Is Madison, Wisconsin, a Tech Hub?

All Signs Point to Yes

We often think of the tech industry as being confined to the coasts — and specifically, the West Coast, where thousands of eager programmers and developers flock every year to work at giants like Google and Facebook. But increasingly, with rents and cost-of-living skyrocketing in San Francisco and its environs, tech companies are looking outside of Silicon Valley for workers and office space.

But where, exactly? Rentable has done research on the best cities for tech jobs, taking into account not only job concentration but also income and rent, and though some of the cities on the list are familiar — the sheer job opportunities in San Francisco can offset the high rent — others, like Detroit, are surprising.

To show which U.S. cities enjoy both abundant tech job opportunities and approachable compensation and rents, we created a score, with employment weighted 75% and the income-to-rent ratio 25%.

Madison fell just outside the top 10 in aggregate score, with a rating of 3.58. Out of every 1,000 jobs, 53.7 are in mathematics or computers. That’s less than half the figure for San Jose, but it’s comparable to Durham-Chapel Hill, and greater than Boston. With healthcare software industry giant Epic in nearby Verona, and a steady stream of graduates from the University of Wisconsin — one of the country’s major research universities — it’s easy to see why the tech scene in Madison is booming. In recent years, Google has set up offices in the city, and a number of start-ups — most significantly EatStreet, an online food delivery service, and Rentable, an apartment-search app — have raised major funding. Think about all the ‘food delivery near me‘ searches, a brilliant idea.

Plus, with a median salary of $72,110, tech workers in Madison can live well. The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Madison is $1,069, giving tech workers in Madison a 5.6-to-1 ratio of income to rent. That’s on par with Austin, another highly desirable alternative to Silicon Valley. Madison’s ratio also far exceeds San Jose’s (4.0), and it’s twice as favorable as the ratio for San Francisco (2.6). Construction in the city has already responded to increased consumer demand for one- and two-bedroom apartments in Madison, with amenities reflecting young professional lifestyles.
As rents continue to rise in the Bay Area, and tech companies embrace telecommuting and decentralized campuses, look for Madison’s tech scene to keep growing.