The Best Suburbs of San Francisco

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The Best Suburbs of San Francisco

Jack London Square Ferry Building from the water.

There are so many suburbs of San Francisco suitable for a great place to call home. For this list, we included Bay Area destinations outside the city that have special appeal.  Whether you seek open spaces, privacy, or simply want to avoid the hustle and bustle of city life, consider the following listed options.

If you’re from Los Angeles, get ready to drool. The Bay Area has so many recreational, cultural, and gastronomical treats that can’t be found in So Cal. 

Without further ado, here are our picks for the best suburbs of San Francisco!


Located just across the Bay Bridge, Albany offers residents all the perks of living in the city while still maintaining a small-town feel. The community is tight-knit and welcoming, with a strong sense of pride in their city.

Our own charming Albany is definitely one of the best suburbs in the East Bay!

The city has a great variety of restaurants, cafes, and shops, as well as beautiful parks and recreational areas. Albany is known for hosting a wide variety of cultural events throughout the year, and the city attracts families with its highly-rated schools.

Being so close to San Francisco makes Albany an ideal location for those who want to take advantage of all the city has to offer while still enjoying the peace and quiet of a suburban lifestyle. With its great location, excellent schools, and thriving community, it’s no wonder why so many people choose to call Albany home.

Memorial Park

Big trees and playground area at Albany's Memorial Park.
Memorial Park in Albany, CA.

One of the most sought-after neighborhoods in Albany, the area surrounding Memorial Park is characterized by quaint 2- and 3-bedroom homes built in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, including Craftsman bungalows, Spanish- and English-style homes, and MacGregor cottages, which are known for their distinctive living room windows, interesting fireplaces, and split-level designs. 

The park land itself is a treasured community resource, with fun facilities for picnics, swimming, tennis, soccer, and Little League. When children’s sports teams are active, the sound of parents and friends cheering from the sidelines underscores strong community bonds. Parents here are active in their children’s education and help make Albany one of the most highly educated communities in the East Bay.

El Cerrito

Trees, housing and sprawling scenery of El Cerrito and Albany Hill.

Fabulous views, rolling hills and a great commute–welcome to El Cerrito. What began as a village surrounded by chicken and dairy farms is now the affordable alternative to Berkeley, with a growing inventory of new apartments and senior housing.  There are good schools here, and a strong sense of community.

People flocked here after the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. Wilhelm Rust developed the town in the early 1900s, creating multiple businesses and paved roads. He was so influential the town became known as Rust, and it wasn’t until 1909 that this 3.7 square mile parcel changed its name. El Cerrito means “little hill” and from one of its many local green spaces it’s possible to enjoy spectacular views.


Point Isabel Dog Park with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Point Isabel Dog Park

With its diverse population and its rich cultural history, Richmond offers a relatively affordable escape from city life. Of course, being on the water, residents can enjoy the pleasures of boating, fishing and walking along the waterfront. The Richmond Art Center is the place to see local art exhibitions, take classes and workshops, and take part in the cultural life of this neighborhood.

The Point Richmond Historic District has a small-town feel and many locally owned businesses. Stroll the commercial area, and enjoy a few special eateries, like Lara’s Fine Dining on the waterfront and Assemble Marketplace near the Craneway Pavilion with its cool industrial vibe. 

If you like to ride, there’s also a 3.5 mile bike and pedestrian path which runs through the city; it meanders through public art and community gardens, making it the perfect place to stroll or cycle. It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway, that all the pleasures of San Francisco, Marin, and the East Bay are nearby. 


Wide angle shot of crosswalks and businesses in Kensington, California.
Kensington’s commercial center on the Arlington Way.

Perched along Berkeley’s northern border, Kensington is rich in history and home to many professors from the nearby University of California campus. (It’s no wonder that Hilltop Elementary has a great reputation). One can enjoy dramatic views from Oakland to Marin; this quaint community attracts professionals and families who enjoy a village feel.

