- The cost of living in major tech hubs is so high that some tech professionals are struggling to get by with their current salaries.
- Smaller tech hub cities offer ample opportunity (and good tech salaries) without the higher costs of living.
Here’s some exciting news: according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the U.S. median income recently reached an all-time high of $59,039.
Combine that with the low unemployment rate and it becomes clear that Americans are sitting pretty right now. People in the U.S. are earning more than ever and most aren’t having trouble finding work. On a micro-level, the tech industry reflects these employment trends. Tech salaries have always been quite generous, but in today’s candidate-driven market, companies are offering up more than ever to try and attract top talent.
Tech salaries average $121,695 in San Francisco according to Paysa data. You’d think that would be more than enough to cover your cost of living in the Bay Area. After all, that’s more than double the national average.
But, that may not be the case. While accepting a $121,000 tech job in other areas of the country might have you living like a king, the cost of living in San Francisco could make $121,000 feel like minimum wage depending on your family size.
Of course, tech companies are spreading to other areas of the country left and right. So, the Paysa team put together this post to help you figure out exactly how much you need to earn in 10 major US tech hubs to live comfortably.
To kick things off, let’s look at San Francisco:
#1. San Francisco Bay Area
That $121,000 per year salary is likely enough for you to get by as a single person living in the San Francisco Bay Area, but good luck if you’re moving there with a family. According to cost of living data from Paysa, the average monthly renter expense for a family of four is $9,100. That equals out to $109,200 per year in take home pay.
Considering take-home pay on $121,000 per year is likely around $6,500 per month ($78,000), you’re going to need a second source of income as a family to cover those monthly costs. Or, you can take your talents to a more affordable market, like…
#2. New York City
Admittedly, New York City isn’t necessarily synonymous with “affordability.” But, when compared next to San Francisco, The Big Apple looks downright cheap. The average cost of living for a single adult renter in NYC is $2,800 per month, with the average family of four spending $7,000 each month. That’s $33,600 and $84,000 annual salary respectively.
Some people want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life without sacrificing the career potential. And for them, we’ve got just the tech hub to consider…
#3. Santa Cruz, CA
For many, Santa Cruz offers the best of both worlds—a super fun, laid back living environment paired with ample opportunity to develop your flourishing tech career. Santa Cruz is close enough to Silicon Valley that you never feel too detached from what’s going on in tech, but far enough away that you can escape the brutal cost of living in that area. While a single person in Santa Cruz actually has a higher cost of living than someone in New York (but probably a lot fewer roommates), families can expect an average monthly spend of $7,400. To cover that, take-home pay needs to be at least $88,800 annually.
#4. Los Angeles, CA
More and more tech companies are flocking to Los Angeles to take advantage of the perfect climate and glamorous lifestyle. That lifestyle comes at a cost though. The cost of living for a single person in LA is $3,200 per month, with families paying upwards of $7,000 per month to live comfortably in the City of Angels. That equals out to annual take-home salaries of $38,400 and $84,000 respectively.
#5. Boston, MA
Boston is a growing hub for health technology companies and as more people flock to the city, the cost of living inevitably increases. Today, a single renter in Boston can expect to pay an average of $3,000 per month in living expenses — an average take-home of $36,000 per year. Alternatively, the cost of living for a family of four in Boston hovers around $6,900 per month or $82,800 annually.
#6. Boulder, CO
In a similar fashion to Santa Cruz, Boulder offers the best of both worlds for tech talent. Not only can you find great jobs with companies like Cognizant and Google, you also have ample access to outdoor activities and a cost of living that is well below what you’d find in other major tech hubs. Families in Boulder pay about $6,900 per month ($82,800 annually) in expenses when renting, where a single renter’s cost of living in Boulder is around $3,000 per month or $36,000 per year.
#7. San Diego, CA
In San Diego, you get amazing weather year-round with a fairly affordable cost of living. San Diegans pay about the same as families and single renters in Boulder. So really, your choice is snowy slopes or sunny shores (oh, and the job opportunities, of course).
#8. Washington, DC
Our nation’s capital is home to a lot more than jobs in the political realm. Tech companies have been migrating to DC over the last few years and bringing some of the most talented engineers, designers, and scientists along with them. If you’re interested in working in DC, the cost of living for a single renter is $3,000 per month, where a family can expect to pay $7,600 per month. That equals out to $36,000 and $91,200 annual salary respectively.
#9. Seattle, WA
Seattle is far from the best-kept-secret in tech it was a few years ago, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still one of the best places to live for a tech career. The average cost of living for a family in Seattle is $6,800 per month (or $81,600 per year), with single renters paying considerably less at $2,900 each month — that equals $34,800 per year.
#10. Cincinnati, OH
Closing out the list is a real affordable option. Cincy may not have the glitz and glam of LA or NYC. It may not have the beaches or slopes of San Diego or Boulder. But it’s a great city with a lot to offer tech talent. The average cost of living for a single person in Cincinnati is just $1,900 per month, with families able to get by on $4,900 per month. That comes out to a low $22,800 and $58,800 annual salary respectively.
Want to see some other great tech hubs not included in this list?
Check out a recent post on the Paysa blog that details the top tech hubs in the southeastern United States and visit Paysa to check out the cost of living for any city in the country.