The new top tech towns emerging in the US

Silicon Valley diaspora is seeing new tech towns emerge across the US.
21 June 2019

Charlotte, downtown, NC. Source: Shutterstock

Home to the world’s biggest tech companies— Apple, Oracle, Tesla, Facebook, you name it— Silicon Valley has worn the United States’ (if not the world’s) tech hub crown for many years.

But that reign is faltering. Driven by a rapid deceleration in its job market and eye-watering property rental costs, the San Francisco Bay Area’s tech industry— its main economic powerhouse— has lost some steam.

Relocating tech talent

As a result, skilled tech professionals that would have headed to the West coast are ready to consider other options. In fact, three out of four workers would be willing to relocate for a new job.

Key motivations for moving are not just better salaries (although this remains an important factor), but how far that paycheck will stretch. Eighty-two percent of tech workers said the cost of living was a top factor for relocation.   

With an average apartment rental price of US$1179 per month, according to RentCafe, Charlotte, North Carolina, was found to be the number one city for IT pros by CompTIA when it comes to job opportunities and cost of living. Neighbouring Raleigh ranked second.

In comparison, the average cost of an apartment in San Francisco is US$3,609— and that’s a five percent hike on last year.

Nancy Hammervik, CompTIA’s Executive Vice President of Industry Relations said the research showed that career models have shifted, “from the one-company career worker to the job hopper to today where we see our nation’s tech workers not only empowered to switch jobs but open to moving to new locales for their career.”

New tech towns

In Charlotte, IT pros can expect a healthy median salary of US $87,755 and a cost of living that is 1.3 percent lower than the national average. But as well as cost of living and number of vacancies, the survey also took into account projected job growth.

Forty-four thousand IT jobs were posted in Charlotte last year, while the city is home to “financial heavy hitters” including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Ally Financial— all of which are facing pressure to bolster their IT talent.

One of the biggest takeaways of the report is that tech workers looking for a city to jumpstart their careers have more variety and choice than ever. Meanwhile, tech businesses do not have to start out in established tech hubs to attract skilled and experienced professionals.

A total of 14 states and the District of Columbia were represented in CompTIA’s top 20 list of emerging tech towns, featuring “up-and-comers” like Des Moines, Lansing, Colorado Springs and Huntsville, Alabama.

Additionally, a number of college towns made the list, demonstrating that they’ve blossomed into thriving innovation hubs, including Boulder, Madison and Durham-Chapel Hill.

CompTIA drew together a list of the Top 20 Tech Towns in the US:

  1. Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC
  2. Raleigh, NC
  3. Austin-Round Rock, TX
  4. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  5. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
  6. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
  7. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
  8. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO
  9. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA
  10. Huntsville, AL
  11. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
  12. Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA
  13. Lansing-East Lansing, MI
  14. Madison, WI
  15. Durham-Chapel Hill, NC
  16. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD
  17. Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH
  18. Trenton, NJ
  19. Boulder, CO
  20. Colorado Springs, CO