The architectural styles here vary widely: Colonial, Spanish style, and older Tudors dot the landscape. But it wasn’t always that way, of course. Originally populated by the Huichin Ohlone people, this territory was taken over by the Republic of Mexico who made land grants to Francisco Castro, a veteran of the Mexican Army. Later in the 1890s Anson Blake purchased the land, and by 1911 development had begun; the area was named Kensington, after London’s borough of South Kensington.

During the 1940s a streetcar service, fed by a network of pathways, connected the various neighborhoods. Today buses and cars move people, but many of the pathways remain, offering “hidden” private shortcuts through the hills.

Residents enjoy delicious options for gathering: a shopping area along Arlington Avenue has a wonderful grocery, wine shop, drug store and breakfast spot (with the best brunches ever). At the bottom of the hill, you’ll find Colusa Circle, with the family-friendly Kensington Circus Pub, a fantastic grocer, a yummy bakery, and, on Sundays, a farmer’s market brimming with fresh organic foods.

Tilden Park is just a few minutes away. Go for a hike, or take the kids to see the Botanical Gardens, Lake Anza, the carousel and the steam trains. Compared to other places, Kensington is a quiet, serene place to live.


Located on the eastern side of the San Francisco Bay, just across from the city, this suburb is known for its liberal politics, diverse student population, Craftsman architecture, and prestigious university. Berkeley has its own distinct culture and atmosphere. There’s hiking in the hills, biking along the Marina, and delicious food to eat, from Chez Panisse fine dining to ethnic delicacies. Kid-centric activities abound, including a Merry Go Round, a steam train, and live animals at the Kiddie Farm in Tilden Park

One of the best areas of Berkeley is the Elmwood. You’ll find old residences with character, and in the heart of the commercial district, on College Ave, there are restaurants, bars, and independent retail shops. Check out Tail of the Yak, for example, a shop of curiosities that’s been at Ashby and College for over twenty-five years. Catch a bus to the UC Berkeley, just minutes away. En route, you’ll discover a number of houses that offer old-fashioned charm; properties for sale come in all prices, but be prepared to work with an expert to get the best data on the condition of your lot. With its close proximity to downtown Berkeley and the UCB campus, as well as access to San Francisco via Rockridge and Ashby Bart, Elmwood is one of the best commuter neighborhoods in the East Bay.

Developed just before the turn of the 19th century as a fashionable suburb for transplanted San Franciscans, Elmwood has Victorians that were erected prior to 1900, but soon after bungalows, shingled boxes, and period revival homes filled the neighborhood’s quiet streets. Sought-after real estate includes shingled homes inspired by Arts and Crafts architects Greene & Greene and Bernard Maybeck.

Fourth Street

Berkeley FourthStreetShoppingStrip 4

Berkeley’s Ocean View neighborhood is now known mostly for Fourth Street, an area of a few blocks filled with upscale retail shops. Nothing beats this eclectic mix of retail boutiques and restaurants, surrounded by early Victorians and neo-colonial houses, as well as Craftsman bungalows and shingled cottages built in the 1910s, ’20s, and ’30s. North of Cedar, you can search for pre-war bungalows and small cottages from the 1940s and ’50s.

The growth here has been unprecedented. As the East Bay’s most successful commercial district, Fourth Street, mostly open-air – appeals to locals and visitors alike.  Home decor stores are popular, and you’ve got to taste the eggs at Bette’s Oceanview Diner or the blue corn pancakes at Cafe M. Peet’s coffee is popular, as are the Mexican delights from Tacubaya and the cocktails at Zut!.  And for discerning shoppers, a visit to The Gardener or Molly B is a must. Ocean View is also home to a quaint park, and the Berkeley Marina lies just a stone’s throw away, as does access to the Bay Area’s major freeways.

Nearby, the Gilman District has developed into one of the most in-demand areas of Berkeley, with its micro-breweries, artists’ studios, warehouses, and indie shops and restaurants. 


