Silicon Valley Is Over! Top 10 Cities Where Techies Can Actually Afford to Live

Back in his mid-20s, John Malone was right where he’d always dreamed he would be: working as a software engineer in San Francisco. Yet even with a full-time job, Malone found himself “totally broke. I lived in a three-bedroom house with six other guys.”

Realizing he could never afford to buy (or even rent) his own place, Malone started searching for work back where he’d grown up in Minneapolis. He was pleasantly surprised to find plenty of tech jobs offering decent salaries—and (the clincher) affordable homes.

A decade or so ago, this was an unusual tale. Now it’s playing out over and over: Tech workers flock to San FranciscoSan Jose, CA, and the gaggle of nearby suburbs that make up Silicon Valley, but eventually flee in search of more affordable housing and better lifestyles.

Even some who can very much foot the bill—like tech titan Peter Thiel—have bailed, leading the New York Times to declare, “Silicon Valley Is Over.” That’s why the realtor.com® data team set out to find the newSilicon Valleys—where folks can score a good job at high-powered startups and some of the nation’s top tech companies and snag some reasonably priced real estate.

“Starting again in the Twin Cities made sense,” says Malone, who is now 40, married with a daughter, and living on the bottom floor of a spacious Minneapolis duplex with a yard. “As you get older and have a family, you can’t have roommates. It’s about quality of life.”

Peruse Silicon Valley real estate listings, and you’ll understand the appeal of pulling up roots. Nationally, the median home list price was $315,000 as of July 1, according to realtor.com data. But within San Francisco city limits, you’ll pay about 4.5 times more—$1,435,000 million. It’s not much better in San Jose, where buyers are dropping a daunting $994,000.

Meanwhile, according to job listings website Glassdoor, the average information technology worker makes $80,512 per year, which falls woefully short of footing a mortgage that size. A 20% down payment alone is roughly four times that annual income.

“Silicon Valley’s extremely low unemployment rate—due to the abundance of tech jobs there—has caused housing costs to skyrocket,” says David Armendariz, general manager of the technology division for recruitment firm Lucas Group.

“Tech companies are recognizing this, and they’re opening offices in other cities. While Silicon Valley will continue to be the tech industry’s epicenter, other secondary markets are now providing not only incredible job opportunities, but the opportunity to build a life as well as a career,” Armendariz adds.

Unlike in prior decades, today’s tech companies can operate almost anywhere, says KC Conway, chief economist at the CCIM Institute and Alabama Center for Real Estate in Atlanta. And workers are increasingly all-too-happy to follow.

“Today’s tech workforce doesn’t want insanity—they want quality of life,” says Conway.

So where, exactly, should they go? To find out, our data team examined the 500 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, which include the main cities and surrounding towns, and used the following criteria* to rank them:

  • Number of people employed in the tech sector
  • Number of public tech companies
  • Percentage of tech job listings
  • Average tech job salaries
  • Median home list prices

We then sifted out those pricey places with median home prices over $400,000. What’s left are the hidden gems that have it all: tons of good gigs, affordable homes, plus plenty of things outside those doors that will keep your inner geek’s brain cells firing—at work, home, and everywhere in between.

Read The Entire Article and List of Top Ten Tech Cities Here: “Silicon Valley Is Over! Top 10 Cities Where Techies Can Actually Afford to Live,” Realtor.com, By Sally Herigstad