Cities like San Francisco might be where the action is, but living in a huge metropolis doesn’t appeal to everyone. People often want more space than they can afford in a big city, or to unwind in a quieter setting after a long day at the office. Maybe a yard for their kids to play in is on their list of non-negotiables, or they want a community that’s LGBT+ friendly. Whatever the reason, there are a lot of benefits to suburban living, and major cities like San Francisco have a lot of options to choose from. It’s important to make sure you find the one that will be the best fit for your lifestyle.
Suburbs are defined as outlying districts of a bigger city. Everything is more spread out in a suburb, offering residents the space and amenities they want at a more relaxed pace. But no two suburbs are alike! They each have their own appeal. Some suburbs are affluent and less affordable, while others are more working-class. Another might have more of an urban vibe that’s attractive to singles, while others are much more residential and quiet. Is your next job bringing you to San Francisco, but you don’t want to live in the city? All of these suburb cities are close to and around San Francisco. One of the best San Francisco suburbs is calling your name!
Walnut Creek | Top Schools & Big City Amenities Set In Nature
- Population: 67,568
- Median Household Income: $82,800
- Median Home Cost: $832,000
- Walnut Creek, CA Homes For Sale
- Great For: Families
Walnut Creek is a great San Francisco suburb for families and has everything a big city could offer without the hectic pace. In fact, Walnut Creek is known as “The Jewel of the East Bay.” A 28 minute drive to downtown San Francisco, this beautiful SF community has it all: gorgeous parks, a thriving art scene, access to great jobs, and amazing schools. Families and nature enthusiasts love living near Mount Diablo State Park, with its extensive trails and beautiful views. The shopping at the outdoor Broadway Plaza mall can’t be beat, and the Lesher Center for the Arts offers ballet, theater, and comedic performances. Almost one third of households in Walnut Creek have school-aged children, and the access to such highly rated schools as Walnut Heights Elementary School and Northgate High School is likely to draw more families to the area.
Berkeley | Affluent, Progressive Community
- Population: 118,585
- Median Household Income: $70,400
- Median Home Cost: $1,460,000
- Berkeley, CA Homes For Sale
The city of Berkeley is well known as an educational hub, a great San Francisco suburb for young professionals, and a major destination for all things counter-culture. It’s home to the world-renowned University of California, Berkeley campus and the famed Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. These institutions draw the best and brightest to the area, so it’s no surprise that over 70% of Berkeley’s residents have earned their Bachelor’s Degree or higher. Berkeley is very environmentally-conscious, so it’s full of parks and green spaces, and is very bike-friendly. If you’re looking for a strong San Francisco community, you’ll find it in Berkeley. The city hosts many community events, like the Berkeley Juneteenth Festival. If you’re commuting to San Francisco from Berkeley, you can expect a longer commute time – the drive is about 40 minutes.
Albany | Tight-Knit Family Friendly Suburb
- Population: 19,420
- Median Household Income: $85,500
- Median Home Cost: $890,000
- Albany, CA Homes For Sale
Just north of Berkeley is the east shore city of Albany. Residents love the access to urban amenities mixed with the quiet, peaceful atmosphere. Over 40% of households here have children under the age of 18, and the Albany School District is extremely highly rated. Top schools include Albany High School, which is considered one of the best high schools in the entire Bay Area. Albany Middle School, and Cornell Elementary School are also excellent options, and the city has amazing school music programs. Albany is a tight-knit neighborhood in San Francisco that enjoys putting on events like The Solano Avenue Stroll, which was designated a “National Local Legacy” in 2001. Nature lovers won’t be disappointed living here – the McLaughlin Eastshore State Park runs along the eastern border of the city. Renters will do well here too – average rent in Albany is $2,485, which is significantly lower than the San Francisco average of $3,188 making it one of the most affordable suburbs.
Oakland | A Diverse Hipster’s Paradise
- Population: 412,040
- Median Household Income: $57,800
- Median Home Cost: $865,000
- Oakland, CA Homes For Sale
If you’re looking for a suburb with diversity, look toward Oakland. Often referred to as the “Brooklyn of the Bay,” the demographic breakdown in Oakland is 27.3% white, 26% Hispanic, 24.7% Black, 16% Asian, and 6% Mixed/Other races. Singles and young professionals love the coffee shops, boutiques, and eclectic dining options here, especially Swan’s Market. Oakland definitely has a more dense, urban feel, but there’s still plenty of nature to enjoy. Lake Merritt sits in Downtown Oakland, and the East Bay Regional Park District runs up the east end of the city. You’ll even get better weather in Oakland! Despite being only a 17 minute drive from Downtown San Francisco, residents enjoy more sunshine and warmer winters. And if you’re looking for rent, Oaklands prices are 8% lower than the California average.
Hayward | Vibrant & Affordable SF Suburb to Watch
- Population: 154,507
- Median Household Income: $68,100
- Median Home Cost: $712,500
- Hayward, CA Homes For Sale
Hayward is an affordable suburb of San Francisco and one of the best places to live in the San Francisco Bay area. Just below Oakland is the up-and-coming town of Hayward. It’s also a great spot for millennials, who are attracted to the new apartments and retail spaces that are in work. Interesting projects are happening all over the city, including construction of the 21st Century Library, a building which is net-zero energy. There are tons of events in Hayward – just take a peek at the community calendar! There’s a thriving art scene in Hayward, including an effort to replace old graffiti with beautiful murals. Residents love the greenspaces too, including Hayward’s gorgeous Japanese Gardens, the oldest in the state. Rent here is relatively affordable too. Average rent in Hayward is $2,260, almost $1000 less than the rates in San Francisco.
Alameda | Safe, Affluent Family Community
- Population: 77,409
- Median Household Income: $83,000
- Median Home Cost: $1,059,352
- Alameda, CA Homes For Sale
If you can afford the beautiful suburban island of Alameda, it’s an amazing place to live. Directly across the Bay from San Francisco, this affluent and safe community is very diverse, with a demographic breakdown of 43% white, 11.1% Hispanic, 7.7% Black or African American, 30.9% Asian, and 7.4% Mixed/Other race residents. 28.6% of households have school-aged children, and the city is served by amazing schools. Top-rated schools in the area include Alameda Science and Technology Institute, Alameda High School, and Amelia Earhart Elementary School. Violent crime in Alameda is 46% lower than the national average, making it one of the safest suburbs of San Francisco. Though the commute by car isn’t the easiest, commuters can choose to forego the traditional drive and opt for a ferry into San Francisco instead. What a beautiful way to get to the office! Click here for more information about the San Francisco Bay Ferry.
Map of the Best San Francisco Suburbs
Planning a move to one of these San Francisco suburbs? If one of these fantastic communities is going to be your next home, our professional San Francisco movers at AMS Relocation would love to help get you settled! Our highly trained team knows exactly how to make your move easy. Call us today for your quote – it’s free of charge!