NOBE represents a collection of neighborhoods which includes parts of North Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville. Originally home to mostly working-class families, this area has seen an influx of hipsters and loft-dwellers in recent years.

Young urban professionals have made NOBE a highly desired destination with a wide variety of home styles, restaurants and art studios.  Artists, students, and start-up companies want seamless transportation to other cities, as well the still-reasonable home value found here.

Panoramic Hill

Panoramic Hill (which includes a piece of Oakland) is a residential area perched high on the hill above UC Berkeley.  The views are wonderful here! Spectacular trail hiking is just outside your front door, with unusual homes and the glory of wooded nature all around. You’re above the traffic, in an area where the right price will buy not just bedrooms, but stunning beauty. Eleven homes here are listed in the State Historic Resources Inventory, including ones designed by Julia Morgan and Walter Steilberg.

Cars access Panoramic Hill by one narrow, winding road, but if you’re on foot you can use a well-trod network of pathways and trails to reach the university, downtown Berkeley and surrounding Strawberry and Claremont canyons. A bit country so close to the city – Panoramic Hill offers a distinct vantage point on the rest of the Bay Area.


Areal view of downtown Oakland and Lake Merritt with surrounding hills in background.
Downtown Oakland and Lake Merritt offer a taste of city life while retaining the local charm of a suburb.

No city in the Bay Area has grown more quickly in so many ways than Oakland. With its stunning location on the shores of Lake Merritt, proximity to Silicon Valley and San Francisco and an entrepreneurial, ethnically diverse population, Oakland is a destination for food, art, music, tech and more. It’s hip.This “Brooklyn by the Bay”, boasts funky vibes and elegant digs. From lofts to bungalows to historic Victorians, Oakland offers a wide range of relatively affordable housing for families and professionals who proudly call this city home.

Despite its reputation for being a densely populated city with a host of challenges when compared to some other cities in the Bay Area, Oakland has a lot going for it, especially for families. Residents have a wide range of shopping, dining, and entertainment options as well as a super quick hop to the city. There are a number of private schools located here, and the cultural diversity the city offers make it a dynamic place to live and learn.  Fine restaurants, music venues, and art museums, as well as sports teams and open parklands, add to the allure of this city which runs from the shore to the top of the hills. You’ll find hipster food trucks and Michelin-star restaurants.

Oakland is home to the Raiders, the A’s, the Warriors, as well as an international airport that offers a super convenient alternative to SFO.  But there’s lots to do right at home here:  head down to Jack London Square to walk along the Marina and then take in a show at the jazz club. Visit the Chabot Observatory, or enjoy  Redwood Regional Park. For the kids, there’s the old-fashioned Children’s Fairyland, in operation since 1950, and don’t forget Fenton’s for ice cream on Piedmont Avenue, itself a destination for great dining and shopping.

There are many Oakland districts to explore, each with its own character and amenities. Residential neighborhoods include Adams Point, Crocker Highlands, Laurel, Maxwell Park, Piedmont Pines, Redwood Heights, Trestle Glen, and Upper Rockridge.


Concord is the largest city in Contra Costa County. It’s spread out over thirty square miles, consisting of residential, industrial and retail space, as well as numerous parks and undeveloped land. The downtown area houses Todo Santos Plaza, as big as a city block; it’s known for a farmers market and free summer concerts. SunValley Mall is also located in Concord along with offices for companies like Chevron and Bank of America. Concord Pavilion is a big concert venues and Six Flags Waterpark attracts families wanting to cool off. (Yup, it can get toasty here). Concord was originally agricultural area and known for wheat and walnuts. Prepare for hot, dry summers and cooler, wet winters; many homes have air conditioning and built-in pools.

