Our study scored and ranked urban locations from 16 states in the South using several key characteristics, including salary information and real estate data. According to numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual income for a dentist in the South was $181,032 per year.
Best Cities for Dentists in the South
Besides sorting cities according to population, we also looked at the overall ranking of the best places for dentists in the South. Most of the top cities we selected were large cities with total populations of over 500,000, although each place stood out for a different combination of reasons.
|Rank||Location||Rating||Average Income for Dentists|
1. Tampa, Florida
The greater Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater MSA was rated our best city for dentists in the South, thanks to high median dental incomes, a large supply of available housing at affordable prices, and a high demand for dental professionals. The BLS data we worked with reported over 1,290 active dentists in the area, the second-highest jobs figure among cities in Florida.
Dentists looking to buy a home in Tampa will find plenty of options, with a 30-year mortgage payment on the median area home value of $179,215 taking up just over 4% of the median monthly dental income. The Tampa metro region also ranked number one among large cities in the South for Dentists to buy a home in, which is excellent news for young dentists craving the excitement of big city living at an affordable price.
2. Raleigh, North Carolina
Ranked second overall in the South, Raleigh, North Carolina is an excellent city for dentists to settle in, thanks to its high income levels for dental professionals and growing demand for dentists. The capital of North Carolina also ranked highly in terms of economic strength, demonstrating consistent growth over the past few years. In fact, median home values in Raleigh grew by over 22% over the past five year period.
Raleigh is one of the fastest-growing cities in the South, and young dentists graduating from school won't be disappointed. In our study, Raleigh also scored among the top third of MSAs in the nation for highest median dental income. Dentists in the city earned a median salary of $237,450 a year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
3. Naples, Florida
The greater Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island MSA ranked third-best overall in the South for dentists, and number one among medium-sized southern cities with 250,000 to 500,000 people. It was also the only MSA in our top five with a population under 500,000. The Naples region offers excellent value to dentists, and boasts the fastest growing real estate market in the South, with median home values appreciating by 52% over the five-year period between 2013 and 2018.
While properties in Naples are relatively expensive, dentists in the area can look forward to relatively low costs of living, a large selection of homes for sale and steady demand for their services. Naples also boasts scenic beachfront properties and over 90 golf courses around the area. In fact, the region was rated number one on the National Golf Foundation's ranking of golf holes per capita, making it an excellent destination for dentists looking to tee-off in between fillings.
4. Birmingham, Alabama
The Birmingham-Hoover MSA is fourth on our list of top cities for dentists in the South, and third amongst large southern metro areas with populations above 500,000. It's also the only place featured in our top five that's located in Alabama. Above-average salaries in the area combined with low costs of living give dental professionals a solid two-for-one value proposition.
Birmingham residents pay an average of just 0.51% of their home value in annual property taxes, while median dental salaries are above-average at $202,110. We also found that the region's real estate market demonstrated healthy growth, with home values appreciating by 23% since 2013.
5. Columbia, South Carolina
Columbia rounds out our top five southern cities for dentists. The city's above-average location quotient reflects a steady local demand for dental services. Dentists purchasing the average Columbia home can expect to pay as little as 4% of their monthly income towards mortgage expenses, assuming they take out a 30- year mortgage and finance 80% of their property. Local property values have also grown a healthy 17% over the past five year period.
Columbia is the capital and second largest city in the state of South Carolina. Despite the large government presence, residents of Columbia enjoy relatively low tax rates, with the average homeowner paying just 0.64% of their home value towards property taxes. It's also ranked number four amongst the top large cities in the South for dentists.
Southern Cities Where Dentists Earn the Most
If you're looking to increase your income as a dentist, we've also provided a short list of southern cities where dentists are paid the most. Labor data from the BLS showed that the mean annual income for dentists in the south varies widely by location, from $69,000 to $269,000. In the top-earning regions below, dentists can earn as much as a quarter million dollars per year.
|Rank||Location||Annual Mean Wage|
Southern Cities with Fastest-Rising Property Values
A good way to gauge the growth of an area is to look at how quickly home values in the region grow over time. Based on the period between 2013 and 2018, median home values in the five regions below exhibited the fastest growth across the south. In fact, property values in the following five locales all increased by 40% or more over the past five years.
|Rank||Location||2013 Median Home Value||2018 Median Home Value||5-Year Change|
|2||North Port, FL||$152,556||$229,598||51%|
|5||Punta Gorda, FL||$130,537||$182,943||40%|
Most Affordable Places in the South for Homebuyers
One way to get the most bang for your buck is to go where the homes are cheapest relative to your income. The mortgage payments on properties in the following areas can cost as little as 2% of the average dentist's monthly salary. We estimated the affordability ratio using the median home value and median annual dentist's income for the area.
