Tech Pros Leaving Silicon Valley for Hubs Like Seattle, Portland: Study

If you’re not excited about the prospect (or reality) of living in San Francisco or Silicon Valley, you’re not alone. New data shows the Bay Area is experiencing an exodus.

According to LinkedIn, San Francisco is still net positive in terms of migration, with more people coming in than leaving, but other metro areas have also become more welcoming. The study doesn’t focus on tech pros and jobs in tech, but we’re seeing some strong indications tech is a major driver of these patterns.

Per 10,000 LinkedIn members, 4.52 leave the San Francisco area for Seattle; the latter tops the list, just ahead of Portland, Oregon with 2.92 transplants per 10,000. Sacramento, California is poaching talent as well, with 2.32 members migrating. Denver, Colorado and Austin, Texas round out the top five with 2.25 and 1.73 members, respectively.

Back-of-the-envelope math will tell you this isn’t a massive number of people, Seattle alone is less than 0.05 percent. LinkedIn says its findings are based on members who changed their profile location, which is a strong indicator they’ve moved permanently.

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You might assume money is pulling folks away, but that may not be the entire story. Seattle’s median annual tech income is $15,000 less than San Francisco, with a rising cost of living that probably doesn’t offset much. Denver tech pros earn roughly $20,000 less than their Silicon Valley counterparts, but the cost of living there is much more reasonable.

Portland tech salaries jumped big last year, but are still lower than San Francisco, Seattle, and Denver.

There are other factors to consider as drivers for an exodus from San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Cost of living in other areas is lower (even when it’s a slight difference), and a less-dense tech community helps individuals stand out professionally. Similarly, other locales tend to specialize in certain areas of tech, or have a stronger pull for languages; C developers find the job market in Seattle much friendlier, for example, and B2B tech pros might find Portland more welcoming.

Quality of life is also a consideration. With salaries leveling off and income satisfaction in tech steady, pros may be looking to leave San Francisco to experience a different pace. Apart from more money, companies are starting to offer better perks, which could draw talent away from Silicon Valley.

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3 Responses to “Tech Pros Leaving Silicon Valley for Hubs Like Seattle, Portland: Study”

  1. Lived in Portland for almost 8 years. It was great but most of the cities they mention in the article are becoming traffic nightmares due to the migrations and these smaller cities not having the infrastructure to keep up. When we left got to Portland in rush hour on a Friday night it would take an hour to go from one side of the city to the other. When we left years later it would sometimes take me upwards of three hours to get from one side of the city to the other. Portland and Seattle have choke points due to all the bridges. Austin will be able to more easily cope with the infrastructure needed. We still miss the NW.