San Francisco The Negev tech houseIvy Zheng, 26, and William Harris, 29, relax during a "family" dinner at a communal living space for tech workers in San Francisco, California.Gabrielle Lurie/Reuters
A staggering 46% of millennials living in the San Francisco Bay Area say they're ready to leave the nation's hottest rental market.
new poll from the Bay Area Council showed millennials (defined as people ages 18 to 39) led all age groups who said they're looking to leave the region in the next few years.
Cost of living was the biggest motivating factor, with 65% of millennial survey respondents ranking it among the top three problems facing the Bay Area.
The group behind the poll painted a gloomy picture for the Bay Area's future.
"Losing our youth is a very bad economic and social strategy," Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, said in a statement. "But until we get serious about building the housing we need we're going to continue seeing our region drained of the young and diverse talent that has helped make the Bay Area an economic powerhouse."
The Bay Area draws in millennials with its top-ranked colleges, vibrant culture, and proximity to Silicon Valley, where the promise for young entrepreneurs of becoming the next tech billionaire never dies. The region has added about 100,000 new jobs every year since 2011, though growth is starting to wane, and unemployment levels are at their lowest in 15 years.
Even still, millennials are struggling to make ends meet.
San Francisco The Negev tech houseIn 2013, millennials made up about 30% of San Francisco's population, according to US Census data.Gabrielle Lurie/Reuters
The Bay Area is one of the most competitive rental markets in the US. In San Francisco, the median rent tops $4,200 a month, according to real estate site Trulia.
One analysis from rental listing startup Radpad suggests mid- to senior-level engineers at companies like Google, Uber, Airbnb, and Twitter can expect to pay between 40% and 50% of their salary renting an apartment near work in order to avoid a gnarly commute.
These urban dwellers are finding creative — and sometimes uncomfortable — solutions to make it work. They live in sailboats, tiny houses, vans, and even wooden boxes of their own making. An increasing number of millennials are squeezing into apartments and homes with large numbers of people. Communal living, or "co-living," is often more affordable than traditional rentals because it comes with perks, like free internet, maid service, and new friends.
The results of the Bay Area Council's poll shows millennials may no longer see a future there.
Wunderman, of the Bay Area Council, told The San Francisco Business Times that young people flocked to the Bay Area after graduating college or completing graduate programs. Now that those transplants are entering their 30s, they're thinking about starting a family or owning a home. It's less and less doable as the housing affordability crisis continues.
"I would say the thinking amongst younger folks that the Bay Area doesn't hold their future is really settling in and that's concerning," Wunderman said.