According to the City of San Francisco’s latest City Survey, the percentage of San Francisco residents who say they are either “somewhat” or “very” likely to move out of the city in the next three years is up to 35 percent.

That’s up from 27 percent two years ago, versus a low of 16 percent in 2013 and two percentage points higher than in 2005 (the first year the question was included in the biannual survey), according to our review of the City’s raw survey data. And yes, the summary data we provided last year was based on the City’s accounting, not ours.  But for the sake of comparison, the data above presented in the same scale and format as selected by the City to demonstrate the “relatively consistent” attitude of its residents over the past 14 years:

Not too surprisingly, nor inconsistent with years past, it’s both the younger and newer residents which are most likely to foresee a near-term move:

And in terms of where those who do leave the city are likely to move, if the recent past is any indicator, the majority will stay in-state and half will remain in the Bay Area:

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Notcom

    Actually it’s really “Over a Third of San Francisco Residents SAY THEY’RE Now Likely to Leave the City”, which matters ‘cuz “100%” is the percentage of people who sometimes answer a poll one way and then actually do something else.

    • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

      There’s a quote that goes “New York: where everyone mutinies but no one deserts”. Seems like it could apply to SF now.

    • Posted by SFRealist

      A key point. And though people keep TALKING ABOUT leaving, San Francisco’s population keeps growing. Up more than 10% since 2010.

      • Posted by SocketSite

        Factually speaking, the net population growth of San Francisco has actually been closer to 9 percent since 2010. But more to the point, as we noted earlier this year:

        “Having grown at an average rate of over one percent per year over the past decade, peaking at 1.7 percent in 2012, the estimated population of San Francisco proper inched up 0.3 percent in 2018, from a downwardly revised 880,980 at the start of last year to 883,869 as of January 1, 2019, according to the latest data from California’s Department of Finance.

        That’s an estimated net population growth of 2,889 persons over the past year. And while that’s versus 2,579 net-new units of housing having been delivered in the city over the same period of time, keep in mind that the average unit in San Francisco houses 2.2 people.”

        • Posted by SFRealist

          With all those people were “somewhat” or “very likely” to leave in the last three years, the city’s population kept growing. I wonder why that might be.

          • Posted by SocketSite

            Well, let’s look at the growth rates in population since 2010 to see if we can possibly spot a trend, or any correlation with the surveyed sentiment above with respect to out migration, that might be affecting the net gain(s):

            1.4% (2010-2011)
            1.7% (2012-2013)
            0.3% (2018-2019)


          • Posted by SFRealist

            I’m sorry. I don’t follow the math. Those numbers are all positive. If we are taking this survey at face value, shouldn’t they be negative?

          • Posted by SocketSite

            If we are taking this survey at face value, shouldn’t they be negative?

            Only if you don’t understand the difference between “in” and “out” migration and how the two factor into the net population change (which dropped from 1.7 percent in 2012-2013 to 0.3 percent last year).

          • Posted by SFRealist

            So is Socketsite saying that the 25% of the people who said they were going to leave in 2015 actually all did leave and all have been replaced with in migration?

            And if that’s the case, does it mean anything? People have been leaving San Francisco for cheaper places for decades, have they not? They are then replaced with new people.

            In other words, what exactly does this survey prove?

          • Posted by SocketSite

            Once again, let’s look at the growth rates in population since 2010 to see if we can possibly spot any correlation with the surveyed sentiment above that might foretell the net pace of future population growth:

            1.4% (2010-2011)
            1.7% (2012-2013)
            0.3% (2018-2019)

            And with a “still positive!” growth rate of 0.3 percent in 2018 translating to a net population growth of 2,889 persons, while 2,579 net-new units of housing were delivered in the city over the same period of time, with an average unit in San Francisco housing 2.2 people, any guesses why this survey might be meaningful in the context of real estate and the trends at hand?

          • Posted by curmudgeon

            I think we all realize that 35% of people will probably NOT leave in three years, but I think Socketsite is “correctly” pointing out that there is a correlation between peoples expressed opinions and their behaviors. People were most happy with the city when growth was highest (implying new people were coming in and old people weren’t leaving), while growth is currently the lowest it’s been in a while and folks move opinions are also the most negative they’ve been.

          • Posted by Ohlone Californio

            You’ve made the perfect case as to why condos are decoupled from SFRs.

          • Posted by SocketSite

            And yet, they aren’t.

          • Posted by SFRealist

            I thought the original headline was: 35 Percent of San Francisco Residents Now Likely to Leave.

            It’s been corrected and now it’s more accurate. People say a lot of stuff. I don’t quite see such a clear connection between this survey and a slowing increase in population. The second derivative of population growth may have turned negative, but is there a link between that second derivative and this survey?

          • Posted by SocketSite

            We’ve actually run three headlines. But the body of the post, including the intro (“According to the City of San Francisco’s latest City Survey, the percentage of San Francisco residents who say they are either “somewhat” or “very” likely to move out of the city in the next three years is up to 35 percent. That’s up from 27 percent two years ago…”), remains the same.

