People want to leave the San Francisco Bay Area, claims every survey

It happened again.

The Silicon Valley Leadership Group and Bay Area News Group released the results of a new survey of Bay Area voters this week. Among its findings: many residents say they want to leave the area in the near future.

This corresponds to roughly several years of similar public polling results, which detail discontent among the broad Bay Area public.

In fact, results like this have become so common since the start of the second tech boom and the beginning of the housing crisis that it has almost achieved meme-like levels, with each new survey bringing a distinct sense of deja vu.

To help keep it all straight, here’s what polling numbers published since 2018 say:

  • In the latest outing, a poll of 1,568 registered voters in San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, and San Mateo counties conducted by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group for Bay Area News Group found that 44 percent of those asked say they plan to leave the region, “but only six percent say they have definite plans to leave in 2019.” Of those polled, 60 percent cited housing costs as the reason most likely to drive them away, with “cost of living overall” the second most likely rationale at 57 percent.
  • Online real estate company Redfin posts quarterly “migration reports” every few months, estimating how many of its users are shopping for homes in other cities and ranking which metros have the highest likely “outflow.” Ever since Redfin began this tally, San Francisco (a term Redfin applies to the Bay Area as a whole) has ranked in the No. 1 spot, most recently with 23.8 percent of SF users browsing out-of-town locales. The most likely destination is Sacramento—also a persistent trend for years. But as Curbed SF noted before, it’s impossible to tell how many SF Redfin users actually take the plunge, go into escrow, and leave.
  • In February, Chicago-based public relations firm Edelman released its annual Trust Barometer for California, which surveyed 1,500 California residents, including 500 from the Bay Area. Of those asked, 53 percent of Californians say they are considering leaving the state, including 50 percent of Bay Area residents. Tellingly, among Bay Area millennials, the total was 66 percent. For residents with children (under 18 years of age), the figure was 63 percent.
  • Also in February, regional think tank Joint Venture Silicon Valley released its annual Silicon Valley Index and found that “for the third year in a row, people are moving out of Silicon Valley nearly as quickly as they are moving in.”
  • In August of 2018, Washington DC-based non-profit the Public Religion Research Institute surveyed 3,300 Californians and found that 64 percent of residents statewide would advise out-of-towners to move to some other state. However, in a surprise bit of optimism, 55 percent of Bay Area residents said they would tell others to come to California for opportunities despite the gloomy attitudes of neighboring regions.
  • In June of last year, the Bay Area Council, a business-sponsored public policy advocacy group, released results of its annual survey of 1,000 Bay Area households, including 120 from SF. In those results, 46 percent of respondents said they were “likely to move out of the Bay Area in the next few years.” For the 2017 survey, that same figure was just 40 percent. One year prior, the number was 36 percent. The high cost of housing was the most commonly cited complaint about the region.
  • In February 2018, another Edelman poll found that 49 percent of 500 Bay Area residents questioned agreed with this statement: “I am considering moving away from California because of the high cost of living.”

And that’s just in the past year; polling stretching back through previous years shows a persistent trend toward pessimism, housing anxiety, and speculation about abandoning San Francisco, the Bay Area, and the entire state of California.

Despite denizens’ desires to vacate the area, San Francisco’s population continues to grow, although growth has slowed significantly in recent years.

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