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by Sam Radbil | January 02, 2020

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Living in the San Francisco Bay Area is expensive. Even engineers with six-figure salaries have a hard time finding affordable homes anywhere near their workplaces. Sites like Payscale claim that you need an annual income of over $210,000 just to afford a $1,000,000 home, and that’s just the median San Jose home price. Also, San Francisco rents are notoriously high, so engineers that can’t afford homes usually don’t do much better on the rental market. As a result, tech professionals have been looking to cities outside the Bay Area for jobs.

Ideally, to find the best Silicon Valley alternatives, you need to factor in median tech salaries, median rents, and median household incomes. Here, we gathered all that info and more to come up with nine livable and affordable alternatives to the Bay Area.

Austin, Tex.

Although you might tired of seeing Austin at the top of many “best of” lists, the city has way too much going for it to exclude here. Unemployment in Austin has been hovering around 3 percent for months, and while the median single-family home price is nearing $400,000, that’s nowhere near the $1,000,000 you’d have to pay in San Jose. Add great weather, a vibrant restaurant scene, hundreds of live music venues, and thousands of tech jobs, and you have no choice but to consider Austin.

Chicago, Ill.

Below-zero winter weather? Even colder (and windier) near the lake? Yes and yes, but at the recent Chicago Tech Day, the city’s mayor pointed out, “From startups to Fortune 500s, tech companies are putting down roots and really growing exponentially in Chicago.” Just as important, the median single family Chicago home is under $200,000.

Dallas-Fort Worth, Tex.

Tech is happening in Dallas, and the Dallas Morning News tells us that Samsung, HD Vest, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Nokia, and Salesforce are all strongly hiring in the Dallas area. Dallas homes are very affordable, as median prices have yet to reach the $225,000 mark. Meanwhile, tech salaries average close to $90,000.

Denver/Boulder, Col.

While Colorado has led the country in cannabis enlightenment, there is also strong tech scene there. Indeed.com boosts almost 3,000 open Colorado tech jobs now, and the state added over 7,000 tech jobs in 2018. That translates into a year-to-year increase of just under three percent. The only negative is homes can be a bit pricey. Although Denver is still under the $500,000 median home price, Boulder is inching out of reach as prices there are close to crossing the $750,000 mark.

Houston, Tex.

Houston.org tells us that the city recently ranked No. 12 in new tech jobs created. Although the Houston Association of Realtors reports that the median home price of $249,000 is rising, homes are still affordable. And the Greater Houston Partnership says that 43,000 jobs will be created in 2020. Add balmy tropical weather to the mix, and Houston is a force.

Phoenix, Ariz.

Is Bad Santa your favorite holiday movie? If so, then you’re quite familiar with the clean, dry, and pleasant feel of the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. With the median single-family home priced at under $250,000, and the average tech job paying over $75,000, Phoenix can be quite attractive.

Pittsburgh, Pa.

When you think of Pittsburgh, you probably picture steel mills, but things there have seriously progressed beyond the steel industry. According to Reuters, “The city of Pittsburgh, the one-time steel capital that’s long been a symbol of Rust-Belt decline, is emerging as a vibrant hub for artificial intelligence, robotics, and biomedical companies eager to tap a rich talent pool.” Affordable housing and low rent prices, a vibrant restaurant scene, and an evolving downtown are making Pittsburgh a surprisingly excellent choice for tech job seekers.

Portland, Ore.

Pundits tell us that “Portland’s tech industry is one of the country’s hottest areas for businesses and professionals alike, drawing in large amounts of investment and talent on a daily basis.” With median housing at less than $500,000, and tech jobs paying almost $100,000, this Northwest haven is a great city to consider.

Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

We see this area on a number of lists, and Inc. Magazine explains it like this: “A hyper-educated workforce means the Research Triangle, the North Carolina region comprising Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh—Inc.'s No. 3 Surge City—has a booming and brainy startup scene. Once known for tobacco and textiles, the area has reinvented itself as a hub equally well-versed in tech and food.” And with median housing prices still under $300,000, this area is a great value.

Sam Radbil is the lead writer for ABODO Apartments, an online real estate and apartments marketplace with available apartments from college towns like Madison, Wisconsin, to major cities like Chicago. ABODO's research, rent reports like this one, and writing have been featured nationally in Curbed, Forbes, Realtor.com, HousingWire, and more.

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