Redfin's Migration Affordability Tool: See Difference in Disposable Income

Remote Tech Workers Moving From San Francisco to Las Vegas Would Have $40,000 More Disposable Income in Their New Hometown


Redfin’s migration affordability calculator shows that a move from Seattle to Phoenix would yield $12,000 more in annual disposable income for the typical tech worker, but they would break even if they were to take a 10% pay cut.

The typical remote-tech worker who moves from San Francisco to Las Vegas and keeps their job would have roughly $40,000 more annual disposable income in their new hometown: $47,000 in San Francisco versus $87,000 in Las Vegas. A move from San Francisco to Austin would yield $34,000 more in annual disposable income, and a move to Sacramento would yield $28,000 more.

If the same tech worker from San Francisco were to take a 10% pay reduction, they would have $28,000 more disposable income if they moved to Las Vegas, $22,000 more if they moved to Austin, and $16,000 more if they moved to Sacramento.

That’s according to a Redfin analysis of disposable income by metro area, based on typical pay by occupation. Disposable income is defined as what’s left over after paying for housing, HOA fees, property taxes, state and local taxes, utility bills and transportation. The term “tech worker” is used in this report to refer to “computer and mathematical occupations.” The analysis includes a 10% pay reduction because many tech companies, including Facebook, Twitter and Redfin, are localizing pay for people relocating away from the Bay Area and Seattle.

Median salary, mortgage costs & disposable income in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Austin & Sacramento

San Francisco, CA Las Vegas, NVLas Vegas, NV (with 10% pay cut)Austin, TXAustin, TX (with 10% pay cut)Sacramento, CASacramento, CA (with 10% pay cut)
Salary for tech worker (with 10% pay cut if applicable) $116,900$116,900$105,210$116,900$105,210$116,900$105,210
Mortgage costs$48,000$11,000$11,000$13,000$13,000$17,000$17,000
Disposable income after paying for mortgage & other living expenses$46,900$86,700$75,000$80,800$69,100$75,000$63,300

The Bay Area is perennially at the top of the list of places with the biggest net outflow—people leaving versus people moving in—of home searchers. The Bay Area has lost even more residents since the onset of the pandemic and the surge in remote work. Las Vegas, Austin and Sacramento are all among the 10 most popular destinations for users leaving the Bay Area. Those places have been particularly popular during the pandemic as newly remote tech workers move to areas with more affordable and spacious homes. 

“The surge in remote work has enabled many people who are able to work from home to relocate, usually to places with more affordable housing than tech hubs like San Francisco and Seattle,” said Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather. “The move typically pays off financially for people leaving the Bay Area because homes are so exorbitantly priced. But remote workers don’t always come out ahead when they leave expensive coastal cities, especially when they take a pay cut. Home prices are rising across the country and other living expenses can be more pricey in other parts of the country; for instance, Texas has particularly high property taxes. Moving to a new location also comes with benefits and drawbacks that you can’t put a price tag on, such as weather, culture and proximity to family and friends.” 

Redfin’s migration affordability tool is available for dozens of metros. The tool is meant as a starting point for people considering moving from one metro area to another, particularly those with the option to work remotely. Actual housing and living costs vary depending on priorities and personal preferences, and several factors go into the calculation of whether one area is more affordable than another for any given individual. 

Use the dropdown menu below to select your origin and occupation, and see the difference in disposable income between origin and a list of possible destinations. The list of occupations is broad; click here for additional details on which occupation fits your specific career. You can also adjust income, from the same income in the origin and destination to a pay adjustment of any percentage.

With a 10% pay cut, a tech worker moving from Seattle to Phoenix would break even

Seattle had the fifth-biggest net outflow of users in January, with a big increase in users looking to move away from a year earlier. Seattle, home to a big population of tech workers, is losing residents to places like Phoenix, Portland, OR and Spokane, WA

The typical tech worker moving from Seattle to Phoenix would have roughly $12,000 more in annual disposable income in their new hometown—$71,000 in Seattle and $83,000 in Phoenix—assuming they earn the same amount of money in both places. 