          • Posted by Ohlone Californio

            They have. YTD SF SFRs 1829 sales @ $1017/ft. Last YTD SF SFRs 1896 sales $1003/ft.

            YTD SF condo sales 2015 $1168/ft. Last YTD SF condo sales 2235 $1139/ft.

            Year to date SFRs are off by 67 sales, and that’s falling. Condos are off by 220 sales. And price is up in both sectors.

          • Posted by SocketSite

            You appear to be quoting an MLS-based query, versus actually recorded sales figures, which continues to paint an inaccurate picture of the market. Regardless, even based on the numbers you’re quoting, the two segments would appear to be moving in the same direction, not only in terms of “prices” but also in terms of volumes. In other words, you’ve just demonstrated that they’re not “decoupled.”

          • Posted by Ohlone Californio

            Yeah, the same MLS you’re utterly dependent upon. Anyway maybe because I demonstrated decoupling in terms of volume change, year over year? You say things. Then you link to a minuscule change within a MSA that includes southern San Mateo County, yet you won’t even acknowledge the stark difference YoY in the very city this site is about. Then, it’s like, forget about the fact that prices are up. You don’t care about that for some reason.

          • Posted by SocketSite

            The MLS is certainly useful for some things, if you know how to use it, but total sales data is not one of those things.

            A decoupling would be when the segments are moving in different directions, not at different paces. And the fact that condos are more volatile, and tend to be a leading indicator for the market as a whole, shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that’s been plugging in.

            You seem to be completely missing the point of the link we provided, try looking at the strangely similar pattern of the condo and single-family trend lines. In addition, if you’re hanging your hat on the MLS-based data you presented, are you really suggesting that condos have outperformed single-family homes over the past year? Perhaps that should have raised a flag with respect to the accuracy of your data?

          • Posted by Ohlone Californio

            No, I’m not suggesting that condos are outperforming SFRs, clearly, as they’ve quite starkly differed in their YoY volume trend. This is decoupling. I’ve shown that. Your attempt to paraphrase a Case Shiller’s MSA chart is noted but not relevant.

          • Posted by SocketSite

            Based on the data you presented, both single-family home and condo sales are down (3.5 percent and 9.8 percent respectively). That’s not a “decoupling” and the relative strength/weakness of the condo market – which tends to be a leading indicator for the market as a whole – shouldn’t catch any plugged-in readers by surprise.

            At the same time, based on the data you presented, the price per square foot of those single-family homes that have traded hands was up 1.4 percent but the price per square foot for condos was up 2.5 percent!

            So once again, are you really suggesting that condos have outperformed single-family homes over the past year? And if not, perhaps that should have raised a flag (or two) with respect to the accuracy of your data (or what said data actually means).

    • Posted by Dixon Hill

      “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too popular”. Or something like that.

  2. Posted by Kevin

    Action speaks louder than words. I highly doubt we will see that kind of exodus although it would be nice to see cheaper home prices. With police doing nothing about property crimes as well as homeless encampments everywhere in the city, I’m not surprised residents of SF is sick and tire of high taxes with little to show for.

    • Posted by Scott Parsons

      We have lots of syringes and piles of human poop everywhere to show for it. Lots of potholes too !

  3. Posted by [JJBiddyBean]

    And a new ~30% of zoomers ready to replace them in the next several years as they graduate. Rinse and repeat.

  4. Posted by taco

    …but don’t.

  5. Posted by SocketSite

    UPDATE: For those wondering why our graph looks so much different than the one released by the City yesterday, titled “attitudes about leaving the city have remained relatively consistent for the past 14 years” and presented presented as “a reflection of residents’ perceptions of public services,” we’ve since added a second graph of the same data, but presented in the same scale and format as selected by the City, above.

  6. Posted by Dan

    As Yogi Berra would say: Nobody goes there anymore– it’s too crowded!

  7. Posted by RW

    I read this and there is absolutely no shock to it, maybe i just have been here too long (my whole life). This number is entirely about affordability. If you are young, even earning a decent salary if personal wealth growth seems impossible then the writing is likely jumping off the wall at you. Youth will not endure, and changes will come and if all you can see is the affordability struggle as a constant then surely the idea of leaving is going to be prevalent and expected. SF is going to have to confront this issue but also the quality of life issues that are arising and going to continue to arise (homelessness, density, transportation) and also a lack of programmatic response.

    If I wasn’t a homeowner, in the position i am fortunate to be in, I would certainly be laughing at the costs of rentals and not even be considering living in SF. To sell my house, yes i would cash out into a decent amount of equity, however it would mean moving out near Tracy/Livermore/Pittsburgh/Vallejo just to have a similar level of comfort and that would be keeping everything equal, but of course then you sacrifice the offerings of the city and have to welcome a commute.

  8. Posted by Martin

    About time we did a follow-up survey of those 30% that wanted to leave to see where they are now.

  9. Posted by grass is greener

    2 out of 3 are lying to themselves.

  10. Posted by another anon

    I left earlier this year, after over 20 years in SF, thank god. I’ll never go back except when I have to for business.