Concord is easily accessible by BART, bus, and highway, so it’s a great commuter town. The downtown area hosts apartments and condominiums, all close to public transportation. Compared to other cities in the Bay Area, Concord has relatively affordable housing options. Small neighborhoods, each with their own character, are worth exploring.  North and east of downtown is Concord’s oldest residential area, with homes dating back to the early 1900s. Southeast of the city is a residential area that was mainly developed in the 1960s and 1970s and southwest of downtown is an area called Four Corners, a largely Latino neighborhood.

When you consider high-performing public and private schools and add easy access to plenty of parks and outdoor recreation areas, Concord could be the suburb for you. 


Another East Bay favorite is Orinda (and its outdoor California Shakespeare Theater).  The wooded hills of this area entice. An attractive downtown, complete with an old-fashioned Deco movie theatre and coffee shops, enhances the small-town feel.  With easy access to the city, Orinda offers casual living close to everything in downtown San Francisco.


Lafayette Reservoir offers many wonderful nooks for hiking, picnics, boats & birding!

Travel over the hills and through the tunnel and you’ll find yourself in picturesque Lafayette. This affluent East Bay location is known for its top-rated schools and quiet, low-key atmosphere. Lafayette offers the perfect balance of comfort and elegance – rolling hillsides, warm weather, and a focus on kids brings in families from all over.

The local schools are highly ranked and the Lafayette Library and Learning Center is a wonderful resource. It includes the Main Library, with special features like a Children’s Library, Homework Center, Teen Center, Technology Lab, Bookmark Café, Community Hall, Book Shop, Outdoor Amphitheater, and public art displays.

The center of recreational life here is Lafayette Reservoir where you can hike, boat, fish, picnic, and walk the dog with pleasure, and enjoy the view. Lafayette offers fine dining as well as a whole host of casual eateries. You’re close to Walnut Creek shopping, and a Bart station makes a commute to other towns easy. 


Moraga has a number of advantages that set it apart from other suburbs. Families with kids are drawn to its top-rated public schools and the fact that Moraga is considered especially safe and friendly. The crime rate is low and the community feeling is high. Add to this the sheer beauty of the place: rolling hills and ample open space allow residents to enjoy year-round hiking, cycling, and picnicking. Not quite as hot as Concord and not as cool as communities further north, Moraga has a Mediterranean climate. When compared to other nearby cities, housing here is relatively affordable.  

Walnut Creek

A true suburban gem that’s near and dear to our hearts, Walnut Creek is a fantastic place to live and raise a family. Featuring excellent high schools and elementary schools, “The Crick”, as those in the know call it, is the very definition of “family-friendly”, with an abundance of parks, hiking trails and easy access to Mt. Diablo via the North Gate.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention all the great shopping and dining in downtown Walnut Creek, including Nordstrom, Macy’s and yes, the Apple Store, in addition to the usual suspects like Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn and Free People.

For dining, you can’t do better even in SF when you make reservations at the uber-trendy Telefèric Barcelona, the perfect outdoor summer wine spot Va de Vi, the exciting Lita, or the always-perfect Walnut Creek Yacht Club.

The city’s commitment to community and safety makes it a top choice for families looking for a safe and welcoming place to call home. Whether you are looking for a place to raise your kids or a great place to retire, Walnut Creek has something for everyone. With quick freeway access to San Francisco, Walnut Creek is the perfect place to raise a family while still being close to all the excitement of a big city.

San Leandro

Discover the beauty and serenity of St Leander’s Church, a sanctuary of peace in the heart of San Leandro.

Just south of Oakland but within easy striking distance of the city lies San Leandro, with its waterfront industries, Marina, and golf courses. Only five minutes away from Oakland International Airport, the city also hosts wetlands, a shoreline trail for biking and hiking, and an extensive park system with athletic fields and swimming pools. 

Founded in 1872, this city was  originally dotted with cherry farms and a Spanish missionary ranch. Today San Leandro  is home to a diverse population and many prominent businesses. One of the oldest cities in California, its central location may make it a smart  base for commuters, not to mention the wonderful views of the San Francisco Bay that can be enjoyed night after night. 


