Leaving San Francisco for affordable, walkable urbanism

Johnny at Granola Shotgun in San Francisco said good-bye to five friends last month who moved away town because S.F. is increasingly unaffordable, even for those making a good living. His friends are moving to urban areas with walkable streets where housing prices aren’t nosebleed.

Where are these people moving to? In these five cases: Seattle, Washington. St. Petersburg, Florida. New Orleans, Louisiana. Toledo, Ohio. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Second, what are their new neighborhood destinations like? In short, a place that comes close to the qualities they love about San Francisco, but at a lower price point: older, funkier, walkable, mixed use, and lively. It seems that almost every city in America has a tiny sliver of pre-World War II Main Street urbanism left in a little pocket somewhere. And that’s where these folks are headed.

Des Moines, Iowa is another example of a city that transformed itself from dull, dull, dull to a creative hub. Vegas too, in a different way. Home and rent prices in Vegas are low. Artists and performers can make it there based on what they do because casinos are huge buyers of art and need talent for shows. Plus, it’s very much a startup city, and is always reinventing itself. The downtown area is coming back with increasing amount of walkable streets and a growing Arts District.

From the comments:

A lot of people lament this as the beginning of the end for cities like San Francisco, but as a Rust Belter I see this as evidence of how the new beginning starts and builds here. I think it’s really interesting that the cities your friends are moving to include Toledo and Pittsburgh. There may be family considerations in their moves, making them boomerangers in some sense. But they will take what they’ve learned in the Bay Area and put it to work in new places.

This is an economic development strategy.

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