How Far Does Your Salary Go?

IT pay stretches furthest in Texas, Salt Lake City and Atlanta.

The Bay area offers the highest salaries to information technology professionals of any region in the United States. But figure in the extremely high cost of living and northern California becomes one of the least affordable in the country.

That’s the conclusion of a new study by Techies.com, an online career and training center for technology professionals. The report compares average salaries for approximately 100,000 technology professionals in 38 U.S. job markets against the ACCRA’s Cost of Living Index (COLI). The Techies.com study ranks the national affordability average—in Detroit—at 100 points; higher scores mean that tech compensation does a better job of outstripping the cost of living.

Texas, Salt Lake City and Atlanta took the top five affordability rankings. Coastal regions with typically high housing, consumer goods and services costs fared poorly. And the Big Apple rated worst of all. The high cost of living and only average compensation gave New York IT managers a bit more than half the affordability of the national average.

An IT pro making $50,000 in Detroit, for example, would need to make more than $90,000 in New York to enjoy the same standard of living. Keeping up that same Detroit lifestyle in Dallas, however, would require a salary of less than $43,000 per year.

Affordability, of course, doesn’t always equate to "desirability." Coastal job markets often offer amenities—and high concentrations of IT job openings—that the center of the country can’t match. But the data shows that seemingly lower offers from the Midwest and Southern states may actually be the better financial deal in the long run.

Most Affordable U.S. Cities
Rank Job Market Average Salary Affordability Index Score
1 Dallas $69,000 118
2 Houston $66,600 115
3 Austin $68,500 114
4 Salt Lake City $67,200 112
5 Atlanta $68,900 112
6 Washington DC/ Baltimore, Md. $70,400 112
7 Seattle $68,400 110
8 Phoenix $66,200 109
9 Mid-South* $58,800 109
10 Central Florida** $64,900 108
11 Chicago $72,000 107
12 Portland $66,800 106
13 Denver $69,900 105
14 North Carolina $66,400 105
15 Cincinnati $62,400 105
16 South Florida $67,700 105
17 St. Louis $60,800 104
18 Great Plains $59,500 103
19 Kansas City $61,500 103
*Includes: Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas.
**Includes: Jacksonville, Kennedy Space Center, Tampa, Daytona Beach, etc.
Least Affordable U.S. Cities
Rank Job Market Average Salary Affordability Index Score
38 New York/New Jersey $76,000 52
37 Bay Area $83,500 77
36 Los Angeles $71,700 83
35 Alaska (entire state) $64,400 86
34 San Diego $68,500 89
33 Philadeplphia $66,900 91
32 Boston $74,100 92
31 Pittsburgh $61,600 93
30 Wisconsin $59,800 94
29 Las Vegas $61,000 94
28 Cleveland $62,300 95
27 Mountain States* $58,400 96
26 Sacramento $68,200 97
25 Minnesota (entire state) $68,900 98
24 Columbus, Ohio $63,400 98
23 Detroit $64,600 100
22 Hartford, Conn. $70,500 101
21 Upstate New York** $62,500 101
20 Indianapolis $59,600 103
*Includes: Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.
**Includes: Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Niagara and Albany.