With the global tech industry booming, digital jobs are fast forming a vital foundation for the world’s economies. Indeed, as new enterprises make their mark and the traditional tech giants look to expand, skilled professionals are becoming highly sought after in every corner of the globe.
In such a fast-paced, dynamic industry, though, it can be difficult to know where exactly the pulse is. Everybody wants to build the right network and be part of the organisation that is having the biggest impact.
In reality, it’s near impossible to predict where the next big thing will happen, but it is possible to get an idea of where your highest chance of securing a job lies – in fact, we’ve scoured the web to prove it. We’ve even taken into account living costs and the quality of lifestyle you’re likely to have, as well as the potential for growth in each location.
So, if you want to be surrounded by the brightest minds – but you don’t want to commute for three hours every day to see them – then look no further: these are the 13 top tech cities of 2018…
1. Bangalore, India
Average software engineer salary: ₹585,200 ($8,690)
India has firmly planted itself on the map as an IT-driven economy for some time now, and Bangalore – located in the country’s southern Karnataka state – is right at the heart of it. Dubbed the ‘Silicon Valley of India’, the region is the go-to location for young tech entrepreneurs who are looking to strike it rich – and many of them have.
The city’s real value is in its talent, though. Engineers, developers and programmers have created real and significant growth there, establishing Bangalore as a recognised global hub and giving weight to optimistic predictions of an even brighter future. Indeed, if the area can address its infrastructure and environmental issues, there is no limit as to where it can go.
2. Singapore, Singapore
Average software engineer salary: S$50,000 ($37,500)
Although the Asian city-state has traditionally been known as a financial services powerhouse, it is quickly taking strides to establish itself as the primary tech hub in the region, too, while the arrival of Facebook, LinkedIn and Google within recent years has given this aspiration genuine credence.
It’s not just the city’s ability to draw the big names that is getting it noticed, though. Singapore has solid government funding, strong infrastructure and – vitally – a dynamic talent pool to sustain its position as a recognised global technology centre. With the state heavily backing research into artificial intelligence (AI) in particular, there is a wealth of ongoing opportunities for tech talent in the Lion City.
3. New York City, USA
Average software engineer salary: $106,770
Nicknamed ‘Silicon Alley’, New York City has developed its own defined tech culture over the last decade or so, branching out from the Flatiron district of Manhattan to become an established player in its own right. The figures back this up, too, with an estimated 7,500 tech companies operating in the city and employing 120,000 workers. Venture capitalists, meanwhile, have invested just shy of $40 billion in local startups over the last five years.
The best part is that firms are still struggling to secure talent. A shortage of experienced and skilled engineers means that salaries are being bumped up in an attempt to lure new hires. For those who want the fast-paced lifestyle to match the quick-moving nature of their job, then New York City is an undeniable choice.
4. Stockholm, Sweden
Average software engineer salary: €54,540 ($65,130)
As a progressive, forward-thinking country, it’s perhaps not unsurprising to see the Swedish capital represented on this list; this sentiment potentially overlooks the extent of Stockholm’s contribution to the tech world, however.
It has already produced several ‘unicorn’ companies such as Spotify, Skype and Ericsson, and has attracted $1.4 billion of venture capital investment over the last five years. Indeed, despite going under the radar somewhat, Sweden has been at the forefront of technological innovation in Europe for some time now. With high living standards and an ever-expanding tech sector, Stockholm is a software engineer’s dream.
5. London, UK
Average software engineer salary: £41,700 ($56,610)
Perceived uncertainty over Brexit aside, London’s tech scene seems to be performing admirably. It received more equity investment than any other European nation in 2017, for instance, with several London-based startups such as Deliveroo passing the $1 billion valuation mark last year.
What’s most attractive for job seekers, though, is the UK’s skills shortage when it comes to meeting this continued growth. The country already relies on international workers for 13% of its digital sector workforce. If you have the skills, though, then there are few more exciting places to be; with venture capitalists undeterred by the UK’s impending departure from the European Union, London’s tech growth shows no signs of abating.
6. Seattle, USA
Average software engineer salary: $118,000
Seattle is another city that has always possessed a rich tech history; Amazon and Microsoft are just two examples of companies that were founded and are headquartered in the region. But Washington State’s largest city is now emerging as a realistic alternative to Silicon Valley, too; indeed, in 2017, no city in the US saw greater growth for tech job vacancies than Seattle.
There are several reasons for this exodus of talent to the American northwest. Perhaps the simplest is that jobs pay well and that the cost of living is much lower than the likes of Palo Alto and New York City. There are also generous tax breaks as well, with companies looking to capitalise on this financial freedom and the general buzz of creativity being cultivated in the city. Either way, one thing is clear: now is as good a time as ever to join the party.
7. Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Average software engineer salary: €46,820 ($55,930)
Many up-and-coming tech cities purport to market themselves as the ‘new’ Silicon Valley, but within Europe, Amsterdam definitely has a bigger claim than most. Aside from the near 600 international IT firms that have set up shop there, the city is also rapidly developing a global reputation as a data centre mecca. Tech giants such as Google, Cisco and Uber are certainly paying attention, joining homegrown players such as TomTom, Booking.com and WeTransfer in establishing a presence.
