For American workers, finding the ideal place where both the highest paying jobs and affordable rental housing intersect can be a daunting task. More challenging still is finding the elusive “Sweet Spot” — the perfect place where you can have more disposable income, live in an affordable home and land a high-paying job in a thriving job market.
The professional social network LinkedIn partnered up with the real estate listing site Zillow to rank the US metros with the best “sweet spots” across three major industries.
The companies combined their respective housing and employment data, to determine what areas offered the most affordable rental homes paired with strong job markets. They started by analyzing job listing data, salary data, and the percentage of workers hired in the last 12 months across three major industries — health care, tech and finance. Then, to find out what metro areas offered the most affordable housing — an area where workers might hold onto more of their income after housing expenses — the two companies looked at income tax rates and median rents.
The pair ultimately ranked the top metros for each industry according to their “sweet spot” — an index combining how much money workers could pocket each month after paying rent, the local labor market’s velocity, and income in each of the metros examined for the report.
Finance workers who rent could hold onto just over 52 percent of their paychecks in Charlotte, NC. It was named the top metro area for finance workers, where after rent, finance workers could have on average $3,685 in monthly disposable income.
The Dallas/Fort Worth, TX and Phoenix, AZ metro areas rounded out the top 3 metros with the best sweet spots for finance workers, while the New York City metro area ranked sixth on the list. New York City metro area renters have struggled with the area’s tight inventory as rents have inched upwards despite landlords offering a record number of incentives in recent months.
Meanwhile, the Phoenix metro area also had the best sweet spot for healthcare workers — renters could hold onto a little over 52 percent of their earnings, or on average $3,793 after paying monthly housing expenses.
Indianapolis, IN and Boston, MA also had very attractive sweet spots for health care workers who rent — they ranked second and third, respectively, on the list of top metros.
Lastly, the top three metros for tech workers who rent were Seattle, WA, Austin, TX and Pittsburgh, PA. Surprisingly, San Francisco’s Bay Area, despite its unaffordable reputation, ranked fourth on the list, but there was a fairly wide gap in savings for renters between Seattle and the Bay Area.
Tech workers who rent in Seattle had on average 54.3 percent or $5,493 of disposable income per month, compared to 35.6 percent or just under $4,000 per month of disposable income in the Bay Area.
“Over the past decade, housing prices in coastal markets have shot up, in large part due to demand from workers following high-paying jobs,” Zillow and LinkedIn said in a digital release.
Housing affordability on the West Coast is “the worst in the nation.” Renters spend nearly half the median income to rent a typical home on the West Coast, while renters in the middle of the US pay about 25 percent of the median income on a typical home.
“High demand and inventory shortages have driven up housing prices in some markets so much that even if you land a great job, the salary might not cover living within commuting distance,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell.
There’s also another problem with the most affordable housing markets, according to Gudell. “They don’t always offer plentiful employment opportunities. Housing is the biggest line item in most people’s budgets, so we did the math for you and found ‘sweet spots’ — places with great job markets and housing markets that will leave you with some cash at the end of the month.”
On the employment front, hiring remains strong in the country, according to LinkedIn data. “We also know that having insight into where your earnings go further is important to job seekers,” said the head of analytics for LinkedIn’s Economic Graph, Paul Ko.
He added that “sweet spot” metros were also attractive to renters because they are currently experiencing higher-than-average hiring rates, combined with good salaries and more disposable income.
Click here to read the entire report.