Survey Finds Nearly Half of San Francisco Bay Area Residents Want to Leave

The high cost of living, rising rental prices, and traffic congestion are the major factors persuading people to leave the area.

Bay Area

Around 40% of residents in the San Francisco Bay Area, a key part of Silicon Valley, may leave for less expensive cities over the next few years.

The combination of the high cost of living, rising rental prices, and traffic congestion is persuading people to leave the area, according to a poll conducted by the Bay Area Council.

Young people and those who spend the biggest share of their income on housing make up the bulk of the people considering leaving.

Cost of living was chosen most frequently (55%) as one of the top three problems, followed by traffic (41%), and housing (39%). Homelessness (30%) and poverty/income inequality (28%) also figured high on the set list of problems, according to the council.

The rising cost of living has long been an issue for Bay Area residents. Even in last year’s survey, 34% of respondents expressed their desire to leave. About 80,000 people flee the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward area annually, but 100,000 new residents replace them, according to the U.S. Census.

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The growing crowd of disgruntled millennials is worrying the Council: “Losing our youth is a very bad economic and social strategy,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council.

“But until we get serious about building the housing we need, we’re going to continue seeing our region drained of the young and diverse talent that has helped make the Bay Area an economic powerhouse.”

The high cost of living is already taking its toll on the local economy. The council expects the pace of annual job growth to drop to 86,000 this year from 142,000 in 2016.

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