The Sunset Vs. The Richmond: Which Neighborhood Is The Best In SF's West?

The Sunset and the Richmond districts—San Francisco's westernmost neighborhoods—sprung up out of the same sand dunes beginning in the late 1800s. But today, they're anything but identical.

"The Avenues" are home to tens of thousands of San Franciscans who dine, eat and play in the suburban expanse between the hubbub of downtown and the waves of Ocean Beach; but, whereas both the Sunset and the Richmond have established themselves as diverse small towns in the middle of the big city, they have their differences. 

If you had to compare them, which neighborhood would come out on top?

To help you choose, we analyzed data from City-Data, Yelp and rental listing website Zumper to see how the two neighborhoods stack up.

Dining

One thing to point out: the two neighborhoods vary wildly in terms of size and population. The entire Sunset District, from Inner to Outer, is about 5.7 square miles and has a population of roughly 118,000 people. The Richmond District is less than half its size, at 2.7 square miles, and has a little more than half its population: 62,100.

Given that disparity, we controlled for population to see how many restaurants each neighborhood has per capita.

While both neighborhoods are known for their robust selection of restaurants, it turns out that the Richmond actually has many more places to dine per capita: about 14.5 eateries for every 10,000 neighbors, compared to 5.6 restaurants for every 10,000 Sunset residents.

That lopsidedness holds true for local brunch spots as well. There are 2.6 restaurants in Yelp's "Breakfast & Brunch" category for every 10,000 Richmond residents, compared to about 0.9 for every 10,000 Sunset neighbors. (In the Richmond, B Star Bar is the top-rated brunch spot on Yelp; in the Sunset, it's Crepevine Restaurant.)

But if you're looking to eat cheaply, you're better off going to the Sunset.

Compared to the Richmond, it has a higher percentage of restaurants in Yelp's $ category (indicating a per-person price tag of $10 or less), at 54 percent. Only about 40 percent of the Richmond's restaurants are $10 or less; its biggest category is $$ ($11-30) restaurants, which comprise approximately 60 percent of its food scene. 

Interestingly, neither the Richmond nor the Sunset has a single restaurant in Yelp's two priciest categories, $$$ ($31-60) or $$$$ ($61 or more). By comparison, 10 percent of Marina restaurants and 6.6 percent of Mission restaurants fall into the $$$ or $$$$ categories.

Update, 11:12am: Due to an error in our data, we incorrectly determined that the Richmond and Sunset do not have any $$$ ($31-60) or $$$$ ($61 or more) restaurants. In fact, 2.7 percent of the Richmond and 1 percent of the Sunset's restaurants are in the $$$ category. 0.8 percent of the Richmond's restaurants are in the $$$$ category; the Sunset has none. The graph above has been updated; thanks to tipster Floyd for catching the error.

Businesses

There's more to the avenues than just cheap eats, and many businesses call the Sunset and Richmond home.  But when it comes to commerce on either side of Golden Gate Park, what business types are most prevalent?

Hair and general dentistry establishments are the most common in both neighborhoods, coming in at number one and two, respectively.  However, in the Sunset, there's an abundance of child care centers and preschools, while the Richmond is big on massage, acupuncture and skincare.

Top 5 Yelp Business Categories:

Sunset

  1. Hair (73)
  2. General Dentistry (68)
  3. Child Care (53)
  4. Preschools (42)
  5. Physicians (41)

Richmond

  1. Hair (76)
  2. General Dentistry (60)
  3. Massage (48)
  4. Acupuncture (46)
  5. Coffee/Skincare (tied — 41)

Rent

Given their residential, suburban lifestyle, both the Sunset and the Richmond are coveted places to live in San Francisco, especially by families with children. But which one is more expensive?

Well, that depends on how many bedrooms you need. According to Zumper, it's much cheaper to rent a studio apartment in the Sunset ($1,850 per month) than it is to rent a studio in the Richmond ($2,295 per month). However, the median monthly rents for one-bedrooms in the Richmond and the Sunset are identical: $2,800 per month.

You'll pay about $172 more per month for a two-bedroom place in the Richmond than you would in the Sunset ($3,795 versus $3,623). That divide narrows for three-bedroom homes, which have a median monthly rent of $5,250 in the Richmond and $5,200 in the Sunset.

If you're on the hunt for a bargain, the cheapest apartment currently renting in the Sunset is a studio on 14th Avenue, which is going for $1,800. Pets aren't allowed, but parking is available. The unit, which is just steps away from Golden Gate Park, boasts a WalkScore of 91.

By comparison, the cheapest studio apartment currently renting in the Richmond, at Cabrillo Street and 37th Avenue, will cost you a bit less—$1,750 per month. It's 640 square feet, and water and trash are included in the rent.

If money is no object, the most expensive Sunset rental listed on Zumper is at Lomita Avenue and 16th, which is renting for $6,995 per month. For that price, you'll get three bedrooms and two bathrooms, plus views of downtown, the Pacific Ocean and Golden Gate Bridge. There's also a newly constructed deck, a two car garage (plus driveway parking) and in-unit laundry.

The Richmond's most expensive rental, at a whopping $12,400 per month, is a five-bedroom Edwardian house located at 12th Avenue and California Street. For that price, renters will get three-and-a-half bathrooms, a one-car garage and an attic, not to mention a landscaped backyard with a slate patio, garden and an irrigation system.

Which neighborhood do you think is the best of San Francisco's west—Sunset or Richmond?

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The sunset vs the richmond which neighborhood is the best in sf s west