Move to a Metro Hot Spot

All areas of the country are not created equal when it comes to compensation increases. For instance, according to Computerworld's 2008 Salary Survey, total compensation increased more substantially in San Jose (an average of 5.8%), San Francisco (5.2%), Atlanta (4.5%) and Las Vegas (4.4%). But if moving to a higher paycheck doesn't appeal to you, consider a place where tech jobs are growing and where you can stretch your paycheck further.

One such place is Hartford, Conn., where the cost of living is 10% lower than it is in San Francisco, according to Inc.'s cost-of-living wizard, and the average salary is about $74,000, according to Dice's salary survey. Thomas Silver, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Dice Holdings Inc., says that's close to the national average for IT. Similar dynamics exist in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, he says.

Michael Godin, professional services consultant at Ecora Software Corp. in Portsmouth, N.H., offers another example. When he moved from Boston to Portsmouth in 2007, he saw his cost of living decrease 9%.

Another area to consider is Seattle, where tech jobs are up 7% year over year and the average salary is 8% higher than the national average, Silver says.

"The message is to consider smaller markets where your dollar can go further," he says. "Even though there are fewer jobs in these areas because the markets themselves are smaller, the number of jobs is growing." Compare that to Silicon Valley, which offers the highest salaries but where the IT job count is down 12%, Silver says.

Considering today's housing market, many homeowners will likely be loath to pull up their roots, however, says Grant Gordon, managing director of Intronic Solutions Group. "People are leery of moving because it's hard to sell their home, not to mention the cost of moving," he says.

This version of this article originally appeared in Computerworld's print edition.

Next: 11. Cut expenses with a telework arrangement.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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