Stressed out? Overworked?

It’s nothing a great massage therapist can’t fix, and it seems that demand for massage therapy is on fire.

To meet demand, the number of massage therapists working in the U.S. is expected to grow 22 percent between 2014 and 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is much faster than other occupations, which grow at an average pace of 7 percent during that time.

That got us at SpareFoot wondering: Where are the best places for massage therapist to start a business?

To answer this, we teamed up with Thumbtack.com, an online service that connects consumers with skilled professionals to get things done—including finding a massage therapist.

The Top 10

Based on their marketplace data, Thumbtack recently found the top 10 markets with the highest demand for massage therapy, controlling for supply. Cities with the most demand relative to supply scored highest on the Thumbtack Opportunity Index.

Thumbtack also provided the average price per session (per customer) for massage therapists in each of those cities. To come up with our list of best cities to start a massage therapy business, we also wanted to consider the cost of living and the cost of real estate for your business.

To rank the top ten, we scored each city on the following metrics:

  • Price per session (Thumbtack.com)
  • Median monthly rent (via Zillow.com)
  • Number of sessions required to pay a month’s rent
  • Median home sales price (via Zillow.com)
  • Median asking price for retail property (via Loopnet.com)
  • Number of sessions required to pay for a square foot of commercial space

Here are the top ten best places for starting a massage therapy business ranked:

10. Madison, WI

madison-wi

Take a deep breath and head to Madison to start your massage business. Home prices might be higher than the other cities on the list, but retail property is more relatively affordable at $101.86 per square foot.

  • Thumbtack Opportunity Index: 65.52
  • Thumbtack Average Price Per Session: $66.12
  • Median monthly rent: $1,430
  • Sessions required to pay a month’s rent: 21.63
  • Median home price: $218,300
  • Median asking price for retail property (per sq.ft.): $101.86
  • Number of sessions required to pay for a square foot of commercial space: 1.54

9. Columbus, OH

columbus
Columbus has the the lowest price per session for massage therapists on our list, but don’t let that deter you. Demand is still strong for additional message therapy providers and the cost of living is very affordable.

  • Thumbtack Opportunity Index: 71.1
  • Thumbtack Average Price Per Session: $61.40
  • Median monthly rent: $1,430
  • Sessions required to pay a month’s rent: 21.35
  • Median home price: $139,940
  • Median asking price for retail property (per sq.ft.): $115.41
  • Number of sessions required to pay for a square foot of commercial space: 1.88

8. Kansas City, MO

kansas-city

Kansas City had the highest score on the opportunity index, which means demand is hotter here than anywhere else. The pay per session may leave something to be desired, but with a reasonable cost of living the city could be right for you.

  • Thumbtack Opportunity Index: 100
  • Thumbtack Average Price Per Session: $62.84
  • Median monthly rent: $1,294
  • Sessions required to pay a month’s rent: 20.59
  • Median home price: $119,000
  • Median asking price for retail property (per sq.ft.): $125.35
  • Number of sessions required to pay for a square foot of commercial space: 1.99

7. Baton Rouge, LA

aerial of baton Rouge with Huey Long statue and famous skyline

Baton Rouge massage therapists make the most per session according to Thumbtack. They also pay the most for commercial real estate, however. Still it takes just over 16 sessions to pay for a typical month’s rent.

  • Thumbtack Opportunity Index: 70.84
  • Thumbtack Average Price Per Session: $83.41
  • Median monthly rent: $1,351
  • Sessions required to pay a month’s rent: 16.2
  • Median home price: $189,000
  • Median asking price for retail property (per sq.ft.): $146.85
  • Number of sessions required to pay for a square foot of commercial space: 1.76

6. Chattanooga, TN

chattanooga-tn

Chattanooga scored best when it comes to median monthly rent, where it came in third place. It only takes just over 18 sessions to cover the median rent of $1,173.

  • Thumbtack Opportunity Index: 68.02
  • Thumbtack Average Price Per Session: $64.21
  • Median monthly rent: $1,173
  • Sessions required to pay a month’s rent: 18.27
  • Median home price: $155,000
  • Median asking price for retail property (per sq.ft.): $108.99
  • Number of sessions required to pay for a square foot of commercial space: 1.7

5. Rochester, NY

rochesterny

Rochester has some of the most affordable real estate, both residential and commercial on our list. This upstate city could be the right fit for you, if you can take the cold.

  • Thumbtack Opportunity Index: 69.9
  • Thumbtack Average Price Per Session: $63.94
  • Median monthly rent: $1,395
  • Sessions required to pay a month’s rent: 21.82
  • Median home price: $84,925
  • Median asking price for retail property (per sq.ft.): $96.19
  • Number of sessions required to pay for a square foot of commercial space: 1.5

4. Birmingham, AL

Downtown Birmingham, Alabama, from Vulcan Park

If you like it hot instead, head to Birmingham where demand is very strong and both residential and commercial property are priced affordably.

  • Thumbtack Opportunity Index: 81.17
  • Thumbtack Average Price Per Session: $66.07
  • Median monthly rent: $1,079
  • Sessions required to pay a month’s rent: 16.33
  • Median home price: $164,401
  • Median asking price for retail property (per sq.ft.): $109.07
  • Number of sessions required to pay for a square foot of commercial space: 1.65

3. Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA at dusk.

Pittsburgh scored within the top five on all of our criteria, with the exception of home prices. That makes Steel City a prime spot for your therapeutic work.

  • Thumbtack Opportunity Index: 79.29
  • Thumbtack Average Price Per Session: $68.47
  • Median monthly rent: $1,142
  • Sessions required to pay a month’s rent: 16.68
  • Median home price: $156,485
  • Median asking price for retail property (per sq.ft.): $102.20
  • Number of sessions required to pay for a square foot of commercial space: 1.49

2. Jackson, MS

Jackson, Mississippi, USA skyline over the Capitol Building.

Back down South, Jackson offers an extremely healthy market for massage therapists and some of the most affordable prices for real estate on our list.

  • Thumbtack Opportunity Index: 84.25
  • Thumbtack Average Price Per Session: $72.30
  • Median monthly rent: $1,240
  • Sessions required to pay a month’s rent: 17.2
  • Median home price: $110,000
  • Median asking price for retail property (per sq.ft.): $100.65
  • Number of sessions required to pay for a square foot of commercial space: 1.39

1. Buffalo, NY

buffalo-ny

Pack your snow boots and hot oils, you’ll need them in this chilly New York city. Buffalo has the cheapest retail property prices on our list, and requires the least number of jobs to pay a for it.

  • Thumbtack Opportunity Index: 89.78
  • Thumbtack Average Price Per Session: $72.58
  • Median monthly rent: $1,316
  • Sessions required to pay a month’s rent: 18.13
  • Median home price: $71,728
  • Median asking price for retail property (per sq.ft.): $87.22
  • Number of sessions required to pay for a square foot of commercial space: 1.2

 

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Alexander Harris