It’s Official: Bernal Heights Is the Hottest Neighborhood in America



Is there a word for the emotion that combines a deep sense of pride with a profound sense of ambivalence? In English? Or, even better (for dramatic effect), in German? Because, dear Citizens of Bernalwood, that’s the feeling we suspect many Bernalese will experience upon reading the following:

The online real estate site Redfin just released their list of the Hottest Neighborhoods of 2014, and Bernal Heights occupies the top slot on the list.


Number One.


In the United States.

Here’s what they have to say about us:

Bernal Heights has “It”. It has the small town feel while still being in San Francisco. You can feel as though you’re separated from the craziness of the city when you get home, yet are so close if you desire a night on the town. I think Bernal Heights homebuyers are attracted to all the parks that are available, access to Cortland street shops and restaurants, and the strong sense of community. Bernal also offers easy access to the 101 and 280 for those who work in the South Bay or travel a lot. 2013 brought a competitive market for all of SF, and especially for Bernal Heights. Nearly every offer I wrote in Bernal Heights in 2013 faced competing bids. People who buy in Bernal tend to see it as somewhere to put down roots and build a life rather than as a temporary place to live.

All that sounds about right. In an email to Bernalwood, Redfin’s Cory Ramsey explained how Bernal ended up on top:

Redfin based the rankings on the places that are trending among the millions of homebuyers searching on leading into the new year. Common features shared by the hottest neighborhoods include highly rated schools, short commutes and affordable prices. We also collected Redfin agents’ insights into which neighborhoods have seen the biggest growth in popularity among today’s homebuyers. Redfin created a Top 10 list for the country, looking at 21 top metro areas, and also broke down the top 5 neighborhoods for each city. Bernal Heights was the #1 overall.

Did you follow that? Neither did we.

Anyhow, Housingwire’s ReWired blog writes:

Congratulations, residents of “Bernal Heights North Slope” in San Francisco. You’re the hottest neighborhood of 2014, according to real estate website Redfin.

That’s the good news.

The bad news: Redfin is calling you and other communities securing spots on the “Hottest Neighborhoods of 2014” list the ‘Susan Luccis of real estate’.

Like the famous soap star, who spent years being snubbed by the Emmys before finally winning her award, Bernal Heights along with No. 2 ranked Eagle Rock (in Los Angeles) remains a hidden gem.

But no longer will these communities live on without the world knowing how great they are.

Hmm. Not really relating to that Susan Luccis metaphor, though we like the idea of Bernal winning an Emmy.

So there you go. Since we’re now officially the Hottest Neighborhood in America, let’s all take about 30 seconds to pat ourselves on the back before we begin gnashing our teeth over home prices, gentrification, and the enviable pitfalls of nationwide fame.

51 thoughts on “It’s Official: Bernal Heights Is the Hottest Neighborhood in America

  1. My dear cousin (RIP) on the Peralta side of the hill was told she was “crazy” for moving to the wilds of Bernal back in the late 60’s. This was from her neighbors in the Richmond part of town that saw 3 days of sun a year.

    Her explanation for her retreat to Bernal was that folks weren’t stuck in front of their TV’s and that it was an active, vibrant and diverse neighborhood.



      • I say not joking. All you folks in Bernal getting in your cars to drive across town should park it and check out J. Serra. Just sayin’!

      • My kids aren’t school age – but I toured J. Serra anyways out of curiosity (bc I am a former teacher). I have to say I was impressed. While it is certainly dealing with lack of funding, a relatively transient population, over-populated classrooms – among other issues that many urban schools face – what I saw was engaged students and teachers, organized and inviting classrooms, a strong principal as their leader and active parents. One thing that I noticed was that it was in need of some help in the library (maybe an area where we Bernalites can help). Having taught in one of the rare highly performing Chicago Public Schools, I can attest to the fact that engaged and supported teachers, a strong principal AND involved parents can help schools realize and achieve their potential. It’s absolutely worth checking out and watching their progress!

  2. North Slope? What happened to the rest of us on the south, east and west of Bernalwood? If you love on the north slope of Bernalwood it’s quite a schlep to Cortland and back. Todd, can you get them to include the whole community?

  3. hi, Mom –

    I remember sitting on the floor at our Stanyan St apartment, telling you guys about the house we were thinking of buying. Dad asked “Is the neighborhood going down or going up?” I sort of gulped, realized that it couldn’t go down much farther, and said “It’s going up!” And so it did. It’s crazy.

    Your card was sweet and very funny. How did I get to be Itlaian? Perhaps a mishap at the hospital, where there were lots of Itlaians. But then I look very much like you and a lot like Dad……..hmmm. Maybe he got it at night school.

    love, Laura

  4. Ambivalence and skepticism about the ranking aside, I was disturbed to see the use of the Southern California reference to freeways “the 101” in Refin’s description of our neighborhood. I have been hearing this more frequently in general, actually. What’s the deal?

    • Seriously ! North slope, is like, all the way over there

      Using definite articles is appropriate grammar.

      Or should I have said “hella appropriate?”


    • As someone who grew up in SoCal, we would say, “Take the 405 Freeway” and the abbreviate that to “Take the 405”. But if we were talking about a highway, e.g. PCH, you’d say “Take Highway 1 down to…” or “Take 1 down to…”

      So if you’re used to calling a highway, you’ll say “Highway 101” or just “101”. But if you use term “Freeway”, you’ll usually say “the 101” (short for The 101 Freeway).

  5. Just so you folks now, it’s cool and fine that BH, at least for the moment on the interwebs, that it ranks as “hottest”. And you’re all so proud of that. Just remember, along with the hottest also comes higher housing prices and lack of “affordability”. I’m fine, in fact delirious with high housing prices since I live and own in Noe. But, that’s just my bias.

    But you can’t have hotness and low cost at the same time. Just to let ya know.

    • Humboldt Park is going through a similar gentrification process, though. I could be reading it wrong but I think the list is based on # of clicks per neighborhood and percentage of change(?) – unlike the list Forbes often puts out which are based on measuring crime, schools, etc… When I lived in Chicago it was not a particularly safe neighborhood (still isn’t as you point out) – but now its starting to see in influx of post-college kids, young families looking for single family homes within close proximity to a good park and contractors looking to flip. That might explain its popularity with clicks.

  6. Not surprising. Just this week they were filming “The Real Housewives of Bernal Heights” on Cortland Street.

  7. SER, good one. And it really IS where it’s at in terms of a hometown and the walking lifestyle scores. The north slope is so isolated from all the hot action on Cortland!

  8. I’m South-East side of hill / & North of cortland represent!
    let’s face it – the BH rocks all the way round

  9. WTG Bernal! When I moved here 8 years ago, Powhattan was still a dirt road. I remember telling my friends that “we’re moving to the country – they still have dirt roads!” My how things have changed!

    • Haha! That is precisely why my parents bought their home here. They loved their little piece of country, secretly nestled in the big city!

  10. I can’t ascribe much meaning to this list because there is no way in hell “Upper” Chevy Chase is a hot neighborhood for anyone in the DC metro (other than defense contractors).

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  12. What about us folks on the south, SOUTH, side, closer to the Farmer’s Market. I’m repping it hard across from the affordable housing community and loving it. Am I SoCo, or Farmer’s Market Adjacent? I just want to belong….

  13. When I moved Bernal Heights over 20 years ago, it was has hip as it was affordable. There was a living room jam session on Gates street featuring appearances from the “who’s who” of the latest Monterey Jazz festival. Neighbors who normally call the cops when they hear a drum set kicking would gather outside in lawn chairs and applaud. That was a fantastic experience. Congratulations Bernal Heights on reaching equity nirvana! As home values increase, the very soul that makes this neighborhood unique is evicted.

    • I know Bernal NoCo got a bit too cool for me too. So I rented my house out (for a staggering sum) and moved to guess where? Monterey! Loving it down here. Cool but in a very quiet sort way.

  14. For $1M you can do so much better than Bernal. As someone who has lived all over the US and the world this place isn’t bad but it’s not great. I mean – within 1/2 mile of Bernal you’ve got crap restaurants, crap grocery stores, you’re a 20+ minute walk (and 900 feet) from BART, getting into the city is a huge pain in the ass. Short of being Lance Armstrong or buying a $5K bike from New Wheel biking is out. I don’t know – this “finding” shows a serious lack of imagination.

      • I think I’d rather live close to the projects vs. being totally surrounded by hype and arrogance in Noe Valley. Better access to transportation too. Easy choice.

      • Right, Noemonkey, because having working-class or low-income neighbors is simply too horrible to imagine. Know why Bernal really rocks? Because there are fewer people like you here. By all means, stay in Noe Valley. Please.

  15. After 50 years of living in bernal, I now moving over to the east bay (never thought I say that) I remember when you would tell someone you lived in Bernal and they would say “Where’s that?”
    I’ve enjoyed every year I’ve been here. Had the best time growing up here, played all over the neighborhood (including the dirt roads). Loved going to the Capri Theater on Cortland – You should try to get it back. I’m going to miss my neighborhood, but looking forward to a new beginning.

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