Best Cities for Software Developers

Tech is one of the hottest job markets in America. If you're a current or soon-to-be software developer, you'll want to take a look at our analysis of the top locales for America's tech professionals based on regional job markets, median income and local home values.

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Best Cities for Software Engineers

Our study ranked urban locations from across the United States based on several key characteristics, including salary information and real estate data. According to data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual income for a software developer in the United States was $81,083 per year. This includes salary information for systems, applications, and web developers, as well as programmers.

List of Top 5 Cities for Software Developers, 2018

We present our findings of the best cities for tech jobs below. Also included are our rankings of the top cities for tech salaries; cities with the fastest-growing property values; most affordable cities to buy a home in, relative to the average software developer's salary; and our full list of rankings, which includes data from 318 cities and MSAs. Finally, we conclude by outlining the methodology we used for this study.

Best Cities for Software Developers

We scored the best cities for software developers by evaluating seven key variables, including income levels, housing data and economic strength. While every city demonstrated unique strengths and weaknesses, the results were viewed holistically and ranked on the basis of best overall score. The top scoring cities and metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) are shown below.

RankLocationRatingAverage Income
1Denver, CO82.5$100,010
2Seattle, WA82.2$118,528
3Phoenix, AZ80.7$90,753
4Atlanta, GA80.3$93,400
5Colorado Springs, CO80.2$99,485

1. Denver, Colorado

The Denver-Aurora-Lakewood MSA ranked as the best region for software developers in the country, thanks to high local demand for developer jobs, generous salaries and a hot real estate market. Denver proved to be an excellent destination for tech professionals, with average salaries offered in the six-figure range. Median home values in the area also spiked by over 42% over the past five years and continue to grow.

The greater Denver metropolitan area demonstrated a solid demand for developers and healthy economic performance, as burgeoning tech companies priced out of Silicon Valley continue to move in. While Denver achieved mediocre results for affordability due to rapidly rising home prices, it still proved significantly cheaper than the hottest tech locales, outranking San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles on this front.

2. Seattle, Washington

The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue MSA ranked second in our study of best cities for software developers. Helping it earn its title were the exceptional demand for tech jobs and healthy economic base. The region also featured the second highest median salary for software developers in the country, thanks to its insatiable demand for tech professionals.

Seattle is the biggest city in Washington State and boasts the highest average salary for developers outside of Silicon Valley. Median salaries for programmers, applications developers and systems developers all easily cleared the six-figure range, with only web designers clocking in at at $96,390. While local home prices certainly aren't cheap, at a median price of $399,000, it's still an excellent option for software developers looking to settle in a tech mecca.

3. Phoenix, Arizona

The Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale MSA ranked third in our study of best cities for software developers. The MSA performed respectably in six out of seven of our grading categories. Worth noting is the high availability of home vacancies for sale in Scottsdale, AZ, despite a 53% spike in home prices over the past five years. Couple this with a healthy economy, strong demand for software developers and a respectable median wage, and Phoenix may yet have room to grow as a budding tech hub.

This MSA demonstrated both the highest rate of growth in median home values, as well as the lowest property taxes among our top five cities for software developers. These factors, combined with the high local supply of homes for sale, makes this an excellent place for tech professionals to settle. The median home in the greater Phoenix area costs $238,000, almost a third of the median property value in San Francisco.

4. Atlanta, Georgia

The only MSA in our top five located outside the west, the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell area is a budding hive for tech magnets. The city is buoyed by a strong economy, business-friendly environment and growing demand for tech professionals. The local presence of colleges like Georgia Tech and Emory also serve as hubs for tech companies seeking to recruit fresh talent. Thanks to soaring home prices in the west, both established and startup tech companies have already started relocating to Atlanta.

The greater Atlanta region is also the most affordable place to buy a home among our top five cities for software developers, and it hasn't suffered from the same rabid growth in home prices that plagued some of its western cohorts. Home values in this MSA rose a respectable 23% between 2013 and 2018; this, coupled with a high supply of homes for sale at reasonable prices, means that it might be a good time for tech professionals to consider moving to Georgia before home prices shoot the moon.

