If it's important to you to be near shopping & bars, then it's a great spot. My sister lived in the Haight for years, and absolutely loved it. Lower Haight puts you right at Golden Gate Park - which is amazing. Parts of upper Haight put you closer to bart and walkable to the Castro - also great. Downsides (which really depends on your perspective) are basically all the stuff that comes with a place like the Haight: sorta dirty, chaotic, bridge & tunnel on weekends, drunken merriment happening every day of the week.
If you wanted a mellower vibe, but still really close to Haight Street, you might want to consider Cole Valley. Just a few blocks away, but without the intensity. If you like the urban, all the time vibe, I agree North Beach is also a great place for you to check out.
SOMA is different -- loft living, and much lower concentration of nightlife, but easy to hop on bart. Nothing to sneeze at that you'd also have the Embarcadero & Bay right outside your window!... more