Durham County

Affordability lifts Durham-Chapel Hill into national spotlight as tech hub center

Thanks to a favorable affordability rating compared with other technology hub centers, Durham and Chapel Hill landed in the top five in yet another national survey.

NerdWallet.com, a financial guidance website aimed at Millennials and others in the market for reducing their debt, joined and ranked the Durham-Chapel Hill metropolitan statistical area No. 5 on its “Best Places for Tech Jobs” list. Durham-Chapel Hill rated just ahead of Raleigh, which came in at No. 6.

NerdWallet calculated the tech jobs score for each of the 381 largest U.S. metropolitan statistical areas based on population estimates in the U.S. Census American Community Survey (ACS). They also measured the number of tech employees, the annual median wage for tech jobs and the median gross rent. They analyzed technology jobs using Bureau of Labor Statistics definitions.

“Given all the ways that Americans stay in contact with each other, people who work in technology should be able to ply their trade from anywhere in the country with a fast, consistent internet connection. In theory,” the report said. “It turns out, location still matters when it comes to conceiving and building the next tech thing. It’s why tech piles into Silicon Valley and a handful of other places around the country.”

In comparing Durham and Chapel Hill to the rest of the nation, they found them to be second overall in affordability despite being ranked in the top third for median gross rents ($947). In addition to being home to three universities, Durham and Chapel Hill also host companies like IBM and Cisco. They also gave a nod to the area’s basketball prowess.

“Perhaps as well known for its college basketball powerhouses as its status as a tech hub ...,” the report said.

The presence of universities, corporate headquarters and government agencies seemed to be a common factor that showed up among the top-ranked cities.

The triad of San Jose, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara in California shared the top spot.

They got favorable ratings because so many top technology companies — Google, Apple, Intel, Netflix — are headquartered there and because of the area’s propensity for startups to take root. While this region boasts the highest median salary ($121,064), it comes with a cost, which is the highest median gross rent ($2,044). That made it the least affordable among the ranked cities.

Joe Johnson: 919-419-6678, @JEJ_HSNews