The San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Boston, Denver and New York topped the list of tech hubs with regards to the highest average salary for tech employees.

According to the study by Paysa, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Charlotte, Atlanta and Raleigh are in the lead for lowest cost of living while four out of the 10 worst value cites are in California, according to the Paysa research.

“We weren’t surprised to see that where the average tech salary is highest, the cost of living also tends on the high side,” said Chris Bolte, CEO of Paysa. “What jumped out at us, however, is that even though you can earn more in the San Francisco Bay Area than other places, with such a high cost-of-living, it’s extremely difficult to get by on a 6+ figure salary. So, it makes sense that companies and employees are looking beyond Silicon Valley and taking advantage of new campuses in different cities across the U.S.”

According to the Paysa study, the top 10 tech hubs with the highest earning potential highest followed by average salary are as follows:

  1. San Francisco Bay Area ($144,390)
  2. Seattle, WA ($139,299)
  3. Boston, MA ($116,039)
  4. Denver, CO ($111,511)
  5. New York, NY ($105,925)
  6. Atlanta, GA ($105,091)
  7. Austin, TX ($103,049)
  8. Los Angeles, CA ($100,108)
  9. Miami, FL ($99,029)
  10. Philadelphia, PA ($96,294)

Few of the top 10 highest paying cities are also the top 10 cities for lowest cost of living. According to research from Paysa, MIT and Zillow, the cities on this list, and their corresponding average cost of living are:

  1. Pittsburgh, PA ($41,757)
  2. Indianapolis, IN ($41,966)
  3. Charlotte, NC ($43,437)
  4. Atlanta, GA ($43,530)
  5. Raleigh, NC ($43,964)
  6. Columbus, OH ($45,359)
  7. Tampa, FL ($47,197)
  8. Philadelphia, PA ($47,964)
  9. Dallas-Fort Worth, TC ($47,908)
  10. Madison, WI ($48,891)

The top 10 cities with the best overall value – offering the highest earning potential and lowest cost of living overall (with the cost of living as an average of salary) include:

  1. Seattle, WA (41%)
  2. Atlanta, GA (41%)
  3. Austin, TX (48%)
  4. Denver, CO (50%)
  5. Philadelphia, PA (50%)
  6. Charlotte, NC (50%)
  7. Raleigh, NC (50%)
  8. Boston, MA (52%)
  9. Miami, FL (54%)
  10. Dallas-Fort Worth, TX (55%)

By comparison, the San Francisco Bay Area is ranked #20 for overall value. Not only is salary high in San Francisco, at $144,390, but the cost of living is high; it’s at nearly $90,000 a year, according to the Paysa study. Besides being a major tech hub, San Francisco has always been an expensive place to call home. According to, the average monthly rent for a 3-bedroom apartment in San Francisco’s city center is $6,569.70.

And the Paysa’s research shows that more than half of an employee’s yearly salary – 61.1 percent, is spent on cost of living expenses in San Francisco.

Paysa’s look at the cost of living as a percentage of an average tech salary shows that San Francisco – with an average tech salary of $144,390 – leaves a tech employee with only 38.9 percent of their earnings or $56,168 annually for other expenses.

On the other hand, Seattle – which was listed as a city with the second highest average salary for tech jobs – offers an average yearly compensation of $139,299, leaving about 58.7 percent or approximately $81,770 annually for other expenses.

Seattle has five major companies that make up most of its 51,322 tech jobs. Amazon, Microsoft, Nordstrom, Oracle, and T-Mobile hired for tech positions in 2016 and accounted for nearly 52 percent of all the open tech jobs in Seattle.

In Seattle – which was ranked number one as the best-value city – knowledge of Distributed Systems is 4.56 times more in demand than the national average. In this same city, knowledge related to Data Structures are in demand 3.82 times more than the national average, and Cloud Computing skills are in demand 3.59 times more.

In Boston, the top five tech businesses were Amazon, Solidus, UnitedHealth Group, Akamai Technologies, and Pfizer, but these companies only made up nearly 9 percent of the 40,774 tech jobs available in the city.

The study also found a job in the biotechnology field to be 5.29 times more in demand in Boston than that of the national average.

Finally, while Miami is a best value city because only 54 percent of an employee’s salary is dedicated to cost of living – 2016 data shows that there were only 6,051 tech jobs available. Furthermore, the top five companies, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Citrix, Magic Leap, Clark Construction, and Modernizing Medicine made up more than 25 percent, or one-fourth, of all the available jobs.

Four out of the top 10 cities considered to be the worst value when it comes to the cost of living as a percentage of salary are in California.

The list of cities with the worst value and the percentage of salary spent on living expenses are:

  1. San Diego, CA (75%)
  2. Cincinnati, OH (72%)
  3. Los Angeles, CA (67%)
  4. Madison, WI (66%)
  5. Portland, OR (64%)
  6. Chicago, IL (64%)
  7. Riverside, CA (62%)
  8. Houston, TX (62%)
  9. Washington, DC (62%)
  10. San Francisco Bay Area (61%)

“It can make a world of difference to look at what you are worth in a certain market based on your skills, education and experience and what your cost of living and the lifestyle that comes with it actually is,” added Bolte. “Unfortunately, finding that sweet spot is next to impossible without access to the right information – which is where we at Paysa come in, to help the employee do right by themselves and their family, with this and other data insights.”