It's no secret that longtime residents of San Francisco are being forced out of the city due to the red-hot (though possibly rapidly cooling) tech scene and spiraling home prices. But most people probably assume the folks taking those newly vacant apartments are highly paid software engineers and other techies. The Bay Area is paradise for those with coding skills and a paycheck from the likes of Google or Facebook, right?

Maybe not.

The cracks have been showing in the "SF is nirvana for nerds" narrative for awhile now. Perhaps you caught the story about the Google employee living in a van in the company parking lot, for instance. Or maybe you saw the study last year that showed even techies can't afford the rent in San Francisco anymore. Now there's even more evidence that tech workers are getting fed up with the sky-high cost of living and other lifestyle challenges of the area.

Smaller city, better life?

Newly released data from job search site shows that engineers and other highly skilled workers are increasingly looking for greener pastures in smaller tech hubs.

"As of February 1, 35 percent of tech job searches on from the region were for jobs elsewhere, data from the company shows. That share, which is based on 30-day averages and adjusted for seasonal factors, was up about 30 percent year-over-year," reports Quartz's Ashley Rodriguez.

Job seekers between the ages of 31 and 40 -- not coincidentally the time in life when people tend to be looking to settle down and expand their families -- were most likely to be looking to leave. Where are these tech workers hoping to go? New York (not exactly a huge step down in the insane rent department), Austin, Seattle, Atlanta and Houston topped the list.

Indeed's findings make intuitive sense given the current quality-of-life challenges in the Valley and jive with comments from other tech-scene insiders. The Bay Area has long drawn the nation's top tech talent, but Rackspace futurist and tech scene veteran Robert Scoble recently noted that he's "seeing signs that the flow of talent from small-town America to Silicon Valley is reversing," for example.

This trend is great news for startups in emerging tech hubs who are looking to recruit top people. But only if the Bay Area big boys don't beat them to the punch. "Where the talent goes, companies follow. We're seeing this already with tech giants like Facebook opening offices in Austin and Seattle, and Google leasing space in downtown Portland," notes Rodriguez.