1 in 3 San Francisco Residents Thinking of Leaving, New City Survey Finds

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More than a third of San Francisco residents are considering leaving the city, according to a new SF Controller's analysis.  (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

More than a third of San Francisco residents are considering skipping town in the near future, according to a report released by the city this week.

In the survey, conducted by San Francisco's Office of the Controller, 35% of respondents said they were "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to move away from the city in the next three years, with younger respondents and recent arrivals most likely to leave.

Not surprisingly, it also found that renters are almost twice as likely as homeowners to consider leaving the city.

The survey shows a slight uptick since 2013 in the percentage of residents who are thinking of packing it up, although the rate has remained relatively steady since the city began asking the question 14 years ago.

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"We weren't particularly surprised," said Glynis Startz, an analyst in the controller's office, noting that the percentage of residents thinking about leaving the city decreased to its lowest level after the recession ended. "I think the idea that young people are more likely to move tracks with what we understand and are likely to predict."

Startz also noted that, based on historical U.S. Census data, it's unlikely that the number of residents who say they are thinking of leaving will actually do so.

"It doesn't look like a third of people are leaving," she said.

And many people who do leave San Francisco don't go far. In the past five years, roughly half of those who moved away from the city stayed in the Bay Area, according to census data, with the largest number heading across the bay to Alameda County.

The analysis, part of San Francisco's larger biennial City Survey, included interviews in multiple languages with more than 2,200 San Franciscans.

The biggest concern among residents was homelessness, with 75% of respondents saying the problem had gotten worse. Affordability and displacement, as well as cleanliness, infrastructure and public safety, were also top concerns.


A report card released earlier this year, based on those survey results, found public transit to be the lowest-rated city service among residents, while the public library system was ranked highest.