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Survey claims half of Bay Area residents plan to leave California

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Expat plans even higher among Millennials and those with children

Black clouds over the Golden Gate bridge, with lupus flowers blossoming in the foreground. Photo by Victor Carreiro/Shutterstock

Although claims that San Francisco is hemorrhaging residents and that Silicon Valley is “over” are not all that they’re cracked up to be, Bay Area residents are increasingly likely to tell pollsters that they’re unhappy with the state of the state.

In February, the Chicago-based PR firm Edelman surveyed 1,500 Californians, including 500 Bay Area residents, to gauge their opinions about California and their level of trust in and satisfaction with the tech industry in particular.

The results reflected widespread disgruntlement, mistrust, and alienation:

  • The upbeat news is that 62 percent of Bay Area residents say they generally trust the tech industry, although that number shrinks to just 35 percent for social media companies. Some 60 percent say that tech is in general good for California, although only 38 percent report that they’ve personally benefited from it.
  • Despite the general trust, 63 percent in the Bay Area say they agree with the statement, “Tech companies make large profits while draining our local resources and straining our infrastructure,” and feel that tech should do more to resolve chronic regional problems.
  • Of those polled, 77 percent in the Bay Area say tech makes the housing crisis worse, and 76 percent say it exacerbates traffic.
  • On housing, 77 percent in Bay Area call housing crisis “very serious.” In the state at large, it’s 71 percent. Fifty-three percent cite the gap between rich and poor as a “very serious” problem as well, up from 49 percent statewide.
  • By contrast, only 37 percent of Bay Area residents complain that there are not enough well-paying jobs in their area, compared with 43 percent of folks in the rest of the state.
  • And the big shocker: Of the 500 Bay Area residents polled, 49 percent agree with the statement “I am considering moving away from California because of the high cost of living.” Statewide, 58 percent of Millennials and 65 percent of parents echoed the sentiment.

Of course, just because people say they’re thinking about leaving doesn’t mean they actually will, nor is it a given that Edelman’s results actually reflect the entire region.

But the fact that the number of disgruntled responses is up significantly year over year—eight points in general and seven points among Millennials—and the fact that every competing survey reflects similar disgruntlement suggests that widespread dissatisfaction is real and will translate into action increasingly more often.

On that note, the San Francisco Chronicle reported in February that the price of a U-Haul rental in San Francisco and surrounding counties has skyrocketed. Make of that what you will.