New Study Reveals Surprising Frontrunners in Amazon’s HQ2 Contest

The study looks at the HQ2 race from a fresh angle: the life quality of Amazon's future employees.

More clues on Amazon’s HQ2 beauty contest. David Ryder/Getty Images

When Amazon rejected St. Louis, Mo. as a candidate for the company’s second headquarters earlier this year, the e-commerce giant made it clear that the city it will choose to house its HQ2 needs to have a strong tech talent pool.

By that standard—including the racial and gender diversity of the workforce—we have narrowed down the original list to a handful of cities that will check all the boxes on Jeff Bezos‘ wish list. But a new data-backed prediction is suggesting very different winners by looking at the race from a fresh angle: the life quality of Amazon’s future employees.

From that perspective, Raleigh, N.C., Atlanta and Pittsburgh, Pa. will be Amazon’s best choices, thanks to the these cities’ low home prices, good education resources and low crime rates, according to a report by Attom Data Solutions, an Irvine, Calif.-based curator of national real estate data.

Attom Data ranked the 19 finalist cities in the U.S. based on seven housing market-related factors: median home prices, five-year home price appreciation, affordability, average school test scores, crime rate, property tax rate and environmental hazard risk.

Nashville, Austin and Denver, while not frontrunners in terms of workforce diversity (a factor Amazon clearly values), closely trail the top three cities in Attom Data’s ranking.

In contrast, candidates with high hopes based on previous analyses—Washington D.C., New York City and Boston—are the least competitive by affordability measures.

“Of course, this is not the full picture, but affordability is an important factor in Amazon’s decision, because 16 out of the 19 finalist cities in the U.S. have a median home price below that in Seattle (home to Amazon’s current headquarters),” Daren Blomquist, Attom Data’s senior vice president, told Observer.

At the end of the day two of the most important factors for the decision will be finding a market with an ample supply of workers with the skills Amazon is looking for, along with an ample supply of relatively affordable housing for those workers to live in,” Blomquist explained in a company blog post. “A market like Raleigh certainly has the affordable housing, and it also has an ample supply of skilled workers thanks to the several top-notch universities in the vicinity.”

Most competitive cities in Amazon’s HQ2 contest, based on housing market health. Attom Data Solutions
New Study Reveals Surprising Frontrunners in Amazon’s HQ2 Contest