Bay Area Reshuffle: Why Sacramento is First Choice for a New Start

Arial view of sacramento at night

The once-unthinkable trend of people leaving the Bay Area for Sacramento is gaining significant momentum. While the Bay Area remains a major economic and cultural hub, a confluence of factors is prompting residents, particularly from San Francisco, to seek a new life in the California capital.

Why Are So Many People Leaving the Bay Area?

Several compelling reasons are driving this migration:

  • High Housing Costs: San Francisco and other Bay Area counties have witnessed astronomical housing prices for more than a decade, making homeownership a distant dream for many. Sacramento offers significantly more affordable housing options, and is a viable path for those seeking property ownership.
  • Remote Work: The rise of remote work opportunities has loosened the tie between physical location and employment. This empowers individuals to prioritize affordability and a better quality of life, leading many to choose Sacramento over the Bay Area’s high cost of living.
  • More Space: Real estate options in Sacramento generally offer more space for the same price compared to the cramped living quarters on offer in San Francisco. This is particularly appealing to families seeking room to grow, or individuals who are ready for more spacious living arrangements.

Is This Bad News for the Bay Area?

While the Bay Area population is not undergoing net shrinkage, data suggests a shift in migration patterns. Sacramento County, for example, has seen a notable influx of Bay Area residents, with San Francisco being the leading origin city. However, the Bay Area population remains stable because those departing San Francisco are rapidly replaced by people from other parts of the US.

Do People Commute from Sacramento to the Bay Area?

The rise of remote work has decreased the need for commuting, but many individuals still choose to commute from Sacramento to the Bay Area in order to maintain existing employment while also enjoying the benefits of Sacramento living.

The area is well served by rail infrastructure, which connects to San Francisco’s BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) system. Even so, many prefer to carry out this “super commute” by car (at least 1.5 hours), or by combining car and train options.

Sacramento’s Allure

Sacramento’s appeal extends beyond affordability. The city boasts a thriving cultural scene, a growing job market, and compared to San Francisco it has better access to iconic outdoor attractions like Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada mountains. This combination, along with the proximity to the Bay Area, creates a compelling alternative for those seeking a more balanced and attainable lifestyle.

Challenges Ahead: Sacramento’s Growing Pains

While it is beneficial for Sacramento to attract well-paid inhabitants from the Bay Area, this rapid population growth does present some challenges. These include infrastructure improvements, further development of affordable housing, and beefed-up measures for managing traffic, which are crucial aspects to consider as the city adapts to this demographic shift.

A New Chapter for Bay Area Migrants

Sacramento’s growing popularity as a destination for those leaving the Bay Area reflects a changing landscape in California. While San Francisco and other Bay Area cities remain economic powerhouses, the rising cost of living and the flexibility of remote work are leading many to seek a more affordable and spacious alternative.

If you’re a Bay Area resident considering this kind of relocation, or if you’re sizing up California from some other state, Armstrong can serve as your contact on the ground. Contact us today to learn how we can help.