let’s start with Mini Bar SF. Don’t worry, this place is bigger than the mini bar in your last hotel room. In fact, it’s stocked to the brim with wine and beer, and the bartenders can make a mean cocktail and pour the hard liquor. While there are lots of options, start with the Black Manhattan. You can’t get it anywhere else, and it’s worth the trip alone. While you drink your Black Manhattan, chill in the lounge and enjoy the local art. 


Bar Crudo is also popular with Western Addition residents. Most people come here for the ice-cold white wine, although the beer is also on point, and you can down some seafood while you drink. This is more expensive than some of the neighborhood’s bars, but the happy hour specials make it easy to stay within your budget.



SoMa, or South of Market, is the perfect spot if you want to have lots of activities at your fingertips. This neighborhood has an eclectic mix of bars, pubs, restaurants, and museums, and it also boasts the best weather in San Francisco. The sun always seems to be shining in this strategically placed neighborhood, so you’ll enjoy an endorphin boost every time you walk out your front door. As a bonus, this neighborhood also has lots of job opportunities. It’s homes to lots of new start-ups, so if you’re trying to get your foot in the door with a new company, this could be the spot for you.

Where to Live in SoMa

You won’t have any trouble finding a place to rent if you relocate to SoMa. SoMa Square Apartments is a top choice for renters. On any given day, you’ll see renters enjoying the sweeping views from the rooftop deck or relaxing in the swimming pool. The complex is also home to a dog park, so bring Fido along with you. It even has retail shops and a café on the grounds. 

Then there are the units themselves. You can pick a unit that has a view, a private balcony, and a wood-burning fireplace. Plus, the lofts and restored factories were designed to let you make use of the natural light, so you’ll love spending time in the space. When it’s time to leave, you’ll be within walking distance of lots of places, including public transportation. 


Do you want something even more luxurious? Check out NEMA in the SoMa neighborhood. The modern building has hotel-style residences. Features include terraces that have Wi-Fi sound systems and outdoor heaters. The building also has a Skyline Terrace where you can go to enjoy some yoga or a glass of wine. Oh, and get this. This building has its own club that has a pool table, fireplace, seating areas, widescreen televisions, and much more. Then, of course, you’ll have access to outdoor TVs, a private urban park, a pool, and other luxurious features. 

The units are also luxurious, and you can pick from studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments. This is one of those places where seeing is truly believing, so check it out and see if it’s a good choice or you. Keep in mind that you will pay more here than at some other places due to all the luxurious amenities. However, you can get a roommate to offset some of the costs. Plus, if you get a roommate, you’ll have someone to go with you for that glass of wine or stroll through the urban park. 


Eating Out in SoMa

You’ll love your apartment so much you might think you’ll always want to stay inside. However, you’ll feel the neighborhood’s delicious eateries tugging at your taste buds, and it won’t be long before you go out to eat. 

If you were to ask SoMa residents where to grab a meal, most would direct you straight to 1601 Bar and Kitchen. This restaurant specializes in Sri Lankan cuisine, making it the perfect spot to expand your palate. The chef’s tasting menu is the top choice if you dine here. This eight-course menu will take your breath away. You will try new foods and enjoy an authentic Sri Lankan dining experience. 


Then, there’s The Bird. The Bird got in on the chicken sandwich craze way before Popeyes vs. Chick Filet became a meme. The fried chicken sandwiches come with slaw and pickles, and you can throw in some curly fries to satisfy your hunger. Just like the Popeyes’ chicken sandwich, the sandwiches here do sell out, so get there early. Then you can devour your fried sandwich while others walk away with sad faces, realizing they missed their chance at the perfect lunch. 


Best Nightlife in SoMa

While some neighborhoods are known for their low-key bars, SoMa is the place to go dancing. The vibrant dance clubs are always packed with locals and others who drive in just for the chance to bust a move with others. 