5. Colorado Springs, Colorado

Rounding out our top five cities for software developers is the city of Colorado Springs. While smaller than its compatriots, Colorado Springs benefits from low property taxes, high demand for software jobs and a median developer salary that falls just under six figures at $99,485. Health fanatics and families alike will also be happy to learn that Colorado Springs ranked the third most health-conscious city in the country, based on a separate ValuePenguin study.

Colorado Springs boasted the lowest property tax rates of any of our top five picks and also featured the second highest demand for software developers, with a location quotient of 1.58, outranking Denver at 1.49. Tech professionals will find both job stability and affordable housing in this western tech haven, while avoiding the crowds of the big cities.

Where Software Developers Earn the Most and Least

Below is a list of the five cities where software developers were paid the most. Labor data from the BLS show that median annual salaries for developers in the United States varied between $54,000 and $122,000. Tech professionals in each of the regions below earned over $100,000 a year.

Highest Tech Salaries

RankLocationAnnual Mean Wage
1San Francisco, CA$122,643
2Seattle, WA$118,528
3San Jose, CA$118,268
4Battle Creek, MI$117,610
5Sherman, TX$108,890

Software developer jobs in each of the cities below registered average annual salaries of $58,000 or less. Tech professionals in each of the regions below were paid salaries over 25% below the national average for software developers.

Lowest Tech Salaries

RankLocationAnnual Mean Wage
318Prescott, AZ$53,893
317Daphne, AL$55,970
316Myrtle Beach, SC$56,000
315Bowling Green, KY$57,035
314Missoula, MT$57,293

Cities with the Fastest-Rising and Declining Property Values

A good way to gauge the health of a city is to evaluate the growth of its real estate market. Between 2013 and 2018, median home values in the following five regions reflected the fastest growth, with property values rising by at least 58% or more. Perhaps unsurprisingly, every city listed in our top five hailed from California.

Fastest-Rising Property Values

RankLocation2013 Median Home Value2018 Median Home Value5-Year Change
1Napa, CA$368,062$624,58870%
2Santa Rosa, CA$349,968$580,40766%
3Modesto, CA$159,510$259,54663%
4Stockton, CA$185,381$296,27460%
5Santa Cruz, CA$459,169$728,33659%

For the same 2013-2018 period, median home values in each of the following regions exhibited flat or negative growth. All of the cities with declining property values were classified as "small cities" with total populations of under 250,000 and dropping.

Fastest-Declining Property Values

RankLocation2013 Median Home Value2018 Median Home Value5-Year Change
318East Stroudsburg, PA$203,765$178,424-12%
317Vineland, NJ$173,552$164,338-5%
316Lewiston, ME$159,077$153,841-3%
315Carson City, NV$210,111$203,565-3%
314Sheboygan, WI$156,577$153,199-2%

Most and Least Affordable Cities for Software Developers

A high salary, while attractive, can be offset by high costs of living. To compensate for differences in income, we looked at locations according to how affordable they were based on local salaries. Mortgage payments in the following MSAs can cost as little as 5% of the average developer's monthly income. We compared median home values with median developer salaries in each area.

Most Affordable Cities

RankLocationMonthly Mortgage PaymentAverage Developer IncomeHome Affordability Ratio
1Battle Creek, MI$459$117,6104.7%
2Brownsville, TX$373$84,2705.3%
3Sumter, SC$465$92,2406.0%
4Sherman, TX$556$108,8906.1%
5Albany, GA$479$92,6306.2%
Monthly mortgage cost equals principal and interest for a 30-year loan at 5% with a 20% down payment on the local median home value.

The median monthly mortgage payment in each of the five regions below required 39% or more of the average local developer's monthly salary. Corresponding down payments in each of the areas easily topped six-figures, ranging from $113,000 to $180,000, while average monthly payments ranged from $2,400 to $3,800. Needless to say, you might be better off renting in these MSAs.

Least Affordable Cities

RankLocationMonthly Mortgage PaymentAverage Developer IncomeHome Affordability Ratio
318Honolulu, HI$2,949$78,80345%
317Kahului, HI$2,570$75,11041%
316Santa Cruz, CA$3,128$93,40040%
315San Luis Obispo, CA$2,441$74,53839%
314San Jose, CA$3,854$118,26839%
Monthly mortgage cost equals principal and interest for a 30-year loan at 5% with a 20% down payment on the local median home value.

Full List of Cities

In our analysis of the best cities for Software Developers, we reviewed all major metropolitan areas with available housing and income data. This allowed us to process data from 318 cities and MSAs across the United States.

RankLocationOverall RatingAverage Income
1Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO82.4$100,010
2Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA82.1$118,528
3Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ80.7$90,753
4Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA80.3$93,400
5Colorado Springs, CO80.1$99,485
6San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA79.9$118,268
7San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA79.1$122,643
8Salt Lake City, UT79.1$89,480
9Provo-Orem, UT78.7$88,763
10Huntsville, AL78.0$94,870
11Napa, CA77.9$96,757
12Boulder, CO77.6$97,728
13Raleigh, NC77.2$94,575
14San Diego-Carlsbad, CA76.9$94,265
15Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA76.5$94,270
16Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV75.8$107,493
17Austin-Round Rock, TX75.3$93,473
18Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI74.8$94,998
19Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX74.2$94,968
20Birmingham-Hoover, AL74.1$84,838
21Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA74.0$98,695
22Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA73.1$100,570
23Santa Rosa, CA73.0$101,313
24Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA72.8$92,498
25Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC72.8$96,770
26San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX72.5$103,185
27Fort Collins, CO72.1$87,690
28Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH72.1$100,163
29Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN72.0$81,630
30Durham-Chapel Hill, NC71.6$92,573
31Charleston-North Charleston, SC71.1$82,818
32Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX71.0$96,683
33Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD70.7$95,560
34Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL70.6$86,208
35Richmond, VA70.2$91,755
36Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA70.1$93,400
37Columbus, OH69.9$86,188
38Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA69.6$90,865
39Vallejo-Fairfield, CA69.4$96,273
40Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI69.4$94,005
41Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL69.1$82,838
42Kansas City, MO-KS69.0$83,060
43California-Lexington Park, MD68.6$100,545
44Jacksonville, FL68.2$87,658
45Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO68.2$74,615
46Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI67.7$81,788
47Boise City, ID67.6$72,930
48Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL67.2$83,400
49Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN65.7$78,038
50Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA65.3$79,125
51St. Louis, MO-IL65.0$88,558
52Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL65.0$83,015
53Idaho Falls, ID64.7$83,643
54Charlottesville, VA64.7$93,000
55Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA64.3$82,428
56Columbia, SC64.2$78,175
57Ann Arbor, MI64.0$84,115
58Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL63.8$83,168
59New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA63.4$104,130
60Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV63.3$83,808
61San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA63.3$74,538
62Knoxville, TN62.6$74,435
63Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD62.0$92,925
64Olympia-Tumwater, WA62.0$85,863
65Pittsburgh, PA61.9$80,543
66Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC61.8$86,323
67Morgantown, WV61.4$81,330
68Chattanooga, TN-GA61.2$80,008
69Bakersfield, CA61.1$90,185
70Greeley, CO60.4$74,847
71Cedar Rapids, IA60.3$85,200
72Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN60.0$78,273
73Bellingham, WA60.0$89,458
74Trenton, NJ60.0$102,167
75Fargo, ND-MN59.8$67,075
76Jackson, MS59.8$83,778
