BERKELEY — The Bay Area’s brutal spikes in home prices have spurred more than half of its residents to dream of escaping from the expensive region, and the urge to flee is strongest among millennials, according to new poll results, released Monday night.
In July, the median price of a single-family home in the nine-county Bay Area was $804,000, up 10.1 percent from a year earlier. It’s a function of supply and demand: With available housing supply stuck at historically low levels and consumer demand remaining high, prices keep rising across the region. Bay Area rents also are rising beyond many people’s ability to keep up.
“It’s very difficult to find housing in Santa Clara County,” said Matt Daly, who, with his girlfriend, is seeking an apartment in Santa Clara County. “It’s pretty hard to find anything in this area for a reasonable price.”
The new Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies Poll determined that 65 percent of the Bay Area’s registered voters and 48 percent of voters in California describe the issue of housing affordability as an “extremely serious” problem.
“Housing is a huge problem in the Bay Area — that is 200 percent true,” said Bob Barksdale, a Lafayette resident who owns a home and has to battle constant traffic jams in the East Bay because skyrocketing home prices have forced so many people into lengthy, challenging commutes.
The poll also found that 51 percent of Bay Area residents have considered moving out of the nine-county region, compared with 56 percent statewide who have considered relocating.
“These are very dramatic findings,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Berkeley IGS Poll. “In every region of California, the rising cost of housing has crept into the consciousness of voters.”
Daly, owner of San Jose-based Water Earth Landscape Design, moved with his girlfriend to the Bay Area because of employment opportunities here. But the couple has encountered sticker shock regarding the region’s housing costs.
“We moved from Virginia, and we were renting a 2,500-square-foot house with an even bigger backyard for under $1,500,” Daly said. “We will be lucky to get a two-bedroom apartment for under $2,500 in Silicon Valley.”
Kim Richman and her husband Johnny want to flee the Bay Area and move to Stephenville, Texas, a town west of Dallas. For now, however, they are scrambling to find a place to live that won’t cost them an arm and a leg.
“We are so unhappy here in the Bay Area because the housing is so expensive,” Richman said. “You can’t make a living here anymore. You need two or three jobs to cover the cost of living.”
In Texas, Richman said, she and her husband can expect to pay a mortgage of $500 a month for a house they would own, compared with the $1,500 a month they are paying to rent one of three rooms in a San Jose house they share with others.
“We want to be out of the Bay Area, the sooner the better,” Richman said. “We’d like to be out of here by the end of this year, but hopefully, at the latest, by the spring of next year.”
Thomas Norman and his wife Patricia exited the Bay Area near the end of August and relocated to Colorado. Although the cost of housing wasn’t directly a factor, traffic and the general cost of living were problems.
“Bay Area driving and traffic became much more difficult, it was taking much longer to get to work; and crime has been going up, even in our neighborhood in San Francisco, which used to be a very peaceful area,” Norman said.
Young people, such as millennials, are more likely than older people to be seeking an escape from the region. The poll found that 65 percent of people aged 18 through 29 have considered a move out of their region of the state, while just 38 percent of people aged 65 or older had thought about leaving. About 69 percent of people aged 30 through 39 had considered a move out of their area, the survey determined.
The poll sampled 1,200 registered California voters from late August through early September.
“The only folks who are cheering our region’s astronomical housing costs are the folks at U-Haul who are helping residents move right out of the state,” said Carl Guardino, president of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. “But this problem is eminently fixable with political courage. People with jobs need a place to go home to sleep at night.”