News

New poll finds 71 percent of Bay Area residents think quality of life has declined

Majority of respondents say the region is on the 'wrong track' and are planning to leave the region soon

High housing costs are forcing many residents to consider leaving the Bay Area. Courtesy Joint Venture Silicon Valley.

Bay Area residents grappling with the high cost of living, growing homelessness and high taxes say the quality of life has sunk in recent years, with a record number looking to leave the region altogether.

The grim appraisal, captured in a survey by Joint Venture Silicon Valley in partnership with Bay Area News Group, shows a stark decline in public perception of the Bay Area since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year. Polling of residents across five counties, including Santa Clara and San Mateo, found 56% of respondents are likely to leave in the next few years, up from 47% in 2020 prior to the pandemic.

The results show residents are frustrated with the perennial problems of Silicon Valley -- high housing costs, more people living on the street and consternation over droughts and wildfires -- but that COVID-19 may have tipped people over the edge, according to Russell Hancock, Joint Venture's president and CEO.

"When you toss a highly infectious disease into the mix you get a smothering amount of anxiety," Hancock said.

The survey, which was conducted late last month, found that 71% of those who responded felt the quality of life in the Bay Area is worse now than it was five years ago. The opinion was felt strongest among people ages 50 to 64 and those making a household income between $100,000 and $250,000. The perception also changes based on political affiliation, with 92% of those leaning Republican believing that quality of life has declined.

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Top of mind for Bay Area residents is the high cost of housing, which 76% of respondents described as an "extremely serious" problem, followed by general cost of living at 68%, homelessness at 66% and the increasing frequency of wildfires and droughts at 60%.

Among those seeking to leave the Bay Area, the vast majority (84%) cited the high overall cost of living as a major reason, followed by housing costs (77%), quality of life (62%) and the amount of taxes (58%).

Though the survey draws a correlation between the pandemic and rising levels of anxiety and discontent, 66% of those polled said they approved of how their employer responded to the pandemic. And among those working from home, nearly all -- 95% -- say they want to continue working remotely at least some of the time. Only about one in three respondents (34%) want to continue to work from home all the time and slightly more than a third (36%) want to work from home "most" of the time.

A large number of Silicon Valley employers, including tech giants like Google and Apple, have delayed a full return to the office until January 2022, leaving many employees to work from home for nearly two years. During the extended hiatus, the survey found 44% of those working remotely have felt their work-life balance has improved. That number sinks to just 20% among those who have had to continue working in person during COVID-19.

The abrupt switch to telecommuting has been a mixed bag. Respondents say they are saving time normally spent sitting in gridlock traffic, and have far more flexibility in taking care of children and other family responsibilities during the day. On the other hand, the report by Joint Venture makes clear that it's taken a psychological toll, and that the majority of those working from home feel more isolated and alone than prior to the pandemic.

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"Across income levels and most demographic categories, majorities of residents feel more stressed, say their families are more stressed, feel that it has become harder to stay connected with family and friends, and are more worried and uncertain about the future," according to the report.

Only a sliver of respondents (5%) said they wanted to make a full return to in-person work once the COVID-19 public health and employer restrictions have been lifted.

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New poll finds 71 percent of Bay Area residents think quality of life has declined

Majority of respondents say the region is on the 'wrong track' and are planning to leave the region soon

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Mon, Oct 11, 2021, 1:32 pm

Bay Area residents grappling with the high cost of living, growing homelessness and high taxes say the quality of life has sunk in recent years, with a record number looking to leave the region altogether.

The grim appraisal, captured in a survey by Joint Venture Silicon Valley in partnership with Bay Area News Group, shows a stark decline in public perception of the Bay Area since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year. Polling of residents across five counties, including Santa Clara and San Mateo, found 56% of respondents are likely to leave in the next few years, up from 47% in 2020 prior to the pandemic.

The results show residents are frustrated with the perennial problems of Silicon Valley -- high housing costs, more people living on the street and consternation over droughts and wildfires -- but that COVID-19 may have tipped people over the edge, according to Russell Hancock, Joint Venture's president and CEO.

"When you toss a highly infectious disease into the mix you get a smothering amount of anxiety," Hancock said.

The survey, which was conducted late last month, found that 71% of those who responded felt the quality of life in the Bay Area is worse now than it was five years ago. The opinion was felt strongest among people ages 50 to 64 and those making a household income between $100,000 and $250,000. The perception also changes based on political affiliation, with 92% of those leaning Republican believing that quality of life has declined.

Top of mind for Bay Area residents is the high cost of housing, which 76% of respondents described as an "extremely serious" problem, followed by general cost of living at 68%, homelessness at 66% and the increasing frequency of wildfires and droughts at 60%.

Among those seeking to leave the Bay Area, the vast majority (84%) cited the high overall cost of living as a major reason, followed by housing costs (77%), quality of life (62%) and the amount of taxes (58%).

Though the survey draws a correlation between the pandemic and rising levels of anxiety and discontent, 66% of those polled said they approved of how their employer responded to the pandemic. And among those working from home, nearly all -- 95% -- say they want to continue working remotely at least some of the time. Only about one in three respondents (34%) want to continue to work from home all the time and slightly more than a third (36%) want to work from home "most" of the time.

A large number of Silicon Valley employers, including tech giants like Google and Apple, have delayed a full return to the office until January 2022, leaving many employees to work from home for nearly two years. During the extended hiatus, the survey found 44% of those working remotely have felt their work-life balance has improved. That number sinks to just 20% among those who have had to continue working in person during COVID-19.

The abrupt switch to telecommuting has been a mixed bag. Respondents say they are saving time normally spent sitting in gridlock traffic, and have far more flexibility in taking care of children and other family responsibilities during the day. On the other hand, the report by Joint Venture makes clear that it's taken a psychological toll, and that the majority of those working from home feel more isolated and alone than prior to the pandemic.

"Across income levels and most demographic categories, majorities of residents feel more stressed, say their families are more stressed, feel that it has become harder to stay connected with family and friends, and are more worried and uncertain about the future," according to the report.

Only a sliver of respondents (5%) said they wanted to make a full return to in-person work once the COVID-19 public health and employer restrictions have been lifted.

Comments

SP Phil
Registered user
Shoreline West
on Oct 11, 2021 at 2:21 pm
SP Phil, Shoreline West
Registered user
on Oct 11, 2021 at 2:21 pm

Many/most Repuicans are watching Fox News and following websites that constantly tell them that "Libs" and Democrats are terrible people who want to repress them. Gavin Newsom is characterized as tyrannical in imposing COVID restrictions, etc. No wonder they want to leave. Which is not all bad....


Seth Neumann
Registered user
Waverly Park
on Oct 11, 2021 at 2:42 pm
Seth Neumann, Waverly Park
Registered user
on Oct 11, 2021 at 2:42 pm

This is the market speaking: it's gotten way too expensive for most people to live here. They should respond to market signals and consider moving elsewhere. That will cause demand to for Bay Area housing to drop and prices will come down until a balance is achieved. We should encourage major employers to hire elsewhere, certainly offering near-Bay-Area wages in more affordable places (Austin, Colorado Spring, Boise, Bozeman etc etc) should result in ample candidates while exporting our higher home costs to those attractive locations and displacing the locals. We have a deficit of .5M housing units in the bay area, and it seems to cost us $1M to build even BMR units in Mountain View, so it's really unlikely that we can fund that many units even at "for sale, market rates" so we've got to work on reducing demand. The survey says people want "quality of life" which is another way of saying "single family homes in nice neighborhoods." Maybe SB9 will degrade QoL enough to depress demand but that's going to take a long time.


SP Phil
Registered user
Shoreline West
on Oct 11, 2021 at 5:59 pm
SP Phil, Shoreline West
Registered user
on Oct 11, 2021 at 5:59 pm

The article states that "the opinion was felt strongest among people ages 50 to 64 and those making a household income between $100,000 and $250,000."
IF these people move out, that could create more jobs and even housing for the younger workers who choose to be here.
My perception is that many discontented people in this age group (50-64) have raised their children, no longer count on our public schools, and are empty-nesters who have the flexibility to move on.


LongResident
Registered user
another community
on Oct 13, 2021 at 9:57 pm
LongResident, another community
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2021 at 9:57 pm

It's almost pointless to make a survey like this.

No matter what people say about their responses, it's heavily a response to situations which were beyond anyone's control, and also to imagined future developments after the pandemic eases.

People who actually sell homes and depart will also be heavily motivated by the extreme appreciation in their homes over the past year. It's not just dread of high home values, but rather it's time to CASH IN. All of a sudden even recent purchasers from 2 years back qualify for income tax exclusion on $500K in appreciation that occurred over just 2 years. If they leave California the property tax on a new home will likely be less than they are paying on what they have here (unless they bought over 10 years ago, not the prevalent case.)

So are they going to answer the survey "Just as many people have already quit their jobs, the pandemic makes me feel like I'm ripe for change, and I can also pocket $500K in tax free profit if I leave the Bay Area. I am disgusted at the situation." or will it be portrayed as meaning something more?


tecsi
Registered user
Monta Loma
17 hours ago
tecsi, Monta Loma
Registered user
17 hours ago

So if 56% of our residents leave within a few (3) years, that should pretty much solve our housing challenges. Right?

Let's review the poll and the methodology before we report it. By reporting it, we are suggesting it is accurate.


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