The pandemic has affected everyone differently, so the reasons for wanting to move could be personal, professional, or simply for a change of scenery.
For some, making a fresh move to top cities for young professionals will mark the beginning of a new normal post-COVID, once things are open and relatively safe again.
But the truth of the matter is, young folks move around all the time: Millennials in particular move cities more frequently than those in generations before them.
Source: How migration of millennials and seniors has shifted since the Great Recession | Brookings.edu
It’s important to note that right now — and likely for the foreseeable future — many of us, particularly in the tech industry, will be working remotely. Companies like Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and Shopify will embrace work-from-home even after we return to a “normal life”, so your career may not play the biggest role in determining your next move if you don’t have a physical office to report to.
Jobs are just one of many contributing factors that make up a decision to move somewhere new. Let’s explore what those are — and why they matter so much to young folks:
Naturally, people are going to move where the money is.
Though the pandemic took a serious toll on the job market and saw unemployment numbers skyrocket, things are settling in the tech industry and other verticals like e-commerce, marketing, healthcare, and education are all turning to tech to continue business as usual, opening up a wealth of career opportunities for both fresh and seasoned coding talent that will only continue to grow.
Outside of working hours, the ability to network and create friendships, romantic relationships, and professional partnerships is one of the key things young people look for when choosing somewhere to live.
Obviously, traditional networking opportunities like meet-ups, happy hours, social sports leagues, or going to a bar or music show aren’t taking place right now, but it’s something to research in advance if you’re looking to make a move post-COVID: Do those types of opportunities exist in the city you’re interested in? Can you network virtually with people in your field or social network to establish connections prior to moving? There’s plenty of leg work to do before you begin picking out an apartment and packing your bags.
Depending on your age and your financial situation, owning a house could be high up on the priority list, especially if you’re thinking about that house as both a place to live and a long-term investment.
Cities on our list — Austin, Seattle, and Durham, NC, for example — top 2020’s list of best real estate markets in the country, but they’re all still excellent places to move to for young tech professionals who are in the renting game. It’s important to determine what the average salary for your role would look like and weigh it against average rent prices in the city you’re interested in.
From winter sports to water sports and live music to foodie scenes, there’s a city for every interest or hobby. For many, that means immersing yourself in that interest and moving somewhere that you can do whatever that interest is often. Skiing? Boating? Hiking? Microbrewery hopping? Determine what it is you like to do and narrow down your prospects based on the places that really cater those things.
Who DOESN’T need a fresh start after the pandemic? As the pandemic finally slows down, vaccinations are widely distributed, and life is resuming in whatever capacity it can, moving to a new city and starting anew may be just the thing that helps you get over the COVID hump.
A fresh start is inevitable, regardless of what the other factors driving a new city-move may be. It’s an opportunity to reinvent yourself, meet new people, and explore new interests.
Top cities for young professionals
Austin | Rancho Sienna
It wasn’t so long ago that the likes of Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughn were running Austin’s music scene, dubbing it the unofficial Live Music Capital of the World. It’s that same creative energy (plus an absence of state income tax) that has drawn tech companies from around the globe to this tiny Texas capital.
Austin, recently nicknamed ‘Silicon Hills’, has become a haven for new-age tech pros who want the same career opportunities of other major tech hubs that come without the major costs of living. The growth is as palpable as it is visible, as Austin’s city skyline is rife with high-rises and skyscrapers that weren’t there even five years ago. With that physical growth has come a serious influx of money:
“Concurrently, Austin experienced record venture funding in 2019, with local startups raising $1.84 billion for the year, up 19.5 percent compared to the $1.54 billion raised in 2018, and an impressive 87 percent compared to $983 million in 2017, according to Crunchbase data” [Crunchbase].
Don’t be fooled, though — comparatively, Austin is an expensive town compared to the rest of Texas, with housing being the main differentiator. But for young tech professionals who want even the option to own a home or land while enjoying the same lucrative career options as other major hubs, it’s worth considering a move post-pandemic.
Notable companies: Dell, Bazaarvoice, A Cloud Guru, Cloudflare, Airtable, Whole Foods, Silicon Labs, Oracle, Vrbo
Seattle | Eater Seattle
Who takes the crown for the PNW’s tech scene? Without contest, it’s Seattle. This rainy metropolis is home to some major tech companies and even more tech professionals, with over half of the office-based jobs belonging to the industry. In a city fueled by caffeine, it’s no surprise that Seattle gets stuff done.
It’s another tech huh, though, that comes with a decently high cost of living. A one-bedroom typically goes for a little over ~$2,000 a month, clocking it as one of the most expensive housing markets in the country. Luckily, the Emerald City boasts a tech sector ripe with both opportunity and cash, so there’s room for new engineers to make their mark at some of the city’s biggest tech players.
A thriving culinary scene and endless supply of coffee makes Seattle an awesome place to relocate to after the coronavirus pandemic if you fancy yourself a foodie. There’s plenty of green space and lush forests outside the city if you’re more of the outdoorsy type.
