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Silicon Valley Discontent: 7 In 10 Say Quality Of Life Has Declined In Poll; 56% Considered Leaving

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) – More than 18 months after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new poll of residents in and around Silicon Valley find many in a state of discontent about the region and over half have thought about leaving.

According to the Silicon Valley Poll (.pdf) commissioned by Joint Venture Silicon Valley and the Bay Area News Group, 71% feel the quality of life in the Bay Area has grown worse over the past five years. That sentiment was felt across all age and income groups, racial groups and party affiliations, along with people who owned or rented their home.

"We've long been a high-stress region. Staggering housing prices, rising homelessness, a stark income divide and a host of sustainability challenges have had us on edge for some time," said Joint Venture Silicon Valley CEO Russell Hancock. "But when you toss a highly infectious disease into the mix, you get a smothering amount of anxiety."

Since the onset of the pandemic in March of 2020, 60% of respondents said their lives have become more stressful and 66% are worried about the future. Over half said they felt more isolated and alone.

Financially, about 40% of respondents said they were worried about a lack of savings since the start of the pandemic. Among those who couldn't work from home during the pandemic, 22% said they had to take pay cuts, while another 19% were either laid off or furloughed.

Meanwhile among those who have been able to work from home, 34% said they would want to continue to do so full time once the pandemic is over, while another 36% said "most of the time." Only 5% said rarely or never.

Cost of housing remains a top concern, with 76% saying the region's high costs are an "extremely serious problem." Over half surveyed, 56%, said they were thinking about leaving in the "next few years," including 53% of respondents who work in the tech industry.

Joint Venture Silicon Valley found the number of people thinking about leaving has grown 9% from a similar survey taken last year before the pandemic.

As the cost of living remains a constant complaint, a recent survey on a so-called exodus out of California found many are staying put in the Golden State.

Other top concerns include the ongoing homelessness crisis, increasing wildfires and drought, with over 60% saying each problem is extremely serious.

While many in the survey lament the state of the region, the poll found more than 70% said Silicon Valley is either a "good" or "excellent" place to pursue a career. More than 50% said the region is a good or excellent place to grow up, while 46% said it was a good or excellent place to raise a family.

The Silicon Valley Poll surveyed more than 1,600 residents in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties between September 22 and 26. The poll, conducted in English, Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese, has a margin of error of plus/minus 2.8%.

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