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Is There a Tech Worker ‘Exodus’ From the San Francisco Bay Area?

The New York Times reports on an “exodus” of tech workers from the San Francisco Bay Area, where “Rent was astronomical. Taxes were high. Your neighbors didn’t like you” — and your commute could be over an hour.

The biggest tech companies aren’t going anywhere, and tech stocks are still soaring… But the migration from the Bay Area appears real. Residential rents in San Francisco are down 27% from a year ago, and the office vacancy rate has spiked to 16.7%, a number not seen in a decade. Though prices had dropped only slightly, Zillow reported more homes for sale in San Francisco than a year ago. For more than a month last year, 90% of the searches involving San Francisco on moveBuddha were for people moving out…

There are 33,000 members in the Facebook group Leaving California and 51,000 in its sister group, Life After California. People post pictures of moving trucks and links to Zillow listings in new cities.
They’ve apparently scattered across the country — even to tropical islands like Puerto Rico and Costa Rica

They fled to more affordable places like Georgia. They fled to states without income taxes like Texas and Florida… The No. 1 pick for people leaving San Francisco is Austin, Texas, with other winners including Seattle, New York and Chicago, according to moveBuddha, a site that compiles data on moving. Some cities have set up recruiting programs to lure them to new homes.
The Times also notes “there is a very vocal Miami faction, led by a few venture capital influencers, trying to tweet the city’s startup world into existence,” as other cities begin to realize that “the talent and money of newly remote tech workers are up for grabs.”

Topeka, Kansas, started Choose Topeka, which will reimburse new workers $10,000 for the first year of rent or $15,000 if they buy a home. Tulsa, Oklahoma, will pay you $10,000 to move there. The nation of Estonia has a new residency program just for digital nomads. A program in Savannah, Georgia, will reimburse remote workers $2,000 for the move there, and the city has created various social activities to introduce the newcomers to one another and to locals…
But the article also points out that “More money was made faster in the Bay Area by fewer people than at any other time in American history,” and speculates on what long-time residents may be thinking:
People who distrusted the young newcomers from the start will say this change is a good thing. Hasn’t this steep growth in wealth and population in a tiny geography always seemed unsustainable? These tech workers came like a whirlwind. Virtually every community from San Jose in the south to Marin County in the north has fought the rise of new housing for the arrivals of the last decade. Maybe spreading the tech talent around America is smart.

Locals have also seen this play before. Moving trucks come to take a generation of tech ambition away, and a few years later moving trucks return with new dreamers and new ambitions.

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