These people left the Bay Area in the midst of the pandemic. Now they are back. Here’s why.

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There has been a lot of writing about the so-called “Exodus from San Francisco,” including by this same writer. Data shows this is not entirely true, even though it seemed like everyone had fled the city when COVID-19 hit.

Exodus or not, now we are starting to hear the opposite. We’ve heard whispers from people who are gone – whether directly related to the pandemic or not – coming back and enjoying the city they love with a slight discount.

Even our own reporter Michelle Robertson recounted her return to the city she loved.


SFGATE spoke to five people who have moved in the past two years and have recently returned. Here are their stories.

Erik Utter lost his job at the Alamo Drafthouse cinema on Mission Street when the pandemic shut down all indoor activities. With no income and no end to the pandemic in sight, he moved in with his parents about a three-hour drive to Arnold, California.

With very good rents and an end in sight, Utter returned to the region at the end of December 2020 and I knew it wasn’t going to last. It was housing that made me look for work, in fact, I sort of did it backwards.

For those who were able to work remotely during the pandemic, some took the opportunity and tried different cities to live.

Jacqueline McGraw and her partner packed their bags and left San Francisco in February 2021 to try “a nomadic life experience”. They crossed the country and stayed in various cities, but eventually returned in June 2021 here. And even after seeing many beautiful cities, we felt more confident in our ability to advance our careers in a city like San Francisco. “

Emmanuel Gomez left behind his friends and a decent job in San Francisco at the end of 2019, when the pandemic was only relevant in China. He planned to study for a year in Australia, but his university quickly switched to online courses. He couldn’t find a job to supplement his education and heard from friends in the Bay Area who were now working remotely with their companies.

In early 2021, he got a job in the Bay Area. “By the time I returned to the Bay Area in June 2021, the rental market was attractive and there were ads to open restaurants and bars and allow indoor dining,” a- he declared. “Interestingly, I timed my return to a very different SF well”

Like many others, Mr. J. Paul Espinoza sought more space and access to the outdoors during the pandemic and left the net in March 2020 in favor of stays in Laguna Beach, San Luis Obispo and the Mojave Desert. . He had resided in San Francisco for 16 years, working in various industries, the most recent recently in fitness, although the virus has largely blocked that industry. But he returned this week, after signing a lease and finding work at his old fitness clubs.

“Several things brought me back to the Bay. Car culture, heat and lack of good food in SoCal to begin with, ”he explained. “The rent had fallen so much in town that it made sense for me to pack my bags.”

Southern California also didn’t turn out to be the right move for Monika Madrid and her family. They had previously lived in Marin before moving to Marina del Rey to work, although the pandemic soon followed. “While I enjoyed working from home during the lockdown and enjoying ‘a part’ of beach life in Los Angeles, when my business gave the go-ahead to pursue a hybrid work life, I jumped on the opportunity to return to the Marin trees, “she said. “I really missed the trees.

She hated LA traffic, she really missed the easy access to hikes and nature, and the time at the beach wasn’t as easy as she thought it was due to parking limitations. Now they are back in San Rafael.

“The best part for me was the return to the amazing restaurants, the fantastic wine and of course the beautiful sequoias. We are at home, ”she said. “My son also reminds me frequently that ‘people are nicer here in Marin’.”


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