Between January and February 2017 the Bay Area Council sent out its annual poll…a web survey of Registered Voters in the 9 county San Francisco Bay Area and the results shouldn’t surprise anyone. More people want to leave the Bay Area than ever before. Citing skyrocketing housing costs and just about the worst traffic ever, citizens are preparing to move to greener pastures, if they can.
In 2014 about 25% of respondents said that traffic was worse and traveling was more difficult than the previous year. In 2015 about 37% responded the same way…and it keeps climbing to 2017 where 60% of respondents claimed that traffic was worse and traveling was nearly impossible.
The study also found that over 40% of young adults are considering leaving for the very same reasons – housing affordability and the worst traffic congestion in the history of the Bay. The long-held belief that Millennials would prefer living in high-rise condos and raise their families in them is fast becoming a twenty-first century urban myth. Few see the Jetsons’ lifestyle as appealing as the 60’s cartoon series was made out to be.
In fact, some of the research suggests that Millennials want to form households like their parents did with nice homes on suburban lots close to work or public transportation. If Millennials do begin departing for the greener pastures like North Carolina, Texas, Washington State or Nevada, this could destabilize the job market in the Bay Area and cause high-tech companies to move as well.
Of the 1,000 people polled, 55% were anxious about the general cost of living in the Bay Area while 41% cited housing as their biggest concern and 39% cited traffic as the biggest headache.
The gap has also narrowed among those who say they will leave and those who say they are unlikely to leave. In 2016 those who stated they were likely to leave were 33% of the respondents and 54% said they were unlikely to leave. In 2017 those numbers dramatically changed to 40% who were likely to leave while those who were unlikely to leave went down to 46%. Almost 1 out of 2 respondents indicated they were ready to leave the bay area for greener, more affordable and less traveled pastures.
The key challenge for places like the Bay Area is to attract Millennials who want to live and work there in the future. Without a better quality of life and affordable housing opportunities, high-paying jobs will not be enough to draw a young work force let alone a place where the service sector can live close to their work and be of assistance to the high wage earning Millennials.
The Bay Area is at a crossroads and there is bumper-to-bumper traffic. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, communities who have solved some of the problems associated with density, affordable housing and natural beauty are just waiting for their chance to be the next Millennial destination.