77Oklahoma City, OK59.8$76,470
78Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, FL59.7$81,065
79Madison, WI59.6$73,913
80Ogden-Clearfield, UT59.6$80,288
81Fort Wayne, IN59.5$83,323
82Auburn-Opelika, AL59.1$86,833
83Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN58.7$78,988
84Chico, CA58.6$92,113
85Winchester, VA-WV58.5$84,460
86Sioux Falls, SD58.1$71,135
87Kennewick-Richland, WA57.5$98,255
88Burlington-South Burlington, VT57.4$85,743
89Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC57.3$88,223
90North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL57.2$84,293
91Bremerton-Silverdale, WA57.2$89,748
92Salinas, CA57.2$90,798
93Urban Honolulu, HI57.2$78,803
94Stockton-Lodi, CA56.9$89,405
95Ithaca, NY56.8$88,290
96Columbia, MO56.8$65,787
97Brunswick, GA56.8$97,655
98Fairbanks, AK56.8$85,530
99Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA56.8$85,248
100Lexington-Fayette, KY56.7$77,595
101Portland-South Portland, ME56.7$84,353
102Killeen-Temple, TX56.3$81,993
103Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY55.8$83,733
104Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ55.8$93,515
105Bismarck, ND55.8$66,650
106Reno, NV55.7$77,153
107Modesto, CA55.5$82,523
108Champaign-Urbana, IL55.5$80,470
109Bend-Redmond, OR55.3$67,780
110Montgomery, AL55.3$81,608
111Lincoln, NE55.0$70,463
112Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT54.7$95,363
113Anchorage, AK54.5$94,320
114Waco, TX54.3$83,898
115Dover, DE54.2$81,525
116Amarillo, TX54.2$96,470
117Providence-Warwick, RI-MA54.1$89,223
118Grants Pass, OR54.1$104,670
119Barnstable Town, MA54.1$87,515
120Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT54.0$98,683
121Corpus Christi, TX53.4$83,338
122Billings, MT53.3$68,348
123Tulsa, OK53.2$80,300
124Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR52.9$71,635
125Tucson, AZ52.8$85,528
126Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA52.8$83,843
127Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI52.5$79,753
128State College, PA52.5$77,720
129Corvallis, OR52.4$83,983
130Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL52.3$77,763
131Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA52.3$79,105
132Cheyenne, WY52.2$62,440
133Salisbury, MD-DE51.9$87,718
134St. George, UT51.8$66,800
135Warner Robins, GA51.6$88,127
136Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI51.3$73,230
137Rochester, MN51.1$82,897
138Dayton, OH51.0$82,243
139Greensboro-High Point, NC50.8$89,268
140Columbus, IN50.8$75,685
141Akron, OH50.3$80,640
142Springfield, IL50.3$82,675
143Salem, OR50.3$83,685
144Appleton, WI50.2$80,035
145Memphis, TN-MS-AR50.1$78,085
146Rome, GA50.1$96,695
147Dalton, GA50.1$79,545
148Spartanburg, SC50.0$78,168
149Columbus, GA-AL49.9$87,650
150Wilmington, NC49.6$75,485
151Lynchburg, VA49.6$91,020
152Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford, VA49.6$76,870
153Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA49.5$108,670
154Fresno, CA49.5$83,653
155Joplin, MO49.4$76,230
156Sioux City, IA-NE-SD49.2$91,450
157Asheville, NC49.2$84,250
158Coeur d'Alene, ID49.1$66,615
159Syracuse, NY48.6$84,128
160Clarksville, TN-KY48.5$83,830
161Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL48.4$75,920
162Elkhart-Goshen, IN48.4$77,130
163Watertown-Fort Drum, NY48.4$92,610
164Wheeling, WV-OH48.4$72,007
165Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY48.2$77,850
166Baton Rouge, LA47.9$64,440
167Panama City, FL47.8$81,583
168Rochester, NY47.6$80,745
169Gainesville, GA47.6$85,805
170Jackson, MI47.5$97,670
171Topeka, KS47.4$75,898
172South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MI47.2$69,190
173College Station-Bryan, TX47.1$66,910
174New Bern, NC47.0$104,680
175Tuscaloosa, AL47.0$67,213
176Midland, TX46.9$85,370
177Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ46.8$81,845
178Green Bay, WI46.7$69,305
179Punta Gorda, FL46.7$81,440
180Savannah, GA46.6$83,863
181Florence, SC46.6$75,133
182Cleveland-Elyria, OH46.4$75,688
183Visalia-Porterville, CA46.3$102,910
184Abilene, TX46.3$86,240
185Lansing-East Lansing, MI46.2$76,848
186Eugene, OR46.1$79,160
187Tyler, TX46.0$77,290
188Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV45.9$78,913
189Decatur, AL45.9$85,050
190Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL45.7$55,970
191Grand Forks, ND-MN45.4$82,285
192Sherman-Denison, TX45.3$108,890
193Binghamton, NY45.3$88,780
194Logan, UT-ID45.2$69,940
195Springfield, MO45.1$60,425
