What’s the Best City for Software Engineers?

Hint: it’s not San Jose or San Francisco

Aerial photograph of San Antonio, Texas.
Photo: iStockphoto

If you’re a software engineer, where should you live to maximize your income?

Moving and storage company SpareFoot sliced what it says was an exclusive batch of data obtained from ZipRecruiter covering the 30 days ending 1 May 2018. SpareFoot offers online tools for booking self-storage facilities—so it keeps its eye on people who are relocating, hence it’s interest in software engineering careers.

The company narrowed the list to the 25 U.S. metropolitan areas with the most opportunities for software engineers, as determined by dividing the number of job openings listed on ZipRecruiter by the number of active job seekers in that area. It then took the median software engineering salary for each area, as determined by Payscale, and adjusted that according to cost of living data from AreaVibes. Finally, it combined the real adjusted salary data with the opportunity data, giving double weight to the opportunity data. Got that?

After churning these numbers, SpareFoot came out with San Antonio, Texas, on top, and Dallas, Houston, and Austin joining it in the top ten. A bit suspicious that so many Texas cities did so well, given that SpareFoot hails from Austin, its formula construction may be reflecting a bit of hometown bias.

So in addition to SpareFoot’s calculated rankings, I took apart the data provided to also list cities by adjusted average salaries and by software engineer demand:

A version of this post appears in the August 2018 print magazine.

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IEEE Spectrum’s blog featuring the people, places, and passions of the world of technologists in Silicon Valley and its environs.