Affordability Above All: 5 Ways Money Influences Where Tech Pros Live and Work

by Michelle Lange | Jul 12, 2019

A person holding moneyIT pros are more likely to choose cities with affordable housing than slick amenities, according to new data from CompTIA. In fact, tech pros make a lot of economic considerations when they’re thinking of relocating, according to the Tech on the Move report.

“We asked IT pros to rank the factors they consider related to where they want to live and work, and over and over, affordability kept coming out on top,” said Amy Carrado, research lead on the study and senior director of research and market intelligence at CompTIA.

IT pros ranked overall low cost of living and affordable housing as their top priorities when asked about a multitude of factors, like whether it’s a smart city or a tech hub or startup friendly.

“These more indirect factors, like cities that use smart technology or are business friendly, also influence what matters to tech pros most, and those aspects can end up bringing other positives to their IT pro careers,” Carrado said.

Tech pros are most willing to move to places where they can stake their futures – especially those who have less than a bachelor’s degree. Using data from the Tech on the Move report, here are five ways affordability plays into the reasons tech pros choose where they live and work.

1. Cost of Living

Beyond rent and utilities, the cost of living includes things like how much it costs to get your dog groomed and the price of a plain cheese pizza: $14.79 in Buffalo, New York, compared to $8.99 in Orlando, Florida.

According to the study, 82 percent of IT pros select cost of living as a most important factor when deciding where to live. When you compare Gen Z to Millennials, they both rank cost of living as the number one factor when deciding where to live and work.

Affordability shows up again when tech pros rank the top 20 cities where they’d prefer to live, based on CompTIA’s 2018 Tech Towns a report, which ranks 20 cities according to cost of living, IT job opportunity and projected job growth.

“IT pros liked the lower cost of living in areas like Austin and Colorado Springs in comparison to much higher cost of living areas like San Francisco and San Jose,” Carrado said.

2. The Local Economy

The combination of available tech jobs, average tech salaries and projected job growth is another important factor to IT pros.

“We asked IT pros to rank six general factors to get a gauge on what was importance to them,” Carrado said. “The local economy ranked right behind affordability, with 56%calling it a major factor when considering a new place to live.”

3. Job Security

The report reveals that IT pros are not just looking for one amazing job, but for a sustainable career. They want to live in communities that offer career opportunities and growth.

“People without higher-level degrees look more-so for job security,” Carrado said. “It’s very important to them.”

Job security even outweighs salary considerations. In the report, 73%of IT pros said job security is very important, followed by salary at 69%.

4. Housing Prices

Tech pros are flexible on where they live — 37% have moved for a job and nearly a quarter (26%) said they would consider moving for a new job. Communities hoping to draw in the tech industry should pay attention to how much it costs to buy a house.

“The study asked IT pros to select the top things that mattered most from a list of 25 considerations, like lifestyle, environment and amenities,” Carrado said. Affordable housing came out on top over city-wide perks like walkability and public transportation.

5. IT Salaries

When it comes to how much IT pros get paid, women are more focused on dollar signs than men.

“Significantly more women IT pros selected income and salary as very important compared to men,” Carrado said.

Across the board, people are interested in making money. In the study, 74% of women versus 66%of men called salary very important, and for employed IT pros with more than five years of experience, a city with high average tech salaries is a must have.

“IT pros in their 30s are much more likely to indicate that average tech salaries are one of the most important factors in considering where to live and work compared to both their younger and older counterparts,” Carrado said.

IT pros looking for a change can use the interactive Cyberstates map to see average tech salaries in cities across the country. The tool also lists the types of IT jobs that are most prevalent in each location. Compare these lists to our jobs profiled in Your Next Move and figure out what skills and IT certifications you need to put down roots in a new town.

Have you figured out your next move? Download the exam objectives of your next IT certification for free to get started.

—Michelle Lange is a writer and designer living in Chicago.

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