I don’t know how expensive Albuquerque is, but SF is really pricey, unless you are willing to settle for a tiny little place in a sketcy neighborhood. Can you give us more of an idea of what sort of place you’d like to live in? Do you want an authentic Victorian, a sleek loft, a free-standing house, or just a basic bland apartment?
For example, if you want to live in a new or newish (last 10 years) high-rise or many unit building, SoMa (South of Market) is where you should be looking. There’s lots of places in SoMa that don’t have much character, but are somewhat affordable for a new space. Previously, my fiance lived in a 400 sq ft studio in a bland newish building and paid $1600/month. Most places in SoMa will start around that price for the same square footage.
I know the most about SoMa, because that’s where I live. It’s a very modern, industrial neighborhood, so if that’s your thing, cool. It’s quite safe, but more so in the lower numbers (below 6th) DON’T live anywhere near the Tenderloin because you’ll probably get stabbed.
South Beach is well, south of SoMa, and has a ton of new (in the last year) many-unit buildings. It’s really clean and quite inoffensive, near a lot of chain stuff like Starbucks and Safeway. Try looking for buildings owned by the “Avalon” company in SB and SoMa. They’re pretty bland, but reliable.
The Sunset might be a good option if you want a single-family home, it’s still technically the city but is right up on the coast. I don’t know about the prices, though.
Hayes Valley is pretty and full of authentic Victorians, but it’s quite expensive and not near any grocery stores, unless you like eating at cute clothing boutiques 🙂
The Mission is cheaper, but has some really, really bad neighborhoods. Alternately, a ton of hipsters.
Portrero Hill is a nice option, it feels a little like SoMa, and has some nice industrial living spaces if that’s your thing.
I don’t know anything about The Richmond, but I always find it depressing over there. More old buildings than anything else.
The Castro is expensive but has some great Victorians.
Forget about anything like The Marina, Cow Hollow, and Russian Hill. That’s where the uber-rich people live.
Cole Valley and The Haight have a lot of authentic old buildings, and is really close to Golden Gate Park. This may or may not be a bonus depending on your tolerance for burnouts and hippies.
Whoo, I think I covered most everything! Sorry for the super-long post, I just wanted to make sure I covered everything. As mentioned above, I know the most about SoMa and some of South Beach, so if you want to ask any questions, feel free to message me.
PS- Craigslist will be your best bet for finding someplace!