Vast majority think life in Bay Area getting worse, want to leave, poll finds

A new one poll paints a stark picture of life in the Bay Area and its residents ’dissatisfaction.

Silicon Valley Joint Venture, in partnership with the Bay News Group, voted 1,610 registered voters in five Bay Area counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara.

A shocking 71% of respondents said the quality of life in the larger bay area is worse now compared to five years ago. Fifty-six percent of respondents said they are considering leaving in the next five years – including 53% of respondents who work in the technology sector.

Russell Hancock, President and CEO of Silicon Valley Joint Venture, said: “It’s cost of living, high housing costs. I think that’s the dominant thing. Housing housing is housing.” “… That drives almost all the results.”

Hancock said the 53% figure is the highest percentage of people who said they want to leave the Bay Area compared to previous polls held outside of Joint Venture.

Indeed, an overwhelming majority of respondents said that it’s high housing costs (77%) and the cost of living (84%) stimulates their desire to seek greener pastures. Homelessness, wildfires and droughts were also issues that respondents considered when considering decisions to leave the Bay Area.

Hancock writes in the introduction to the poll. “We have long been a region of great stress. Stunning housing prices, rising homelessness, a stark income divide and a host of sustainable challenges have had us on edge for some time.” “But when you throw a highly infectious disease into the mixture you get a stifling amount of anxiety.”

But as Hancock noted, these sentiments go beyond the pandemic and its challenges.

“We’re split (48% to 52%) on whether the Bay area is headed in the right direction,” he said.

The poll paints a disturbing picture of life in the Bay Area, but it’s not all doom and gloom. About 65% of respondents said “they feel a strong sense of belonging to the Bay Area” – even more so than they feel connected to their neighborhoods and the city. Many (66%) applauded their employers ’response to the pandemic and now feel differently about their work-life balance.

As Hancock pointed out at the briefing, polls “tell us how people are thinking. And that’s worth knowing.”

“Perception,” he added, “is also a form of reality.”

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