Press releases

'Silicon Prairie' Communities Top List of Up-and-Coming Tech Markets

Looking for a place to launch a startup? Oklahoma City, Kansas City and Jacksonville provide best potential for growth, while affordability and labor-competition challenges see Silicon Valley desirability fade

-- Las Vegas, Jacksonville and Tampa top "hot markets" list for ability to attract talent

-- The biggest share of available skilled tech workers is in Kansas City, which also ranked as most livable

-- The robust economy draws people to Austin and Orlando, while housing is most affordable in Oklahoma City, St. Louis and Pittsburgh

Jan 9, 2020

SEATTLE, Jan. 9, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Silicon Valley and Seattle might seem like the obvious places for tech start-ups to set up shop and large companies to site new offices. But a confluence of factors such as rampant home-price growth and a seeming saturation of companies competing for the same limited pool of tech talent have led some companies to look toward other options.

A new Zillow® analysis shows that markets in the Midwest and South are most ripe for tech growth, with Oklahoma City, Kansas City and Jacksonville leading the way.

Using a variety of data sources – including from Zillow, LinkedIn®, Ookla® and the U.S. Census – we zeroed in on five dimensions that determine a market's potential for tech growthi:

  • Housing affordability
  • Market 'hotness' — does the market have the ability attract people?
  • Demographics and labor market dynamics indicating a robust economy
  • A ready or potential pool of talented and available tech workers
  • The appeal of living in the market based on factors like commute times

What we found are – while not necessarily places that would be top of mind when thinking of tech markets – cities with untapped potential for tech companies to grow.

The top-10 markets for future tech growth are:

  1. Oklahoma City
  2. Kansas City
  3. Jacksonville
  4. Indianapolis
  5. Cincinnati
  6. San Antonio
  7. Memphis
  8. Austin
  9. Louisville
  10. Columbus

The Oklahoma City and Kansas City metros both score well for affordability — where typical-income earners are spending a relatively smaller share of their income on housing – livability, and the availability of a tech-skilled workforce.

A number of southern markets such as Jacksonville, Fla., San Antonio and Austin join Cincinnati in the top 10 in terms of market hotness. Robust rents and/or home value growth, as well as more people searching into the area than searching out, suggest these places are poised for growth and an influx of people.

The analysis also shows that traditional tech hotspots often fell toward the bottom of the list because of eroding affordability and quality of life. Lack of affordability is a major concern for tech hubs: Los Angeles and the Bay Area have the worst affordability rankings of all markets examined in this study. Chicago — not typically thought of as a tech hub — also was near the bottom of the 42-market ranking.

Here are the highest- and lowest-ranking markets in each category of analysis:

Affordable markets
Highest scores: Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Oklahoma City
Lowest scores: Los Angeles, Bay Area, San Diego

Hot markets
Highest scores: Las Vegas, Jacksonville, Tampa
Lowest scores: Bay Area, Washington, D.C., New York

Markets with a robust economy
Highest scores: Austin, Orlando, Bay Area
Lowest scores: Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh

Markets with available skilled tech workers
Highest scores: Kansas City, Milwaukee, Memphis
Lowest scores: New York, Los Angeles, Bay Area

Livable markets
Highest scores: Kansas City, Raleigh, Salt Lake City
Lowest scores: Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit

About Zillow

Zillow® is transforming how people buy, sell, rent and finance homes by creating seamless real estate transactions for today's on-demand consumer. Zillow is the leading real estate and rental marketplace and a trusted source for data, inspiration and knowledge among both consumers and real estate professionals. 

Zillow's proprietary data, technology and industry partnerships put Zillow at nearly every major point of the home shopping experience, helping consumers search for and get into their new home faster. Zillow now offers a fully integrated home shopping experience that includes access to for sale and rental listings, Zillow Offers®, which provides a new, hassle-free way to buy and sell eligible homes directly through Zillow; and Zillow Home Loans, Zillow's affiliated lender that provides an easy way to receive mortgage pre-approvals and financing. Zillow Premier Agent instantly connects buyers and sellers with its network of real estate professionals to help guide them through the home shopping process. For renters, Zillow's innovations are streamlining the way people search, tour, apply and pay rent for leased properties. 

In addition to, Zillow operates the most popular suite of mobile real estate apps, with more than two dozen apps across all major platforms. Launched in 2006, Zillow is owned and operated by Zillow Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:Z and ZG) and headquartered in Seattle.

Zillow and Zillow Offers are registered trademarks of Zillow, Inc.

i Methodology

To determine the markets that provide the best environments for tech expansion or start-ups, we examined:

Demographics and the labor market

  • Non-farm job growth (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Survey)
  • Unemployment rate (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Survey)
  • Share of population aged 20 to 35 (U.S. Census, American Community Survey)

Tech skills

  • Share of population with a bachelor's degree, over the age of 25 (U.S. Census, American Community Survey)
  • Shortage/surplus headcount of those with Software Development skills (LinkedIn)
  • Shortage/surplus headcount of those with Data Science skills (LinkedIn)
  • Shortage/surplus headcount of those with Artificial Intelligence skills (LinkedIn)

Market 'Hotness'

  • Year-over-year growth in home values (Zillow)
  • Year-over-year growth in rent estimates (Zillow)
  • Inbound-outbound home search ratio (Zillow)

Housing Affordability

  • Share of median income needed to pay median rent (Zillow)
  • Share of median income needed to pay median mortgage payment (Zillow)


  • Broadband speed, mbps upload (Ookla)
  • Broadband speed, mbps download (Ookla)
  • Mean commute time for workers who do not work from home (U.S. Census, American Community Survey)

Markets are identified by their larger metropolitan areas. The San Francisco Bay Area includes both San Francisco and San Jose metros and the underlying factors for this region are based on a population weighted average between the two metros.



For further information: Matt Kreamer, Zillow,