    Where I live now has basically zero homeless, zero crime, better weather, better food, more cultural options…ahhh. I’m shocked at how many people put up with a declining SF for so long. SF was cheaper, cleaner, safer and more fun 10 or 20 years ago. Now it is terrible.

    • Posted by Ohlone Californio

      Where you live has better weather, food and more cultural options than SF?


      Weather, OK … maybe. Culture and food? Plus zero homeless? Zero homeless. Zero crime. You say?

      All those things together do not exist in this country.

    • Posted by Rstr

      “zero homeless, zero crime, better weather, better food, more cultural options”
      You are making this up, honey.

    • Posted by Fishchum

      Unless you tell us where this Xanadu is, I’m going to go ahead and say you’re making this up.

      • Posted by EBGuy

        A couple of months ago I might have said Santiago…

        • Posted by Brian M

          Bad smog, the mountains make SoCal look lush, and much of the City looks like the less attractive parts of Bayview. But sure…the affluent readership here will all live in Las Condes.

  11. Posted by jimbo

    if chesa boudin is elected, the crime and utter disarray downtown will increase dramatically and i imagine more families will be leaving. its unbelievable to me that people could vote for someone who wants to me even more lenient on crime

    • Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

      Status update for ya jimbo: How Chesa Boudin, a public defender who never prosecuted a case, won SF D.A. race:

      Over the weekend, it became official: In less than a year, Boudin had gone from that unknown hopeful to San Francisco’s district attorney-elect, beating Suzy Loftus, the candidate so formidable, former District Attorney George Gascón announced he wouldn’t seek re-election shortly after she entered the race.

      It’s irrelevant, but I don’t buy that last part about George Gascón. I’d say he quit early to run for the same job in LA County.

      We shall see if your prediction of dramatic dystopian disarray downtown will come to pass. Even if it does, he might not be turned out of office come the next election.

  12. Posted by Another anon

    Awww, you are just jealous. Have an open mind and do some traveling.

    Better weather – check. It is in the 80s today. Better food – check. I go out to eat basically every day of the year, so I have an idea about food. Better culture. Check. Far better selection of museums, performing arts, sports. Zero homeless – OK, I think in the official annual count in my city there are six. As in the number 6. As for crime, I saw one reported on the Citizen app once. People were commenting “how dumb would anyone be to commit a crime in that area?” Helicopters were deployed. More crime happens in 1 day in my old SF neighborhood than happens in years where I live now.

    But, feel free to not believe me and stay in SF. I always laugh at SF residents who accept terrible conditions and say “but it is a big city area, they all have problems.” No, not by a long shot. It all comes down to voter apathy and mismanagement.

    • Posted by Ohlone Californio

      Indeed. The fact that you are totally anonymous but won’t say where you moved to is not lost on anyone, including yourself, surely.

      • Posted by Brian M

        There is not a single large American city with only six homeless people or zero crime. That is simply impossible. Maybe there is a wealthy gated community suburb with access to culture that can make that claim, but then you could have moved to Atherton.

        Even a European city will have more [homeless people]. This is utterly unbelievable.

    • Posted by Miraloma Man

      I like Stockton too.

  13. Posted by statistician

    Domestic migration just turned negative in 2016 and the trend has really accelerated.

    Domestic Migration YoY
    2018 -4,522
    2017 -2,689
    2016 -1,813
    2015 1,720
    2014 521
    2013 1,172
    2012 3,302
    2011 416

  14. Posted by SoCal transplant

    I left San Francisco for San Diego. Better weather by far, better traffic by not much, people are more relaxed and not so senselessly zealous, but the homeless zombies seemed to have followed me here.

    • Posted by Conifer

      San Diego (especially La Jolla and nearby coastal areas) has always been a better version of San Francisco, in the sense of ease of living, weather, and a relaxed attitude. It was and is not equal in terms of high culture, and until recent decades was rather boring. Housing of the same level may still be cheaper. However, there always seemed to be a lack of permanence, of people there just passing through. It was a military town, and a retirement destination. Everyone was from somewhere else, and they seemed to be heading back in fact or in mind, where people new to SF always wanted to make a life here.

      Still the comparison may be worth re-visiting now that SF is changing in many unpleasant ways.

    • Posted by SF Landlord

      San Diego is nice. I am from there. Unfortunately the job market there is underwhelming (as are the salaries).

    • Posted by Notcom

      I’m not sure what sense it makes to describe SD as a “version” of SF, since the ways which you mention in which it’s better – weather, pace of living, cost – it’s completely different. I think it might make more sense to describe it as a ‘better version’ of LA, since it actually has a lot of attributes in common.

  15. Posted by exSoma

    Hey SS, just left SOMA two weeks ago for the NW DC area. Still a bit expensive for nice houses, but plenty of inventory, and rather than getting outbid by 10 offers, you can actually UNDERBID! Shocking. Seen a couple nice homeless folks, but no walking dead zombies that keep SF so progressive. we’ve very happy with our decision.

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