U.S. Tech Pros May Be Happiest in the Midwest: Study

Salary is important, but a growing number of tech pros are equally concerned with work-life balance. This balance contributes to overall contentment, and depends quite a bit on where tech pros actually live. With all that in mind, CodeMentor thinks it knows where tech pros are happiest.

Its recent ‘Happiest U.S. Cities for Developers’ study cobbled together data from a few different sources. It used salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Numbeo’s cost of living calculator (for things like food cost and price of internet access), Meetup data to gauge networking opportunities, and Nerdwallet findings – and then weighed those data points. It also chose one city from every state (and Washington D.C.) rather than simply track the top 50.

We should also note CodeMentor’s study ranks cities by their “potential to influence developer happiness.” There was no feedback from tech pros that directly correlates to actual happiness.

All told, Boulder ranks highest on CodeMentor’s list. Good salary, great networking opportunities and low-cost internet and beer will make many tech pros happy in that town. Rent is a touch high, but overall cost of living is “relatively low compared to other cities in the West,” says CodeMentor (coffee’s also a touch expensive, so learn to brew your own cold press).

Durham, North Carolina is second on the list. CodeMentor likens Durham to Boulder, with a few southern tweaks such as a slower pace and sweet tea. Here’s the entire top ten list:

Looking closely, we see a familiar trend emerge: Silicon Valley is not atop the list; it slips in at 12th. Seattle, Washington is also outside the top ten, settling in at 14th. Clearly, the rise of remote employment and equal pay for those outside the office, combined with rising tech scenes in other regions, are contributing factors here. The Midwest wins big, with cities like Minneapolis, Columbus, Ann Arbor, and Chicago ranking pretty high.

There’s no reason to read the study and immediately pack your bags for Boulder, though. The data is speculative, at best, but does add a few points you may not have considered when judging where you want to work and live.

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