DNA Lounge always packs in large crowds. Depending on the night you go, you might dance while a DJ spins tunes, or you might jam out to live music. The live music ranges from pop to punk, so check out the schedule and go on a night you’ll enjoy.



Are you in the mood for 80s music? Head right over to the Cat Club. The two dance floors are always packed, and the go-go cage is a sight to see. Between the thumping music and wild dancing, you’ll have a hard time calling it a night when you go here.


Mission District 

Do you prefer the hipster scene? If so, the Mission District might be the perfect neighborhood to call home. The up-and-coming art scene attracts the younger crowd, and you’ll love the eclectic vibe. From the colorful buildings to vibrant murals, the neighborhood embraces its artistic side, and the funky restaurants and cool bars add to the atmosphere. 

Where to Live in the Mission District

Housing is not a problem when you move to the Mission District. There are tons of apartments and townhomes to choose from, so you can find something that has the features and amenities you want in your next home.

Vara is one of your options. You’ll live in luxury if you grab an apartment here. The gated community has a fitness center and clubhouse, and the concierge is available to help you plan your day if needed. The units themselves are also luxurious, complete with hardwood floors and a balcony. Plus, you can get additional storage when you live here. 



If you’re considering moving to this neighborhood, you’ll also want to check out Olume. This apartment complex is luxury at its finest. Need groceries? The staff will stock the fridge for you. Do you need help cleaning your apartment? No worries, someone can tidy up for you. Plus, you’ll have a trained tech assistant inside your apartment to help you manage your daily activities. Plus, you can hang out on the rooftop terrace, get an endorphin boost at the gym, or lounge in your modern and elegant unit. 


Eating Out in the Mission District

The Mission District is home to some of the best restaurants in San Francisco. The eateries are plentiful, and they satisfy all tastes. With so many choices, where should you start?

Yamo is the right choice for your first meal in the Mission District, especially if you want some tasty cuisine without breaking the bank. The Burmese restaurant has some amazing house noodles that you can get with tofu, pork, chicken, or beef, and they are reasonably priced. 


Delfina is another Mission District hotspot. It’s so popular that it has a couple of spinoff restaurants, but come here to enjoy the original food and cool-kid service. The eternal pasta Pomodoro is just one of the many tasty dishes they serve up here. 


Best Nightlife in the Mission District 

Whether you are in the mood for a quick drink or something a bit rowdier, the Mission District has you covered. Just head to Valencia Street, where you will find one option after another. Many call this the “party zone,” and it has everything you need for a good time after the sun goes down. 

Let’s start with Zeitgeist. This is San Francisco’s “it” beer garden, and with 64 brews on tap, it’s no wonder why. The service is pleasantly gruff, and the outdoor patio is the perfect hangout spot. Plus, it has a food window that serves up grilled cheeses and other options to blend with the brews. 


Do you want to turn it up a notch? Head right over to The Chapel and listen to some live local music. The drinks are cheap by San Francisco standards, the music is pounding, and the crowds are huge. That makes for a perfect night of fun. 


Financial District/Downtown

The Financial District/Downtown neighborhood is booming, with some of the biggest companies in the city. If you work at one of these companies, a rental in this neighborhood will allow you to avoid the daily commute while also giving you easy access to lots of fun things to do. You can spend your days shopping, hanging out in bars, or dining on delicious food. Plus, you’ll meet lots of young professionals who can help you get a leg up in the city. 

Where to Live in the Financial District/Downtown

Are you excited to move to the Financial District/Downtown neighborhood? First, you’ll need a place to live. The Towers at Rincon is quickly becoming a top spot to live in this neighborhood. Renting one of these apartments comes with its privileges, such as a rooftop terrace and an on-site grocery store. The business center will help you meet your deadlines, and the resident events will help you add some balance to your work life. This is a tight-knit community and an excellent place to live. 

388 Beale is also known for its luxurious apartments. The floor-to-ceiling windows provide stunning views of the Financial District, and the hardwood floors and wood-burning fireplaces add to the elegance. You can also stand out on the private balcony to listen to the sounds of the city before retiring for the night. 

