Blog Series: My San Francisco | Pacific Heights



We moved in May 2012 from Chicago to Charleston, SC, immediately after we got married.  We knew we weren’t in the jobs or city that was right for us, so we lived out of one suitcase, waiting for our next steps. Unexpectedly, Jon was offered a job in a city we dreamed of living in, San Francisco. We packed our car and headed west.

We lived on the Peninsula with Courtney’s cousins, which provided time for us to figure out where to live in the area. Drawn to cities, we knew early on that we’d end up in the city, even though we both work on the Peninsula. During this time, Courtney would drop Jon off at work, and drive around San Francisco in search of an apartment. After dealing with sticker shock, 25+ open houses, and everyone trying to convince us that “my neighborhood’s the best!” we felt even more confused about where to land. We quickly realized that with the differences in the neighborhoods, the bottom line was that San Franciscan’s love their city, and even more so, they love their neighborhood. Although a stressful process that brought us as far as Bernal Heights to the Dogpatch to Pacific Heights, we were confident that once we found our neighborhood, we’d fall in love with it.

Turns out, we were right.


What we love about pacific heights after living in different cities is the diversity of the neighborhood.   We have felt a contrast with the “rent-control” here and how that shapes the city and our neighborhood. Rather than yearly leases turning over renters to search for better deals in better areas, San Franciscans sink their roots into their tiny apartments, and stay for good. Our building is full of folks who have lived there for 20+ years. Our next door neighbor has lived there since ’87, and loves to tell us about the changes our neighborhood has seen.

We love the Jazz history of Fillmore Street, the nearby Kabuki theater in Japantown, and the quick walk “over the hill” to the water. We love our nearby park, Atla Plaza, with views that stretch out over the city and atop the bay. On Fridays, we park our car after work, and leave it there til Monday morning; wandering the city on foot or catching a bus to run an errand. We love the gritty side of Divisadero street, where our favorite burrito place sits a few blocks from our token Banh Mi sandwich shop on Fillmore. We’ve loved exploring the hidden trails throughout the Presidio, and are amazed at how quickly you forget you’re in the middle of the city.


Something we’ve learned in this city is the value of being stretched, uncomfortable, and challenged. Those times are hard, but they have grown our dependance on Christ and our faith in the Gospel. Our first year of marriage has taught us to hold lightly to our plans and tightly to the Gospel.

In our neighborhood we have learned that income, demographic and social class don’t dictate our happiness and the fulfillment we feel in life. This has reminded us that we are ALL hopelessly lost without Christ, regardless of how it appears.

Most importantly, we have learned that people here are a bunch of wimps when it comes to “cold” weather in this city!


Our vision and prayer for Pacific Heights is that those who live here will not be forgotten by the church.   The gospel reminds us that we are all hurting and broken, in need of grace.  It’s been interesting to get looks or comments when we mention we live in Pacific Heights. We have felt the need to explain our way out of the stereotype that comes with our neighborhood or to argue that we don’t live in “that” part. To do this would only add to the “us” and “them” divide that already exists in this city. We pray that the gospel would continue to bring unity in our neighborhood and that God would build his church in this community.

More broadly, we pray that the Redemption family can be neighbors in our city and not just consumers. We pray that neighborhood lines are blurred, and the name of Jesus would be proclaimed for God’s glory and for the good of our city.