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5 Charts: Waterloo vs. Salt Lake City

5 charts that compare Waterloo's technology ecosystem - talent, real estate costs, research and more - to Salt Lake City, Utah

We often compare Waterloo’s exceptional tech credentials to other major cities in Canada like Toronto and Montreal, and major US tech hubs like Silicon Valley and New York, where the vast majority of tech investment has traditionally landed.

What we haven’t really dug into – until now – is how our ecosystem stacks up against smaller US tech markets that are showing undeniable momentum, like Salt Lake City, Phoenix and Detroit. We’ve scoured our data and are going head-to-head with tech markets across the United States. We’ve already stepped into the ring with Austin, Pittsburgh and Columbus and are now ready to take on Salt Lake City.

You guessed it – the friendly competition continues!

This is part of a Waterloo EDC series called “5 Charts: Waterloo Versus” that compares our community with some of American’s top tech hubs, including Austin, Texas; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Columbus, Ohio; Phoenix, Arizona and Detroit, Michigan. 

Matchup #4: Waterloo, Canada vs. Salt Lake City, Utah 

Waterloo and Salt Lake City’s similarities make for a good matchup. We have both seen dramatic transformations in our downtown cores, a healthy concentration of millennials that boast more tech degrees when compared to other major cities and a relatively low cost of living.

Quick Facts:

Waterloo/Salt Lake City Quick Facts Chart

**CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2021

Round One: Tech Talent Density

Tech Talent Density Waterloo/Salt Lake City

SOURCES: CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2021 

Waterloo continues to reign supreme with regard to tech talent density, coming out in front of Austin, Pittsburgh and Columbus – in fact, we were just named North America’s #1 small tech talent market.

There are a few factors in play that contribute to this impressive density.

First, while we have fewer universities and students, Waterloo is home to Canada’s top technology school, the University of Waterloo (UWaterloo). Second, Canada has some very business-friendly immigration programs that are helping American companies retain global talent. Finally, our community has caught the eye of global tech giants like Google, Shopify and OpenText, and high-growth unicorns like Faire and ApplyBoard.

Combined, you get an exceptional density in a small area.

Round Two: Engineering and Computer Science University Program Sizes

University Program Enrollment University of Waterloo and University of Utah Computer Science and Engineering

SOURCES: The University of Waterloo and the University of Utah 

It’s tough to keep up with the University of Waterloo. UWaterloo is a beacon for world-class engineering and technology talent, ranking globally with schools like Carnegie Mellon, MIT and Stanford – but its tech programs have much higher enrollment.

This comes at no cost to talent quality. Check out these 5 jaw-dropping facts about the University of Waterloo.

Round Three: Research Output

Waterloo/Salt Lake City output of research per faculty

SOURCES: InCites Dataset; Emerging Sources Citation Index (2016)

What truly makes Waterloo stand out from tech hubs around the world is our research productivity. It’s even more impressive when we compare ourselves to Salt Lake City, where the University of Utah is the nation’s #1 institution for technology commercialization.

Round Four: Rent

Waterloo/Salt Lake City Cost of Working Space - Waterloo is at $2 million while Salt Lake City is at $2 million

SOURCE: CBRE Scoring Tech Talent, 2021

Winner: Waterloo, again.

Finding that perfect working space for a reasonable price is a daunting task in most communities. In Waterloo it’s possible to find a space that supports your company’s expansion plans while realizing a significant cost savings.

Round Five: Tech Salaries

Tech Salaries Median 5-Year Experience Salary

SOURCE: CRI Salary Assessor (2021)

It’s all Waterloo here, too. Quality of tech talent and significant cost advantages are central to the Waterloo value proposition. In fact, CBRE’s 2019 Scoring Canadian Tech Talent ranked Waterloo 1st in Canada for tech talent quality to cost.

Waterloo’s lower cost of living is a bonus. Our average residential rental prices are almost 26% less than those in Salt Lake City and our average household spend on healthcare is 50% less than SLC. You can do more living for less money in Canada’s fastest growing community.

Want to learn more about Waterloo’s incredible tech ecosystem?

Waterloo has significant advantages in talent, research productivity and cost compared to Salt Lake City.