Like Richmond, Hayward offers a relatively affordable option when it comes to East Bay housing costs. And there are attractions worth noting: For example, if you like to eat, the diverse population here means there’s a tasty variety of ethnic food. Afghan can be found at Ghazni Kabobs, Italian at Acqua e Farina, Chinese at Chef’s Experience China Bistro, and Japanese at Ghengix Asian Fusion, just to name a few spots.   

Proximity to San Francisco and Silicon Valley makes it a convenient location for people who work in those areas. 

Hayward has several parks and places to work out: you can hike and bike along the Hayward Regional Shoreline or relax at the lake and swimming beach at Don Castro Regional Recreation Area. For students, Cal State East Bay is the place to tackle undergrad and graduate degree programs. The Japanese Gardens are the ideal place to kick back in nature.  The local BART station provides easy access throughout the Bay Area, and downtown offers a host of events, festivals, shopping and dining.  


Like Hayward, Fremont is conveniently close to San Francisco and Silicon Valley. The cost of living here has gone up recently, but Fremont is still considered affordable when compared to the neighboring San Jose, for example.

In most of the suburbs listed here, outdoor recreation is a priority. Fremont is no different: Lake Elizabeth has boating and fishing, and Mission Peak Regional Preserve offers hiking and incredible views.

Fremont’s diverse population means there are a lot of ethnic foods and neighborhoods, such as Little India and Niles Canyon.  To its credit, the city also boasts public schools that have a good reputation (see With a relatively low crime rate and a wide range of housing options (single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments), Fremont is attracting a lot of attention as a great place to live. 

Union City

Union City, where nature and community converge in perfect harmony.
Union City, where nature and community converge in perfect harmony.

Union City lies right between Hayward and Fremont, in Alameda County. It has a dense population, mostly residential. Like its neighboring suburbs, Union City offers families and working professionals a host of good reasons to live there. For starters, one is in the heart of the Bay Area, so residents can access a whole range of cultural and recreational opportunities. The many immigrants who have moved here have brought with them wonderful food and community traditions.  And when compared to other cities, Union City remains relatively affordable. Families will appreciate the growing job market as well as the excellent public schools.  

There is a wildlife refuge area (great for hiking and bird-watching) and a large Asian shopping center, for those who prefer people watching and delicious food.  Union City also has that Alameda County Mediterranean climate – warm summers and mild winters (most of the time, so far!)


Escape to nature at Lakeshore Park in Newark. Enjoy breathtaking views of lush greenery, tranquil waters, and endless skies.

Below Fremont, and closer to the water, lies Newark, CA. This city shares many of the great qualities of Fremont and Union City, like access to wonderful cultural and recreational opportunities, a mild climate, and a diverse community which shares its rich heritage. Housing costs here are relatively low, and public school rankings are relatively high. There are parks, hiking, fishing areas and lots of birdwatching by the Bay. Public transportation (buses and the BART rail system) makes getting around a snap, and a local mall has a whole host of goods, services, restaurants and shops. 

San Mateo

Coastal bluff and beach panorama with bare cliff faces, grasses & succulents.
Take in the beauty of San Mateo’s breathtaking coastline. Marvel at the endless ocean, pristine beaches, and majestic cliffs.

About twenty miles south of the city, San Mateo offers a variety of housing options, and easy Peninsula access. Considered especially safe and family-friendly, one has a choice of several  schools in the area, with Silicon Valley employment close by. Liberal diversity defines this region where there is something for everyone. Open space is still plentiful and agriculture adds to the local business and culture.


Indulge in an unforgettable dining experience at Benihana in Burlingame. Savor delicious Japanese cuisine, lively teppanyaki performances, and warm hospitality.

South of the city sits tree-lined Burlingame. Here, too, one finds great schools, beauty, parks and a charming downtown not far from tech industry watering holes. Featuring the best of both worlds, Burlingame strikes a balance between small-town charm and world-class offerings.

