Physician assistants play an integral role in America’s healthcare system.

Also referred to as PAs, these medical professionals examine, diagnose and treat patients under the direction of licensed physicians.

PAs are also in high demand. As of 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there were 94,400 working in the country. That number of employed PAs is expected to soar 30 percent by the year 2024.

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

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 Trulia.

10. San Diego, CA

San Diego Skyline From Harbor Island

San Diego rounds out our list of top cities, but still has a lot to offer physician assistants. The average salary and share of jobs both come in 6th place compared to other cities, however housing affordability may leave something to be desired.

Percent share of job listings (rounded): 9.8% (Ranked 6th)
Average annual salary: $93,000 (Ranked 6th)
Median home price: $465,000
Salary as a percentage of home price: 20% (Ranked 8th)
Median annual rent: $30,000
Rent as a percentage of income: 32.3% (Ranked 9th)

9. Austin, TX

austin

The Texas capital is one of the fastest growing cities in America, and as it grows, so does its need for physician assistants. The city accounted for more than 10 percent of jobs our list, giving it an edge over San Diego.

 Percent share of job listings (rounded): 10.1% (Ranked 5th)
Average annual salary: $87,000 (Ranked 7th)
Median home price: $518,883
Salary as a percentage of home price: 16.8% (Ranked 9th)
Median annual rent: $22,200
Rent as a percentage of income: 25.5% (Ranked 7th)

8. Phoenix, AZ

phoenix

Physician assistant jobs in Phoenix offer the lowest pay among the top 10, but it is one of the most affordable to buy a home.

Percent share of job listings (rounded): 8.4% (Ranked 8th)
Average annual salary: $78,000 (Ranked 10th)
Median home price: $185,000
Salary as a percentage of home price: 42.2% (Ranked 4th)
Median annual rent: $14,940
Rent as a percentage of income: 19.2% (Ranked 6th)

7. Seattle, WA

seattle

Seattle has limited job availability compared to other cities on the list, but its average annual salary of $99,000 is one of the highest on the list and higher than the national median salary of $95,820 reported by the BLS.

Percent share of job listings (rounded): 8.3% (Ranked 9th)
Average annual salary: $99,000 (Ranked 4th)
Median home price: $485,000
Salary as a percentage of home price: 20.4% (Ranked 7th)
Median annual rent: $28,800
Rent as a percentage of income: 29.1% (Ranked 8th)

6. San Antonio, TX

sanantonio

San Antonio has the smallest share of jobs among the top ten, but when it comes to affordability it lands right in the middle coming in 5th place on both measures.

Percent share of job listings (rounded): 7.9% (Ranked 10th)
Average annual salary: $83,000 (Ranked 8th)
Median home price: $266,224
Salary as a percentage of home price: 31.2% (Ranked 5th)
Median annual rent: $15,600
Rent as a percentage of income: 18.8% (Ranked 5th)

5. New York, NY

nyc

At $111,000, New York offers the highest average salary among cities on the top ten, and it has the second highest share of available jobs. Needless to say, it is the least affordable, coming in second on both measures.

Percent share of job listings (rounded): 11.6% (Ranked 2nd)
Average annual salary: $111,000 (Ranked 1st, tie with Chicago)
Median home price:  $1.25 million
Salary as a percentage of home price: 8.9 percent (Ranked 10th)
Median annual rent: $48,000
Rent as a percentage of income: 43.2 percent (Ranked 10th)

4. Houston, TX

houston

Houston is the third Texas city on our list, and has the highest percentage of job listings at 14.7 percent. It boasts a generous salary of $104,000 and is also one of the most affordable rental markets on our list.

Percent share of job listings (rounded): 14.7% (Ranked 1st)
Average annual salary: $104,000 (Ranked 3rd)
Median home price: $401,863
Salary as a percentage of home price: 25.9% (Ranked 6th)
Median annual rent: $18,600
Rent as a percentage of income:  17.9% (Ranked 4th)

3. Indianapolis, IN

indianapolis

Indiana is the most affordable city on our list for physician assistants, coming in first on both home and rental affordability. The 9th-ranked salary of $80,000 will go a long way here.

Percent share of job listings (rounded): 10.3% (Ranked 4th)
Average annual salary: $80,000 (Ranked 9th)
Median home price: $127,544
Salary as a percentage of home price: 62.7% (Ranked 1st)
Median annual rent:  $10,500
Rent as a percentage of income: 13.1% (Ranked 1st)

2. Baltimore, MD

baltimoreharbor

Baltimore is the only city on the list to land among the top five for each of our four ranking criteria. With an average salary above the national median and affordable home and rental properties, Baltimore earns its number two spot with gusto.

Percent share of job listings (rounded): 10.5% (Ranked 3rd)
Average annual salary: $97,000 (Ranked 5th)
Median home price: $170,000
Salary as a percentage of home price: 57.1% (Ranked 2nd)
Median annual rent: $16,800
Rent as a percentage of income: 17.3% (Ranked 3rd)

1. Chicago, IL

chicago

With an average salary equal to physician assistants in New York, Chicago is much more affordable—coming in second for rental affordability and third for home buying affordability. It might be tougher to find a job here though, with positions for physician assistants accounting for only 8.5 percent of openings among the top 10 cities.

Percent share of job listings (rounded): 8.5% (Ranked 7th)
Average annual salary: $111,000 (Ranked 1st, tie with New York)
Median home price: $236,000
Salary as a percentage of home price: 47% (Ranked 3rd)
Median annual rent: $18,600
Rent as a percentage of income: 16.8% (Ranked 2nd)

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Alexander Harris