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Ask Slashdot: Undervalued, Livable American Tech Towns? 464

An anonymous reader writes: I've been working in tech as a software developer for about 15 years. As I've gotten older I'm starting to see the appeal of living in a city that's not crazily blown out and expensive like most established tech markets (think San Francisco, Austin, Seattle, Los Angeles, etc.). Are there are any good tech job markets that are normal, affordable, livable, American cities, or am I forever doomed to be subjected to the rat race found in these overheated and overcrowded markets? Lots of cities have at least some vibrant tech scene; Omaha, NE, Raleigh, NC, and Ann Arbor, MI are three that spring to mind, but everyone's tastes and tolerances will vary. What do you find in your neck of the woods? (Even if it's one of those "crazily blown out" examples.)
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Ask Slashdot: Undervalued, Livable American Tech Towns?

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  • Austin? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Saturday November 14, 2015 @05:01PM (#50931557)

    What's wrong with Austin? Did something change in the last 2 years? Did Austin suddenly become coastal-California-level expensive?

    • Re:Austin? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Saturday November 14, 2015 @05:10PM (#50931595) Homepage Journal

      Word got out that it's in Texas.

      • by Kohath ( 38547 )

        And that's bad because ...?

        • And that's bad because...?

          Speaking as someone who's lived all across the States (including central and west TX), all I can say is; if you have to ask, you wouldn't understand... but the answer is "Because culture and geography or specifically, a lack thereof." And, (with special thanks to all the inept English teachers who've incorrectly taught for decades that you shouldn't begin a sentence with "and" much less put a comma afterwards!), virtually anyone from anywhere in the English-speaking world who's spent any time in TX (with

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            That is just silly. And, I don't see the problem.

          • And, (with special thanks to all the inept English teachers who've incorrectly taught for decades that you shouldn't begin a sentence with "and" much less put a comma afterwards!),

            Agreed, there is nothing inherently wrong with doing that. (I was actually taught that it was "something to avoid if at all possible", but that it wasn't specifically prohibited.)

            • You certainly shouldn't put a comma if a phrase in parentheses (the part beginning "with special thanks") is coming next. Either alone will suffice.

              And there's little point in putting an entire sentence (as opposed to an aside or clarification) as one.

          • by foreverdisillusioned ( 763799 ) on Saturday November 14, 2015 @06:24PM (#50932025) Journal
            eh, Austin isn't quite like the rest of Texas. I mean, it's consistently favored Democratic politicians, often by a 2:1 margin. Also has a decent music/art scene. And there's a nudist park on the edge of a lake, supposedly the only one in all of TX.

            I'm not quite sure how it happened this way but, I think the soundest the theory is all of the smart/sane people in TX banded together in one city to make their last stand, Alamo-ish style.
            • by pthisis ( 27352 )

              eh, Austin isn't quite like the rest of Texas. I mean, it's consistently favored Democratic politicians, often by a 2:1 margin.

              That's got more to do with the general American rural/urban divide than Austin's particular weirdness. Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and El Paso all went for Obama over Romney, as well.

            • by Kohath ( 38547 )

              All of the people who refuse to live near someone with different politics should really just band together and live in a compound anyway. If the walls are thick enough, they'll keep the strange ideas out -- for a while at least. They can have nightly groupthink rallies in the common areas to reinforce the political orthodoxy.

        • Crippling heat and humidity come to mind.

          • Crippling heat and humidity come to mind.

            And Texans, there are shitloads of them all over the place down there. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

          • Follow some of the tech companies that thought the same thing and looked for lower cost data centre cooling bills. Hate to have the neighborhood become crowded, but have you seen the location of the air cooled Facebook Datacenter? Others are moving in for the same reasons. Nearest interstate freeway is about 50 miles away.

   [] If you don't like big cities.

        • Texans, mostly.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Word got out that it's in Texas.

        And that would be enough right there to cross it off my list of places to live.

