But enduring a daily grind that made her feel like a "gerbil on a wheel," Eaton reached her limit.Skyrocketing costs for housing, food and gasoline, along with the area's insufferable gridlock, prompted the four-decade Bay Area resident to seek greener pastures -- 2,000 miles away in Ohio.

Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group

During the 12 months ending June 30, the number of people leaving California for another state exceeded by 61,100 the number who moved here from elsewhere in the U.S., according to state Finance Department statistics.

The area's sizzling job market and robust economy have created a domino effect: income spikes for highly trained workers, more people packing the area's roads, red-hot demand for housing.

They have actively scouted for houses in the Rocky Mountains region, including a trip to Colorado to look for prospective homes.

"The inconvenience of the Bay Area is a major factor," said Thomas Norman, a lifelong Bay Area resident burdened by a two-hour round-trip commute to an East Bay optometry practice.

Eaton, while happy to have escaped the high cost of living and traffic, recently found herself longing for one Bay Area staple -- its mild weather.

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