Silicon Valley, which created enormous fortunes for tech entrepreneurs and their employees, does not possess the allure that it once did. Job seekers in the San Francisco and San Jose area have been looking for employment outside the 50 square-mile region that extends to the bottom of the Bay Area peninsula. About 44% of job searches that coders, developers and data scientists conduct are targeted at areas outside of the Northern California tech mecca. One reason for the exodus stands out. The cost of living in San Francisco and its surrounds has skyrocketed. Paysa reports that living standards eat up 61% of salary in Silicon Valley. Compare that figure to the cost of living in Atlanta, Georgia, which exhausts 41% of salary. A programmer earning $100,000 in Atlanta retains 20% or $20,000 more income for other expenses or savings than would a similar worker in San Francisco. That’s a tidy sum. So, where are the regions that offer the best value for tech careers? The following five cities, with an equitable balance between salary and cost of living, have seen significant growth in tech jobs and startup companies.
|CITY||TECH SALARY (avg)||COST OF LIVING |
(% of salary)
The Home Depot
|Software as a Service|
One of the top destinations for Silicon Valley tech emigrants is Seattle, Washington. The median home price between Seattle and San Francisco differs greatly: $414,000 for the former and $834,000 for the latter, according to Zillow. The median rental payment sits at $3,600 in Silicon Valley while Seattle apartments command a payment of $2,100 per month. Parlay those costs with the average salary for a software engineer in Seattle and in the Bay Area – and the main financial reasons for relocation become clear. The cost of living as a percentage of salary in Seattle ranks number one among technology hubs. A data scientist in the Washington tech center could expect to spend 41% of their salary on rent/mortgage payments, food, clothing, and the like. Along with manageable expenses, residents of the Northwest hub delight in two kinds of brews. Most every street corner features either a coffee shop serving up eclectic blends or a pub pouring local craft beer.
Job supply factors into the decision to move north. Some of the big names in the Seattle tech market include Amazon, Microsoft, Nintendo, Snapchat, Redfin and Dropbox. Here’s a look at the average tech salaries:
The Southeast has seen a flurry of tech activity and Atlanta, Georgia delivers a nice mix of affordability and opportunity. Atlanta’s cost of living percentage ties Seattle at 41%. Rents for a 900 square foot apartment range from about $1,200 monthly in an average area to about $1,700 in more upscale neighborhoods. Many transplants also consider climate when changing locales. Winter in Atlanta doesn’t come close to the chill of Mark Twain’s mythical summer in San Francisco. The average temperature in the Georgia metropolis is 61.4 degrees Fahrenheit, a bit more temperate than San Francisco whose average is 57.3 degrees. Like its techie counterpart by the bay, Atlanta also hosts four professional sports franchises for fans of the game.
Some of the more recognizable tech firms operating in the Atlanta metro area include software developer SAP America and Microsoft whose reputation precedes itself. Here’s a look at the average tech salaries.
Home to the University of Texas, Austin, Texas has also beefed up its tech stature. Each year, the city welcomes thousands of artists to the renowned South by Southwest music and film festival. As employment goes, the 2016 CBRE Tech-Thirty report revealed that jobs in the sector grew 33% from 2013 through 2015, trailing only Phoenix and San Francisco. Paysa’s popularity index recognizes that certain cities have greater demand for particular tech skill sets. Individuals with Software as a Service background are 1.74 times more in demand in Austin than the rest of the nation. The Texas capital ranks third in cost of living, requiring only 48% of salary to meet day-to-day expenses. With the national average at 100, ACCRA’s cost of living index places Austin’s transportation and healthcare expenses at 98.9 and 103.3 respectively whereas San Francisco measures in at 130.3 and 118.4 for the same categories.
The who’s who of tech concerns in Austin reads like an all-star lineup. VISA, Dell, Amazon and IBM all have significant presences in the city. Here’s a look at the average tech salaries.
Californians interested in making a move need not travel far to find less expensive living arrangements. Denver, Colorado tech hires will enjoy a cost of living that consumes about 11% less than it would in Silicon Valley. In addition, U.S. News and World Report ranks Denver number two in livability among all metro areas in the nation. The score of 7.5 out of a possible 10 results from values assigned to categories such as desirability, value, quality of life and the job market. Perhaps due in part to the tech boom, Denver’s unemployment rates register at 3.2%, about 1.7% below the national average. Median home prices sit at $314,021, nearly $113,000 above the national average but far below the $818,000 median for the tech hotbed in Northern California.
Demand for routing and IP skills in the Mile High City more than double the average in the rest of the country. The usual suspects in tech don’t dominate the Denver market, but companies such as Comcast, Raytheon and Charter Communications offer ample opportunities to job seekers. Here’s a look at the average tech salaries.
Early innovator Ben Franklin would likely be proud of the advances Philadelphia has made as a technology hub. The overall cost of living in Philadelphia is 34% below that of San Francisco, housing costs 58% beneath its West Coast counterpart being a major factor in the calculation. At 58% beneath its West Coast counterpart, housing costs skew that calculation. The sprawling Philadelphia suburbs provide the best of both worlds: a small town feel just a short commute from a major metropolitan area. About 8.4% of residents in villages such as Bryn Mawr telecommute, a figure that more than doubles the national average. Many workers rely on the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s vast network of train routes that dot nearly every suburb within a 20-mile radius of the city.
Home to Comcast, Philadelphia also hosts several financial services organizations that employ many tech employees. Vanguard and JPMorgan Chase combined offer tech job searchers a variety of positions in the banking and mutual fund arenas. Here’s a look at the average tech salaries.
Many tech professionals seemingly want out of Silicon Valley. Expenses aside, the recent spate of bad press emanating from the hub may have something to do with it. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick didn’t help matters much when a video surfaced showing him viciously chastising a driver. And Facebook casually moved ahead with its developer conference even while the hunt for the Facebook killer pressed on. As such, the ethical and practical concerns of current Bay Area employees has them looking for careers in cities where affordability allows them to keep more of their pay. Those cities represent various geographic regions across the United States.
See our full report on Tech Jobs in Non Tech Hubs here.