Many Tech Pros Can’t Afford a House in San Francisco, Seattle

Tech pros can pull down hefty salaries—according to the latest Dice Salary Survey, they earn an average of $93,244 annually. But what if that’s not enough to buy a house in their hometown?

According to the latest (anonymous) survey by Blind, some 59.24 percent of tech pros can’t afford to buy a house in the Bay Area. In Seattle, it’s almost as bad, with 47 percent of tech pros reporting an inability to purchase a home of their own.

(Some 3,600 tech pros from 21 companies in the Bay Area responded to the survey, along with 1,900 tech pros in Seattle; the survey was conducted between Feb. 23 and March 1. As with other Blind surveys, the anonymous nature of the platform makes it impossible to determine if any respondents are lying about their status; nonetheless, given what we know about high real-estate prices in these two cities, it seems logical that a hefty portion of tech pros can’t afford to buy.)

As usual, Blind also breaks down its results by company—and the results aren’t pretty. Some 75.64 percent of Tesla employees in the Bay Area reported being unable to buy a house, topping that particular list; Oath/Verizon Media came in second (with 74.36 percent) followed by Cisco (74.11 percent), eBay (67.66 percent), Nvidia (66.67 percent) and VMware (65.82 percent). Take a look at the full list:

On the other end of the scale, only 45.90 percent of Intel employees reported difficulty with affording homes in the Bay Area, just below Airbnb (51.69 percent) and Salesforce (51.81 percent).

In Seattle, things aren’t much better, with 49.54 percent of Amazon employees reporting the ability to purchase a home, just ahead of Microsoft (45.40 percent):

“The issue is many people who live in San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area don’t make enough to afford to buy a home so they are stuck renting,” Blind wrote in a blog posting accompanying the data. “The same situation applies in Seattle too, though to a lesser extent.”

For years, various studies have shown tech pros fleeing the Bay Area, headed for Portland, Seattle, Sacramento, Denver, and other cities. The Dice Salary Survey revealed that, despite high salaries in Silicon Valley, the equally high cost of living can erode even the most generous payouts. With tech salaries plateauing, some tech companies have shifted to offering generous perks and benefits in lieu of additional cash—but free snacks and a golden healthcare plan, while wonderful, can’t serve as a down payment on that one-bedroom in Mission Bay.

7 Responses to “Many Tech Pros Can’t Afford a House in San Francisco, Seattle”

  1. James Igoe

    Does one’s age and years working come into this analysis? At some companies, the average age is under 30, If you are making $125K, it is unlikely you’ll have the downpayment, particularly considering the cost of housing in major cities. In Manhattan, particularly for co-ops, boards have a high bar, and in extreme case, expect owners to have assets in multiples of the cost of the apartment.

    • Anonymous

      yep, that exactly right. solution is simple. working remote, offering the very same service level (if not higher) in terms of attendance and quality (when one does not spend on gas and 2.5 hours / day average on literally wasted time for transportation) then employers get more for less (much more for much less) while employees are also happier, so it is a win win situation.
      now, let’s look at the global picture. the entire anglo-american labor camp mostly rejects remote employees, especially in places like silicon valley and/or new york, which are supposed to be more advanced (socially and technologically). same for england, canada, australia, france, even germany. but reality is very interesting. countries like ex eastern europe, russia, china and such eu countries offer 100% income tax exemptions to software engineers and related businesses, offering outstanding working from home opportunities. i wonder why is that? could it be because intellectual property requires more intelligent pampering than the regular joe cheese factory supervisor, now playing software company owner?!? could be! just think about it…

    • Anonymous

      yep, on top of that, the larger the company/employer, the smaller the amount of acceptance for remote (advanced) employees is. examples: apple, facebook, google, amazon, they virtually allow NO remote engineers. from what i see, it is not a matter of trust, but rather a matter of (like one said once, recently) “make stupid people famous” and i am referring to the cheese factory mentality in those companies, at highest level and below. lemme give you another example. they talk about security, measure, implementation mechanisms, you name it. well, it is well known that 80-90% of security issues come from human negligence factors, lack of proper configuration, etc. this is all human trust related. i mean who you really trust to be your employee. clearly, one who needs the employee to be in the building, regardless the exorbitance of this, puts very little emphasis on human quality! so, their security reflects that abundantly. the less you trust your employee, the less chance you have to be there 10-20 years from now. time will tell.

    • Anonymous

      age, yes, interesting comment! in order to be really useful, one needs to have at least a masters degree (that makes is 25 years old right there, if properly done, not in local junior colleges, where relatives of indian origin teachers are planted and shared lesson plans). it also requires type safe languages (compiler is your friend) and performance based, scale-able solutions, young employees need at least 1-2 years to even think in proper c++ classes, not to mention anything about templates and beyond (meta-programming). of course, you will say “who is still using c++!?!” well, apparently about anybody who is somebody. that makes a 30 years old software engineer very green in terms of effective usefulness, or close. what we see instead is abominations like netflix (in the past) hiring high school graduates, or facebook basing their technology (initially) on stupid php and literally a huge explosion of improvisation languages (trying to be polite) like python (type unsafe, slow, multi-threaded nightmare and text book for how to not handle releases 2.x vs 3.x) or go (un-necessary, super slow and lying with premeditation about coroutines, as being a decent/usable alternative to traditional multi-threading) and of course, java, a blue collar language. the list goes longer. so it is the degeneration. of course, in silicon valley (and new york) one would expect smarter employers. no such thing, it’s actually quite the contrary, because they do not realize that building the digital nervous system of the nation (and planet) requires more than 19st century capitalist concepts (read cheese factory supervisors). time will tell (doesn’t it already???)

  2. Anonymous

    please allow me rephrase this. they cannot even afford renting a modest studio. buying a house in san francisco, new york, los angeles or silicon valley is literally impossible for middle class (engineers). by middle class engineers i mean people making 150-250k/year. these places are toxic and future will tell what happens there, in long term.

  3. Anonymous

    did you ever see the lines of cars, leaving the microsoft so called campus (in reality is a cheap cheese/software factory) when the shift is over (5pm)?!? they are about 10 miles long, employees with long years of advanced development can afford a house like 50-60 miles away from redmond/bellevue, extremely modest, yet exorbitant. love is in the air

  4. theLindus

    Who is surprised? SF and their neighbouring cities are notorious for not wanting more development. This pushes prices up exponentially. Think the only new development in the area is happening either further east beyond Oakland or far further south beyond San Jose leading to most uncomfortable commutes if you work in Silicon Alley.