Which Tech Hubs Have the Best Cost of Living?

Ask someone to name the top tech hubs, at least in terms of job opportunities and concentration of tech talent, and chances are good they’ll name the usual suspects: San Francisco, New York, and Seattle.

But as anyone who follows the market knows, there are many cities that provide lots of tech-industry opportunities, without the eye-watering rent you might find in the Bay Area or Brooklyn. Real estate and investment firm CBRE, in the latest edition of its annual list of best cities for tech talent, features a few of these. In order to make the list, a city had to demonstrate not only lots of available tech talent, but also a reasonable cost of living (as quantified by the growth in apartment rents).

Here’s CBRE’s list:

  1. San Francisco Bay
  2. Seattle
  3. New York City
  4. Washington, D.C.
  5. Atlanta
  6. Toronto
  7. Raleigh-Durham
  8. Austin
  9. Boston
  10. Dallas/Fort Worth

It’s no surprise that CBRE would rank the Bay Area, Seattle, and New York City as the best cities for tech talent, although anyone who lives in those cities knows that the cost of living is often insane, even with roommates. In fact, that availability of tech opportunities largely explains their placement at the very top of the list; it’s certainly not the $5,000 one-bedrooms.

Which is why, although places like San Francisco have especially dense concentrations of tech jobs, the cities further down the list are reportedly catching up fast. In these places, the cost of renting an apartment within the town limits doesn’t cost a proverbial arm and a leg. “We’re seeing that large, low-cost markets such as Toronto and Atlanta have grown faster in recent years than the larger and more well-known markets,” Colin Yasukochi, told USA Today.

Compare that to the latest Dice Salary Survey, which broke down the U.S. cities with the highest salaries (and biggest year-over-year salary increases):

  1. Silicon Valley ($114,184 average salary in 2016)
  2. Boston ($103,368)
  3. San Diego ($102,899)
  4. Minneapolis ($99,404)
  5. Los Angeles ($99,400)
  6. New York ($99,354)
  7. Seattle ($99,290)
  8. Washington, D.C./Baltimore ($97,958)
  9. Denver ($96,530)
  10. Dallas ($95,130)

Of course, not all markets are created equal; and if a city placed higher on CBRE’s list, it’s likely because average apartment rents in that city trail those of, say, Silicon Valley or Boston. But that being said, there is clearly a strong correlation between the size of the tech talent “pool” and the cost of living. You might find a lot of opportunity in Silicon Valley, but it will surely cost you far more to live there than in Dallas or Raleigh-Durham.


14 Responses to “Which Tech Hubs Have the Best Cost of Living?”

July 27, 2017 at 7:33 am, Anthony said:

This report leaves out the fact that certain software and database platforms are more prevalent in certain geographic locations. If your particular skill set is more prevalent in a particular geographic location, that is where the most job opportunities for you will be.


July 27, 2017 at 7:57 am, Elise Levenson Scher said:

What about cities in Europe, Israel, Mexico?


July 27, 2017 at 8:36 am, 6kooter said:

Article title is “Which Tech Hubs Have the Best Cost of Living?” . There is a list of cities with most tech talent and a list of cities by salary range, so where is a list about “Which Tech Hubs Have the Best Cost of Living?”


July 27, 2017 at 8:55 am, Chris said:

I was thinking the same thing. It talks about it as if it is an adjusted list, but it isn’t.


July 27, 2017 at 9:03 am, Dave said:

I was wondering about that myself. Where IS the CoL breakdown?


July 27, 2017 at 6:47 pm, Matt said:

Agreed, The article doesn’t provide the list in the title. That hurts the reputation of Dice in my opinion. Makes it seem more like click bait.


July 27, 2017 at 9:37 am, Renee said:

Agree with everyone else but will add I think seattles reported avg salary is lower than what I see in Seattle. Wondering what tech jobs are being included that are pulling down the average.


July 27, 2017 at 9:56 am, John McPhillips said:

I think this list is backwards. How could the SF Bay Area be number one? It’s the most expensive place in the US. This list is dumb and doesn’t put things into perspective. Yes, you can get a great job at 100k+ but that is nothing when your rent is 5k/month.


July 27, 2017 at 10:17 am, Nick F said:

Nothing new and nothing as expected before reading it. Thank you for playing with our time Dice.


July 27, 2017 at 11:04 am, Ira Friedwald said:

You forgot about Portland.


July 27, 2017 at 11:06 am, David Weeks said:

Click bait.


July 27, 2017 at 2:05 pm, Mike said:

ummm, will someone please explain to Nick Kolakowski what the phrase “best cost of living” means.


July 28, 2017 at 2:19 pm, DEB said:

This list has no credibility at all. I currently in Washington DC area now and this area offers the WORST salaries to live on and NOT adjusted to the cost of living in DC


July 31, 2017 at 2:29 am, Michael said:

As noted by many others, this is a completely meaningless article and a total click bait. The title is “best cost of living” and you put bay area, New York and Seattle at the top? What’s next, the most affordable stores are Sacks and Tiffanys and the most affordable cars are Porsche and Ferraris??

Shame on Dice for publishing such a misleading article. The only result of this was that I’m rather unlikely to read much at Dice again.


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