If you want a career as a software developer or engineer, you should stop reading this now, pack your bags, and make your way straight to Silicon Valley.
After all, the small region of northern California encompassing San Francisco, San Jose, and a seemingly endless array of suburban towns in between is the end all, be all of the tech industry, right?
Not so fast. Turns out, there are plenty of other cities across the United States offering great opportunities for web developers, along with better cost of living, improved work-life balance, and a little less cut-throat competition than you’ll find in the Bay Area.
So before you pack up your hatchback and head out west, consider building your career in one of these seven tech havens.
7) New York City
If you had already ruled out living in Silicon Valley, chances are, your next thought was a move to the city that never sleeps. New York certainly is a hotbed for tech activity. With over 1000 active startups in Manhattan alone, it’s no wonder that New York City has the highest number of tech job listings in the country. Of course, along with the rich culture of this bustling city comes a hefty price tag—the Big Apple has the highest cost of living index of any metro area on our list.
6) Portland, Oregon
Elemental CEO and City of Roses native Sam Blackwell really, really loves his hometown. And if you’re an aspiring software developer, he thinks you will too. “In my opinion, if you are a software engineer graduating from college right now, there is no better city you can move to than Portland” Blackwell told Geekwire in 2013. In fact, Blackwell believes so strongly in his city’s potential for the tech industry, he founded Techtown Portland as a collaboration of the local startup community specifically to recruit tech professionals to the city. The cost of living is above national average, and rumor says it rains there (like, a lot). But if you’re looking for an active lifestyle and an eclectic urban vibe, hop on Blackwell’s bandwagon and make your way to PDX.
5) Denver, Colorado
We hope you got into software development because you truly love the field. Even so, if you’re someone who works to live (not the other way around) and enjoys an active, adventurous lifestyle in your time off, Denver is the place for you. This may be the only city in the country where asking “What do you do?” at a cocktail party is more likely to be met with answers like hiking, skiing, and rock climbing than with a detailed job description. And with a strong startup community, along with tech giants Oracle, Avaya, and IBM making waves around town, Denver has mountains of software development opportunities. (Oh yeah, and they also have actual mountains.)
4) Atlanta, Georgia
Low cost of living and a surge in development jobs make The Big Peach a great choice for up and coming developers, especially in the mobile sector. Jobs in mobile development surged by 202% in 2012 for the Atlanta metro area, with growth holding steady since then. Health IT software development is another popular niche for A-Town. And if you’re a lover of sweet tea, hip hop, and all kinds of live music, you’re sure to find life in Atlanta just peachy.
3) Phoenix, Arizona
Life in the desert has never been so sweet for those pursuing a career in tech. Phoenix has recently ranked in the top five cities worldwide both for most tech job postings, and for fastest tech salary growth annually—with salaries rising by 12% per year as of 2013. Add to that a less than national average cost of living, along with relative immunity to the dreaded Polar Vortex, and you may start to believe that Arizona’s Urban Desert is just the oasis you’ve been looking for.
2) Raleigh, North Carolina
Touted by many as “the Silicon Valley of the east coast,” the Research Triangle is a hub for tech startup ventures and industry giants alike. Cisco, IBM, and SAS have all set up shop around RTP, bringing even more job growth for the tech sector. All this along with great schools and affordable housing make Raleigh-Durham a worthwhile consideration for software developers in balancing work with young families at home.
1) Austin, Texas
One visit to Austin, and you’ll fall in love with the college town excitement, incredible live music scene, and cool Texas hill country atmosphere. It’s no wonder this is one of the fastest growing cities in America! And with a strong startup culture and the highest adjusted income in country for developers, Austin is the choice for developers looking to get the most bang for their buck.
Now, a poll for our readers. Do any of you live in the cities we’ve listed? What’s the vibe there? Do you enjoy where you live? Do you see signs of growth for your industry? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!