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10 Best US States and Cities for Software Engineers in 2023

It’s no secret that the United States is one of the best countries for software developers on planet Earth. But not all states and cities in the country have equally prosperous conditions for developers.

As an established (or aspiring) software developer, you may be wondering which US states offer the best opportunities for software engineers.

To help you make an informed decision on where to start or continue your journey as a software engineer, we’ve compiled this list of the 10 best states for software engineers in 2023, along with the best cities within each state.

We’ve looked at factors such as average salary, job outlooks, cost of living, state taxes, and industry diversity to determine which are the top places for tech professionals.

What Factors Make a Great State for Software Engineers?

Before we dive into the 10 best states for software engineers, let’s take a quick look at what factors go into making a great state for software engineering.

  1. Average Salary: A competitive salary is one of the most important factors for software engineers, as it helps them make a living and continue to do their job with more satisfaction.
  2. Job Outlooks: Having a large number of available jobs in the area allows software engineers to find work quickly and not have to worry about long periods without employment.
  3. State Taxes: Low state taxes allow for more money in an engineer’s pocket at the end of each month, making it easier for them to save money or use funds on other needs and wants.
  4. Cost of Living: High costs of living can reduce the amount an engineer has left over after taxes, which makes it difficult to save money or invest in other pursuits such as additional education or personal projects.
  5. Tech Scene: Being part of a thriving tech scene allows software engineers to network with other developers, find new job opportunities, and stay up-to-date on the latest technologies.

Of course, there are more factors to consider than just these three, such as quality of life, access to public transportation, and climate. We will also touch on these in our description of each state and what is great (and what is not so great) about it with regard to software developers.

Top 10 Best US States for Software Engineers in 2023

Now that we know what to look for, here are the top 10 states in the US where software engineers should consider living and working in 2023:

1. California

Golden Gate Bridge during daytime
Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel @ Unsplash

Why it’s great for software developers: When it comes to tech, no other state can compete with the Golden State. With San Francisco at its hub, and many other tech hubs scattered throughout the state, California offers the best of both worlds when it comes to finding new opportunities and career growth. It also boasts some of the most innovative companies in the world, making it an ideal place to launch a career as a software engineer.

What’s not so great: Cost of living. California is one of the most expensive states to live in, with high housing costs and taxes.

  • Average software engineer salary: $123,040/year
  • State income tax: 9.3%
  • Home to: Apple, Google, Facebook, Oracle
  • Cost of living index: 137.6 (higher than the national average of 100)
  • Best cities for software engineers: Palo Alto, San Francisco, Los Angeles

2. Washington

a view of Seattle with a tower in the middle of it as one of the best cities for software engineers
Photo by Robert Ritchie @ Unsplash

Why it’s great for software developers: Washington State is a great place for software engineers to consider, as it has a booming tech industry and numerous opportunities for employment. Microsoft, Amazon, Expedia, and Boeing are just some of the large tech companies that have their headquarters in the state, providing plenty of job openings for software engineers. Additionally, Washington offers plenty of smaller start-ups and development shops offering specialized engineering roles and competitive salaries.

What’s not so great: The cost of living in Washington is relatively high compared to other states, making it an expensive place to live for software engineers. Additionally, the competition for jobs is high, as many software engineers flock to the state for its abundance of opportunities.

  • Average software engineer salary: $128,200/year
  • State income tax: No state income tax
  • Home to: Microsoft, Adobe, Amazon
  • Cost of living: 114.2 (higher than the national average of 100)
  • Best cities for software engineers: Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland
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3. Massachusetts

aerial photography of trees and buildings in Massachusetts, one of the best states for software engineers
Photo by Mark Olsen @ Unsplash

Why it’s great for software developers: Massachusetts is known for its high-tech industry and the state consistently ranks highly in terms of software engineering roles. With many hubs, such as Boston, Worcester, and Cambridge, there are plenty of opportunities for software engineers to find work. In addition to strong career prospects, Massachusetts also boasts a great quality of life with excellent educational institutions and cultural attractions.

What’s not so great: The cost of living in Massachusetts can be very high, particularly in the bigger cities.

  • Average software engineer salary: $109,130/year
  • State income tax: 5.05% flat rate
  • Home to: Amazon Robotics, HubSpot, Tala Security
  • Cost of living: 149.7 (higher than the national average of 100)
  • Best cities for software engineers: Boston, Cambridge, Worcester

4. New York

taxi cabs loading on road between high rise building
Photo by Jon Flobrant @ Unsplash

Why it’s great for software developers: New York is a global hub for various industries, including technology. The state offers abundant opportunities for software engineers, especially in New York City. The city boasts a diverse tech scene, with companies ranging from startups to established tech giants. Software engineers in New York can work on cutting-edge projects, collaborate with top talent, and take advantage of the city’s vibrant culture and networking opportunities.

