Strong Majority Say the Bay Area is the Best Place on Earth to Live
All is not lost, according to the 2019 Bay Area Council Poll. Despite the Bay Area’s significant challenges, the poll finds a strong majority of residents think the region is still the best place on earth to live. The poll explores the reasons residents call the Bay Area home and details the many things—from its powerhouse innovation economy to its many cultural offerings—they say make the region so appealing.
The overall findings don’t sugarcoat the Bay Area’s problems, showing that residents continue to harbor deep concerns about the region’s housing crisis, homelessness and traffic. But the poll also paints a more nuanced view of a region where rapid and almost unprecedented economic growth has exacerbated long-standing problems, caused many residents to consider leaving and generated doomsday headlines about the Bay Area’s future.
According to the poll, 57% of residents say there’s no other place on the planet they’d rather live. Ties to family and employment were cited among the top reasons that residents call the Bay Area home, with the region’s temperate weather figuring prominently and the fact that many were born or have deep roots here.
“You can count me at the top of the 57 percent,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Sometimes our challenges can appear to outweigh the incredible wonders and advantages of this place we call home, but with a moment to reflect we remember just how unique and special our region is. Working together, we can create the housing and quality infrastructure we need to keep the dream alive for our next generations.”
Residents don’t hide their angst about the Bay Area’s problems. The poll found that 57 percent think the Bay Area is heading in the wrong direction, up from 55 percent last year and a complete reversal since 2014, when the same number said the region was on the right track. And almost half of residents say they are considering leaving the Bay Area in the next few years—up from 34 percent just three years ago—with the region’s high cost of living and stratospheric housing costs cited as the biggest reasons.
Not surprisingly, housing costs, traffic and homelessness top the list of residents’ biggest concerns, as they have for the past several years.
Still, residents see much about the Bay Area to love, particularly its strong economy and the foundations for the region’s economic success. Among the high level findings, the poll found:
- 74 percent said the Bay Area is a good place to live
- 90 percent said the Bay Area is important to the national economy
- 89 percent said the region is a center of innovation
- 82 percent said the Bay Area offers good job opportunities
- 87 percent said the region provides unique cultural experiences
- 74 percent said the region offers good educational opportunities
Enthusiasm for the region’s many advantages, however, is tempered by the serious challenges it faces. Just 3 percent agreed that the Bay Area is affordable while 9 percent said the region offers good housing options. Compared with housing, residents’ views of the region’s transportation system wasn’t as dour. The poll found 37 percent had a favorable view of the Bay Area transportation system.
A deeper dive on the results also found that many of the residents who say the Bay Area is the best place on earth to live have lived here the longest, own their own home, are older and make the most money.
“Generations of Bay Area residents have worked hard to make the region the desirable and successful place it is today,” Wunderman said. “Rolling up the welcome mat to future generations will only undermine everything that makes the Bay Area great.”
The 2019 Bay Area Council Poll, which was conducted online by Oakland-based public opinion research firm EMC Research from March 6-18, surveyed 1,000 registered voters from around the nine-county Bay Area.