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When it comes to finding the right balance of jobs, salaries and housing costs, not all areas are created equal.
With Silicon Valley workers living in vans and RVs and interns squatting in corporate offices, it’s clear that even a tech salary does not shield some workers from the vagaries of sky-high housing costs.
The good news is, there are tech jobs outside the Bay Area — and, in some places, workers have thousands of dollars left over each month after paying income taxes and housing costs.
The same is true for finance workers, who no longer have to brave New York City rents to build their careers. And health care workers can do well in markets where jobs in their field are as plentiful as the housing is affordable.
Zillow and LinkedIn analyzed a host of housing and employment data — from salaries to hiring to income tax rates — to determine which markets are well suited to technology, finance and health care workers.
The results held surprises. While the Bay Area doesn’t offer the best mix of employment and affordable housing, tech workers in San Francisco do manage to make up for the stratospheric cost of housing — the median home there is $833,600 — with their higher salaries. The average San Francisco tech worker ends the month with $140 more in disposable income than the average tech worker in Denver, where the median home value is $356,900. Tech renters also fare better in San Francisco than in Denver, with $591 more in monthly disposable income.
Still, Seattle is a better bet overall, with tech workers keeping $5,987 as disposable income if they own their homes, and $5,493 if they rent. Austin and Pittsburgh also pencil out better than the Bay Area.
Charlotte, Dallas-Fort Worth and Phoenix are sweet spots for finance workers, while Phoenix, Indianapolis and Boston are the best bets for health care workers.
Hello, Homes.com! My name is Amanda Hendrix and I blog with my husband, Corey, at Love & Renovations about DIY, home decor, and how we make our builder-grade house in the suburbs of Austin feel like home. We are embarking on the process of selling our second home and moving into what will (hopefully) be our forever home, and we’re so excited to be sharing the journey here with you.
We have always loved fixing up homes that need a little love, so when we began the process of searching for our third home we knew we wanted something that wasn’t updated and needed some work. We’ve always lived in homes that were a bit on the ugly side when we moved in because there’s nothing more satisfying than totally transforming it!
We were so confident in our plans that as we began browsing for a home we hid “new construction homes” in our Homes.com searches because there was no way we’d be buying a brand new build. We need an older house with character, ugly tile to demo, and old laminate counters that are so bad you have to shield your eyes when you walk in the room! I mean, what good is an “after” without a really bad “before”, right?!
But then (there’s always a “but then,” isn’t there?), we decided to go scout some neighborhoods in our area on a whim one afternoon because we were antsy to look at houses. We pulled up to a gorgeous neighborhood with brand new homes and I cringed a little in my soul. However, I started to cringe a little less as we drove past the gorgeous pool and splash pad at the amenity center, the gym for the residents, and the walking trails throughout the neighborhood. I had never seen an older neighborhood in our area with all of this exciting stuff so I have to admit I was intrigued.
We love houses (obviously), and the kids were getting antsy so we decided to pop into the model home. Just for fun! We DEFINITELY weren’t going to actually buy a new construction home.
You’re sensing the foreshadowing, right?
We got to chatting with the saleswoman and found out they just so happened to be building a home in our exact budget, in the size we want, and that it would be finished right in time for us to close at our planned mid-November deadline. Oh, and did I mention it had pretty much all of the bells and whistles we could want? Upgraded flooring, a covered patio, a sprinkler system and two-story ceilings in the living room… I’m a sucker for two-story ceilings.
I feel like the rest of the story tells itself – we drove out to a nearby neighborhood that had our layout as the model home, and I got teary-eyed standing in the living room because it just felt so right. All of the pieces fell into place exactly as they should and a couple of days later we found ourselves signing a contract for the new construction home we always swore we’d never buy.
And then the chaos began.
We quickly learned that buying a new construction home is worlds different than buying a home that’s been previously owned. For starters, the builder requires you to have your home on the market within two weeks (ideally less) of signing your contract. If you aren’t under contract at least a couple of weeks after that then they start to get nervous. We had originally thought we would have a full six weeks to prepare our house before putting it on the market, but we were suddenly looking at a mere six days to get everything done that we wanted to do (photography, marketing, etc) – and that list was long, my friends.
I went on a DIY spree in my house and managed to get the entire list crossed off just in the nick of time, but there were definitely a few stressful moments!
Another big difference when building a new home is all of the choices! When you’re buying a home that’s already been lived in, it comes as it is (unless there are issues to be fixed), but when you’re buying new construction – even a spec home like ours – you get to have some input in the design process. About a week after we signed our contract we got to go out to the design center for our builder and change out some of the finishes that had been decided on for the home. Our house was far enough along in the process that we were only able to change the flooring, but that was the big thing we wanted to change, anyway! If you get in on the process earlier, you’ll have way more options – it’s staggering how many decisions go into building a new construction home!
Finally, the other big difference we’ve noticed so far comes during the inspection process. When you’re buying a previously-owned home, you generally have one inspection sometime during the option period. With new construction, however, you get to have a few different walkthroughs of the home throughout the building process and you can (and should!) bring an inspector to all of them!
The builder will likely tell you that they have an inspector they work with, but you should always hire an independent inspector to come with you to each of your walkthroughs to check things out. The builder must fix anything that the inspector finds isn’t up to code, so you are guaranteed to walk into a home that has zero issues – which, let’s be real, is a huge perk over buying an older home! It’s a little more expensive to have multiple inspections, but it’s well worth the peace of mind to know that your home is in tip-top shape.
We’ve still got a long way to go on our home buying, and selling, journey, and I am so excited to be able to share the details with you here on Homes.com! If you want some more insight on new construction and the potential benefits, check out this post about the pros and cons of new construction and this post that talks about what new construction upgrades are worth the splurge!