Thanks for your 2nd post, and my appologies for not checking your profile to see that you live in GA.
Please check out http://www.zephyrsf.com/buy/explore-neighborhoods , click on the district # and then choose the nieghborhood. Each one has either a short video or photo slide show with a commentary. there are also many interesting little facts about the city on the site.
The areas your friends mentioned to you plus, Castro & Duboce Triangle could work for you.
Each are does have its own upside and downside. Your choices will be defined by how Urban you want to go and how much you can afford or want to trade off. Would you consider leased parking? Some areas or more difficult to to find parking with a building and you can pay quite a premium for this.
If you would like to talk in person to go over the areas please give me a call on my cell, you can find this at http://www.zephyrsf.com/san-francisco-agents/matthew-goulden . I promise you that if you call me I will not keep calling you back, but I would like the chance to listen to your needs and answer your questions in more detail. I would easily run out of the 5000 characters allowed here to answer you properly.