Cost & Opportunity: Health Care Jobs

Rentable’s Cost and Opportunity series is an attempt to identify which cities are best for renters in a variety of employment fields. There’s a delicate balance between job concentration and monthly rent prices: Just because you can find an affordable one-bedroom, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to find a job in your field. And the cities with the most jobs in a particular field don’t always have the most approachable rents.

Last month, we analyzed a total of 76 metropolitan statistical areas for computer and math job density, median salary in those positions, and median 1-bedroom rent price.

This month, we’re focusing on health care — an industry that has gained popularity in the last few years; so popular that there is even super detailed content about the best shoes for male nurses. That said, jobs in this industry are wide-ranging. From healthcare facility management to surgeons and nurses, the industry is filled with professionals of all levels of opportunity.

Health Care Jobs

Examining only the concentration of health care jobs across the country, one metro area stands head and shoulders above the rest: Durham-Chapel Hill, NC. The area, smack dab in the middle of “The Research Triangle,” is home to three major universities (Duke, UNC, and NC State), one of the country’s largest research centers, and UNC Health Care, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that 99.4 jobs out of every 1,000 are in health care.

The next-highest concentrations are nearly 20 jobs-per-thousand behind: Birmingham-Hoover, AL (78.9), and Philadelphia, PA (78.1). Six more metro areas (Winston-Salem, NC; Lubbock, TX; Toledo, OH; Cleveland-Elyria, OH; Lexington-Fayette, KY; and Pittsburgh, PA), all of them sites of major university hospital systems, have concentrations above 70 health care jobs-per-thousand.

When it comes to income-to-rent ratio, however, a new group of metro areas excels. Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia, MI, where median monthly income for health care professionals is 9.7 times the median monthly rent of $550, leads the way, followed by Toledo, OH (9.5x); Reno, NV (8.9x); and Bakersfield, CA (8.8x). Four more metro areas show a ratio of over 8:1, but the only one other than Toledo to also show a concentration of health care jobs of over 70 per thousand is another Ohio metro area: Cleveland-Elyria. Considering the city’s numerous opportunities and low cost of living, Hospital Careers recently named Cleveland the best city for health care jobs.

To show which areas enjoy the best of both worlds, we created a ranking, with employment weighted 75% and the income-to-rent ratio 25%. Durham-Chapel Hill once again leads the list, its moderately high median rent balanced by its terrific job concentration. Toledo, OH; Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia, MI; Cleveland, OH; Lubbock, TX; Birmingham, AL; Winston-Salem, NC; Philadelphia, PA; Lexington-Fayette, KY; and Tucson, AZ make up the rest of the top ten.

You’ll notice that many of these cities are in the Midwest and South, where rents are generally lower than on the coasts, and where midsize city economies are more easily dominated by health care systems than are the larger, more diversified cities on the coasts. Indeed, a cursory look at the bottom ten scores shows a bevy of coastal metropolises: New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY; Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, D.C.-VA-MD; and six California metro areas. San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA owns the worst score, with the highest median rent ($3,499) and lowest health care job concentration (35.9 per 1,000) of any city on the list.


We used data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on employment per 1,000 jobs and median annual wages for all health care occupations by metropolitan statistical area and paired it with Rentable data on median 1-bedroom rent prices. To calculate the income-to-rent ratio for each MSA, we divided the median annual wages by 12 to get a median monthly wage, then divided the result by the current median 1-bedroom rent price for the area. We then scaled both the employment per 1,000 jobs and the income-to-rent ratio to give each a relative value between 0 and 10. The final score is a weighted sum of the scaled values, with employment per 1,000 jobs carrying a 75% weight and income-to-rent ratio 25%.

For press inquiries, contact Sam Radbil.