This pretty spot was settled by wealthy San Franciscans looking for a better climate. Often referred to as the City of Trees, when in Burlingame you’re conveniently close to the San Francisco International Airport.

Daly City

Located in San Mateo County on the Pacific Ocean, just minutes from the Bay, is Daly City, named for businessman and landowner John Donald Daly. Not quite as upscale as other locales, Daly City and nearby areas offer an alternative to life in the East Bay. Walk at Thornton Beach State Park, or visit one of the many seasonal events at the Cow Palace Arena.  

Neighborhoods include WestlakeSt. Francis HeightsSerramonteTop of the HillHillsideCrockerSouthern Hills, and Bayshore. Westlake is known for its distinct architecture; it’s among the earliest examples of a planned suburb and was the inspiration for Malvina Reynolds‘ 1962 song “Little Boxes” (and later a coffee-table book and documentary Little Boxes: The Architecture of a Classic Midcentury Suburb.)  Daly City and neighboring Colma are now seen as shopping destinations for San Francisco residents because there’s lots of free parking and the county has a slightly lower state sales tax rate. 

Even further south, find Foster City.

Foster City 

Often cited as one of the best places to live in California, Foster City offers residents a great urban/suburban mix. The city recently embarked on a new initiative to earn an age-friendly designation from the World Health Organization, emphasizing amenities that are safe, secure, inclusive and accessible. In Foster City the number of people aged 65 and over is expected to double from 13% in 2010 to 24% by 2040, so those looking for a place to retire may find what they’re looking for here, as well as an abundance of restaurants and parks. 

Redwood City

RedwoodCity best suburb of san francisco
Embrace the charm and energy of Redwood City. Discover a bustling city surrounded by rolling hills and stunning views.

Halfway between San Francisco and San Jose,  Redwood City also offers a great urban/suburban mix. Home to Oracle and other high-tech businesses, the city has plenty of young families. One has easy access to freeways (101 and 280) as well as a Caltrain stop. Downtown is walkable and considered safe, and the community is considered engaged and diverse. Live music clubs, Mediterranean weather, and free summer concerts make this an attractive destination. 

Heading north from Redwood City, you’ll find San Carlos, Belmont, San Mateo, Burlingame, and Millbrae. Heading south you’ll find Atherton, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, Sunnyvale,San Jose, and Cupertino as you pass through the heart of Silicon Valley.  Many of these areas are pricey and exclusive. If you are looking for a home away from the windy roads of the Santa Cruz mountains and the higher costs of living in tech-centric upscale neighborhoods, consider the market closer to the East Bay and North Bay. 

San Bruno

San Bruno, where city and nature blend. A great place to live.

Like the suburbs of Fremont and Hayward mentioned in the East Bay, San Bruno, below Daly City on the San Francisco side, has many of the same qualities to  attract families and young professionals and retirees: one is close to San Francisco, yet San Bruno has its own diverse community, and an abundance of parks and outside spaces. There is an open space preserve for hiking and biking; scenic views abound. Again, one also has many choices when it comes to housing, and the cost of living is relatively affordable when compared to larger neighboring cities. Additionally, San Bruno is known for its strong sense of community. Lots of local events and festivals offer residents a chance to gather. To top things off, local schools have a good reputation. It’s no wonder that families often consider San Bruno when thinking of a move out of the city. And, lest we ignore them, YouTube’s headquarters are located here.  

Santa Clara

Discover the perfect balance of urban living and natural beauty in the Santa Clara Valley.

