As the tech industry has expanded across the country, most of the energy that surrounds the sector is overwhelmingly positive and glamorous. However, that’s not always the case. While local officials and companies may talk of all the positive trends for job growth, wages, and local economic impact, there are serious challenges facing the tech workforce and communities. One of those negatives is an affordability crisis, specifically in housing.
Tech companies come in, make promises, occupy cities at large, and inadvertently raise house prices to the point where the city’s original residents can no longer afford their homes. Big names like Amazon, which is based in Seattle, Washington, are often blamed for contributing the the problem without offering solutions.
Even worse, the housing crises caused by tech sector expansion have inherently widened an inequality gap. The days of mass companies getting away with the damaging effects they have on cities are long over. Today, you’ll find companies, such as Amazon, shelling out millions of dollars to counteract the housing crisis in cities across the United States.
Tech Hubs with Most Affordable Housing
While it may seem that affordable housing in a tech hub is impossible to find, there are a few options out there that offer more affordable living than others.
Traditional tech hubs known for affordability include: Austin, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Portland, and Raleigh-Durham. However, there is a new wave of affordable cities emerging on the market like the following:
- Charlotte, North Carolina – With a median home price of $269,000 and an annual income of $80,000, Charlotte is one of the most affordable tech hub options.
- Buffalo, New York – Buffalo boasts a $71,500 annual average income and a $170,000 annual home price. Not bad for the second biggest city in New York!
- Grand Rapids, Michigan – This has long been one of the top U.S. rated cities for multiple reasons, but with an annual salary of $70,000 for software engineers and $217,000 average home prices, Grand Rapids is a great tech hub option.
- Colorado Springs, Colorado – An $87,000 annual salary for software engineers and $320,000 average home price, Colorado Springs makes for one of the best options out west.
Some up and coming Affordable Tech Hubs include:
A beautiful option in Ohio, Columbus is one of the large cities on this list and is home to many VC options. Software engineers average $76,500 salaries and $229,000 median home prices. Historically a university town, Columbus’ rise on the affordable tech sector list is long overdue.
In recent years the city has seen a mini tech boom and an influx of new, high-profile businesses in engineering, logistics, banking, and similar industries. It’s easy to see why Columbus has rapidly risen on the list of popular tech destinations while maintaining all of its small-town scale charm, and more importantly, prices.
Pittsburgh is no longer cast aside as just a manufacturing destination like it once was. The city has quickly made a name for itself as a top tech destination in recent years, making it a dynamic destination for top talent and major corporations.
The city also boasts low pricing for goods, rent, housing, and a great entertainment scene, making it the ideal destination. Not only are companies noticing, but also major rental companies like Zillow, making it somewhere everyone wants to be.
Kansas City is another great option gaining traction in the tech sector. Though it hasn’t quite made a name for itself like similar places, it is rapidly rising with plenty of potential. One of the biggest appeals is the area’s affordable housing, a major component in creating a solid talent pool and longevity.
While incomes for those in the tech sector remain higher than the area’s average, housing is only a fraction of that price on housing. When compared to places like Los Angeles, where more than half of your income will go to housing, Kansas City is a great, affordable option.
Other Aspects of Livability
When it comes to livability, there are quite a few factors that contribute to a city’s ranking. Livability can be classified as something different by people depending on what they’re searching for in the place they choose to settle. And as tech hubs continue to expand, more interests and needs are considered.
Some important factors include affordability, personal space, walkability, and similar things that people value in terms of lifestyle. Growing tech hubs should consider how they can invest in livability that helps attract and retain workers. One key investment is in keeping up with housing needs so that tech transplants can settle without driving out current residents.