        I spent 20 years in Texas one week, and that was it for me.

        • I spent 20 years in Texas one week, and that was it for me.

          How is the future, and can you get us lottery numbers?

          • How is the future, and can you get us lottery numbers?

            1) The future isn't nearly as good as we hoped it would be.

            2) 26 15, 31, 44, 11, 38, and 29 (but not necessarily in that order, sorry)

    • It is, and always has been a "San Francisco" like city.

      • by Kohath ( 38547 )

        In what way? San Francisco has water on all sides, lots of local impediments to development including almost no vacant land, a high demand for housing, and rising local wealth -- everything that causes extremely high housing prices. Last time I checked, Austin (and the local Austin area) doesn't have most of these.

        • he means politically, Austin is a very liberal city
          • he means politically, Austin is a very liberal city

            So? I am not a liberal, but I don't mind them as co-workers. I don't discuss politics at work.

            • So? I am not a liberal, but I don't mind them as co-workers. I don't discuss politics at work.

              And liberal cities have the hottest women. You can look it up.

    • Yes. At least that's what I've heard from people there, never been myself though.

    • It's surrounded by Texas..

      In case you are a Texan and offended, I live in Houston, which doesn't have a "tech" scene in the strict sense of software/hardware startups, but otherwise is quite heavy in science and engineering in general, and probably has the lowest cost of living out of all major cities in the US.

      • by Kohath ( 38547 )

        I'm not a Texan. But I'm not prejudiced against Texans either. If anti-Texan bigotry is the main "problem" people have with Austin, then they should just say so. Then people could decide to value or discount the advice they're reading without having to decode all the innuendo and double-talk

    • I was in Austin about three years ago to take on a new job. It didn't work out and I don't live there anymore, but traffic is a nightmare in Austin. The desirable neighborhoods are poorly served by the major highways. Even looking at the Google Maps streetview, you can see that the cameraman taking the photos from the Google car (or whatever it's called) was stuck in traffic!
    • Re:Austin? (Score:4, Informative)

      by SydShamino ( 547793 ) on Saturday November 14, 2015 @05:43PM (#50931807)

      Austin has gotten pretty expensive, yes. We bought into a central Austin neighborhood at the bottom of the recession (thanks luck we both had jobs) and rode it up. We couldn't afford to buy in our own neighborhood now. Sister-in-law wanted to buy a year and a half later and the only houses in the price range in the city were on the periphery of the core city area. Now you mostly have to go to the suburbs or the funny offshoot bits of the city, and getting from those into downtown (or even in the core periphery area where most of the tech companies are) takes a long time.

      On the other hand, if you live central and work at a tech company on the periphery, you commute against traffic. My ~10 mile commute takes 11-15 minutes.

    • The same thing is happening to Austin that's happening to Boulder: they're growing tech spots that are being inevitably changed by too many enthusiastic arrivals who're coming there for "cultural reasons."
    • by msimm ( 580077 )
      Pfft! It's like an affordable San Francisco with good food and more available parking. Unacceptable!
    • by fermion ( 181285 )
      Austin has always been a crap place to live unless you have a trust fund, are white, and young. It grew for a while because it became a tech hub for the well paid young mostly white people, but that just lead to it becoming more elitist and expensive. When people complain that Austin is in Texas usually take it to mean that while Texas is like only 40% white non-Hispanic, Austin is closer to 50%, so like, you don't have deal with as many Hispanic people there. In any case, as is mentioned, Houston is not
  • Colorado (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Niris ( 1443675 ) on Saturday November 14, 2015 @05:02PM (#50931559)
    Colorado is still relatively cheap to live in with a lot of smaller cities with tech, and worth checking into. Parts of the state are growing fast, like Boulder and Denver, but Fort Collins is an amazing town, and you can definitely do alright with tech in Colorado Springs as well without being overly crowded and expensive. You will run into a fair amount of assholes who refuse to accept that the state is growing (they almost all have a "Native" sticker on their car), but they tend to not be in tech.
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      Not denver. It has exploded so fast there that house prices and rents have tripled in the past 2 years. A company offered me a 100% raise to move out there and work for them, when I researched real information from friends living there I shot back declining the offer.

