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?”

  1. Anthony

    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.

  2. 6kooter

    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?”

  3. 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.

  4. John McPhillips

    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.

  5. 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

  6. Michael

    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.