The most southerly of the ‘burbs is Santa Clara, well below Fremont on one side, and Mountain View and Palo Alto on the other. Sitting extremely close to Silicon Valley, one of the tech meccas of the world, residents enjoy access not only to job opportunities, but also a number of high-ranking schools. Sports fans will know Levi Stadium is located here, the home of the San Francisco 49ers. Santa Clara University is also here, so residents have opportunities to enjoy educational and cultural events. As you might expect, there are a variety of parks and recreational spaces, including the local Central Park with amenities we have come to expect from this part of California: hiking, biking, fishing, bird-watching, and stunningly beautiful sunsets. A shopping center, Valley Fair, has all you might need, with a vast array of restaurants and shops. Getting to San Francisco, Oakland and vicinity is easy using your car, or public transportation, especially the light rail system. Santa Clara is an affordable, diverse and tight-knit community in the  middle of Silicon Valley. Even when the unemployment rate in tech seems to be rising, there are still plenty of jobs here.

Mill Valley

Bluffs overlooking Golden Gate Bridge

The attractive town of Mill Valley is so close to San Francisco, just a short ride from the Golden Gate Bridge through Sausalito. Residents in this fantastic neighborhood love the Mill Valley lifestyle with its indie shops, beautiful redwood forests, hiking trails, and restaurants.

If small town charm is what you’re after, Mill Valley delivers big time. There’s a good school system, a strong sense of community, and plenty of outdoor activities in the local mountains and redwoods.  Bungalow 44 is a favorite watering hole, and Piazza D’Angelo, a cozy pizza joint, offers mouth-watering wood-fired pizzas on an open, airy patio.

Families also love the  Mill Valley Lumber Yard, where fresh flowers, delicious food, tasty baked goods, and artisanal coffee makes for a great meeting spot. It’s a hub for retailers, restaurateurs, and entrepreneurs. Add spectacular views, nightlife and cafes; the allure is obvious.

San Rafael

Experience history at San Rafael’s Mission Arcangel, a stunning example of Spanish colonial architecture and a symbol of California’s rich heritage.

Located in Marin County, within striking distance of water and woods, San Rafael in central Marin is known for its excellent schools and friendly, family-oriented atmosphere. You’re a pleasant drive to San Jose, the East Bay and the City, yet also close to all the natural beauty and cycling trails of Marin and parts north.

Enjoy multiple nearby shopping centers and cozy retail streets like Magnolia Avenue in Larkspur or San Anselmo Ave in San Anselmo. And, in the summertime, every Thursday and Friday San Rafael closes its roads so you can Dine Under the Lights. Retirees, singles, and families alike appreciate the low crime rate, reasonable cost of living, and the abundance of people and places to enjoy. 

In summary…

In this economy, a move out of the city and away from traffic and crowds will surely pique your interest. You just need good information so you can decide whether to rent or to move forward as an owner/buyer for your family or company. Ask us questions. We’ve got a process that outlines all the details, whether you need help with a mortgage, an office, apartments, or finding (or building) your own designer home in the suburbs. 

Overall, the best suburban area for you and your family will depend on your personal preferences and priorities. Your property, whether an apartment or house, should be a smart real estate investment.  It might be helpful to spend some time researching these different areas.

Visit each of these suburban gems in-person with an expert real estate agent to get a sense of which one might be the best fit for you. Our vast experience with homeowners, investors, buyers and tenants allows us to offer the best service and the right amount of guidance. 


  • The most expensive suburb of San Francisco is Atherton, with a median home price of over $7 million. That’s why it’s not on our list, though we’d be happy to sell or purchase there for you, of course.
  • The least expensive suburb of San Francisco is Daly City, with a median home price of around $800,000. Hop on it! 
  • The most populous suburb of San Francisco is San Mateo, with a population of around 100,000 people.
  • The least populous suburb of San Francisco is Belvedere, with a population of around 2,000 people. It’s very posh, indeed.
  • The most walkable suburb of San Francisco is San Francisco itself, with a Walk Score of 97. Hey, that seems like cheating a bit on our list, no? And this factoid neglects to add that much of the walking is up and down steep hills. Get out your best sneakers!
  • The most diverse suburb of San Francisco is Daly City. Go, Daly City! 
  • The cost of living in San Francisco itself is 59.2% higher than the national average. Ouch! Consider the ‘burbs, especially if you like the outdoors.
  • The median rent in San Francisco is $3,595, which is more than double the national median of $1,469. Again, ouch! Consider a move. 

