For years, one of the few perks of living in Sacramento was said to be its proximity to the Bay Area, which allowed residents an easy escape to cooler, livelier, more cultured San Francisco on the weekends.
Now, it seems, Bay Area residents are the ones trying to escape – chased out of the region by exorbitant housing prices. In increasing numbers, they are heading northeast to the calmer, more affordable environs of Sacramento, which is experiencing its own civic and cultural awakening.
And they’re finding it ... not terrible.
The San Francisco Chronicle on Monday published a story exploring the trend and talking to people who had made the move, which ran under the headline: “Bay Area residents are flooding Sacramento. What’s it really like living there?”
Not only, it turns out, are the roads paved and mostly free of tumbleweeds, but Sacramento is “a city coming into its own, with a burgeoning food, arts and culture scene,” the story states. Furthermore, one is able to enjoy these amenities with the disposable income, the result of not paying a small fortune to live in a closet in the Bay Area.
As the Chronicle points out, the real estate website Zillow lists the median home value in Sacramento at $299,200. The median home value in San Francisco is $1,194,300. Affordability is one reason Sacramento was the fastest-growing big city in California last year, its population increasing 1.4 percent to 493,025, The Bee reported in May.
A recent Bloomberg report said Sacramento was the most popular destination searched by San Francisco residents looking to move during the first quarter of this year on the real estate website Redfin. (That report also described Sacramento as “the California capital whose last flirtation with national prominence arguably was during the 19th-century Gold Rush”).
The result is a bit of a domino effect. Housing prices in Sacramento are rising. The Bee reported that homes in Sacramento County sold for an average of $330,000 in May, the highest prices in 10 years. While the increase may pique some residents, Bloomberg says it has “helped facilitate the economic recovery of Sacramento” after the recession.
A vibrant food and beer scene, urban development and a still-fresh downtown arena are all indications of a vitalized Sacramento. Still, new residents coming from the Bay Area may feel they have to compromise.
As part of its report, The Chronicle asked 20 people who had moved to the Sacramento area whether they are “better off” now. While most answered yes – for reasons such as cost of living and lower stress levels. However, one responder distilled the conflict. “Financially I’d say we’re better off,” she told The Chronicle, “culturally no.”