San Francisco Bay Area Migration

San Francisco Bay Area Migration

  • Alexander Fromm Lurie
  • 03/21/23

Moving Within, Into & Out of the Bay Area

Generally speaking, per the latest U.S. Census data, looking at the San Francisco Bay Area:*

Typically, about half of movers within and into a county moved within the same county. The majority
of those moving in from out of county was usually from another Bay Area county or a CA county
outside the Bay Area. The remainder came from another state or from abroad. There was significant,
often two-way, movement of residents between Bay Area counties, with counties one step further
out, and with Southern California (L.A. County to San Diego County, a huge population center). Some
local counties saw high levels of immigration from abroad, most commonly from Asia and Europe.

When residents move out of a Bay Area county, about two thirds typically relocated to another
California county, in most cases to an adjacent county or the next one over, which may offer
significantly more affordable housing and/or provide distinct changes in social and physical
environments (urban, suburban or rural). The remaining third moved out of state, with 6 or 7 states
dominating Bay Area out-migration: Main characteristics include lower housing costs, lower or no
state income taxes, and in some cases, hosting large high-tech centers of their own.

Based upon more recent data published by the CA Dept. of Finance indicating population declines in
2021-2022, the percentage of Bay Area residents moving within the state has presumably declined
and the percentage moving out of state increased since the period of the latest census estimates.*
Population and migration data is still unsettled from the effects of the pandemic.

*County analyses are based upon the latest U.S. Census, 5-Year, 2016-2020 ACS estimates for county-to-
county migration published January 12, 2023. Census data typically features significant margins of error,
but presumed to be reliable as a broad illustration of population movement dynamics.

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