These Are the Worst Major Metro Areas for IT Jobs

Ever wondered about the worst metro areas for IT jobs? Wonder no more: As we’ve said before, Silicon Valley is a smokescreen.

Sure, the Bay Area has great weather (sometimes) and big tech companies, but the allure of wearing shorts to work and cafeterias with lobster rolls hides the ugly truth that the area far too expensive for most tech workers, and the average job lasts about two years. In other words, the local industry chews you up, spits you out, rinses and repeats. (Studies show tech pros in Silicon Valley are driven into debt, and feel home ownership is out of reach.)

That’s no way to live. While Bay Area tech pros make above-average salaries, those earnings are usually negated by sky-high rent.

A new study from RentCafe leans into Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data to gauge tech job income versus average rent pricing. We took the data a step further, comparing the average annual salary to the average cost of rent in those locales. And, well – please just stay out of California.

As you can see, San Francisco and San Jose (the biggest city in Silicon Valley) top this list, with Boston coming in third (or, ‘2b’ really). Washington, D.C. and Seattle, Washington round out the top five.

A surprise showing on the list is Madison, Wisconsin. Though its cost of living is higher than Baltimore, Maryland and Raleigh, North Carolina, Madison has a very decent salary/rent ratio; it’s clearly a tech hub to watch.

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Another trend here is Silicon Valley’s spread. If we start at the lower end of this spectrum, in Raleigh, we see a general shift towards more expensive cost of living as you go west. (Outliers such as Boston and Washington D.C. exist, naturally, but Seattle and Denver sit high on this list.)

If you need even worse news, this comparison involves gross salary. Rent is an after-tax expense, so you can scale all of these figures up a bit. We can’t make a direct comparison (tax withholdings are unique, and we can’t account for other pre-tax withholdings such as health benefits packages), so these figures actually get worse depending on your geographical location. Washington and Texas, for instance, do not tax income on a state level.

In comparing cost of living to annual income, you get a better idea of which locations may be worth considering for your next job. If you have a good job in Austin, for instance, there’s no apparent driver to uproot yourself for the disruptive Uber-for-x startup in San Francisco. Stay home, buy a house, enjoy life.