Has your California dreamin’ turned into a high rent nightmare? If you work in tech, living in California almost seems like a no brainer. And while the Silicon Valley is certainly a match made in heaven for many entrepreneurs, the competition amongst startups and high cost of living can severely shorten the lifespan of even the most promising tech innovations.
Fortunately, if your goals for a career in tech aren’t panning out in California, there is a solution—and it isn’t moving back in with your parents. Make like the California Gold Rush in reverse and head in some other direction besides west. Here are five surprising tech hubs to consider moving to.
If Iowa makes you think exclusively of cornfields, you might want to think again. Des Moines, a healthy sized city with a metro population of 611,549 and counting, is quickly becoming the new epicenter of culture, creativity and entrepreneurship in the Midwest.
For the tech industry, this pioneering area of the so-called Silicon Prairie offers jobs with a median salary of $51,200, plus a cost of living that’s 6% below the national average. Notable Des Moines tech companies include Men’s Style Lab, a curated subscription clothing service, and AgriSync, an app that helps farmers implement new practices (How Iowa is that?). The city also features an innovative co-working space where industry disruptors can build ideas and community. And when those ideas get off the ground, Iowa based angel investment group Plains Angels is there to offer capital.
Factor in an average commute time that’s literally a breath of fresh air if you’re used to California traffic (under 20 minutes), apartments that rent for less than $1,000 a month and a legendary state fair and you just might change your mind about Des Moines.
With one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, Lincoln, Nebraska has been called recession-proof. It’s also ranked positively in terms of educational attainment, which is good news if you’re an individual looking to work alongside smart coworkers and great news for tech companies looking to recruit qualified candidates.Lincoln is home to tech businesses like Hudl, a software company that helps athletes improve through technology, Bulu Box, a nutrition subscription box and Travefy, an app that optimizes group travel planning. Local investment group Nebraska Angels plays a strong role in helping startups thrive. Besides the low cost of living and high potential for opportunity, Lincoln is also experiencing a renaissance in its downtown. The once sleepy neighborhood is rapidly transforming from boring to hip thanks to new bars, restaurants and apartments where tech employees like you can work, live, have fun, and build a community together.
If you need another reason to live in Kansas City besides the area’s famed BBQ, we’ve got plenty.
When Kansas City was chosen as the first city to have Google Fiber’s gigabit internet, many people wondered why. Those people clearly weren’t locals to Kansas City, which has quietly transformed into one of the best cities to live in if you want to work in tech. From 1990 to 2010, Kansas City had the third highest increase amongst large metro areas in tech startup density.
Garmin, Sprint and H&R Block may all have offices in Kansas City, but the real spirit of the tech boom is found amongst local innovators. The city is home to a unique startup village, which serves as a grassroots effort for entrepreneurs to network and collaborate. Think Big, a company focused on bridging the gap between local and national tech talent is another great resource.
And hey, if you’ve been in California long enough to miss seasons, you’ll be pleased to hear that Kansas City has got all four of them.