Bigi Lui
2020-05-24 ⋅ 4 min read

Did tech employees really want to live in San Francisco after all?

For many years I’ve held the opinion that San Francisco was too expensive for startups to run (even back in 2015 or so when I first started thinking about this when it wasn’t even as expensive back then). Office rents are high, cost of living and apartments are expensive which in turn causes companies to have to pay higher than average to keep up. I moved to the Greater Sacramento area a while ago and linked to an article saying that Mark Zuckerberg now also wouldn’t consider starting a company in SF; and Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian also famously said this last year.

But over these past 5 years, I’ve heard company leaderships one after another saying, you gotta operate out of SF. The talent is all in SF; and to hire talent you need your HQ (or at least an office) in SF. Everyone’s saying, the talent all wants to stay in SF / the bay area! It doesn’t make sense to operate out of anywhere else.

Is that really the case? It appears the verdict is in:

2 out of 3 tech workers would leave SF permanently if they could work remotely
Life and work in the Bay Area may be changed forever. An anonymous survey of 4,400 tech workers, conducted by Blind…

It only took the pandemic for the tech industry to really ask the question — did people really want to live in San Francisco / the bay area? It appears the answer is no — at least for 2/3 of them. Admittedly, Blind is probably filled with bitter tech employees who’re more likely to want to move away. But the number (4400 surveyed) is probably large enough to have some truth in the statistical result.

I had heard enough anecdotal stories over the past years from many friends and coworkers about this, but of course I could never perform a survey on this scale. Best one could do was an Ask HN thread with the question, and surely it would’ve been filled with biased people who despised the bay area and wanted to move away. This survey result is probably a bit more substantial than that, even if only a little bit.

And finally, as bonus reading, a harsher article about the reality in San Francisco and how people are moving away, tweeted by Michael Arrington (previously Techcrunch’s founder):

Thousands Say "Ciao" to Deeply Troubled San Francisco.
On January 8, London Breed, San Francisco's mayor, was sworn in for her first full term. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi…