Top 15 Best Cities for Software Engineers in 2024

Dan Klos
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min read

The software engineering field is one of the most dynamic in the world, with job opportunities and tech hubs sprouting up faster than lines of code in a well-run algorithm. With the demand for tech professionals soaring, finding the right city to flourish in as a software engineer is essential.

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In this guide, we walk through the top 15 cities software engineers should live in this year, exploring the factors that matter most and providing a comprehensive overview of each tech hub. Whether you're a seasoned professional seeking a new challenge or a beginner looking to carve out a niche, this list is your roadmap to the most rewarding destinations for your software engineering career.

Navigating the Tech Landscape

Software engineering, in particular, is influenced by a delicate interplay of factors that include job market trends, salary potential, living costs, and the vibrancy of the local tech community. By considering these key variables, we can chart the cities where software engineers will not only thrive but lead in innovation.

To compile our list, we analyzed an assortment of factors, including:

  • Job Availability and Growth: The number of tech job openings and the projected growth of the software engineering sector.
  • Average Salaries: Competitive compensation for software engineers, balancing against the cost of living in each city.
  • Taxes: The tax burden on software engineering salaries, including state income tax, sales tax and local taxes.
  • Cost of Living: Factors in housing, utilities, groceries, transportation, and more to gauge purchasing power and savings potential.
  • Tech Community Strength: The strength of local tech meetups, industry mixers, and the number of co-working spaces tailored for software developers.
  • Work-Life Balance: The presence of outdoor spaces, cultural events, and the overall pace of life relative to the wider software engineering industry.

The Elite 15 Big Tech Cities of 2024

The following cities have emerged as the cream of the crop for software engineers in 2024. Each location offers unique advantages, so keep reading to discover which city aligns best with your career and lifestyle goals.

15. Salt Lake City, Utah

best place for software developers

Known for its picturesque landscapes and skiing, Salt Lake City has recently become a tech hot spot. Boasting the third-highest job creation rate in the U.S., it has a low cost of living and a thriving tech community that nurtures new talent.

14. Seattle, Washington

best place for developers

Home to corporate giants such as Amazon and Microsoft, Seattle offers ample job opportunities and a competitive salary market. The city's natural beauty and vibrant urban scene are a bonus for the work-life balance conscious.

13. Boston, Massachusetts

best housing for software developers

With its reputation for higher education and groundbreaking research, Boston is an intellectual and technological haven. The city's rich culture and historical significance also make it a great place to call home.

12. Austin, Texas

affordable housing for software engineers

The Live Music Capital of the World, Austin has a robust job market with a burgeoning tech scene. With no taxes and a much lower cost of living compared to traditional tech hubs, it's no wonder many software engineers are flocking to the Lone Star State.

11. Chicago, Illinois

top housing for software developers

Home to a cosmopolitan population and some of the world's most iconic architecture, Chicago melds a rich history with a bright tech future. The cost of living is manageable, and the city nurtures a work-hard, play-hard ethos.

10. San Diego, California

oceanside cities for software developers

San Diego's year-round sunshine and laid-back lifestyle make it an attractive destination for software engineers seeking a coastal life. The city is experiencing a tech renaissance, with job growth on the upswing.

9. Toronto, Canada

software developer cities based on rent prices

For software engineers who seek international experience, Toronto beckons with its vibrant diversity and growing tech scene. The Canadian city's inclusive policies and commitment to innovation make it a rising star for tech professionals.

8. Atlanta, Georgia

software developer city rankings

Promising career opportunities and a comfortable cost of living draw software engineers to Atlanta, which boasts one of the busiest airports in the world, indicating its growing importance as a business hub.

7. Dallas, Texas

software developer cities with high salaries

Big and brash, Dallas fuels a burgeoning tech sector with its fiercely independent spirit and burgeoning cityscape. The Texan metropolis offers a strong job market and a reasonable cost of living, further solidifying its place on the list.

6. Denver, Colorado

Software developer cities with living costs lower than the national average

For those software engineers who love the great outdoors, Denver's proximity to the Rocky Mountains offers an astounding quality of life. With a robust tech scene and a growing job market, Denver is much more than a one-trick pony.

5. Portland, Oregon

software developer city with strong presence in tech market size

Brimming with natural beauty and an artistic vibe, Portland offers a relaxed work environment and a strong dedication to sustainability in the tech industry. It's a haven for those who seek balance and a connection to nature in their career.

4. Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina

developer cities with other factors than higher salaries

The Research Triangle of North Carolina is a mecca for tech innovation, drawing professionals from other cities with its strong job market and reasonable living expenses. The warm climate and proximity to the Atlantic coast are additional perks.

3. Washington, D.C.

tech cities with higher salaries

Beyond politics, Washington, D.C., is a burgeoning tech hub with well-compensated jobs that reflect the city's higher cost of living. Cultural institutions and historical sites provide a stimulating backdrop for career progression.

2. San Francisco, California

Software developers who have to pay state income tax

You know we couldn't complete this list without the San Francisco Bay Area. The world's original tech hub remains a critical center for software engineers, with unmatched job opportunities and salaries. While the median cost of living is among the highest, the city's status as a launchpad for tech innovation is unrivaled.

1. New York City, New York

Cities with multinational companies for software developers

The city that never sleeps tops our list for its mammoth tech job market and varied opportunities. Young software developers also enjoy their work-life balance in NYC as there are a multitude of activities to do outside of work and the nightlife is booming. Despite high living costs, the potential for professional growth and the richest tech community in the world make it irresistible to ambitious software engineers.

Profiles of the Pioneers

The top 3 cities deserve a closer look at their attributes, providing an insightful exploration of what makes them beacons of the industry.

San Francisco, California – The Vanguard of Innovation

San Francisco's Silicon Valley requires no formal introduction—home to the world's leading tech firms, a myriad of start-ups, and top-tier engineering talent. The bay area's innovation ecosystem is unparalleled, with avenues for both corporate ladder climbing and entrepreneurial ventures.

New York City, New York – The Crossroads of Opportunity

New York City's diverse economy presents software engineers with a multitude of opportunities across various industries. The continuous convergence of tech and the city's traditional strengths in finance, healthcare, media, and fashion creates an environment ripe for cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Washington, D.C. – The Nexus of Government and Tech

More than a political powerhouse, Washington, D.C., is a fast-evolving tech center, fueled by the presence of the federal government and a rapidly expanding private sector. The city's tech industry benefits from its commitment to security and a burgeoning data analytics scene.

Shifts in the Industry

What trends and changes have influenced the rankings, and what do they mean for the industry at large?

Remote Work and Distributed Teams

The rise of remote work has reshaped the whole software engineering jobs landscape. Employers are increasingly willing to hire outside traditional tech centers, empowering engineers to choose where they want to live and work.

Sustainable Tech

Cities and companies focused on sustainability in their tech infrastructure are becoming more appealing to software engineers committed to ethical innovation. This shift sees cities with robust green initiatives climbing the ranks.

Emerging Markets

As technology continues to spread globally, we've seen a rise in emerging cities that offer developers significant opportunities for growth. These cities often combine a lower cost of living (compared to the national average) with a strong commitment to technology development and adoption.

Making the Move

For the software developers and engineers considering a change, this section offers insights and tips to ensure a smooth transition.

Job Hunting Strategies

Networking remains a crucial component in any software developer or engineer's job search. Attend industry events both locally and in your target city, and leverage online platforms to make connections and stay abreast of job openings.

You can also leverage tools like ApplyPass to automatically apply to jobs in your desired area.

Understanding Relocation Costs

The financial aspects of a move can be daunting, from finding a place to live to covering transportation expenses. Understanding the full scope of relocation and housing costs is vital for effective planning and reducing any surprises.

Settling In and Thriving

Once you've landed the perfect tech job in your chosen city, focus on integrating into the local community. Engage with local tech meetups, explore the city's offerings, and consider taking on hobbies and activities that support your work-life balance.


Choosing the right city can be a career-defining decision for software engineers. In 2024, the tech industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace, offering engineers new opportunities in cities all over the globe. By understanding the key factors that make a city ideal for software engineering careers, professionals can target the environments best suited to their goals and aspirations.

If you're currently weighing your options or have experiences to share about software engineering in a particular city, we'd love to hear from you! Engage with fellow tech professionals and continue the conversation on the most lucrative cities for software engineers in our ApplyPass Community!

Dan Klos
Co-Founder & CEO @applypass
Dan has spent the last 8 years helping software engineers level up their career. He created Outco to help over 2,000+ engineers secure top-paying job offers. Currently, his entire focus is on building ApplyPass to aid engineers in getting 40% more interviews and saving more than 5 hours per week on job applications. When he's not at work, he's deeply involved in activism, challenging hikes, and canoeing.
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