196Oshkosh-Neenah, WI45.1$69,905
197Iowa City, IA44.9$66,055
198Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA44.8$77,845
199Wichita, KS44.7$74,158
200Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC44.7$75,850
201Roanoke, VA44.3$87,615
202Utica-Rome, NY44.1$83,780
203Bloomington, IN44.1$71,233
204Charleston, WV43.9$71,018
205New Orleans-Metairie, LA43.9$70,023
206Longview, TX43.9$88,435
207Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL43.7$73,133
208Wausau, WI43.7$77,555
209Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX43.5$87,210
210Port St. Lucie, FL43.3$74,795
211Staunton-Waynesboro, VA43.2$90,657
212Bloomington, IL43.2$79,365
213Valdosta, GA43.1$86,700
214Casper, WY43.0$67,370
215Missoula, MT43.0$57,293
216Santa Fe, NM42.8$62,560
217Medford, OR42.5$60,943
218Lafayette-West Lafayette, IN42.4$65,883
219Lake Charles, LA42.3$64,440
220Dothan, AL42.1$67,570
221Las Cruces, NM42.0$81,730
222Wenatchee, WA41.9$85,510
223Gainesville, FL41.9$70,038
224Flint, MI41.6$71,620
225Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL41.6$74,890
226Reading, PA41.6$83,328
227Lancaster, PA41.6$76,130
228Hammond, LA41.5$79,955
229Shreveport-Bossier City, LA41.5$79,177
230Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI41.5$75,110
231Toledo, OH41.4$74,358
232Greenville, NC41.4$82,880
233Niles-Benton Harbor, MI41.4$87,435
234Manhattan, KS41.0$63,575
235Tallahassee, FL41.0$73,060
236Lawrence, KS40.8$85,405
237Flagstaff, AZ40.7$73,163
238Ames, IA39.9$68,227
239Battle Creek, MI39.7$117,610
240Athens-Clarke County, GA39.1$72,820
241La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN39.0$65,035
242Sheboygan, WI38.8$72,970
243Pittsfield, MA38.7$99,367
244Peoria, IL38.6$82,618
245Fort Smith, AR-OK38.4$78,270
246Hattiesburg, MS38.1$68,040
247Midland, MI37.6$80,250
248Grand Island, NE37.5$59,670
249Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC37.5$56,000
250Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL37.5$74,955
251Lima, OH37.4$83,080
252Monroe, LA37.3$72,510
253Jefferson City, MO37.3$66,747
254Gettysburg, PA37.1$106,500
255Vineland-Bridgeton, NJ37.1$88,210
256Evansville, IN-KY37.0$67,850
257Lubbock, TX37.0$60,890
258Homosassa Springs, FL36.9$58,620
259Eau Claire, WI36.9$70,028
260Mankato-North Mankato, MN36.9$66,695
261Muncie, IN36.8$74,045
262Sumter, SC36.5$92,240
263Lafayette, LA36.4$63,868
264St. Cloud, MN36.3$82,968
265Prescott, AZ36.2$53,893
266Mobile, AL36.1$66,653
267Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ36.1$89,933
268Lawton, OK35.9$72,730
269Jonesboro, AR35.8$64,610
270Houma-Thibodaux, LA35.7$64,070
271Lebanon, PA35.5$90,180
272Albany, GA35.0$92,630
273Burlington, NC34.9$84,497
274Carson City, NV34.7$86,480
275Lewiston-Auburn, ME34.6$79,660
276Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA34.3$67,208
277Grand Junction, CO34.2$77,460
278Brownsville-Harlingen, TX34.1$84,270
279Altoona, PA33.9$74,060
280Glens Falls, NY33.8$84,095
281Albuquerque, NM33.7$81,740
282Kalamazoo-Portage, MI33.7$75,060
283Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL33.5$67,618
284Walla Walla, WA33.4$91,140
285Scranton-Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton, PA33.2$71,328
286Fond du Lac, WI32.9$77,370
287Dubuque, IA32.8$74,438
288Rapid City, SD32.6$60,640
289Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula, MS32.4$73,450
290Pueblo, CO32.2$76,310
291Fayetteville, NC31.9$75,520
292St. Joseph, MO-KS31.9$80,625
293Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH31.9$67,400
294Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA31.9$71,373
295Johnson City, TN31.8$71,193
296Harrisonburg, VA31.3$71,343
297Chambersburg-Waynesboro, PA31.3$82,675
298Ocala, FL31.3$57,633
299Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL30.8$60,470
300Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, KY30.7$76,925
301Racine, WI30.0$78,905
302Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC28.6$77,465
303Williamsport, PA28.6$77,305
304El Paso, TX28.4$70,770
305Bangor, ME28.2$72,307
306Janesville-Beloit, WI27.1$70,703
307Bowling Green, KY26.7$57,035
308McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX26.5$65,327
309Johnstown, PA26.5$63,345
310Saginaw, MI26.4$72,753
311Rockford, IL26.0$70,888
312Laredo, TX25.4$81,200
313Texarkana, TX-AR25.1$66,890
314Canton-Massillon, OH25.0$66,803
315Duluth, MN-WI23.9$64,110
316Kingston, NY22.0$67,937
317Erie, PA20.1$73,868
318East Stroudsburg, PA19.2$57,840