      You can extrapolate it out and a lot of people are going to be royally fucked there in a short time when all the other costs of living skyrocket to catch up with what is happening there so fast.

  • by Timmy D Programmer ( 704067 ) on Saturday November 14, 2015 @05:05PM (#50931575) Journal
    And the rest becomes minimally important.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by evilviper ( 135110 )

      Find where you love to live
      And the rest becomes minimally important.

      Like food and shelter... Who needs jobs?

      Actually, after 15 years, either you're doing it wrong, or you should already have enough money saved to semi-retire in a low-rent area.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      Where I love to live I need to be making $550,000 a year to live there.... unless I am OK with living in the dumpster behind work.

  • Plenty of jobs in healthcare and other industries. Traffic is getting to be out of control in certain areas (Green Hills, downtown), but not everywhere.
  • There's a fair amount of tech in the area. Prices aren't sky high, though not on the cheaper end.
  • by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Saturday November 14, 2015 @05:20PM (#50931655)

    I was really surprised by Lincoln, NE. I wouldn't live there but it really is at its heart a college town and has everything that generally goes along with that.

    Boulder/Denver has everything Lincoln, NE doesn't have in the way of mountains and outdoor activities while also doing pretty well on the tech and lifestyle front.

    Bozeman I hear is doing pretty well right now as well. Again, Big Sky is nearby so lots of outdoor goodness.

  • Huntsville, Ala. (Score:3, Informative)

    by KiranWolf ( 635591 ) on Saturday November 14, 2015 @05:23PM (#50931673) Homepage
    We have lots of engineering jobs in Huntsville, Ala. Most are with government contractors (the Army and NASA are very prominent in this town, along with every defense and space contractor you can think of), but there is a growing non-government tech sector here, too. Most of the contractors are in Research Park, while many of the non-tech companies are moving to or already are downtown. Downtown is quickly starting to become a really neat area.

    Cost of living is extremely reasonable (I live in a 3,500 sqft house in a nice neighborhood and it runs me about $1,250 a month). Taxes are low, utilities are cheap, my commute is 15 minutes to and from the office. Great place to raise a family, too.

    As far as things to do, we're never short of entertainment. If you like outdoors stuff, plenty of hiking, caving and water sports opportunities are nearby. And if you ever do get bored, Nashville and Birmingham are 1.5 hours in either direction. The beach is about a half-day drive too.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CMU_Ken ( 574499 )
      Just to add to this, there are a couple of gotchas and bonuses that come with Huntsville: Gotchas: 1. If you're not a very religious person, the culture in the South can feel a little bit insular. 2. Huntsville's airport is one of the most expensive to fly out of in the nation. 3. There is not really a good direct path to drive to Atlanta. You can either take the backroads or go south through Birmingham. 4. If you're single and male and an engineer of any sort, the dating scene isn't going to do you a
  • Presumably, you'll want to move to somewhere where you can get a job. So... look at job listings, eliminate the ones that are in places you don't want to live, and then look into the places that you might want to live.

  • Huntsville is a great town -- an island of technology in what would otherwise be a very... rural... state. Our tech sector has a lot of military but there are commercial opportunities as well. Cost of living is very reasonable, commutes are short, and there are a wide variety of housing options. The heat and humidity take a year to get used to, but once you do, you'll never want to leave!

  • Boise Idaho (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Camel Pilot ( 78781 ) on Saturday November 14, 2015 @05:28PM (#50931713) Homepage Journal

    More than famous potatoes... []

    Outdoor town also with skiing close by, climbing, mountain biking, Sawtooths, etc.

