Current Market State
Back in the day, the pathway to success within the technology industry was to work in Silicon Valley at one of the big tech giants such as Google or Microsoft. But due to the evolution of the industry, this new younger generation of tech workers are valuing their work-life balance more so than ever; resulting in the creation of new tech hubs across the country.
Currently, the tech world is the most competitive its ever been; for both job seekers and employers alike. That being said, tech workers are willing and ready to move for the right position. According to CompTIA, 78% of tech professionals have moved, considered or would consider leaving where they currently reside for a new role, particularly if it’s to an area with a lower cost of living, nicer weather, and shorter commute times. CompTIA has also created a ranking system, called the “Tech Town Index” which provides the IT community with a measure on where opportunity intersects with affordability and quality of life.
CompTIA evaluated 20 different cities with populations over 250,000, where the demand for workers in the IT sector is high. These cities were then ranked by cost of living, number of postings for open IT roles, and projected job growth over the course of both the year and the next 5 years. The bottom line from this case study is that there is an apparent need for IT oriented workers across the country. We can now further break down the CompTIA findings to come to our own conclusions regarding where the best cities to relocate for a new tech role are.
Top 5 Cities for IT Professionals
Coming in at number five is a city we all expect to see on this list, San Francisco. With the combination of innovative new talent, state-of-the-art facilities, and private capital, the San Francisco bay area proves to be a top tech destination year after year. When we reference the CompTIA Index, San Francisco tops the ranks in both 1-year and 5-year job growth – growth that is still available. Currently in the bay area, there are 88 “unicorns”. Unicorns are privately held start-ups worth more than one billion dollars, and the bay area has more of them than any other region of the world. So, when taking this into account, the benefits of being at the “epicenter of tech” may outweigh the costs of living there.
At number four is a newcomer to the top five, Seattle. Seattle provides big city opportunities, but with the feel of a small city. A bunch of big players in the tech industry have set up shop in Seattle, including Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, and Facebook. Local Seattle IT professionals earn a median salary of around $116,000, however this large base is needed due to the fact that the cost of living is nearly 21% higher than the national average.
Number three on the list is another Silicon Valley hub, San Jose. San Jose is home to giants such as Apple, Google, Adobe, Cisco, and more. According to the CompTIA index, tech jobs within the San Jose metro area are expected to increase by at least 10% over the course of the next five years. It’s apparent that the opportunity for IT professionals is huge in San Jose, but unfortunately, so is everything else. The cost of living in San Jose is around 45% higher than the national average; double the cost of Seattle. That being said, the average median salary of $130,000 translates to about $90,000 after adjusting for cost of living. At the end of the day, you don’t have to live in San Jose or even California in order to enjoy a profitable tech career. However, if you’re willing to pay more in exchange for 300+ days of sunshine each year, then San Jose is the city to be at.
Coming in at number two overall, and topping multiple categories on the CompTIA Index is the city of Raleigh, North Carolina. Home some of the largest biotech companies in the world and surrounded by top universities; Raleigh is a hub for both talent and opportunity. The cost of living in Raleigh is 5% lower than the national average, and with a median salary of $92,000, you can really maximize your paycheck. In a city that has established world-class theaters and museums, and a growing music/art scene, Raleigh is the perfect destination for any young IT professional looking to take the next big step in their career, or even a place to settle down long term for a seasoned IT veteran.
Topping our chart this year is a city that has been on the come-up for some time now; Austin, Texas. In 2018 alone, 46 major tech companies relocated to the area, and bigger players have been building up their current offices. Companies such as Dell, IBM, Google, and Apple have been present in the area, but have all recently dumped a ton of money into developing new facilities. Apple, for example, recently announced a $1 billion investment for a new campus, and more big names within the tech world are predicted to follow suit. Even with all the innovation occurring in the area, the cost of living in Austin is still 3.5% lower than the US average. Paired with a median salary of around $89,000 and a booming real estate market, it’s easy to see why so many people are moving to Austin.
At the end of the day, there are still many factors to consider when evaluating wage and overall relocation worth. Wage varies based on occupation, company size, industry, experience level, and education. However, with overall cost of living an essential to 82% of tech workers, and nearly two-thirds citing weather and commute times as important factors as well, the good news is that tech workers now have the opportunity to write their own stories, and these new tech hubs in the aforementioned cities are helping to really change that narrative. Here at The Phoenix Group, we work with companies in all the discussed markets, if you are looking to make a move or in need of top talent, don’t hesitate to set up a call with our team!