FAQ on SOSF (Suburbs of San Francisco)

What are the best suburbs of San Francisco?

Here are five excellent locations to live in outside of San Francisco:

Palo Alto (homes are crazy expensive  and residents are wonderfully educated. The crime rate is 8% lower than the national average, and the median home price is 2.5 million), 

Cupertino: Home to Apple and a world-class performing arts center the crime rate is 43% lower than the national average and the cost of living is 64% higher than the Calfornia average, with a median home price of 1.8 million in 2022.

San Ramon: Panoramic vistas and plentiful hiking trails bless this outdoorsy town. Lots of family things to do, along with a crime rate 58% lower than the national average. In 2022, the median home price was $723,000.

Lafayette: So close to the city (30 minutes) yet you feel you’re a million miles away in nature’s paradise, with a 6000-acre park next door. Low crime, high cost of living, median home price range was just under one million in 2022.

Orinda: Surrounded by green space, eight miles from UCBerkeley and eleven minutes from the beach. Super-low crime rate matched with a pricey cost of living gives you median home prices of $987,000. 

What is the cost of living in the best suburbs of San Francisco?  

The cost of living in the best suburbs of San Francisco can vary wildly, depending on the specific location and the property you identify. Generally, Bay Area costs are high. The median home price in some upscale suburbs can be in the millions. That said, there are also affordable options.

What are the safest suburbs of San Francisco?

A recent overview by concluded that the safest suburbs around San Francisco are Mountain View, Los Altos Hills, Piedmont, Belvedere, Burlingame, Foster City,  Moraga (Oakland), Orinda and Lafayette. These are areas where school rankings are extremely high and crime rates are extremely low. 

What is the quality of schools in the best suburbs of San Francisco? 

The quality of schools in the best suburbs of San Francisco is generally considered to be very high. Many of the suburbs in the Bay Area have excellent public schools as well as a variety of private and charter schools. This Bay Area is known for its emphasis on education and diverse student population. Additionally, many suburbs have a high median income, which correlates with better funding and resources for schools. However, the quality of schools within any specific area can vary, so it’s important to research specific schools and their ranking. Check out to start your research. 

What are the amenities in the best suburbs of San Francisco?

Local amenities  include plenty of recreational areas and open space for hiking, biking, and bird-watching. Trails abound, and parks and wildlife refuge areas are popular. There is ample shopping in most areas, with boutiques and markets, as well as shopping centers. Community centers, libraries and museums are popular, as are ethnic specialty shops and eateries. Restaurants and cafes are found all over. Additionally, with San Francisco so close, residents outside the city still have access to the best entertainment and cultural opportunities. 

What is the weather like in the  suburbs of San Francisco?

The area around San Francisco is known for its extreme microclimates, though overall the Bay Area has delightful Mediterranean temperatures with mild, wet winters and warm fall temperatures. The coast can be cool and foggy while inland areas are much dryer and hotter. Some suburbs in the hills, like Mill Valley, can have wide variations in temperature within its own city limits. Comparing Marin to the East Bay can show a temperature difference of several degrees, and much warmer weather on the other side of the  tunnel to the South Bay is not uncommon. It’s hard to generalize, but one can safely say the suburbs of San Francisco all have a mild climate that makes for comfortable indoor-outdoor living. Check for your specific location.

How family-friendly are the suburbs of San Francisco?

In a word: extremely! The Bay Area is one of the best places in California to raise kids. There are lots of family-friendly neighborhoods with good schools, and plenty of parks and kid-friendly offerings. Generally, the Bay Area emphasizes education and diverse thinking in diverse populations. There are endless opportunities for outdoor adventures, and a wide variety of museums and cultural engagements abound.