Three things may come to mind when you think about the city of San Francisco: the Golden Gate Bridge, Silicon Valley and a sky-high rental market. Ninety-one percent of Bay Area residents think the cost of living is way too high. Fortunately, there are some less expensive cities near San Francisco with plenty to do, see and eat.
Many of these areas are accessible by BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) and fewer than 50 miles from downtown, also known as FiDi. As long as you're not driving during commute times, you can still reach the city in less than an hour.
Here are 10 cities near San Francisco to consider.
Just over the Bay Bridge, Oakland is not only close to San Francisco, but there's an endless amount of things to do, places to eat and no shortage of hipsters.
Temescal (pronounced Teh-mez-cal) is a hip, up-and-coming neighborhood with a mix of old culture and new developments. At the heart of the city is Telegraph Avenue — it's lined with cool restaurants of all ethnicities and flavors, coffee shops, yoga studios and boutiques.
Alameda offers locals great restaurants, shopping and entertainment. The historic Park Street area, known as the Downtown Alameda Business District, is home to attractions like the Historic Alameda Theatre and Complex and the High Scores Arcade.
Travel down Lincoln Avenue and you'll hit Webster Street, also known as the West Alameda Business District. This strip includes more hotels and other accommodations as well as the Pacific Pinball Museum.
Along Monarch Street are local wineries, breweries and spirits-based establishments.
Alameda is also home to companies including North Face and JanSport.
If you love the beach, look no further than Pacifica, a charming, sleepy town 20 miles south of San Francisco. The surf town sits on the Pacific Ocean between San Francisco and Half Moon Bay.
Hang out by the beach and surf, hike or fill up on your favorite cup of coffee at a local mom-and-pop cafe.
Pacifica is also a popular destination for mountain biking, with lots of trails lining the hillsides.
A balmy city within the San Francisco Bay area, San Leandro is known for its green space, wonderful food and fun neighborhood community.
The city became famous in the late 1800s and early 1900s for its cherries so it's no surprise the community continues to celebrate its heritage by hosting an annual Cherry Festival in June. It is also home to excellent libraries, 21 public parks and quiet tree-lined neighborhoods.
Walnut Creek is a quaint town that has a mix of suburban homes, lots of high-end shopping and restaurants with a warmer climate than its San Francisco counterpart.
It's family-friendly with lots of parks, great schools and those good old weekend farmer's markets. Catch the Art and Wine Festival at the start of the summer in June or enjoy live music, shopping and dining in downtown Walnut Creek.
Hayward is another affordable option and is just across the San Francisco Bay. It's the sixth-largest city in the Bay Area and even has a state school located in the city — Cal State East Bay (once known as Cal State Hayward).
Soak up some music, catch a performance, get a workout in or swim some laps at the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District. Channel your inner retro with a walk through Vintage Alley or go for a run around Lake Chabot.
The Hayward Japanese Gardens are near downtown Hayward and among the oldest Japanese gardens in California designed along traditional lines.
Easily accessible by the highway and from BART, Dublin has a thriving community and offers an abundance of shopping and restaurants. It's known as “Crossroads of the Bay Area" because it sits between two major highways, the 580 and the 680.
Go for a walk at nearby Iron Horse Regional Trail and quench your thirst at a local favorite taproom, Thirsty Bay Tap N' Pour.
Also named one of the best places to live in California and located in Contra Costa County, San Ramon is just a half-hour away from San Francisco.
Take a stroll down San Ramon's City Center and soak up a luxury movie experience at THE LOT, which features 10 screens.
Head out for a hike through Bishop Ranch Regional Open Space Preserve, a 444-acre regional park on a ridge top at the edge of San Ramon.
Yes, it's really pleasant to live in this picturesque town — it is known as one of the best places to live in California. Like Walnut Creek, the warmer climate and suburban atmosphere attract professionals and young families.
Situated in Alameda County and close to highways, Pleasanton is a quiet town that has plenty of community events, a local fairground and scenic recreational areas.
Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park, which sits on 9,000 acres of preserved natural land, is perfect for hikers, cyclists and equestrians. It also has Tree City USA designation, meaning it's part of a nationwide movement that supports their public trees.
Petaluma is further away from San Francisco from the other cities on this list, but there's no shortage of things to do and see here. If you love wine, you can visit the area's wineries (there are hundreds of them), stroll through Historic Downtown Petaluma, visit the redwoods and check out Point Reyes National Seashore.
While the nightlife isn't quite the same as San Francisco, there are weekend festivals, wine tastings and a thriving pub scene.
San Francisco has a lot to offer locals but if you're looking for similar amenities but without the high rent, all of these cities near San Francisco have it.