The 10 Best Cities For Physician Assistants to Move to in 2018

In its 2018 ranking of best health care jobs, U.S. News and World Report ranked physician assistant second in best health care jobs. Also referred to as PAs, these medical professionals examine, diagnose and treat patients under the direction of licensed physicians.

PAs are undoubtedly in high demand. As of 2017, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there were 109,220 working in the country. They are paid well, with a median wage of $101,480 as of May 2016.  That number of employed PAs is expected to soar 37 percent by the year 2026.

So, what are the best cities for physician assistants to live right now?

SpareFoot teamed up with Indeed, the world’s largest job site by users, to find the ten metro areas with the most job listings for physician assistants. Indeed also provided us with the average salary data for PAs in those markets.

We then ranked those cities by the following factors:

  • Job availability
  • Average annual salary
  • Median home price
  • Median annual rent

Finally, we combined the rankings (giving double weight to job availability) to determine an overall ranking.

Median home prices and annual rent sourced from Zillow.

10. New York, NY

This urban mecca has no shortage of physician assistant jobs, but at an impressive annual salary of $106,469 the Big Apple is still the least affordable place to live on our list.

  • Percent share of job listings (rounded): 10.3% (Ranked 3rd)
  • Average annual salary: $106,469 (Rank 4th)
  • Median home price: $474,900
  • Salary as a percentage of home price: 22.4% (Rank 10th)
  • Median annual rent: $24,840
  • Rent as a percentage of income: 23.3% (Rank 10th)

9. Orlando, FL

University of Central Florida Health and Public Affairs Building located at Pegasus Circle on the Central Campus.

While “The City Beautiful” comes in 9th for average annual salary, its solid percentage of job openings for physician assistants gives Orlando a boost when compared to the rest of the country.

  • Percent share of job listings (rounded): 8.7% (Rank 5th – tie)
  • Average annual salary: $101,069 (Rank 9th)
  • Median home price: $279,900
  • Salary as a percentage of home price: 36.1% (Rank 5th)
  • Median annual rent: $14,520
  • Rent as a percentage of income: 14.4% (Rank 7th)

8. Baltimore, MD

The Johns Hopkins Hospital at night from Orleans Street.

Another city with above average physician assistant job openings compared to the rest of the country, Baltimore continues to be a hot city for PAs.

  • Percent share of job listings (rounded): 9.5% (Rank 4th)
  • Average annual salary: $102,928 (Rank 7th)
  • Median home price: $275,000
  • Salary as a percentage of home price: 37.4% (Rank 4th)
  • Median annual rent: $17,676
  • Rent as a percentage of income: 17.2% (Rank 6th)

7. Riverside, CA

King of the IE is a prime spot for physician assistants, where the average salary of $121,184 is much higher than the $101,480 median salary reported by the BLS.

  • Percent share of job listings (rounded): 6.3% (Rank 7th)
  • Average annual salary: $121,184 (Rank 1st)
  • Median home price: $369,900
  • Salary as a percentage of home price: 32.8% (Rank 8th)
  • Median annual rent: $16,692
  • Rent as a percentage of income: 13.8% (Rank 5th)

5. Philadelphia, PA

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia located in the UPenn campus

Philadelphia tied for the smallest share of jobs among the top ten with 5.9 percent. The average annual salary of $102,372 is the third lowest on the list. But Philadelphia is relatively affordable to live in for a big city, coming in second place on affordability of homes.

  • Percent share of job listings (rounded): 5.9% (Rank 8th – tie)
  • Average annual salary: $102,372 (Rank 8th)
  • Median home price:  $224,900
  • Salary as a percentage of home price: 45.5% (Rank 2nd)
  • Median annual rent: $15,000
  • Rent as a percentage of income: 14.7% (Rank 9th)

5. Charlotte, NC

With an above average salary for physician assistants compared to the rest of the country, Charlotte is the largest of the three North Carolinian cities to make our list.

  • Percent share of job listings (rounded): 5.9% (Rank 8th – tie)
  • Average annual salary: $103,697 (Rank 5th)
  • Median home price: $295,000
  • Salary as a percentage of home price: 35.2% (Rank 6th)
  • Median annual rent: $14,940
  • Rent as a percentage of income: 14.4% (Rank 8th)

4. Raleigh, NC

Is this another Raleigh vs. Durham flame war? Both cities rank exceptionally well for average annual salary and rent affordability, but Durham slightly edges Raleigh this time.

  • Percent share of job listings (rounded): 8.7% (Rank 5th – tie)
  • Average annual salary: $106,974 (Rank 3rd)
  • Median home price: $319,900
  • Salary as a percentage of home price: 33.4% (Rank 7th)
  • Median annual rent:  $12,660
  • Rent as a percentage of income: 11.8% (Rank 4th)

3. Pittsburgh, PA

Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA

The Pittsburgh metro area might not have the highest-paying salary on the list ($96,548), but the cost of housing is very affordable, coming in first place for both apartments and homes.

  • Percent share of job listings (rounded): 5.9% (Rank 8th – tie)
  • Average annual salary: $96,548 (Rank 10th)
  • Median home price: $168,967
  • Salary as a percentage of home price: 57.1% (Rank 1st)
  • Median annual rent: $11,100
  • Rent as a percentage of income:  11.5% (Rank 1st)

2. Durham, NC

Is there any doubt that North Carolina is the best state for PAs? Durham earns the number two spot by the sheer number of job openings for physician assistants, making up 22.5 percent of openings within the top ten.

  • Percent share of job listings (rounded): 22.5% (Rank 1st)
  • Average annual salary: $107,606 (Rank 2nd)
  • Median home price: $350,000
  • Salary as a percentage of home price: 30.7% (Rank 9th)
  • Median annual rent: $12,600
  • Rent as a percentage of income: 11.7% (Rank 3rd)

1. Hartford – West Hartford – East Hartford, CT

Greater Hartford is an all-around strong choice for physician assistants, performing especially well on job availability and housing affordability. That $103,538 average annual salary will truly go a long way here.

  • Percent share of job listings (rounded): 16.2% (Rank 2nd)
  • Average annual salary: $103,538 (Rank 6th)
  • Median home price: $247,400
  • Salary as a percentage of home price: 41.9% (Rank 3rd)
  • Median annual rent: $11,940
  • Rent as a percentage of income: 11.5% (Rank 2nd)

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