What’s not so great: The high cost of living in New York City can be a challenge for software engineers, with expensive housing and other living expenses.

  • Average software engineer salary: $113,802/year
  • State income tax: 4% to 8.82%
  • Home to: Google, Spotify, Bloomberg
  • Cost of living index: 134.5 (higher than the national average of 100)
  • Best cities for software engineers: New York City, Albany, Buffalo

5. Texas

river near buildings during daytime in Texas, one of the best states for software engineers
Photo by MJ Tangonan @ Unsplash

Why it’s great for software developers: Texas has experienced significant growth in its tech industry, particularly in cities like Austin and Dallas. The state offers a business-friendly environment, lower cost of living compared to some tech-heavy regions, and a growing number of tech companies and startups. Software engineers in Texas can enjoy diverse job opportunities, competitive salaries, and a thriving tech community.

What’s not so great: Texas can have hot summers, and some software engineers may find the lack of proximity to other tech hubs a drawback if they prefer a more concentrated tech ecosystem.

  • Average software engineer salary: $108,490/year
  • State income tax: No state income tax
  • Home to: Dell, IBM, Oracle
  • Cost of living index: 92.5 (lower than the national average of 100)
  • Best cities for software engineers: Austin, Dallas, Houston

6. Colorado

body of water across the mountain during sunset
Photo by Mike Scheid @ Unsplash

Why it’s great for software developers: Colorado, particularly the Denver-Boulder area, has seen remarkable growth in its tech industry. It offers a combination of a vibrant startup ecosystem, renowned research institutions, and a high quality of life. Software engineers in Colorado can work on innovative projects, enjoy outdoor activities, and benefit from a supportive tech community.

What’s not so great: The cost of housing in some areas of Colorado, particularly Denver, has been rising, making it more challenging for software engineers to find affordable housing options.

  • Average software engineer salary: $104,980/year
  • State income tax: 4.55%
  • Home to: Google, Lockheed Martin, Slack
  • Cost of living index: 104.6 (higher than the national average of 100)
  • Best cities for software engineers: Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs

7. Virginia

landscape photography of buildings during daytime
Photo by STEPHEN POORE @ Unsplash

Why it’s great for software developers: Virginia, specifically the Northern Virginia region, benefits from its proximity to Washington, D.C., and has a strong tech presence. The state offers a range of opportunities in areas like cybersecurity, government contracting, and technology consulting. With a favorable business environment and competitive salaries, software engineers in Virginia can find rewarding careers.

What’s not so great: Traffic congestion can be a challenge in some parts of Virginia, particularly around the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

  • Average software engineer salary: $109,740/year
  • State income tax: 2% to 5.75%
  • Home to: Amazon Web Services, Northrop Grumman, Capital One
  • Cost of living index: 102.8 (higher than the national average of 100)
  • Best cities for software engineers: Arlington, Alexandria, Richmond
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8. North Carolina

bird's-eye view of city in North Carolina
Photo by Daniel Weiss @ Unsplash

Why it’s great for software developers: North Carolina, particularly the Research Triangle Park (RTP) area encompassing Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, has a thriving tech industry. The state offers opportunities in software engineering, with a focus on industries such as healthcare, biotechnology, and research. The RTP area hosts numerous tech companies, startups, and research institutions, providing a collaborative environment for software engineers.

What’s not so great: The cost of living in some parts of North Carolina has been rising, and the state’s traffic can be challenging, particularly in urban areas.

  • Average software engineer salary: $100,560/year
  • State income tax: 5.25%
  • Home to: IBM, Cisco, SAS Institute
  • Cost of living index: 95.7 (lower than the national average of 100)
  • Best cities for software engineers: Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte

9. Illinois

photo of high-rise buildings in Chicago, one of the best cities for software engineers in US
Photo by Sawyer Bengtson @ Unsplash

Why it’s great for software developers: Illinois, specifically the Chicago metropolitan area, has a thriving tech ecosystem. The city offers a range of opportunities for software engineers, with a mix of established companies and startups across industries like finance, healthcare, and transportation. Illinois provides a diverse cultural scene, professional networking events, and a lower cost of living compared to some tech-centric regions.

What’s not so great: The weather in Illinois can be harsh, with cold winters and hot summers, which may not appeal to everyone.

  • Average software engineer salary: $80,725/year
  • State income tax: 4.95%
  • Home to: Groupon, Grubhub, Motorola Solutions
  • Cost of living index: 92.6 (lower than the national average of 100)
  • Best cities for software engineers: Chicago, Naperville, Champaign

10. Georgia

aerial view of city buildings during daytime in Atlanta
Photo by ibuki Tsubo @ Unsplash

Why it’s great for software developers: Georgia, particularly the Atlanta metropolitan area, has a growing tech scene. Atlanta is known for its robust fintech, e-commerce, and health tech sectors, providing software engineers with various job prospects. The state offers a lower cost of living compared to many tech hubs, a favorable business environment, and a diverse range of industries to work in.

