Amazon's HQ2 Finalists: How do they rank by cost of living vs Seattle? [Infographic]

    Feb 07, 2018 @ 12:09 PM / by Rob Zeitz

    Evening view of the downtown Seattle skyline, in Seattle, Washington.

    Amazon HQ2 Finalists

    Amazon has narrowed its list of HQ2 candidates to twenty cities. Now that the field of candidates has narrowed, how will they quantify which city is best suited for their needs? Will they compare these cities in terms of cost of living? Will Amazon consider how the costs of housing, goods and services and taxes may affect its ability to attract and retain critical talent?


    Recruiting and retaining critical talent is a vital element of Amazon’s – and any company’s - success.

    Potential employees are keen to know how far their paycheck will stretch, and measuring how key cost considerations – income taxes, goods and services, and housing – affect potential purchase power in each city reveals the attractiveness of these locations from an employee’s viewpoint.


    How far does a salary of $100,000 USD really go? (Spin the wheel to find out!)

    AIRINC's Salary Evaluation Tool crunched our comprehensive cost of living data to assess the relative costs of each city from an employee standpoint. We took the twenty HQ2 finalists and measured how far $100,000 USD would go for a family size of four in each city. The results below display the cost of living percentage difference for housing, goods and services, and tax costs relative to Seattle, Amazon's current home.

    • Index
      Rank Finalist Location Percent More/Less Expensive vs Seattle
      1 New York, NY 27.6%
      2 Los Angeles, CA 16.7%
      3 Boston, MA 11.1%
      4 Toronto, Canada 8.7%
      5 Chicago, IL 8.7%
      6 Newark, NJ 7.1%
      7 Washington, DC 6.6%
      8 Philadelphia, PA 4.5%
      9 Montgomery County, MD 4.2%
      10 Atlanta, GA 2.7%
      11 Denver, CO 1.2%
      12 Northern Virginia 0.8%
      13 Miami, FL 0.4%
      14 Pittsburgh, PA -0.7%
      15 Dallas, TX -2.2%
      16 Austin, TX -2.6%
      17 Nashville, TN -4.1%
      18 Raleigh, NC -5.1%
      19 Columbus, OH -5.1%
      20 Indianapolis, IN -5.5%
    • Spin the Wheel


    [No] Surprise! Housing has a heavy influence on the ranking for Amazon's HQ2

    Not surprisingly, New York tops the list with Los Angeles right behind. For most of the top 6, the high cost of housing pushes them to the top of the list. Housing is also why locations such as Columbus and Nashville are so inexpensive. Will Amazon prefer the big city appeal of New York and LA, or will they choose a location where their employee’s salaries will go farther, and where housing might be more available?

    Stay tuned for our upcoming post covering the housing trends in these cities by becoming a VIP!


    Want to learn more about salary evaluation, cost of living, and the cost and availability of housing around the world?

    AIRINC has been working with companies going through processes similar to Amazon’s HQ2 move, providing both data and consultation, moving groups of people, moving offices, and establishing new offices in new locations.

    These projects have ranged from moving a few key people and determining the differences in the cost of housing between Point A and Point B, to assisting in the selection process of a new regional headquarters overseas.

    Learn more about Location Assessments and Group Moves by clicking below:

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    Topics: Data and Infographics, Salary Evaluation Tool

    Rob Zeitz

    Written by Rob Zeitz

    Rob started at AIRINC in 2014 assisting the Data team with research projects. In 2016 he joined AIRINC’s client engagement team focused on clients with relatively smaller mobility programs. In 2019 Rob became a Client Engagement Manager, and currently works with clients of a variety of sizes and industries in the Central/Midwestern US, as well as Alberta, Canada.