Leaving Wine Country and the High Cost of Success

Wow…talk about being a victim of success:

“Forty-six percent of Bay Area residents surveyed said they are likely to move out of the region in the next few years — up from 40 percent last year and 34 percent in 2016, according to a poll released Sunday by business-backed public policy advocacy group the Bay Area Council.

The numbers show a disturbing trend in one of the nation’s most expensive housing markets: Workers desperate for a better quality of life and without housing options will go elsewhere, potentially plunging the region into a financial downturn.”

What’s not to like about the Bay Area and Napa and Sonoma Counties in particular. The region is stunningly beautiful. Access to an array of natural resources is remarkable. It is arguably the greatest food and wine region in America. It is populated by a collection of very welcoming peoples. And the weather….well, second to none.

But, it is so f’ing expensive to live here that nearly half of those polled recently said they are likely to move away in the next few years. And I’m one of those people.

But imagine trying to be a winery and hiring really good talent to staff your place. What if you want some really top notch hospitality or marketing or PR people at your Napa or Sonoma winery. You are essentially limiting yourself to the folks who already live here and who have a workable housing situation. Once someone from out-of-state looks at the cost of housing and the cost of living, they don’t even apply for your job. Your only solution is to raise wages considerably.

The Napa and Sonoma housing situations are particularly dire. After the fires, numerous homes and apartments are gone. Those that remain have significantly increased their asking prices. For example, here is a lovely 3bd, 1ba home in the town of Napa that you can get for a mere half a million dollars. Just imagine all you can do with those 800 square feet of lovely living space.

The only real solution to the housing problem in Napa and Sonoma is a drastic increase in inventory. This happens in one of two ways: 1) a significant amount of new homes and apartments are built or 2) a significant number of homes and apartments come on the market. Based on the difficulting of getting approval for new construction in this area and based on the results of the poll, it appears that solution number 2 is the only real possibility.

For me and my family, the solution is Oregon; specifically, the Willamette Valley. Wanting to continue to live in wine country and near a metropolitan area and wanting to buy a nice home and wanting to stay working in the wine industry, Oregon is by far the best solution. My number of golf days will be reduced due to the weather, but all our other requirements will be met. I’ve lived in the Bay Area for 55 years. I’ve lived in Sonoma/Napa for 25 years. Leaving will be hard. But, leaving it must be.

Posted In: Napa Valley, Personal

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