  • by Aquitaine ( 102097 ) <sam.iamsam@org> on Saturday November 14, 2015 @05:32PM (#50931731) Homepage

    You don't want an 'undervalued' city - you want a city whose value is in line with your willingness to pay it. Raleigh and Ann Arbor are not inexpensive cities, for instance, even though they're cheap compared to the Bay Area. Austin (where I live) is heinously expensive compared to many parts of Texas, but even with the tremendous growth and increase in cost of living, it doesn't begin to approach the Bay Area. The brand new 3000sq ft house we just bought fairly close to downtown Austin would have cost north of of 2 million in San Francisco. is a great place to start for cost of living comparisons and questions about specific towns. Ask this question on the Raleigh board, the Omaha board, or the Austin board. is also an interesting exercise though not necessarily conclusive.

  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Saturday November 14, 2015 @05:34PM (#50931739)
    too many have found out already.
    • Exactly my sentiment, I don't need my town to become known as a mecca for low cost of living high wage jobs. So: I recommend Houston - try it, you'll love it! Plenty of jobs, high pay, good benefits, world class cancer treatment center in town (because they need it), it's a great place, and plenty of wonderful neighborhoods with low priced houses - as long as you don't need to breathe the air.

  • Denver area (Score:4, Informative)

    by rock_climbing_guy ( 630276 ) on Saturday November 14, 2015 @05:34PM (#50931741) Journal
    I've lived in the Denver area for about two years now. I live in the suburbs on the south side of town. The traffic downtown is abyssmal, but there is one thing that really stands out for a town this size besides the number of tech jobs (check Dice, there are lots!)

    There is an area about 10 minutes south of downtown known as the "Denver Tech Center". This area is HQ for a number of tech companies and it's extremely convenient because you can get a decent tech job there, live in the 'burbs, and not have to drive downtown every day.

    The skiing and other mountain activities nearby are phenomenal. There is a lifetime supply of camping, hiking, and mountain climbing opportunities. I'm told that the nearby town of Evergreen has America's largest outdoor ice-skating park, as well.

  • Twin Cities (Score:5, Funny)

    by Cyrano de Maniac ( 60961 ) on Saturday November 14, 2015 @05:37PM (#50931765)

    The Minneapolis/St. Paul area has a relatively high-tech (depending on your area of tech) employment base, with headquarters or significant offices for 3M, Medtronic, Cray, Silicon Graphics, Ceridian, Toro, Thomson Reuters, Target, Best Buy, Wells Fargo, US Bancorp, St. Jude Medical, Polaris, Digi, Imation, CHS, Shutterfly, General Mills, Cargill, Seagate (though I think that operation was purchased by someone else), and Digital River. There's plenty of small tech-oriented business around here as well.

    Come for the low unemployment and reasonable standard of living. Stay because your car won't start all winter.

    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      Stay because your car won't start all winter.

      Which starts in October and ends in May.

  • by mepperpint ( 790350 ) on Saturday November 14, 2015 @05:41PM (#50931791)
    Carnegie Mellon has attracted a lot of major tech companies to Pittsburgh where they hope to pick up CMU graduates who are a looking to stay. It additionally is a significant source of start ups. Companies with offices in Pittsburgh include:

    • I live and work in Pittsburgh, for one of the companies you listed above, and can attest that the tech community here is vibrant, the cost of living is low (but rising), and there's a ton of great stuff going on here.
  • SLC, UT (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Salt Lake City. It has the nickname 'Silicon Slopes'.

    Lots of great out door activities, low cost of living, and the SLC area isn't heavily Mormon.

  • I am consistently surprised that more of the entrepreneurial types don't drag a bunch of their friends to the South or Mid-West to set up shop. There is little benefit I can see to joining established markets except for the "Me too!"-ism and paying inflated costs.

    Especially as far as tech is concerned, that can be done almost anywhere. I remember when Austin was little more than flyover country, and it still would have been except a few decided to make the first strike.

    • Presumably you will have to recruit new employees at some point.

      Being in "the middle of nowhere" makes that really, really, really hard. And yes, I've had to do it.

