Balancing Priorities

13 lucrative cities for tech workers

If you work in tech, heading to the Bay Area may not be your most lucrative option.

New data from LinkedIn and Zillow found 13 cities where salaries and housing costs balance out to allow workers in tech fields to keep more of their paycheck. (They also looked at finance and health-care jobs.)

In top-rated Seattle (see full rankings below), workers can keep an average 59 percent of their income after taxes and housing, versus 37 percent for workers in San Francisco. That's a difference of roughly $2,000 more per month, according to the report.

To come up with the rankings, LinkedIn and Zillow used a combination of housing and employment data. That included hiring trends, median wages, income tax rates and median monthly housing costs.

Although workers typically decide to relocate because they have been offered a particular job, knowing a city is a hub for your field is good long-term planning, said Svenja Gudell, chief economist for Zillow. That can help you stay competitive on salary without having to change cities every time you switch roles.

"You move to Seattle for Amazon but you end up at Microsoft," she said. Biosphere in Seattle.
David Ryder | Bloomberg | Getty Images

But it's important to look at more than financial factors when weighing a relocation, said certified financial planner Mark LaSpisa, president of Vermillion Financial Advisors in South Barrington, Illinois.

Quality of the school districts, weather and distance from family might be important factors in whether that new city is a good fit. One of LaSpisa's clients nixed a planned cross-country relocation after finding out his new city didn't have great health care nearby.

"You never know what's going to be the deciding factor," he said.

Based on the LinkedIn-Zillow findings, here's where tech workers can have more discretionary income left after housing costs:

Best affordable cities for tech jobs

City Disposable Income (%) Renters Disposable Income (%) Owners Sweet Spot Ranking (Renters)
Seattle, Wash.54.3%59.2%1
Austin, Texas53.8%62.2%2
Pittsburgh, Penn.56.4%65.9%3
San Francisco Bay, Calif.35.6%37.4%4
Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas54.9%65.0%5
Denver, Colo.44.2%52.7%6
Charlotte, N.C.52.1%61.3%7
Boston, Mass.43.1%53.4%8
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.47.7%57.5%9
Detroit, Mich.54.5%64.1%10
Atlanta, Ga. 50.8%60.2%11
Indianapolis, Ind.55.0%65.2%12
Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla.55.5%65.7%13