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Tech Workers Are Leaving San Francisco During The Pandemic. Is A Larger Exodus From California’s Cities On The Horizon?

People work inside Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, California.
People work inside Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, California.
David Paul Morris/Getty Images

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San Francisco, often ranked as the most expensive city to live in in the country, has witnessed a surprising reversal during the pandemic: rents are down.

According to a piece by reporter Katie Bindley in the Wall Street Journal, the trend began to emerge as many tech companies started to allow large blocs of their employees to work from home. Some of those remote workers, gravitating toward the allure of lower housing costs and more open space, have moved out of the Bay Area to cities relatively close by— Sacramento, Los Angeles— where their dollar might stretch to more square footage and amenities.

Others are jetting off out of state, to large and mid-sized cities like New York, Austin, Nashville and Portland. In one survey, two out of three tech workers said they would permanently leave San Francisco if they could continue to work remotely. Although it’s still early, it appears that the industry responsible for dramatically altering the Bay Area and turning it into a tech hub may now be touching off an exodus. In Southern California, meanwhile, real estate prices are at a record high during the pandemic— up 12.1% from a year earlier. Whether the compounded difficulties of housing shortages, high costs and limited space will translate into a broader move of residents from cities remains to be seen. 

How are the issues exacerbated by the pandemic affecting who is staying (or leaving) our cities? We’re on with Wall Street Journal reporter Katie Bindley and Adam Fowler of Beacon Economics to learn more. Have you considered moving away during the pandemic? If so, did it accelerate a plan you already had? Or has the pandemic had you considering an entirely different set of priorities? We want to hear from you. Comment below or give us a call at 866-893-5722.

With guest host Elly Yu


Katie Bindley, personal tech reporter at the Wall Street Journal and the author of the piece, “Remote Work Is Reshaping San Francisco, as Tech Workers Flee and Rents Fall”; she tweets @katiebindley

Adam Fowler, director of research at Beacon Economics whose expertise includes Southern California’s housing market; he tweets @adamjfowler