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10 of the Best Cities for Tech Jobs That You Can Actually Afford to Live In

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Brand new streetcar in Kansas City downtown.
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If I asked you to describe the top places for tech jobs in the U.S., you’d probably rattle off the usual list of uber-expensive, congested cities: San Francisco, Boston or Seattle.

The money seems to flow to where the tech jobs go, which means rising rents (you’ll pay more than $1,700 for a one-bedroom apartment in Santa Clara, California) and sky-high grocery store receipts.

But what if I told you there were underrated tech centers where you could actually save enough to pay back those student loans?

With the help of a new report by Abodo, I set out to answer that very question.

The rental search company used data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine the best cities for computer and math, community and social service, business and finance, construction and mining and health care occupations.

Abodo used a statistic called the location quotient, which compares a local concentration of a particular set of jobs to the national average in order to rank each city.

I grabbed regional price parity data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis to measure how expensive goods and services are in each city. I also grabbed rent statistics from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and unemployment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to gauge each city’s economic health.

Then, I applied a standard score for each category (prices, economic health, location quotient) so I could compare each one apples-to-apples. Finally, I averaged the scores by city across those categories to determine the 10 best cities for tech jobs you can actually afford.

The 10 Best Cities for Tech Jobs Where You Can Afford to Live

First off, all these cities have a higher concentration of math and computer gigs than that of the entire U.S. It should be noted that the ratio may not be as high as some of the IT heavy-hitters.

For example, Washington D.C. has a local job quotient of 2.45 (we’ll call this the tech jobs score), meaning it has more than double the concentration of tech jobs as the U.S. average. But it didn’t make our list because a single bedroom apartment goes for more than $1,400 (yikes!).

And D.C. has a 105.6 regional price parity (which we’ll call the cost index), meaning goods and services are 5% more expensive in the city than the national average.

So here’s the list: the 10 best cities for tech jobs where you can actually afford to live and save.

1. Kansas City, Missouri

Tech Job Score: 1.43

Rent: $681

Cost Index: 96.4

Unemployment Rate: 3.2%

Population: 2,104,115

2. St. Louis, Missouri

Tech Job Score: 1.15

Rent: $649

Cost Index: 94.2

Unemployment Rate: 3.4%

Population: 2,807,954

3. Cincinnati, Ohio

Tech Job Score: 1.04

Rent: $625

Cost Index: 93

Unemployment Rate: 3.7%

Population: 2,161,441

4. Raleigh, North Carolina

Tech Job Score: 1.96

Rent: $817

Cost Index: 97.4

Unemployment Rate: 3.9%

Population: 1,302,946

5. Columbus, Ohio

Tech Job Score: 1.43

Rent: $683

Cost Index: 97.4

Unemployment Rate: 3.5%

Population: 2,041,520

6. Salt Lake City, Utah

Tech Job Score: 1.31

Rent: $849

Cost Index: 96.3

Unemployment Rate: 2.6%

Population: 1,186,187

7. Indianapolis, Indiana

Tech Job Score: 1.05

Rent: $665

Cost Index: 97.6

Unemployment Rate: 3.1%

Population: 2,001,737

8. Dallas, Texas

Tech Job Score: 1.38

Rent: $807

Cost Index: 97.8

Unemployment Rate: 3.2%

Population: 7,232,599

9. Charlotte, North Carolina

Tech Job Score: 1.26

Rent: $726

Cost Index: 97

Unemployment Rate: 4.2%

Population: 2,474,314

10. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tech Job Score: 1.06

Rent: $602

Cost Index: 98.1

Unemployment Rate: 4.3%

Population: 2,342,299

So if you recently graduated with a tech degree, don’t worry too much about ending up in a pricy town. Check out the job listings in these cities — you might be surprised what you find.

Alex Mahadevan is a data journalist at The Penny Hoarder. As a bonafide Florida Man, he probably won’t be leaving the state for a while.

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