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  • Writer's pictureM2SF

The Ultimate Guide to Living in the Castro District

Updated: Nov 13, 2023



The Castro district is a vibrant and diverse neighborhood in San Francisco that has a rich history and strong sense of community. There are several reasons why someone might want to live in the Castro district:


LGBTQ+ Community: The Castro district is known as the heart of San Francisco's LGBTQ+ community, and it is a place where people of all sexual orientations and gender identities can feel welcome and supported. For people who identify as LGBTQ+, living in the Castro can provide a sense of belonging and connection to a community that shares their values and experiences.


Cultural and Entertainment Options: The Castro district is home to a variety of cultural and entertainment options, including independent theaters, art galleries, live music venues, and restaurants. The neighborhood is also known for its annual events, such as the Castro Street Fair and the San Francisco LGBTQ+ Pride Parade.


Convenient Location: The Castro district is centrally located in San Francisco, with easy access to public transportation and major freeways. It is also close to other popular neighborhoods, such as the Mission, Haight-Ashbury, and Noe Valley.


Transportation:

The Castro is well-served by public transportation, with several MUNI bus and streetcar lines running through the neighborhood. The Castro MUNI station also provides access to the underground MUNI Metro.


In terms of demographics, the Castro district is one of the more diverse neighborhoods in San Francisco, with a mix of different ages, ethnicities, and income levels. According to the 2010 Census, the median age in the Castro was 41, which is slightly higher than the overall median age for San Francisco. In terms of ethnicity, the Castro is predominantly white, but it also has significant populations of Asian, Latino, and African American residents.


In terms of income, the Castro district has a wide range of incomes. According to the 2019 American Community Survey, the median household income in the Castro was $121,000, which is higher than the median household income for San Francisco as a whole.


Now that we've covered some high-level attributes, here's everything you need to know about living in the Castro, including housing, schools, basic services and amenities, and must-know annual events:


Housing: buying a home or renting in the castro district

The Castro has a mix of Victorian and Edwardian homes, apartments, and condos. Housing prices in the area are generally higher than the San Francisco average of around $1.5 million, with the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment being around $3,500 per month. There are a few apartment complexes in the area but there are mostly homes that have been converted to condos. Residential parking can be easier on certain streets than others but it's not impossible like in other neighborhoods.


Schools in the Castro District

The Castro neighborhood in San Francisco has a few school options for families with children. Here are some of the notable ones:


Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy: Named after the famous civil rights leader and gay rights activist Harvey Milk, this public K-5 elementary school is located in the heart of the Castro. The school has a diverse student body and offers programs such as music, art, and physical education.


Mission Preparatory School: A public charter school serving grades K-8, Mission Prep is located just a few blocks away from the Castro. The school focuses on rigorous academics, character development, and social-emotional learning.


Creative Arts Charter School: This public K-8 school is located in the neighboring Duboce Triangle neighborhood, just a short distance from the Castro. The school emphasizes arts education and project-based learning.


Gateway Middle School: Located in the nearby Fillmore district, Gateway is a public charter school serving grades 6-8. The school offers a rigorous academic program with a focus on critical thinking and problem-solving.


In addition to these schools, there are also several private schools in the surrounding areas that families may consider.


Overall, families living in the Castro have a range of options when it comes to their children's education, from public to charter to private schools.


Basic services and amenities in the castro

Laundromat:

The Castro has several laundromats, including Castro Village Laundry and Castro Laundry. Both offer wash and fold services and are open seven days a week.


Post office:

The Castro Station Post Office is located at 4304 18th St. It is open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm and on Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm.


Shipping stores:

The Castro has several shipping stores, including The UPS Store, FedEx Office Print & Ship Center, and Postal Annex. All offer shipping, printing, and mailbox services.


Coffee shops:

The Castro has a great selection of coffee shops, including:


Philz Coffee: This popular coffee chain is known for its customized pour-over coffee.

Spike's Coffee & Teas: This cozy coffee shop serves espresso, tea, and pastries.

Cafe Flore: This cafe is known for its outdoor seating and brunch menu.

Reveille Coffee: This upscale coffee shop offers espresso, pastries, and light fare.

Starbucks: You know this one.


The Castro has a few grocery stores, including:


Mollie Stone's: This upscale grocery store offers a wide selection of organic produce, meats, and cheeses.

Safeway: This supermarket chain offers a range of groceries, including a deli, bakery, and pharmacy.

Whole Foods Market: This natural and organic grocery store is known for its high-quality produce and prepared foods.




Popular spots and events in the Castro

Nightlife:

The Castro is known for its lively nightlife, with several bars, clubs, and theaters in the area. Some popular spots include:


The Cafe: This long-standing bar and club is known for its drag shows and dance parties.

The Midnight Sun: This friendly neighborhood bar has a laid-back vibe and offers a daily happy hour.


Castro Theatre: This historic theater screens classic and independent films, as well as hosts live events and concerts.


The Castro is known for its vibrant and diverse community, and it hosts several popular annual events throughout the year. Here are a few notable events:


San Francisco Pride: The Castro is the epicenter of San Francisco's annual Pride celebration, which takes place over a weekend in late June. The festivities include a massive parade down Market Street, a two-day festival in Civic Center Plaza, and dozens of smaller events throughout the city.


Folsom Street Fair: One of the largest fetish events in the world, the Folsom Street Fair takes place annually in September and attracts thousands of people to the Castro. The event features live music, performance art, and a massive street fair with vendors selling leather goods, BDSM gear, and other adult toys.


Hunky Jesus Contest: Held annually on Easter Sunday in Dolores Park, the Hunky Jesus Contest is a beloved tradition in the Castro. Participants compete in categories such as Best Abs, Best Buns, and Best Overall Jesus, all while dressed in their Sunday best.


Castro Street Fair: Held in early October, the Castro Street Fair is a celebration of the neighborhood's culture and community. The event features live music, food and drink vendors, and a variety of performances and activities for all ages.


Overall, the Castro district is a dynamic and welcoming neighborhood with a strong sense of community and a diverse population. For people who value LGBTQ+ rights and culture, convenient location, and a range of entertainment options, living in the Castro can be a great choice.

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