10 Best Cities For Architects Right Now

For architects, the city in which you operate can have a profound influence on your career, determining the scope of projects and professional opportunities available. While many might find sufficient work in their hometown, branching out to cities with a rich architectural landscape can enhance growth prospects. After thorough research, here are the top 10 cities for architects to consider:

  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA: A top destination for architects with a high income-to-rent ratio, boasting other notable cities in California like San Diego and Oakland.
  • Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia, MI (MD): Michigan’s architecture hub offers reasonable rents, though the salary isn’t as high as in top-tier cities.
  • Albuquerque, NM: An emerging hub for architects in the Southwest, boasting competitive salary figures compared to many others.
  • Bakersfield, CA: High median salaries but limited job opportunities with an employment rate of 26.35 jobs per 1000.
  • Wichita, KS: A potential hotspot in the Midwest, offering an average salary package of $76,620 and affordable living costs.
  • Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX: Top-tier opportunities and compensation in Texas, with a slightly higher living cost compared to Californian cities.
  • Anchorage, AK: A surprising entry boasting competitive salaries similar to Houston but a chilly climate to prepare for.
  • Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA (MD): The Pacific Northwest gems offering high salaries, though accompanied by a high median rent.
  • Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC: Affordable establishment costs and reasonable compensation, though the market isn’t as diverse.
  • Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA: A belt full of opportunities in Oregon and Washington, set against a backdrop of a vibrant art and architectural scene, though rents can be on the higher side.
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1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

The cities that pop into mind while aiming for a successful career in architecture are San Jose, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara in California. We’ve grouped these three places as they all belong to the same state and share the same income-to-rent ratio.

Although the median rent for a 1BR is sky-high at $2,483, the average salary is much higher than in other cities on the list. Apart from that, California cities that also deserve mention for viable prospects include San Diego, Oakland, Hayward, and Berkeley. 

2. Detroit-Dearborn-Livonia, MI (MD)

Detroit, the largest city in Michigan, along with Dearborn and Livonia, has emerged as the architecture hub in the Midwestern region of North America. While the average rent is surprisingly much more reasonable at $525, the salary packages are not as lucrative as in the top cities. 

Regardless, if you’re looking to save up while making a decent income, this is a good place to expand your architecture business.  

3. Albuquerque, NM

This may seem to be an unlikely 3rd entry, but Albuquerque in New Mexico is raking in dollars for architects and design experts. Our research found this city in the South West of the USA, showing some strong figures in salary and income-rent ratio.  

In fact, the average compensation is a tad bit higher compared to the cities in Michigan. However, in terms of job opportunities, Albuquerque has to cover several miles to surpass the second-place holders on our list.  

4. Bakersfield, CA

If we go by median salary only, Bakersfield will rank 2nd on our list. However, the only catch is a limited job opportunity. Therefore, it may not be a great place to start as the statistics show an employment rate of 26.35 jobs per 1000. 

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5. Wichita, KS

Another Midwestern city that has shown remarkable figures in the field of architecture is Wichita. With an average salary package of $76,620, this could be the place for a promising path ahead. 

The median 1BR rent is undoubtedly more affordable here, and that’s great news for freelancers and small firms looking to build a stable client base.   

6. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX

Down in Texas, Houston, The Woodlands, and Sugar Land are the cities where architects can reach their full potential. Regardless of your skill level, you can consider moving here as there are many great opportunities, and compensation is the best in the industry. 

Rent-wise, these Texas cities are second to their Californian counterparts, so you might want to compare the costs before making up your mind. 

7. Anchorage, AK

This may come as a surprise, but Anchorage in the extreme Northwestern state of Alaska is another shining beacon for budding architects. Statistically, there’s very little difference between Anchorage and Houston, as both the places, more or less, have the same median 1BR rent and employment rate.

However, the salary is slightly better in Anchorage, so you might as well start packing all your winter wear. 

8. Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA (MD)

Next up, it’s time to focus on these three Washington state cities – Seattle, Bellevue, and Everett. Whether you’re an entry-level designer or run a full-fledged business, consider moving to the Pacific Northwest for expansion and diversification. 

Despite recording a high median rent, these three cities have become sought-after destinations among architects. Primarily, it’s the high salaries that have attracted professionals from across the country. 

9. Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC

If you’re looking to explore new avenues without spending a lot on establishment costs, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Newport News might seem viable. The 1BR rent in these places is far more affordable, and it’s unlikely that you’ll complain about the compensation. While the playing field may not be as diverse, it’s definitely worth a shot. 

10. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

The states of Oregon and Washington could be your next destination as the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro belt is rife with opportunities. That said, you may end up spending a lot on rent, given that the average 1BR cost is $1,383.

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That’s all from us for today! With this, we hope you can find the next destination for your dream architecture job. However, do not obsess with the location as there are other important factors that also come into play. 

Before taking the leap, consider the cost of living and other additional expenses that you will incur when settling in a new place. After all, you would want the income-to-expense ratio to tip in your favor. 

Also, research a bit more about the type of opportunities you’ll be getting. Ultimately, it should fit your job profile and challenge you to do better. On that note, we’d like to take your leave. 

Till next time!

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