Notable companies: PayScale, Getty Images, Amazon, Rover, IMDB, Tableau, Redfin
Boston | Langan
While Boston is better known for its many, many universities and colleges and a winning lineup of sports teams, it’s also on the come up of being a major tech hub. That collegiate talent pool may have something to do with the boom but the truth is, startup founders and investors have been pouring money and resources into Beantown – and neighboring Cambridge – for years.
Like the other cities that top this list, Boston isn’t a cheap place to live by any means with a cost of living index of over 88/100, but this historic town hosts a suite of biotech and healthtech startups that require serious power on the engineering front, and they have the money to pay talented coders.
Notable companies: SkillSoft, Toast, DraftKings, Klayvio, Hubspot, iRobot, Tripadvisor, Wayfair
Atlanta | Patch
Georgia’s capital city is known for more than hip hop, bad traffic, and college football. With Georgia Tech pumping out some of the best engineering talent in the world, it makes sense why Atlanta is a desirable place for the next generation of tech professionals to settle down.
It’s also slightly cheaper than the likes of New York, San Francisco, or Seattle, coming in at just 1% under the national average for cost of living, according to Payscale. The median rent is only slightly north of $1,000 per month, so tech professionals might enjoy saving on rent and investing their high earnings in other ways.
That’s not to say, however, that Atlanta hasn’t always been on the scene: Sixteen Fortune 500 companies call ATL home (and have for some time), and it’s estimated that 70% of all transactions happen there. What’s that we smell? Money.
Notable companies: Global Payments, PGi, Ebix, Vonage, Cricket Wireless, Mailchimp, Rubicon, Unscrambl
Portland | Nomadic Matt
Portland is the slightly smaller, more suburban version of Seattle, but this PNW town has its own tech ecosystem to boot. It looks slightly different from its fellow hubs, boasting more opportunities in retail and commerce than in traditional tech. They need software programmers and coders all the same, though, and if you want a cheaper, slower option with the same experience around outdoor activity and weather patterns, Portland – and its neighboring towns – might be your best bet if you find yourself looking after COVID.
Like Austin, an influx of new folks has driven prices up over the last decade, but it’s still more affordable than its techy neighbor to the north. Rent for a month will run you somewhere around ~$1,800 for a one bedroom, but bear in mind that with a burgeoning tech scene comes an adjustment in typical salary.
Notable companies: Nike, Adidas, Columbia Sportswear, Intel, US Bank
Denver | TimeOut
The Mile High City is attractive to young professionals for a lot of reasons; city life with mountain access, a moderate climate, and a budding tech community. Notably, it’s home to Zoom Video Communications which has been a lifeline for many – both professionally and personally – during the pandemic.
The cost of living is getting increasingly pricier with the influx of people, but the media rent hovers somewhere around ~$1,450, according to Payscale. For recreation enthusiasts who want to break into tech, Denver’s definitely got a lot going on.
Notable companies: Zoom, Selling Simplified, Recondo, Xero
Los Angeles | Times Union
Contrary to popular belief, not everyone who lives in LA is looking for their big break into TV or film or music. This iconic city is home to Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and a whole slew of celebrities, but it also hosts some of the world’s largest tech hubs. It’s even been dubbed Silicon Beach.
To nobody’s surprise, Los Angeles is quite an expensive city to call home, but put up against New York City, it’s actually about 20% more affordable. Rent is certainly a cost factor, as is transportation (think of all the traffic!) but companies — particularly those in the technology sphere — know that to get folks out West, they’ll have to pay up.
Could the City of Angels be your next stop post-pandemic? If warm weather, beaches, and regular star sightings sounds appealing to you, consider Los Angeles a potential choice in your lineup.
Notable companies: Hulu, Snapchat, Headspace, Thrive Market, FabFitFun, Raya
Philadelphia | McCarter & English
Sure, Philly’s got cheesesteaks and the Liberty Bell, but it’s also boasting one of the most impressive and fastest growing tech communities in the country:
“Exciting startups are increasingly calling the city home and enterprise organizations have shifted to a tech-focused mindset in order to compete within their industries. The result is a boom in jobs where a tech background is necessary, making skills like data science, coding, and product management more pertinent than ever.” [BuiltIn]
Needless to say, the City of Brotherly Love has it all: Awesome food, American history, and a serious pro sports presence all with one of a strong tech community to boot. While rent prices are comparable to Denver’s, those looking to own a home will be happy to know that it has one of the best housing markets to buy.
Notable companies: CDI, Comcast, Guru, Sidecar, Misfits Market, Anthropologie
Dallas | Cushman & Wakefield
Like the rest of Texas, companies are flocking to Dallas to lay down roots thanks to tax breaks and plenty of space to build up and out. It’s a quickly growing startup incubator, with tons of money being poured into technology research and business. Plus, even in the midst of COVID-19, Dallas’ tech scene is thriving.