The apartments are filled with smart devices to make your life easier. For example, smart locks allow you to grant your friends and family access when you aren’t home. You can even use the smart locks to let your dog locker into your apartment when you’re out and about or enjoying the community’s amenities.

Speaking of amenities, this community is loaded with them. You can do a little shopping on-site or head to the lounge to play billiards. The community also has a sundeck, outdoor hammocks, a fire pit, and so much more. You’ll want to stop by and see 388 Beale in person. 

Eating Out in the Financial District/Downtown

You’ll find lots of food options in the Financial District/Downtown neighborhood. Kokkari Estiatorio might become your new favorite eatery if you move here. This upscale Greek restaurant has so many options that you’ll have a hard time deciding, so start with small plates for you to sample different foods. One of those small plates should include grilled octopus. You’ve never had it like they serve it here. Then you’ll be ready for the main course where you can choose items like the famous lamb chops or eggplant casserole. You’ll be full after you finish but wait a few minutes and order some dessert. Along with the traditional baklava, you can get other desserts, including cinnamon and walnuts and Greek donuts with honey. You’ll be dreaming of those donuts when you fall asleep. 

And then there’s Delarosa. When it’s nice outside, you’ll find the locals sitting on the patio, enjoying some modern Italian cuisine. The Roman-style pizzas are the best you can find in the city, so stop by and check it out.

Oh, and if you can get a seat, you have to dine at Kusakabe. Where else can you get 11 courses of sushi? There are only 29 seats in this fine-dining restaurant, and securing a spot is quite an accomplishment. If you live here, you can keep trying to get one of those coveted seats until you finally luck out. 

Best Nightlife in the Financial District/Downtown 

The Downtown/Financial District neighborhood has lots of options when it comes to unwinding after a hard week at work. You’ll find an eclectic mix of patrons when you stop by a bar or pub. From hipsters looking for a fun evening out to well-heeled professionals, everyone is welcome at the bars and pubs. 

Do you want to relax with some whiskey at the end of the day? Head to Rickhouse. The dimly lit bar resembles a Western saloon. But unlike the bartenders in the Wild West, the service here is friendly. This bar gets crowded during happy hour, so head over for a drink special and to meet some locals.

The House of Shields is also popular, and it has an interesting history. The hotspot used to be a speakeasy during Prohibition, and then it became a gentlemen’s club with a strict “no women allowed” policy. That finally changed in 1976, and now, all are welcome. It might be more progressive than it was in the 1970s, but it has an old-time feel that is comforting and relaxing. There aren’t any TVs to distract you, so you can easily spend hours conversing with your friends at his bar.

Make Moving to San Francisco Easier With a Roommate

As you can probably tell by now, living in San Francisco can be expensive. The apartments are gorgeous, but they do come at a price. Paying rent and utilities alone might not be possible, but you can move here with a roommate.

Have you been burned by roommates in the past? Maybe you lived with someone who was a slob, and then you had a roommate who refused to pay rent. You’re afraid of living through that again, so you need to use VerticalRent’s Community. Use the free tool to find the perfect roommate without the hassle.

Start by creating your renter profile. Then filter roommate candidates based on their financial responsibility. Once you find someone you’re interested in splitting the rent with, send a message to make sure you’re compatible. If you like what you read, you can execute a roommate agreement on the spot. 

It’s easy to use, and it will help you find the perfect roommate. Once you have your roommate in place, you can rent an apartment in your favorite San Francisco neighborhood. 


About the author

Matt Angerer is the Founder and President of VerticalRent. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics that help Landlords, Property Managers, and Renters across America. He is particularly interested in helping renters understand their local marketplace, pick the best places to live, and find an awesome roommate. Since 2011, VerticalRent has grown to service over 100,000 landlords and renters across America. 

Read more articles from Matt Angerer

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