Poll: High housing costs may push out San Francisco Bay Area millennials

It’s no secret that the San Francisco Bay Area is an expensive place to live.

Now, a new poll has found that nearly half of all millennials (people age 18 to 39) in the area are considering leaving because of the high housing costs and traffic.

Forty-six percent of Bay Area millennials (vs. 30 percent of people age 65+) are considering moving to more affordable areas in the next few years, according to the survey by the Bay Area Council, a business-sponsored public policy organization.

The average apartment rent in San Francisco was $3,809 in February, according to Rent Jungle. The Bay Area single-family home in February sold for a median $784,470, up 12 percent from a year earlier, according to the California Association of Realtors.

University of California, Los Angeles economist Jerry Nickelsburg recently wrote on Zócalo Public Square that often the most attractive cities are those where housing is considered “unaffordable.” It’s basic economics — supply and demand.

Some people, however, argue economics have been warped as Google workers and Airbnb rentals drive up housing costs. Demographia’s 2017 housing affordability study notes that rising housing costs usually hit younger and low-income residents the hardest.

Demographia’s list of 11 affordable U.S. major housing markets includes Buffalo, N.Y.; Cleveland; Detroit; Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Indianapolis. The least affordable places are San Jose, Calif.; Honolulu; Los Angeles; and San Francisco. Notice a trend?

Let’s face it people live in the Bay Area because it’s beautiful and it has many desirable amenities and jobs — high-paying ones — in growing industries. And people will pay more to live in a nicer place.

Nickelsburg asks a solid question: If housing prices were more affordable, would that improve supply in a place like San Francisco or would it simply drive up demand?

There’s no easy answer. One thing is certain: It’s likely that the Bay Area will continue to attract new residents.

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