    • There are a few major downsides to working in a "Tier-2" or "undiscovered" city if you are a tech guy.

      1. You are very unlikely to find high-quality or cutting edge work. Like it or not the movers and shakers of tech are in the bay are these days. They may have remote offices elsewhere, but the work that is parcelled out to these areas is mostly "non-criticial". This is due to both political and practical reasons. This will severely limit your ability to `move up' in the world and is a serious consideratio

  • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Saturday November 14, 2015 @06:07PM (#50931945)

    If you have access to a time machine then Seattle WA is a pretty nice place to live, as long as it's in the early 1980s or so.

  • Boston? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by neurophys ( 13737 ) on Saturday November 14, 2015 @06:14PM (#50931977)

    Nice town. Just an observation from Scandinavia

  • Utah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SecretSquirrel33 ( 1857738 ) on Saturday November 14, 2015 @06:24PM (#50932021)

    Utah has a rather low cost of living with a very vibrant and active tech community. Driving down the main highway through the state you will see billboards every few miles for developer related hiring. There are dozens of established tech companies as well as many many smaller startups. A few are:
    L3 Communications

    See more at []

    There is also a vibrant tech community in Utah with a variety of meetups including:
    AngularJS Utah ~1400 members
    Utah Java Users Group ~1100 members

    There are also Python, Elixir, Elm, Haskell, ReactJS, Go, Lambda Lounge, Ionic, F#, Big Data, DevOps, Drupal, C++ and BitCoin meetups.

    Also the most common profession currently in Utah is Software Developer - []

    Utah is also a great place to live: []

  • I worked for many years in Altamonte Springs, FL, which is realtively quiet and not too far from Orlando. Lake Mary also has some tech businesses too and is a but further west.

    In addition to Michigan, Ohio also has a low cost of living, with plenty of good tech jobs in Columbus, Cincinnati, Akron, Cleveland, etc.

  • by fruitbane ( 454488 ) on Saturday November 14, 2015 @06:41PM (#50932083)

    Thanks to the municipal power utility rolling out gigabit speeds to Chattanooga and the surrounding communities, the Tennessee river valley is starting to become a good place for tech. There have also been local efforts to attract and develop startups to take advantage of that broadband speed. Furthermore, though the average salary for employees is below national average, the cost of living is even lower, meaning people can get by on less. The local natural environs are great, too. If you want to work for a big company doing tech it might not be the place for you, but if you want to do your own thing and form, or be part of, a small team doing innovative stuff, it's a great environment to work in. That and you can always take your startup team for a hike in the nearby mountains with only a 15-30 minute drive. Talk about a break to clear the cruft out of a cluttered mind!

  • by jeff4747 ( 256583 ) on Saturday November 14, 2015 @06:51PM (#50932139)

    Because there's "fixed" things about every place in the country that will not be changing.

    For example, if you can't stand heat and humidity, you can eliminate the South. If you can't stand snow or cold winters, you can eliminate much of the Northern parts of the country. If you can't stand commie liberal bastards running everything, that's going to eliminate some places. If you can't stand conservative religious nutjobs running everything, that's going to eliminate other places.

    Once you have your list, go to a big-name job site and look at the count of job postings in the last two weeks for your kind of work.

    If the place has 5 listings, you better REALLY love the companies, and be ready to move if there's downsizing. If the place has one thousand job listings, you'll have your choice of employers.

    From that quick search, cross off any place that doesn't fit well. That should leave you with a relatively small number of places, which you can more thoroughly research and possibly visit.

  • Since I moved to St. Louis, I've had several recruiters reach out to me for local development/management positions over LinkedIn and Stack Overflow. I was surprised how many companies there are in the area doing interesting things. Not to mention that St. Louis is home to one of the premier software development conferences (Strange Loop, which pulls in international attendees and speakers), and one of the biggest gaming cons (Geekway to the West). It's very affordable, and tons of family-friendly attract
    • Re:St. Louis (Score:5, Insightful)

      by King_TJ ( 85913 ) on Saturday November 14, 2015 @09:14PM (#50932743) Journal

      Really? I was born and raised in St. Louis. Spent almost 40 years of my life there working in tech. And I'm really glad I got out. Same sentiment many of my tech-savvy friends had too when they left.