Of course, if none of this persuades you that a tech career in Amsterdam is a wise choice, then you can always rely on the city’s effortlessly cool charm; life in the Dutch capital is a famously laidback and culturally fulfilling experience.
8. Tel Aviv, Israel
Average software engineer salary: ₪240,000 ($67,300)
Israel’s status as an entrepreneurial hotbed is perhaps not the surprise it once was; Tel Aviv, after all, now has one of the highest startup densities in the world. Yet the country’s rise to technological prominence is also one of the least conventional, with much of Israel’s tech talent honing their skills through military research and development projects in their formative years.
This has helped form the foundations of ‘Silicon Wadi’, a cluster of high-tech incubators, startups and established global firms in the Tel Aviv region from which Israeli – and, increasingly, foreign – engineers are benefitting. Nestled on the sunny eastern Mediterranean coast, Tel Aviv also boasts a much-vaunted reputation as something of a 24-hour party city; perfect for when your creative batteries need recharging.
9. Boston, USA
Average software engineer salary: $100,700
Although Boston was slightly behind the times during the original internet boom, the city has finally caught up with its tech counterparts in California. Of course, having two of the finest educational institutions in the world (MIT and Harvard) in its backyard undoubtedly helps.
Either way, the area is now seeing some returns on this talent pool in the tech sector, with HubSpot, TripAdvisor and Wayfair all recent startup success stories. In general terms, though, it’s Massachusetts’s position as the country’s top tech employer that offers the most encouragement, with better living costs and a vibrant city lifestyle providing a viable alternative to the likes of Palo Alto.
10. Silicon Valley (Palo Alto, San Francisco and San Jose), USA
Average software engineer salary: $123,660
To put it simply, Silicon Valley is the original tech mecca. Since the 1930s, it has been home to the biggest tech companies in the world, attracting some of the most innovative minds on the planet, and much of the technology that was created and developed there continues to heavily influence the way we all live. For tech professionals, Silicon Valley is the summit and the tech hub to which all other tech hubs are compared.
The problem is that living costs in the area are now simply too high – even for senior engineers. There are numerous stories of highly paid professionals living paycheque to paycheque in the Bay Area due to excruciating rents, with many employees either applying to work remotely, undertaking huge commutes or simply heading elsewhere.
If you can mitigate the expenses, though – not to mention land yourself a job in one of the most competitive locations on the planet – then give yourself a pat on the back; there isn’t anywhere more prestigious to work in the tech world.
11. Toronto, Canada
Average software engineer salary: C$75,000 ($58,730)
With Alphabet recently announcing plans to gentrify Toronto’s dilapidated quayside with a futuristic micro city, the global tech industry is making a bold statement in Canada’s most populous city. The region doesn’t necessarily require this controversial external influence to make a name for itself in tech terms, though; with 22,500 digital jobs created in 2017, Toronto has been flexing its microchip muscles for some time.
Although it’s very much still in its growing stages (reflected in the relatively low wages in comparison to the rest of North America), Toronto’s tech scene already hosts leading research centres in the likes of data science, AI and even stem-cell research. With high living standards and affordable rent costs, this growth is surely only set to continue.
12. Austin, USA
Average software engineer salary: $92,000
With many tech professionals looking for an alternative to the aforementioned rent issue in Silicon Valley, the ‘Silicon Hills’ of Texas are seemingly fitting the bill; office space is increasingly being snapped up by both startups and established firms, with funding – and talent – not far behind, either.
To suggest that Austin is piggybacking on Palo Alto’s problems would be grossly unfair, though. The city has built up a hugely impressive tech reputation all by itself, thanks in part to homegrown companies like Dell, as well as the presence of the hugely popular annual South by South West (SXSW) music/tech festival. Indeed, with new jobs being created every day and an abundance of affordable living spaces available, there is nowhere more exciting in the US to be a tech professional right now.
13. Berlin, Germany
Average software engineer salary: €51,230 ($61,200)
From street art to punk music, Berlin has always had a reputation for doing things a little differently. Clearly, the city’s innovative spirit is now lending itself to the world of information technology, too, with the German capital firmly establishing itself as a genuine global player on the tech stage.
For instance, it currently boasts the fastest growing startup ecosystem on the planet, with many predicting it to usurp London after the UK exits the EU. But Berlin also has a much more practical advantage over its British counterpart (and, for that matter, Paris and Amsterdam), too: affordability. Not only are living costs kind for tech professionals, but there’s also no trade-off on location as is the case with most cities – the average commuting time for workers is just 23 minutes.
And that’s essentially the clinching factor. It might not have London’s level of investment, Amsterdam’s connection speeds or Boston’s universities, but it does provide high levels of satisfaction for the engineers who have to work there. If you’re looking for your next big career move, you need scope no further.
Do you live in any of these cities? Let us know your experiences in the comments below!