The Most Affordable Cities to Start or Continue Your Developer Career

The high cost of living in “tech superstar” cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and San Jose is nothing new. It makes sense, too. As companies grow, so does their demand for qualified tech talent and the salaries that go along with these positions. Landlords don’t run charities, so as the demand for their properties grows, the rent they charge does, too.

So, we set out to find some of the most affordable tech cities in the U.S. whether you’re just getting started in your development career, or whether you’ve been in the industry for a few years and want to cut some living costs. 

The purpose of the report is to highlight cities that may be overlooked but have affordable living costs, plenty of open developer jobs in the vicinity and thus, are viable options to start or continue a career in tech.

Our team conducted research by using publicly-available tools and data including the June 2020 ApartmentList data to find the median rent for a 2-bedroom apartment for a given city. Then, we used a boolean search on Indeed.com to measure the number of open entry-level and mid-level developer jobs within a 25-mile radius of the area. 

Cities were then ranked and given an “entry-level score” and “mid-level score” with housing cost weighted at 45% and quantity of jobs at 55%. We chose this weighting to give a slight edge to job availability and filter out cities that had very, very low rent but also very few jobs. Finally, we created a composite “tech relocation score” where both the entry-level and mid-level scores were weighted equally (50%).

Without further adieu, let’s jump into the top 10 most affordable cities to start or continue your career in coding. While a few are suburbs of major tech hubs, others were thoroughly surprising.

Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of michigan.org

The Motor City may soon become the Motherboard City with an abundance of tech jobs and very affordable housing. Detroit is the second-largest Midwest economic center (only trailing Chicago) and touts a coastline linking the Great Lakes, with a variety of natural landscapes, parks, and beaches to enjoy. 

Median Rent: $901
Entry-Level Developer Jobs: 297
Mid-Level Developer Jobs: 718


Baltimore, MD

Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org

Baltimore was the birthplace of the U.S. national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and it could be the birthplace of your career in tech, too! More than 60 federal agencies and research labs are within 30 miles of Baltimore, which brings substantial federal spending and jobs to the city.

Median Rent: $1,195
Entry-Level Developer Jobs: 714
Mid-Level Developer Jobs: 3,234


Bremerton, WA

Photo courtesy of bremertonwa.gov

Located only a short ferry ride from downtown Seattle, Bremerton is a great place for tech jobs without paying the “city premium.” Plus, you can enjoy the variety of outdoor activities, scenic views and of course, the seemingly-infinite coffee shops that have driven so many to call Western Washington home.

Median Rent: $1,334
Entry-Level Developer Jobs: 690
Mid-Level Developer Jobs: 4,231


Warren, MI

Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org

Often referred to as the City of Progress, Warren is located just outside of Detroit and is the 3rd largest city in Michigan. It shares many top employers with Detroit including General Motors and Chrysler Fiat automobiles, as well as hosting the headquarters of The United States Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, and its subordinate Life Cycle Management Command. 

Median Rent: $1,034
Entry-Level Developer Jobs: 251
Mid-Level Developer Jobs: 785


St. Louis, MO

Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org

St. Louis touts the tenth-lowest median rent out of the top 10 cities with a fair amount of developer jobs up for grabs. The Gateway City is home to nine of the ten Fortune 500 companies based in Missouri, and it could be the gateway to your new tech career. 

Median Rent: $944
Entry-Level Developer Jobs: 245
Mid-Level Developer Jobs: 540


Pittsburgh, PA

Photo courtesy of pittsburghpa.gov

Once a center for the production of steel, iron and glass, Pittsburgh is now a growing leader in medicine, education, health care, robotics, software engineering and high-tech industries. The city hosts the headquarters of language education company Duolingo, features local offices of tech giants including Microsoft, Apple, and Google, and is also leading the way for the development of self-driving cars from Uber and Argo AI.

Median Rent: $926
Entry-Level Developer Jobs: 153
Mid-Level Developer Jobs: 611


Huntsville, AL

Photo courtesy of huntsvilleal.gov

When you think of Alabama, “blooming tech industry” isn’t what comes to mind – but it should be! Thanks to major avionics and military contractors who call Huntsville home (or have large offices there), you can call it home, too. It features the second least expensive median rent on our list with a modest amount of developer jobs to match. 

Median Rent: $821
Entry-Level Developer Jobs: 119
Mid-Level Developer Jobs: 501


Phoenix, AZ

Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org


The weather in Phoenix isn’t the only thing that’s hot, so are the job prospects ar! The city is home to four Fortune 500 companies, as well as the internet domain registrar giant GoDaddy and Honeywell’s Aerospace division. Phoenix also touts large offices of tech giants like Intel, Lyft, and TEKsystems. 

Median Rent: $1,102
Entry-Level Developer Jobs: 248
Mid-Level Developer Jobs: 857


Lowell, MA

Photo courtesy of lowellma.gov

Lowell is often said to be one of the birthplaces of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, and now is playing a major role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Take advantage of Boston’s booming tech industry without quite the same costs associated with Beantown. How do you like them apples?

Median Rent: $1,541
Entry-Level Developer Jobs: 1,260
Mid-Level Developer Jobs: 3,661


Minneapolis, MN

Photo courtesy of minneapolis.org

Minneapolis is the third-largest economic center in the midwest, behind Chicago and Detroit. It also contains America’s fifth-highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies, so there are plenty of jobs to go around with a median rent that maybe would get you a closet in the Bay Area. 

Median Rent: $1,150
Entry-Level Developer Jobs: 241
Mid-Level Developer Jobs: 762


For a snapshot of all the cities in our research, you can browse the graphics and charts below!

If you’re looking to start a career in tech, you’ve come to the right place. Coding Dojo offers accelerated learning programs that can transform your life. We offer both part-time and full-time online courses, as well as onsite (post COVID-19) programs. We also offer financing options, scholarships, and other tuition assistance programs to help you with financial barriers. 

Whether you’re unsatisfied with your career, or just want to invest in yourself and your future, there is no better time than the present! If you’re interested, use this link to schedule a 15-minute exploratory session with one of our Admissions representatives today.

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