      I'll grant you that for a city its size, it does have affordable housing, and it's VERY good at offering family-friendly attractions.

      But beyond that, it's in decline in many ways. First, you have only a few major employers there who employ the bulk of the I.T. workers there. One is the Busch brewery, who ever since getting taken over by InBev, let go of a whole bunch of full-time I.T. workers, preferring to use contractors (often of the H1B variety). Before that, they scaled back much of the advertising/marketing they used to do. (I had friends who lost good jobs there as graphics artists and the like, when they eliminated the "creative services" division.)

      Another is Boeing, who IMO really just took over McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis so they could eliminate them as a competitor. There's been a slow shuttering of buildings on that campus ever since the takeover. They still employ a lot of people, but I'd say Boeing is much more interested in work they're doing in places like Seattle at this point.

      It also has the HQ for Emerson Corporation, although it happens to be located right next to Ferguson. Luckily for them, they've always been walled in like a fortress, so I doubt the rioters ever had a chance of damaging anything of value in there. But needless to say, a job there means you're traveling through questionable neighborhoods every day for work. Not a lot of pleasant places to go out to lunch or what-not, out there, either.

      If you remember the "glory days" of St. Louis, you'll also note that the riverfront is TERRIBLE compared to what it used to be. Ever since the casino went in on the landing and started buying up adjacent properties, it killed the nightlife down there. The riverfront used to be a popular destination that had moored ships and barges of all types, including a floating McDonalds riverboat, an old aircraft carrier you could walk around on, and riverboats (Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn) that actually did riverboat cruises/tours daily. One place let you take helicopter rides too. It also had a wax museum, a coin-op arcade game museum, a cool magic store, and many other neat shops that are all gone today.

      I'm sure there are a lot of random opportunities out there, but my experience is, many are tough to find and fleeting. Many I.T. people wind up working in manufacturing for a struggling business someplace in the city for wages below the average, or working in medical I.T. - which is kind of its own beast, with a unique set of challenges and problems. It's not for everybody....

      • Interesting. I live in St. Louis now (have done for about 20 years) and can't say enough good things about the job market here. No, you're not going to find tech jobs in any of the big tech companies, but there are a surprising amount of programming and infrastructure jobs always available around here.

        Engineering companies seem to exist all over the place here, and while yes healthcare IT is its own beast there are definitely plenty of jobs around here for that. And you'd be surprised the number (and pay) o

  • Nevada City, CA (Score:4, Informative)

    by MpVpRb ( 1423381 ) on Saturday November 14, 2015 @08:07PM (#50932479)

    Absolutely beautiful! I love living here!

    We are 90 miles from Sacramento, and have a great community!

    Our local ISP is in the final stages of approval for a gigabit fiber network. Once we have internet, we will have it all

    Yes, new tech business are welcomed here. Our economic development council is active in encouraging tech businesses to come here

    We have a strong tech history. The Grass Valley Group has been producing top of the line video equipment for decades

    I just hope that we don't get overwhelmed. Part of the magic of this place is its smallness and lack of density

    It's a difficult balance..more businesses will provide jobs and help the area.. or OH SHIT!, here comes the avalanche

    So yeah, I strongly encourage a VERY FEW tech companies to locate here

  • by eWarz ( 610883 ) on Sunday November 15, 2015 @12:04AM (#50933239)
    Just don't come to Nashville. It's an absolutely HORRIBLE place to move to. STAY AWAY! Seriously. No jobs here. Oh and we southerners are the rudest people...we don't want you... ;)

No extensible language will be universal. -- T. Cheatham