Census Bureau: SF metro area sees mass exodus during pandemic; more consider leaving

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Friday, October 14, 2022
Census Bureau: S.F. metro area sees mass exodus during pandemic
New U.S. Census Bureau Data shows 7.6% of San Francisco metropolitan area residents surveyed considered moving to a different city in the next year.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A mass exodus from San Francisco. New numbers from the Census Bureau indicate that 55,000 people moved out of San Francisco in a single year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That's more than 6% of the city's population.

Those dramatic numbers put San Francisco on the map in a different way.

So many people are leaving San Francisco metro area or are thinking about it.

Many people agree: living in San Francisco can be a truly remarkable experience.

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"Right now, I'm excited to be in the Bay area because of all the perks -- the nature, the sunshine, the weather," said Lisa Gonzalez. "All the awesome outdoor activities we get to do that."

But it's an expense that comes at a very steep price tag, says Gonzalez, who rents in the city.

"Right now, I'm fortunate to have a salary that allows me to be here. But that's not the case for everyone," she said.

New U.S. Census Bureau Data shows 7.6% of San Francisco metropolitan area residents surveyed considered moving to a different city in the next year.

The American housing survey shows SF at the top of the list for people thinking about leaving. That's followed by Seattle and Dallas.

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The boundaries of the Bay Area are expanding as people move to outlying areas, the result is, a "megaregion" that encompasses Fresno and Sacramento.

"I'm not surprised. It is crazy expensive," said Chris Seavey, who rents in SF.

"One friend moved to Denver. Another friend moved to Austin," Gonzalez said.

"The cost of housing is really high here. I know of people who have left. And many of them have moved to states like Texas. Sometimes it's housing. Sometimes it's state taxes," said San Francisco resident Sachin Chawla. "I think it's more than housing costs. My suspicion is now with work-from-anywhere, people are finding they can have a bigger space, maybe a more comfortable life. Perhaps they want to move back to their family and where they grew up, and I suspect some people are moving back to just their hometowns or to other cities that are building up."

"We've seen a lot of people leave the Bay Area for other destinations elsewhere in the country. The Southeast is pretty popular, and Atlanta or the Carolinas," said real estate agent Kevin Ho.

RELATED: Bay Area housing prices up 20% since January, according to new report

A new report from Zillow shows some local homeowners are paying as much as 20% more on their mortgages just since January.

More people say they're moving for quality of life reasons and because their dollar can go much further elsewhere.

"Median prices here in San Francisco are still well over $1 million," said Ho. "A single family house will go anywhere from $1.6 million to $2 million on average. And a condominium isn't too far behind."

"The last time interest rates were where they are at now, the prices were at half of where they are right now. As interest rates go up, affordability becomes even more of a challenge for folks," Ho added.

Ho says both buyers and sellers are being tested right now.

"We are seeing lots of qualified folks leave and people who would otherwise stay here. There are plenty of folks who want to take their places. But the mortgages rates being $500 to $1000 more than before, it's just too much for people to bear."

Earlier this year, Ho said when clients would leave, it would take a week or two to sell their home. Now, he says it's taking a month or more.

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