“Buyers moving in from places like Seattle, San Diego and the Bay Area tend to purchase less expensive homes than what they had on the coast, but even if they pay half the price they can still end up with a bigger, nicer house,” said Phoenix Redfin agent Van Welborn. “The result is a higher quality of life. If people can keep the same salary and work remotely, it just makes sense to pay lower taxes, give up the commute and end up with more money in the bank. People are able to put their kids in private school or own a house with acreage, things they wouldn’t have been able to do before.”

A tech worker who leaves Seattle for Portland with the same salary would have $1,900 more disposable income, and a move to Spokane would yield $13,000 more. 

With a 10% pay reduction, a tech worker moving from Seattle to Phoenix would have roughly the same amount of disposable income in both areas, just about $600 more per year in Phoenix. Although the median home-sale price is significantly lower in Seattle than Phoenix–$625,000 versus $340,000–housing costs are rising faster in Phoenix. Phoenix home prices were up 16% year over year in January, versus a 9.6% increase in Seattle

A tech worker leaving Seattle for Portland with a 10% pay reduction would have $9,300 less in annual disposable income in their new hometown, and $1,800 more by moving to Spokane.  

Salary, mortgage costs & disposable income in Seattle, Phoenix, Portland & Spokane

Seattle, WAPhoenix, AZPhoenix, AZ (with 10% pay cut)Portland, ORPortland, OR (with 10% pay cut)Spokane, WASpokane, WA (with 10% pay cut)
Median salary for tech worker (with 10% pay cut if applicable) $112,600$112,600$101,340$112,600$101,340$112,600$101,340
Mortgage costs$20,000$10,000$10,000$16,000$16,000$10,000$10,000
Disposable income after paying for mortgage & other living expenses$71,000$82,800$71,500$72,900$61,700$84,000$72,800

Moving from Los Angeles to San Diego pays off for tech workers–but only if they keep the same salary

Los Angeles had the third-biggest net outflow of any metro area in January. Like the Bay Area, it experienced an uptick in users moving away, losing 80% more residents than the same time period last year. 

A tech worker who moves from Los Angeles to San Diego, the top destination for users leaving Los Angeles, would have about $2,000 more in disposable income in their new hometown–$37,500 in Los Angeles versus $39,400 in San Diego–if they keep the same job at the same salary. A move from Los Angeles to Dallas or Bakersfield, CA, two of the other most popular destinations for those leaving Los Angeles, would yield $22,500 more or $18,400 more in annual disposable income, respectively. 

But if a Los Angeles tech worker moves to San Diego and takes a 10% reduction in pay, they would have $7,300 less in disposable income. Moving to Dallas or Bakersfield with a 10% pay cut would yield $13,300 more or $9,200 more in annual disposable income, respectively.

Salary, mortgage costs & disposable income in Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas & Bakersfield

Los Angeles, CASan Diego, CASan Diego, CA (with 10% pay cut)Dallas, TXDallas, TX (with 10% pay cut)Bakersfield, CABakersfield, CA (with 10% pay cut)
Median salary for tech worker (with 10% pay cut if applicable)$92,200$92,200$82,980$92,200$82,980$92,200$82,980
Mortgage costs$27,000$25,000$25,000$10,000$10,000$10,000$10,000
Disposable income after paying for mortgage & other living expenses$37,500$39,400$30,200$60,000$50,800$56,000$46,800


The housing costs used in the migration affordability tool are from Redfin’s housing market data. The salary information is sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics. Other living expenses are sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau, county tax filings from the IRS, the U.S. Energy Administration and The Housing and Transportation (H+T®) Affordability Index.

Dana Anderson

Dana Anderson

As a data journalist at Redfin, Dana Anderson writes about the numbers behind real estate trends. Redfin is a full-service real estate brokerage that uses modern technology to make clients smarter and faster. For more information about working with a Redfin real estate agent to buy or sell a home, visit our Why Redfin page.

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