While the cost of living in Dallas is a bit higher than its smaller capital counterpart, rent is actually about 3.66% cheaper in Dallas than in Austin. It’s quintessential Texas around the larger DFW area: the State Fair of Texas gets hosted there annually, and the Fort Worth stockyards give you a true taste of ranch living. It’s only the third largest city in the state, but Dallas has one of the most impressive tech communities in all of Texas — some of the biggest companies in the world call it home.
Notable companies: AT&T, Solera, J.C. Penney, Southwest Airlines, GameStop
Salt Lake City | Salt Lake Magazine
Salt Lake City.
SLC is having a serious awakening as of late; where many may have thought that Salt Lake was nothing more than the Mormon Church and mountains, Utah’s biggest city is drawing more and more young people due to loosened alcohol restrictions and a winter recreation game that’s second to none.
Beyond that, Salt Lake City hosts many of the biggest tech companies in the world. With opportunities a plenty and a relatively low cost of living (think ~$1,000 a month in rent, on average), it makes sense why Utah’s population continues to grow.
Notable companies: Overstock.com, Ancestry, Adobe, HireVue, Lucid Software
Washington, D.C. | Quinnipac.edu
Our nation’s capital serves as the backdrop for democracy, legislature, and presidential affairs, but a long-standing tech community continues to drive young tech professionals there. In fact, many government offices need software engineers as our world turns increasingly tech-centric. Coding looks a lot different when you’re writing for a service rather than a product, so having a broad skill set is helpful.
D.C. is, as one would expect, fairly expensive — it clocks just over a 150 point score on the cost of living index (out of 100), but the city is fairly dispersed and favorable for commuters who don’t want to live in the metro area. Cities like Arlington or Alexandria, Virginia, or Bethesda, Maryland are good options for cheaper living post-COVID.
Notable companies: Lockheed Martin, Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide, Capital One, government services
Raleigh-Durham | Savills
If you didn’t know already, North Carolina — Raleigh-Durham in particular — is bursting with tech and startup potential. UNC Chapel Hill, Duke, and NC State make up a few of the nation’s top research universities, so there is a ton of money and talent available for companies looking to settle down on the East Coast. In fact, HatchIt bets it will be the second-largest tech hub on the coast by 2025.
Numbeo reports that while the cost of living is slightly higher in this area than other cities of the same size, rent is nearly 25% lower than a city like Austin or Denver. Companies are flocking to the area because of viable space and temperate climates, so it checks out that young tech professionals would want to follow.
Notable companies: IBM, Cisco, Lulu, ShareFile, eTix, Epic Games
New York | Get Your Guide
Most people don’t think of “tech” when they think of New York, but the Big Apple is becoming a Big Hub for new-age technology companies. With Wall Street next door, it makes sense why some of the biggest names in the industry call NYC (all boroughs, at that) home.
The world is truly at your fingertips in New York (or, it was – and it will be again after COVID-19). If having the best restaurants, nightlife, shopping, and sightseeing is important to you in your next move, consider New York not just for the hustle and bustle but for starting your tech career.
A job in one of the highest paying industries in the world may be a necessity when you consider New York’s crazy-high rent. With one bedrooms costing upwards of $2,000+, the cost of living is higher than most — if not all — places in the U.S. when you factor in transportation, entertainment, and food budgets. Luckily, NYC graduates of our programs typically enjoy a starting salary of ~$95,000, making a comfortable living more accessible.
Notable companies: WeWork, Spotify, Salesforce, Amazon, Slack, HP
San Francisco, CaliforniaRICOWde | Getty Images
When you think of “tech towns”, San Francisco is likely one of the first that pops into your head. Silicon Valley bred what we now know as today’s technology industry, so it’s no surprise that young professionals continue to flock there for opportunities. In fact, in 2019, over ⅕ of San Franciscans worked in tech, so there are jobs aplenty.
While the cost of living is also notoriously high here, the companies that call San Francisco home have big money to shell out to fresh programming talent, particularly at successful startups looking to scale their MVP. Though rent varies widely across different neighborhoods, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment in SF goes for around $3,500. If that sounds like a lot, you may be in luck: Rent prices are down over 30% as remote employees have fled the city. If you’re looking to make a move, now may be the time.
San Francisco is a small city with major economic and cultural impact. If things like microclimates, architecture, and cable cars excite you, consider the Golden Gate City could be the place to launch — and sustain — a career in tech.
Notable companies: Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Yelp, Pinterest, Dropbox, Zendesk
Conclusion: Make a list, check it twice. Then go.
Who can be blamed for wanting to start over and experience something new after a year of stay-at-home routines? If making the move to a new city is on your mind, determine what’s most important to you, then narrow down your list from there.
The right city offers the perfect blend of networking connections, activities that cater to your interests, and career opportunities.
If those opportunities are in the tech industry and you’re ready to make a change, good news: We have two courses that you can complete before this pandemic subsides that can set you up for a new career in whatever city calls to you.
When you’re ready, apply to either program (which are both currently running online).