Ask a resident about San Francisco and anyone who’s a millennial or older will likely tell you it is a city of challenges. They’ll cite everything from homelessness to expensive housing to the Covid exodus. But new research indicates that SF’s Gen Z—a.k.a residents born in 1997 or after— are more satisfied with many aspects of life here than Gen Zers living in other U.S. cities.
“I spend almost all my free time in parks where we spend a lot of time playing games, having birthday parties, listening to music and sitting,” says Allison Lettiere, 23, who lives near Golden Gate Park. For Gen Z residents like herself, she says the city’s combination of dense urban living and ample green spaces are what differentiate San Francisco from other big cities. It’s easy to meet up with friends and the parks make for lots of inexpensive ways to hang out.
“When I’m in SF, I can say ‘Hey, let's go to the park,’ versus in New York, where I visited over the winter, everything we did was really expensive,” says Lettiere.
Indeed, a generational shift may be at work. The Standard’s June Voter Poll found Gen Z was the happiest generation with life in the city. A total of 63% of Gen Z reported satisfaction with life in SF compared to only 37% of Gen X.
Not Your Parents’ Office
A new report says San Francisco is the top large city for Gen Z job satisfaction, too. The study from Glassdoor, a site where employees review companies, says San Francisco tech companies’ emphasis on employee happiness, culture and social consciousness is why the city is the highest-ranked large city, said Glassdoor Associate Economist Richard Johnson.
“Overall, San Francisco offers Gen Z workers a nice balance of top tier experience and job opportunities paired with competitive perks, pay and flexibility,” he wrote in an email. The report says Gen Z is most attracted to jobs that reflect their desire to impact social change and guide company culture.
It’s not surprising Gen Z wants a good work atmosphere: The Standard’s Voter Poll showed Gen Z were more likely than other age groups to want hybrid or in-person work.
The Glassdoor report analyzed its database of company reviews and found that SF placed fourth on a list of highest Gen Z-rated cities in the country, following Boise, Idaho; Arlington, Virginia; and Scottsdale, Arizona. SF is also the highest ranked large city on the list; well above Los Angeles and New York.
Additionally, a survey conducted by online education and career ecosystem Tallo found that 69% of Gen Z would be more likely to apply for a job that had recruiters and materials reflecting an ethnically and racially diverse workplace, something that SF businesses have been vocal about prioritizing.
Aom Pong is one of those Gen Zers. She moved to SF a month ago to work at autonomous vehicle company Cruise.
“[San Francisco] has the vibe of passion for technology and knowledge,” she said. “There is a drive to build things and that has been fun…People who move in will be happy with their jobs—their offices are here, they have a good job that pays well, and they can live a quality life.”
It Takes A Village
Even SF’s housing market doesn’t dissuade these young adults. Earlier this year, a study published by Rentcafe dubbed San Francisco the “No. 1 Trendiest City” for Gen Z, reporting a 101% increase in SF’s share of Gen Z rental applicants in 2021 compared to the prior year, the highest increase of any city in the U.S.
San Francisco’s infamous housing costs might not be so much of an issue for Zoomers, who don’t mind cramming into dorm-like quarters, especially after years of pandemic isolation.
And though average rents remain high, Gen Z’s ability to find a rental in San Francisco has never been easier. Rent listing service Rentcafe listed SF’s rental market competitiveness as low compared to other cities in California. On average, apartments are sitting vacant for 41 days and see around eight prospective renters. Occupancy rates in the city sit at 93% compared to more competitive markets like Orange County and San Diego, with occupancy rates above 97% in both regions.
For many in Gen Z, the opportunity to grow a network of like-minded individuals and establish a type of second family make city life uniquely special.
Lettiere says that she recently lived with ten roommates—and loved it.
“I thought it was so much fun,” she said. “ It was my ideal situation…We would watch TV together, cook together and hang out together.”