By Marisa Kendall
The Mercury News
Even Bay Area tech workers blame a lot of their problems on housing.
The region’s sky-high rents and home prices are exacerbating their commutes, forcing their paychecks to stretch thinner, and, according to a new survey, keeping them childless longer.
Though some residents blame the area’s highly paid tech workers for driving up the cost of housing, data increasingly shows that these days, even tech workers feel squeezed by the Bay Area’s scorching prices.
Fifty-eight percent of tech workers surveyed recently said they have delayed starting a family due to the rising cost of living, according to a poll that included employees from Apple, Uber, Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Lyft and other Bay Area companies.
The poll, which was released this week, was conducted by Blind, an online social network designed to let people share anonymous opinions about their workplaces.
Blind surveyed 8,284 tech workers from all over the world, with a large focus on the Bay Area and Seattle.
Blind spokeswoman Curie Kim said the findings were “really surprising.”
“In the Bay Area, tech employees are known to make one of the highest salaries in the nation,” she said, “but if these people also feel that they can’t afford housing and they can’t start a family because of the rising cost of living, who can?”
Blind, launched in 2015, has 11,000 Google employees on its platform, 8,000 Uber employees, 7,000 Facebook employees and 6,000 Apple employees. Housing is one of the most popular topics of conversation on the Blind platform, Kim said.
Apple had the largest portion of employees who said they had been forced to delay starting a family, 69 percent of employees surveyed. That compares to 64 percent of Uber employees, 63 percent of Google employees, 59 percent of Lyft employees, 53 percent of Facebook employees and 51 percent of Salesforce employees.
Oracle had the lowest rate, with 45 percent of employees reporting they’d had to delay starting a family. The average base salary for a software engineer at Apple is $121,083 a year, according to Glassdoor. At Oracle, it’s $111,000.
Angie Evans, whose husband works in tech, said she’s not surprised these employees are putting off having kids. As parents of two young daughters, ages 3 years and 4 months, the couple has struggled to find affordable and stable housing in Palo Alto.
It’s frustrating for Evans, who has a master’s degree and works at a nonprofit in San Mateo, and her husband, who helps Verizon deploy Internet of Things technology and other smart devices.
“Anywhere else in the country, we’d be successful people who owned a home and didn’t worry about anything,” 34-year-old Evans said. “But here, that’s not the case.”
The couple moved to the Bay Area from New York City in 2014, with money saved and dreams of buying a house. But after spending a year looking for a home in Redwood City, San Mateo and San Carlos, and having three offers rejected, they gave up, realizing they couldn’t afford to buy.
Instead they rented an apartment in downtown Palo Alto, only to experience a $500 rent increase over two years. So they uprooted and moved into a single-family rental home in Palo Alto’s Crescent Park neighborhood.
Since she never knows when they might have to move because of a rent hike or another obstacle, Evans said planning for her children’s future is difficult. When she moved out of the downtown Palo Alto apartment, she had to forfeit the money she’d spent to place her girls on waitlists for nearby daycares and schools.
“I think you would be hard-pressed to talk to any renters with young children here who are not always thinking about leaving,” Evans said. “You go to the park, you go to pick up your kids, you go to a birthday party, and that’s the topic that comes up with everyone, so how much longer do you think you can stay?”
The family’s housing stress has given Evans a unique perspective. When she found out the gender of her second daughter, she was thrilled, but not because she was excited to dress the little girl up in pink dresses and bows.
She was thrilled because the news meant the girls could share a room, and that means the family never has to pay for a home with more than two bedrooms.
“We won the Bay Area lottery,” Evans joked.