10 most affordable cities for developers

A few locations on the list do surround major tech hubs, but most aren't in areas you'd think.

On Thursday, Coding Dojo released a report outlining the most affordable and opportunistic cities for entry- and  mid-level coders.

With the skyrocketing cost of living in big cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and New York, the report offers some alternatives also filled with opportunity, but that won't break the bank. 

SEE: How to build a successful developer career (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

After dominating the list of most promising jobs of 2019, developers face a competitive job market, causing many to flock to tech hubs in major cities along the coasts

While advanced developers with years of experience might be able to afford a lifestyle in those big cities, the same can't be said for those starting out, said Luke Lappala, contributing researcher on the report. 

The research team used publicly available tools and data to conduct their research, such as NerdWallet's cost of living calculator to find the median rent in cities, as well as an Indeed search to measure the number of open developer jobs within a 25-mile radius of the city.

Cities were ranked using an entry-level score and mid-level score, with housing cost weighted at 45% and the number of jobs at 55%. 

A final tech relocation score was the determined where both the entry-level and mid-level scores were weighted equally, according to a press release.

Some of the cities listed are suburbs of major tech hubs, but many are in unexpected locations.

Top 10 most affordable and opportunistic cities

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Image: Coding Dojo

One of the most surprising cities at first glance may be Detroit.

"I did not think Detroit, Michigan would be No. 2," Lappala said. "You don't exactly hear of Detroit and think of tech jobs. I was surprised at how many mid-level jobs there were. There's a pretty good amount of entry-level and it's obviously very inexpensive to live there."

"Same thing with St Louis. St Louis has a little less jobs than some other places, but with the rent being as [cheap] as it is, that's what pushed it up to No. 3," Lappala said. 

Another interesting spot was Huntsville, AL, but Lappala said there are a couple of large tech companies based there

Meanwhile, Austin and Atlanta, which are both growing cities for tech professionals and innovators, were less of a surprise, Lappala said. 

The list included suburbs of tech hubs.

"Lowell and Bremerton both made sense. Bremerton's within 25 miles of Seattle, and I believe Bellevue as well. That's where all those jobs were coming from. Same thing with Lowell, all those jobs are Boston jobs," Lappala said. 

"Then, Newark, I believe a lot of those jobs are coming from New York. Again; good luck finding a two bedroom in New York for $1,800," Lappala added. "That was actually the most expensive out of it, but it was just the massive amount of jobs due to the proximity to New York."

This list shows that developers don't need to move to big cities to get great jobs, Lappala said. Outlying suburbs of major cities, or even some of the lesser-known growing areas, are also ripe with opportunity and affordability.

"Cities are waking up to the fact that we are in the fourth industrial revolution and that they need to prioritize building out their tech sectors," Lappala said. "We've spoken with a lot of different municipalities and policymakers and this research echoed what they were saying: Any small, midsize town right now is either scratching their head or knocking some sort of plan to attract tech talent." 

"It was encouraging to see a lot of Midwest companies here. You always hear the Midwest and it's always kind of referred to like it's dying on the vine," he added. But, the list indicates that the  Midwest and other unusual regions may be better options for rising tech talent. 

For more, check out 3 ways to keep Midwestern tech talent from moving to the coasts on TechRepublic.

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