|Rank||Location||Monthly Mortgage||Average Dentist Income||Home Affordability Ratio|
|4||Rocky Mount, NC||$467||$200,970||2.8%|
Full List of Cities in the South
In our search for the best cities for dentists, we reviewed all of the major metropolitan areas as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. This left us with data from 92 cities and MSAs across the South - one of the broadest geographic regions recognized by the Census Bureau.
|Rank||Location||Overall Rating||Average Income for Dentists|
|1||Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL||75.0||$221,060|
|3||Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL||68.0||$177,810|
|11||Charleston-North Charleston, SC||63.4||$168,980|
|13||Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA||62.9||$175,430|
|14||Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX||60.5||$170,790|
|15||Punta Gorda, FL||59.9||$188,380|
|16||Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL||58.9||$217,980|
|19||Port St. Lucie, FL||58.4||$224,210|
|21||Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL||58.3||$164,690|
|23||Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX||57.9||$189,410|
|25||North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL||57.3||$143,370|
|27||Corpus Christi, TX||55.7||$190,190|
|35||Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL||53.5||$136,800|
|36||Austin-Round Rock, TX||53.4||$158,930|
|38||Durham-Chapel Hill, NC||53.3||$206,290|
|47||San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX||50.5||$157,830|
|48||Fort Smith, AR-OK||49.6||$203,020|
|50||Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC||48.4||$195,940|
|51||Greensboro-High Point, NC||48.0||$224,200|
|52||Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC||47.9||$194,980|
|58||Oklahoma City, OK||46.3||$142,250|
|60||Athens-Clarke County, GA||46.0||$209,420|
|64||College Station-Bryan, TX||45.8||$166,720|
|66||California-Lexington Park, MD||45.0||$133,890|
|67||Rocky Mount, NC||43.7||$200,970|
|69||Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL||43.5||$200,560|
|71||Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR||42.4||$136,390|
|75||Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL||38.7||$161,110|
|76||Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC||38.5||$159,120|
|81||Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL||36.1||$106,240|
|82||Lake Charles, LA||35.9||$69,440|
|89||El Paso, TX||29.3||$138,580|
|91||Shreveport-Bossier City, LA||26.5||$82,590|
We looked at 92 cities and MSAs located across 16 states in the South and District of Columbia, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. We ranked each city on a number of criteria, converted the rankings into scores and totaled them into an overall score for each entry. All of the entries were then ranked according to magnitude, and the top results were tabulated above.
Large, medium and small cities are defined as regions with populations of over 500,000, 250,000 to 500,000, or below 250,000, respectively.
- Mean Wage: Locations were ranked based on their median absolute dentist salary. Larger mean wage figures received higher scores.
- Location Quotient: This measures the concentration of dentists as a percentage of all occupations in an area. Higher location quotients indicate a higher density of dentists, and consequently greater demand for their services. Higher location quotients received higher scores.
- Vacancy for Sale: This reflects the percentage of local homes that were available for sale or otherwise vacant. A higher vacancy for sale rate indicated more available housing and a higher score.
- Value Appreciation The strength of a local real estate market was evaluated based on its rate of growth over the past five years. Higher rates of appreciation received higher scores.
- Costs of Ownership: The ratio of property taxes to home value were used to gauge local costs of homeownership. The higher the ratio, the more expenses a homeowner can reasonably expect. Consequently, regions with higher tax ratios received lower scores.
- Affordability: It's difficult to measure property values on an absolute basis due to differences in real estate markets; we therefore contrasted median monthly dentist salaries with projected mortgage payments based on average local property values. The resulting ratios formed synthetic debt-to-income measures, which were then tabulated. Higher ratios obtained lower scores.
- Economic Strength: MSAs with high economic strength scores exhibited higher rates of growths, had strong job markets and demonstrated consistent improvement over time. We scored cities in accordance with their economic strength rankings, provided by POLICOM Corporation's 2018 survey on Metropolitan/Micropolitan Economic Strength.
Income is likely an important factor for dentists starting their career or relocating. A high salary in an expensive city may be less attractive than a lower salary in an affordable town. Our scoring rubric was calibrated to adjust for both absolute and relative figures, and results are intended to reflect the best value for a given location.
All employment and salary data was obtained from the Bureau for Labor Statistics, while housing data was obtained from S&P Global Market Intelligence. Cities and MSAs for which occupation or housing data were not available were not considered in this study.