We looked at 318 cities and MSAs across the United States. Each city was analyzed and scored across seven variables to obtain an overall rating. Each entry was then ranked according to magnitude, and the top scores were recorded above.

Large, medium and small cities are defined as regions with populations of over 500,000, 250,000 to 500,000, or below 250,000, respectively.

The BLS tracks data for programmers, web developers, systems developers and applications developers separately but categorizes them all under the broader term "software developer." For the purpose of this study, individual data points for each sub-profession were either averaged or aggregated under the overall category, Software Developers, to facilitate analysis.

  • Mean Wage: Mean wage contains the average annual salary figures for Software Developers. Locations were ranked by average income. Larger figures received higher scores.
  • Location Quotient: Location quotient reflects the concentration of software developers as a percentage of all occupations in a given area. Higher location quotients indicate a higher density and greater demand for developers. Larger location quotients received higher scores.
  • Value Appreciation The strength of a local real estate market is evaluated based on its rate of growth over the past five years. Higher rates of appreciation received higher scores.
  • Vacancy for Sale: This reflects the percentage of local homes that are available for sale or vacant at any given time. Higher rates indicated more available housing and a higher score.
  • Costs of Ownership: The ratio of property taxes to home value was used to gauge the cost of homeownership. The higher the ratio, the more expenses a homeowner can reasonably expect over time. Regions with higher tax ratios received lower scores.
  • Affordability: Due to differences in real estate markets, it's difficult to measure property values on an absolute basis; we therefore compared median monthly developer salaries with projected mortgage payments based on average local property values. The resulting synthetic debt-to-income measures were then recorded and ranked. Higher ratios received lower scores.
  • Economic Strength: Cities and MSAs with high ratings exhibited high rates of consistent growth over time. We ranked each location in accordance with the economic strength rankings provided by POLICOM Corp.'s 2018 survey on Metropolitan/Micropolitan Economic Strength. Higher ratings received higher scores.

Due to the potential for double-counting, we chose to overweight and underweight certain measures to help fine-tune our findings. For example, a high vacancy-for-sale rate indicates a high supply of properties available to homebuyers, but it can also mean that properties are overpriced or otherwise undesirable. To compensate, we chose to emphasize economic strength scores over vacancy-for-sale numbers.

All employment and salary data was obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while housing data was obtained from S&P Global Market Intelligence. Cities and MSAs for which occupation or housing data was not available were not considered in our study.

Kenny Zhu

Kenny is a Banking and Mortgage Research Analyst for ValuePenguin and has worked in the financial industry since 2013. Previously, Kenny was a Senior Investment Analyst at PFM Asset Management LLC. He holds a Bachelors of Science from Carnegie Mellon University, where he majored in International Relations & Politics. He is a CFA® charterholder.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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