Low cost, high reward: new report shows Midwest tech jobs pay off

Ryan Landau

By on 09/30/20

Low cost, high reward: new report shows Midwest tech jobs pay off

There are so many reasons why we love living and working in the Midwest—booming tech hubs, tight communities, laid-back lifestyles… It’s something many boomerangs are re-experiencing as they return to the Midwest after years in Silicon Valley. Because they’re realizing what the data clearly show:

Working and living in the Midwest pays off. 

We teamed up with our friends on the amazing content team at Optimist to compile all this great data in the new Midwest Salary and Cost of Living Handbook. Why people are moving to the Midwest, the most affordable places to live, average software engineer salaries—we break it all down. You can even find out how much more money you’d need to make in San Francisco or NYC to have the same standard of living you would off a Midwest tech salary. 

Here are some of the highlights from our research, but you can also read through some of the chapters here and download the complete (and free) handbook. See all that the Midwest has to offer when it comes to the best cities to live in, Midwest cost of living, in-demand tech jobs, and competitive tech salaries.



Living in the Midwest is affordable

The Midwest is home to seven of the top ten most affordable states in the country. And when it comes to Midwest cities like Detroit, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis, they’re not even in the top 50 most expensive U.S. cities. That means that renting an apartment won’t bust your wallet, owning a home and some property can be a reality, and all that money you save on living can go right back into the bank—or whatever you choose to do with it. 

Read more about the low cost of living in the U.S.

The Midwest’s top 10 cities are experiencing tech booms

Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Omaha and Des Moines have all experienced considerable tech growth within the last decade. Top startup jobs like software engineers, data engineers, product managers and more are highly in demand in these cities due to booming tech growth. 

Check out the Midwest’s top 10 tech booms.

Lower cost of living does not mean salaries are low

Okay, we know what you’re thinking—lower living costs mean low salaries. It is true that tech salaries in the Midwest are slightly lower than what you might make in San Fran. But they are still high. In Milwaukee, the average software engineer salary is almost $96,000. And in Minnie, the average product manager is making over $100,000. Those are some pretty high salaries. 

See the side-by-side salary comparison.

You get way more more bang for your buck when it comes to standard of living

Here’s some fun math: low cost of living + high tech salaries = more bang for your buck. It makes sense, right? Even with higher salaries out on the coasts, people in tech aren’t actually making more money at the end of the day because so much of it goes to just being able to survive. With lower costs of living and competitive salaries, people in the Midwest enjoy a really high standard of living—whether that’s in a swanky apartment in the city or a large home and a backyard. 

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