Silicon Valley has long been synonymous with invention, hip startups and cutting-edge tech – almost to the point of parody. But after decades of going largely unchallenged in the battle to attract the best talent and offer the most exciting opportunities, the Valley's crown is beginning to slip.
Both established and aspiring tech professionals are beginning to turn their backs on Silicon Valley, along with some other traditional tech hotspots like Seattle, and looking beyond the status quo for a place to further their career.
The rise of non-traditional tech hubs is being driven by a huge number of factors, including corporate desire for digital transformation, a need to revitalize previously industry-heavy economies and the tech community's growing disenchantment with the pricey, high-stress environments usually associated with living and working in tech-led locales.
Silicon Valley, for example, has the highest housing prices and the highest income tax rates in the country, as well as some of the highest sales tax rates and an abysmal traffic problem. Even those companies who can afford to make a home there are no longer guaranteed access to the best candidates because no matter how big their checks are, many of their employees simply can't afford to live there.
The importance of a good work-life balance can't be underestimated when it comes to the exodus of places like Silicon Valley. The near-slavish devotion to the cause often seen in tech hotspots is driving many professionals to seek a better – and cheaper – quality of life elsewhere.
No longer concentrated on the country's coasts, North America's enormously lucrative tech industry is democratizing, with small hubs of innovation cropping up in places relatively untouched by high-tech development. Digital transformation is diffusing across the nation, creating disruption in new locations.
If you want to pursue a career in tech, you're no longer shackled to a handful of over-saturated areas. We're seeing tech job growth in surprising locations and tech hubs like these are changing the face of the country's economy faster and more significantly than any other industry, bringing jobs and business opportunities with them.
So, where should ambitious techies be looking to put down roots? With so many cities boasting healthy tech sectors and expanding job markets, you have the freedom of opportunity to opt for somewhere that fits your needs and your idea of a great lifestyle. But if you're looking for a more scientific method than throwing a dart at a map, there are a few very attractive front runners to choose from.
Atlanta hasn't always been known for its tech sectors, but that is not the case in 2019. Since 2010, the tech job market has grown by just under 50 percent. This growing job market is supported in part by a steady stream of graduates of Emory University, Georgia Tech, Georgia State University and the University of Georgia – all in or near Atlanta.
Average Atlanta one-bedroom apartment: $1,492 per month
Denver's tech sector is often called the Silicon Mountain, or more specifically the Silicon Flatirons. This powerhouse market is a part of a much larger tech market network in the nearby communities of both Colorado Springs and Boulder. In 2018, the Denver metro area added over 5,000 tech jobs.
Average Denver one-bedroom apartment: $1,762 per month
Detroit is already established as a thriving tech center, and a recent survey shows that the market will continue to improve in the coming years. Detroit is home to a smorgasbord of tech startups including app development firms and telecommunication leaders.
Average Detroit one-bedroom apartment: $1,156 per month
Often called the Silicon Hills, Austin boasts a geographically-centered cluster of high-tech companies. This market is fueled largely through the number of startup incubators in the city and the amount of venture capital that is offered. On top of that, some big names have offices in ATX – companies like Apple, Amazon, Texas Instruments, Roku, PayPal and eBay.
Average Austin one-bedroom apartment: $1,281 per month
Though not one of the traditional "Silicon Valley-esque" tech cities in the U.S., Minneapolis has a thriving and supportive startup community. One blogger describes the tech scene as, "Connected, collaborative and supportive." That's not to say that Minneapolis is not home to any big players in the tech industry – Minnesota is home to 19 Fortune 500 companies.
Average Minneapolis one-bedroom apartment: $1,504 per month
You may have heard that the Windy City recently lost out on the bid for Amazon's HQ2, but you may not realize that the city still has a ton happening in terms of major tech companies. Salesforce, Facebook and Google all have major expansions happening in Chicago. There is currently a notable strategic plan underway called P33 that intends to make Chicago a major tech hub, competing with the likes of New York City and Boston, by the year 2033.
Average Chicago one-bedroom apartment: $1,930 per month
Houston is in the infancy stage of its journey to tech-market greatness, but that doesn't mean the Bayou City doesn't stack up to some other key players in terms of being a trending market. Two major new developments linked to a newly developed "Innovation Corridor" will jumpstart the tech culture in the city and allow for a ton of potential tech development.
Average Houston one-bedroom apartment: $1,197 per month
Dallas is commonly billed as a southern, slow-paced city. However, there is a flourishing workforce in the tech sector that currently exists in Dallas. Recently, a study found that Dallas-Fort Worth is the nation's sixth best city for tech jobs. The same study said that DFW has the largest tech labor force in the south and predicted a 10 percent increase in demand for IT pros over the coming five years.
Average Dallas one-bedroom apartment: $1,355 per month
Over the past decade or more, the City of Brotherly Love has blossomed into a very notable tech job center. Affordable workspaces and a pool of educated talents continuously fuel the market in Philly and there's no signs of it slowing. There are 14 Fortune 500 companies located in Philadelphia. Plus, Philly is conveniently located near Wilmington, DE – another city known for its strong financial district.
Average Philadelphia one-bedroom apartment: $1,867 per month
If you're looking for a fair-weathered tech hub on this list, you may have just found it in Phoenix. This desert city added over 12,000 tech jobs since 2013 – tech jobs now make up 4 percent of the city's workforce. Investors are attracted to Phoenix because of the abundance and affordability of available tech workers, so the market will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.
Average Phoenix one-bedroom apartment: $1,029 per month
Nebraska is typically seen only as a fly-over state, but you can't discount Omaha as one of the top tech markets. Companies are attracted to the low cost of living and there have been several initiatives to get children interested in tech from a young age. There are also groups like the Nebraska Angels who strategically fund startups in the midwest to build up the "Silicon Prairie."
Average Omaha one-bedroom apartment: $881 per month
In 2017, Huntsville was named the fastest growing tech hub city in the U.S. With history going all the way back to the space race, the Rocket City continues to be the home for NASA facilities and a number of military centers. The local government and private-public partnerships are also pushing STEM initiatives throughout the city.
Average Huntsville one-bedroom apartment: $747 per month
Though a sort of obscure piece of trivia to know, Iowa has long been recognized as a hub for insurance companies. Now, growth fostered by the insurance industry is stretching to tech startups across the state – especially in Des Moines. Both leaders and local residents support startup growth, which continues to drive entrepreneurs and investors to the city.
Average Des Moines one-bedroom apartment: $923 per month
These emerging hubs offer a standard of living that's not only attractive but affordable. Rent and other living costs in many of these up-and-coming cities is a far cry from the crippling overheads faced by those in the Bay Area. Though the pay in emergent hubs is unlikely to hit the highs seen on the coast, many businesses are offering hearty benefits packages to lure the best talent. Combined with the extra bang that workers get for their bucks in places with lower living costs, it's easy to see why aspiring tech professionals are casting their nets wider.