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Silicon Forest Attracting Workers, Retirees at Fast Rates

Zillow • Apr 29, 2014 at 4:07 PM

By S.E. Slack

Where is everyone? According to United Van Lines, they’re heading west. Denver, Portland, San Jose, San Francisco and Seattle are among the top cities with the largest influx of movers into the metropolitan region compared to the number of people departing. Technical occupations, millennials and retirees are fueling the moves.

While the Bay Area cities are world-famous for their contributions to technology, few realize that Portland, Ore., has been in back-up position for the past twenty-five years. For more than two decades, it’s been called Silicon Forest.

Michael A. Stoll, economist, professor and chair of the Department of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, explains that the continued growth in the tech sector continues to attract tech workers to Northern California from around the country. The high cost of living there, however, is forcing many to move on.

Real estate firm Zillow states that the median home value in Portland is $282,400, a healthy increase of 9.6 percent over this timeframe in 2012. In San Jose, median home values year-over-year have skyrocketed 20 percent to $643,900 while San Francisco home values now average $871,100. Even with interest rates still at near-record lows, the average family simply can’t afford a mortgage in those areas.

Rents in San Francisco, for example, have increased nearly 6 percent in the past year to an average of $3,300 a month according to Zillow. In Portland, however, they have increased just 2.6 percent to $1,300 a month.

“Portland is also experiencing unprecedented growth,” he says, “attracting a range of millennials and retirees relocating for amenities such as public transit, green space, local arts and a vibrant urban culture."

Part of Portland’s attraction lies in its small-town feel, as opposed to other locale’s big-city appeal. It can be dreary after months of cloudy, wet days but summers explode with a burst of roses, sunshine and outdoor activities that urban areas in California can’t match.

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