What’s not so great: Traffic congestion in Atlanta can be a challenge during rush hours, and the city’s sprawl may not suit everyone’s preferences.

  • Average software engineer salary: $100,820/year
  • State income tax: 1% to 5.75%
  • Home to: The Home Depot, Coca-Cola, UPS
  • Cost of living index: 88.6 (lower than the national average of 100)
  • Best cities for software engineers: Atlanta, Alpharetta, Savannah

How to Move to Another State as a Software Engineer?

Moving to another state as a software engineer can feel like an insurmountable task at first. But where there is a motivation, there is a solution.

Software engineers move across the country all the time, and most succeed at settling in and adapting to the new environment. And you should be no different!

However, you may feel like you don’t even know where to start, so here’s a step-by-step guide to help you with the process:

  1. Pick a State: Before starting the process of moving, you need to determine where you would like to move. This could be based on personal preference and other factors we have talked about in this article. Hopefully, our ranking of the best states for software engineers has helped you decide the perfect place for you.
  2. Update Your Resume and Portfolio: Update your resume to highlight your relevant skills, experience, and achievements as a software engineer. Make sure to tailor your resume to match the job requirements and show your strongest qualifications. Additionally, update your online portfolio or personal website to showcase your projects and demonstrate your technical abilities.
  3. Begin Networking: Networking is crucial for finding job opportunities in a new state, even if it’s not always easy to find connections in a new state. You can take advantage of online platforms like LinkedIn to connect with professionals in the software engineering industry who work or live in your target state. Inform your existing connections about your plans to relocate, as they may provide valuable referrals or advice.
  4. Search for Job Openings: Start searching for job openings in your target state. Visit popular job boards like Indeed, LinkedIn, or specialized tech job platforms to find relevant positions. Set up email alerts for new job postings that match your criteria, and regularly check company websites for career opportunities. Apply to the positions that align with your skills and career goals.
  5. Prepare for Interviews: As you start receiving interview requests, prepare yourself by researching the companies and the specific positions you’re applying for. It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with their products, technologies, and culture. Practice common software engineering interview questions, algorithms, and data structures using platforms such as LeetCode. Consider scheduling mock interviews with friends to refine your technical skills.
  6. Schedule On-Site or Remote Interviews: Once you’re ready, coordinate with potential employers to schedule interviews. If you’re unable to visit the state for an in-person interview, many companies offer remote interview options. Confirm the interview format, date, time, and any additional requirements or instructions. Prepare your equipment and ensure a stable internet connection if the interview is conducted remotely.
  7. Evaluate Job Offers: If you receive multiple job offers, good for you! Evaluate them based on factors such as compensation, benefits, company culture, growth opportunities, and location. Consider the city where you’ll need to move, housing availability, and any potential relocation packages or assistance. Prioritize offers that align with your long-term career goals and personal preferences.
  8. Notify Your Current Employer: Once you’ve accepted a job offer (not before!), notify your current employer about your decision to resign. Provide sufficient notice as per your employment contract and offer help with the transition process. Be professional and leave on good terms.
  9. Arrange Housing: Begin searching for housing options in your new state. Look for apartments, rental properties, or homes in areas convenient to your workplace and within your budget. Utilize online real estate platforms, local classifieds, and consider seeking recommendations from your network or new colleagues.
  10. Plan the Move: Create a moving checklist and timeline to ensure a smooth relocation. Arrange for movers or rental vehicles if needed, and pack your belongings. Update your address with the post office, banks, credit card companies, and other important organizations. Consider transferring utilities or setting up new accounts at your new residence.
  11. Settle In and Establish a Routine: Once you’ve arrived in your new state, take some time to settle in and get familiar with the area. Establish a routine that allows you to adapt to your new surroundings and balance your personal and professional life. Explore the local tech community, attend meetups, and continue networking to expand your professional connections.
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Remember, the process of moving to another state as a software engineer may vary depending on individual circumstances and preferences. Be patient and proactive in your job search and relocation efforts. You will be up and running in your new job and a new state before you know it!

Conclusion

The United States boasts an incredible tech culture and scene. Lucky for you, there are many states you could establish your software engineering career in.

The top 5 US States for software engineers are California, Washington, Massachusetts, New York, and Texas, but there are a lot more tech-heavy places in the country you could move to and succeed as a developer.

We hope our article about the best US States and cities for software engineers, as well as the guide on how to make the move, have been helpful to you.

Start by picking a state (or several) you feel you’d be the happiest living in and start building a plan on how to move there. We’re sure you can make it happen!