(The Center Square) – More than half of the residents living in the San Francisco Bay Area say they are considering moving out permanently within the next few years, according to a new poll conducted by Joint Venture Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies.
Since 1995, the think tank has been publishing baseline metrics in the Silicon Valley Index. The poll, the first the institute has conducted, was produced in partnership with the Bay Area News Group and Change Research.
The survey of voters in five Bay Area counties found that 56% of respondents said they were likely to leave the region within “the next few years,” with 44% saying they were unlikely to leave; 14% said they wanted to move but couldn’t.
The underlying problem: cost of living and unaffordable housing. The majority – 84% – say the cost of living is the main reason for wanting to move; 77% specifically cite high housing costs; 62% cite quality of life issues, with 71% saying the quality of life is worse now than it was five years ago.
“The sentiment is shared across the board – by age, by income, by race and ethnicity, by homeownership, by educational attainment,” the survey found.
“Staggering housing prices, rising homelessness, a stark income divide and a host of sustainability challenges have had us on edge for some time,” Russell Hancock, president of the Institute for Regional Studies, said in the introduction to the 34-page report. “But when you toss a highly infectious disease into the mix, you get a smothering amount of anxiety: 60 percent of respondents say their lives have become more stressful… 52 percent feel more isolated and alone, 66 percent are genuinely worried about the future.
“It’s important to note these feelings go beyond the pandemic itself,” he said. “High percentages of us are concerned about wildfires, drought and political polarization. 71 percent feel that the quality of life in Silicon Valley has grown worse over the past five years.”
The pressures to leave is greater among residents who don’t own property or have lower educational levels. The majority of renters, 63%, say they are likely to leave, with 90% citing the cost of living and housing as a reason why.
Sixty-two percent of respondents with less than a bachelor’s degree are more likely to leave, and 57% of households earning less than $250,000 a year say they are likely to move.
Embold Research conducted the poll between Sept. 21 and 26, surveying 1,610 registered voters from Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda, San Francisco and Contra Costa counties. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent.