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Where the Highest Paying Tech Jobs Are 574

prostoalex writes "Where would you look for a high-paying tech job? If your answer is Silicon Valley or Research Triangle, Forbes magazine suggests some other destinations. When you take the cost of living and consider the net pay adjusted for that cost, places like Montgomery, Ala., Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Fort Smith, Ark. suddenly seem quite attractive."
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Where the Highest Paying Tech Jobs Are

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  • by flooey ( 695860 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:21PM (#15836512)
    ...after factoring in the personal cost of having to live in Alabama or Idaho?
    • Re:What about... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:47PM (#15836641) Homepage
      Some might see Silicon Valley and Research Triangle as carrying the personal cost.
    • That's a plus, compared to living in the high density locations. I'm not even sure I could be paid enough to take my family there.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @10:57PM (#15836960)
      You can laugh about Alabama. I did, until I came down for a job interview. Huntsville, AL is a great place. Because of the research park, there are people from all over the country. NASA and the Army's Redstone Arsenal have need for 30K to 50K high tech jobs.
      Huntsville is a very high tech city, it has the 2nd largest research center in the US.

      Brick houses (new) for under $100 a square foot. A brand new 4 bedroom, 3 bath 2500 square foot brick rambler on 1/3 of an acre in a new neighborhood for $240K. And it's not ramshackle construction.

      Overall, AL has the lowest taxes in the US. Good schools, thanks to NASA and the rocket scientists at the Redstone Arsenal.

      Insurance is a fraction of what I used to pay. Property taxes are less than 1/2 what I used to pay in a top 10 city for a house half that size. Electricity is cheap, thanks to the Tennessee Valley Authority. Gas is about the same as anywhere else, but there's no commute! No traffic! No crime! Do you know why there's no crime? Most of these people go to church! They have morals! It's not like NY City or Chicago, where you have to have Police on every street corner to keep the peace.

      On top of all this, I'm making more than I was in the big city! It is 3 hours to Atlanta, 5 hours to the Gulf Coast. 90 minutes to Nashville, Birmingham, or Chattanooga. 3 hours to Memphis. It's 4 hours to the Smoky Mountains.
        Winters are really mild, summers can get hot, but aren't as bad as Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, or Florida. It's not as humid as Florida or the other neighboring states. It's not as dry, or as hot, or as polluted as Southern California or Phoenix.

      The only bad thing... no Pro sports of any type unless you like the Atlanta teams.
      • Huntsville, AL (Score:5, Informative)

        by everphilski ( 877346 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:06PM (#15837005) Journal
        Huntsville is a northern city transplanted in the south.

        Read what the AC said in this post. I'd write everything he said but I'm lazy. I'm an engineer, I work on Redstone Arsenal here in Huntsville, AL. Housing is cheap. Taxes are cheap. Utilities are cheap. While I was in college (I went to UAH []) I was paying $350 a month for a 1-bedroom apartment. My wife and I just purchased a brand new brick home for $80 a square foot. Other homes in town, new, brick are going for $51 by reputable builders. My utilities bill is averaging $150 a month, including getting the lawn started (lots of water) and kids. Summers are freaking hot, being from Wisconsin, but the air conditioning is good and the house is well-insulated. Get a DirecTV so you can watch "real" sports :)

        Huntsville has more PhD's per square mile than anywhere in the world, except Silcon Valley. Second biggest research park in the US, fourth in the world. Tons of R&D goes on here, both NASA and all aspects of Defense, biotech, etc. Benefits for most companies that I've seen are exceptional and educations (masters, PhD's) are admired. Most companies will put you through school if you want them.
        • Re:Huntsville, AL (Score:5, Interesting)

          by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:16PM (#15837054) Homepage
          Huntsville also has no real public transportation and requires that one use a car to get anywhere at all. Factor in the cost of petrol. I grew up in Huntsville, but I'm glad that my family moved out of there before I finished school and that I was able to discover a world where one doesn't have to pay a an arm and a leg and massively pollute just to get some milk from the store or visit the post office.
          • quality of life. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @05:40AM (#15838179) Homepage Journal
            The quality of life than many Americans does not require public transportation. In fact I would be a good number actually see public transportation as a sign of where NOT to live.

            Some of course will take that and run off spouting racism,bigotry, or whatnot. The simple fact is that at the end of the day many aspire to nothing more than being away from it all. Stand alone housing and visual separation from the "business world - read: minimarts/gas stations/grocery stores" is key to the happiness of many. Sure we want them to still be convienent and a short hop in the car isn't an impediment.

            I'm even moving further out simply because where I bought has changed so much in 9 years that its no longer the area I desired to live in. Lots of good people are here but the little businesses have creeped down the road to where its no longer "open".

            As for your "pay and arm and a leg to massively pollute". Yeah, whatever. Three dollar, heck even 5 dollar a gallon gas isn't going to change my behaviour and I doubt that it will change that of others who live where I do. Cars are far better today than ever and that simpleton slight of yours is just silly. If I want massive pollution I will go to the big city with its public transportation because even there in the land of so called "enlightened" thinking a great many of them seem to not use that very public transportation they deem "good for others". I can go see the trash piled in alleys and cigarette butts lining the sidewalk. Oh yeah, massively pollute. Cities have no ground to stand on.
            • by MadJeff451 ( 841329 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @10:03AM (#15839281)
              Public transportation is about energy efficiency. How much energy is required for me to drive to work, cool my car. There are ~150 other people on my floor who might drive to work as well. That's a lot of energy. Comare that to a bus, and you'd see a bit of savings - lugging more people about in a less energy-efficient vehicle results in a net gain. Comare that to a train, and ... well you get my point.

              Now about cities. Don't think of a city as a cesspool of garbage (I lived in NY for awhile, I know it can be). Think of a city as giving citizens better energy eficiency per person. For instance, when you heat your house, even if it's well insulated, heat will leak out. Multiply that by the number of people on your block and you get quite a bit of wasted heat per person. Now imagine an apartment building, which differs from a house in that when heat escapes it doesn't all go to waste, much of it will drift up into the upper levels, providing more heat to the unit above, allowing persons on upper levels to turn down their furnace.

              The amount of energy you or I waste per person may be minimal, but when you think about how all that adds up the argument that living in less populated areas is more eco-friendly becomes less plausable. We might *feel* closer to the earth with nobody else around, but we increase our impact.

          • Re:Huntsville, AL (Score:3, Interesting)

            by cdrudge ( 68377 )
            And of course mass transit is green and has zero pollution as well. I live in an averge sized town and while we don't have subways, we do have a decent bus system. Based off of the amount of smoke they spew at every intersection, I'm not sure how much better public transportation is over driving yourself in a well maintained vehicle.

            Even once you factor in the cost of vehicles, it's still cheaper where I live then in Silicon Valley. I use a tank of gas a week ($40) to get to work and errands. Insurance
        • Re:Huntsville, AL (Score:5, Insightful)

          by fredistheking ( 464407 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:34PM (#15837125)
          You forgot to mention the fact that Huntsville is heavily religious, conservative and their entire engineering industry is government funded defense.
        • Re:Huntsville, AL (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Hoi Polloi ( 522990 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @12:11AM (#15837293) Journal
          I had to travel to Huntsville a few times for NASA work. It got barren pretty quickly when you drove anywhere and it was brutally hot. People who lived there said it was too hot in the summer to do much of anything and the lack of any pedestrian features (like sidewalks) encouraged a lot of the waistlines I saw. One local even said he felt safer visiting Boston than being in downtown Huntsville after dark. Most of the jobs and companies down there are dependent on government $ which means that they are at the mercy of politics. The focus on the military also means there is little variety in the types of jobs available.
        • Most spanish people go to church at well, try to lose the sight of your backpack for a second in Barcelona, you'd be surprised ...

          Most people in Spain do *not* go to the church, even if they say they are catholic. Less in Barcelona (there are other things to do). Much less the ones taking your backpack (I don't think they go to the mosque, either).

          This does not mean that high church attendance implies less crime, only that you don't know what you are saying.
      • by Skreems ( 598317 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:04AM (#15837666) Homepage
        Going to church has nothing to do with crime. I'd bet you just about anything that several of the Enron guys were regular churchgoers. It's all a matter of need and opportunity. It sounds like you live in a relatively low population density area, in which pretty much everybody is relatively well off. Those two things are really all you need to make the crime rate plummet.
      • Do you know why there's no crime? Most of these people go to church!

        Most spanish people go to church at well, try to lose the sight of your backpack for a second in Barcelona, you'd be surprised ...

        I think it's down to the people themselves, not where they go or what absurd religion they believe in. AL has nice and smart people, the weather is too iffy for the `bad people`. They prefer Florida (godspeed and stay there...) :)
      • by avasol ( 904335 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:46AM (#15837925)
        "...Most of these people go to church! They have morals!........"

        Damn. I knew there was some reason not to move there after all. Thanks for pointing that out.
      • Do you know why there's no crime? Most of these people go to church! They have morals! It's not like NY City or Chicago, where you have to have Police on every street corner to keep the peace.

        There is absolutely no way that the relationship between morals and church-going is causative and it is contentious whether it even has a correlative effect. Please stop propagating the myth that religion makes people better, it doesn't. This has been proved historically time and time again and continues to be pr

      • You've done it now!

        1. Find place with low crime rate (so relaxed police)
        2. Go on a crime spreee.
        3. ???
        4. Profit

        You just commpleted step 1.
    • Re:What about... (Score:4, Informative)

      by tylernt ( 581794 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:12PM (#15837033)
      ...after factoring in the personal cost of having to live in Alabama or Idaho?
      Yup, that's right. Stay right where you're at. We Idahoans don't want any more Californians here anyway, thank you very much... our quiet state is rapidly turning into Little California.
      • Re:What about... (Score:4, Informative)

        by gwhenning ( 693443 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:39PM (#15837149)
        As a Californian who moved to Idaho, I would agree. Housing in my area has shot up about 50% in the three years since we've moved here and they're still building hundreds of new homes each year catering to the waves of immigrants into the state.

        That being said, I enjoy the ~$80/mo home utility bills (That's all total water, sewage, electric and gas.), ~$2.75/gal gasoline, 5% sales tax, skiing (water in the summer, snow in the winter although since I took out 3 of 4 ligaments in my leg last season I like that one less.), hiking, and boating.

        If only they would raise the takes to fund a fence to keep the rest of you out. :)
  • cost of living. (Score:5, Informative)

    by oyenstikker ( 536040 ) < minus caffeine> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:22PM (#15836518) Homepage Journal
    Taking into account cost of living, try India.
    • Re:cost of living. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by josepha48 ( 13953 )
      Sure you can get a bigger house and stuff, but what about the 'quality' of living. I like the restaurants in bigger cities personally. That and the fact that there are more jobs AFAIK.
      • Sure you can get a bigger house and stuff, but what about the 'quality' of living. I like the restaurants in bigger cities personally.

        Not just a bigger house, but servants too. Maid, chef, gardner, driver. Having people do all the crap work for you makes life really nice.

        Plus, Indians are the only culture to have figured out how to make vegetarian food taste good, you'll eat healthier (not that you have to stick to vegetables or anything, just that blandness will no longer be a motivation to avoid the veg
    • Depends on how you measure it.

      Sure you can probably afford a six bedroom house with staff on a programmers salary, but you wont be able to afford a nice car or a plasma tv.
    • Re:cost of living. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ohreally_factor ( 593551 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:55PM (#15836686) Journal
      I've considered India, but I'm seriously looking at Mexico and Costa Rica. I'm partial to Mexico because I love Mexican culture (and I already have many friends there), but Costa Rica is really an up and coming high tech nation.

      It's possible to have a very high standard of living for less money in these countries. And if your material needs are not great, you can live incredibly cheaply, save up a bunch of money and retire early.

      The other thing is that, depending on how you work it, you might not be taking a cut in pay at all. All many of us need is to be at the one end of a wire. These countries have internet infrastructure, at least in the bigger towns and cities. Last time I was in Mexico, I met two people that were living there and making a living this way. One was a daytrader (remember those?) and the other had a web development company he had basically started in the U.S. When he moved to Mexico, his clients hardly noticed. He's making even more money now because he's found a lot of local talented designers and coders that work for lower pay, but he's still getting paid the same. And because he pays at the upper end of the prevailing local wage, his workers love him.

      Moreover, he told me that because he lives in Mexico, he's much less likely to have to go to a day long meeting to discuss what exact shade of green should be used to maximize the branding of a particular website. Clients are less likely to fly him in to discuss trivial shit. Or they fly out to him because it's an excuse to visit Mexico.

      Anyway, if you can work at the end of a wire, seriously consider some of the developing nations. I can't guarantee that you'll prosper, but I can guarantee you'll have a very interesting time.
      • I'm in Vietnam (Score:5, Insightful)

        by wisebabo ( 638845 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:42PM (#15837165) Journal
        Good Morning Vietnam!

        Well that's the time here as I post this. Anyway, it's very interesting living in Ho Chi Min (rated the #12th best major city in the world to live in and the best in Asia)*. I've got to say that, in a country that has a per capita GDP less than a tenth that of the United States a dollar goes a long way.

        The key is how to make it. If you can make it by working for a major foreign corporation here (read: oil company) and get a Western salary, you will live like a king. Unfortunately local opportunities to make that kind of money are otherwise almost nil. Even if you can speak Vietnamese you will find that even a very high salary here (doing a job like coding) in not much relative to the U.S. Also you may find yourself thought of being overqualified; I do very high end media and some people here told me they were afraid to contact me after seeing my CV because they thought I'd charge a fortune.

        While you can make a good living here teaching English I doubt that would appeal to the skilled professionals that make up Slashdot's readers. No, the best job is one in which you can work "at the end of a wire", that is live here but work for some U.S. company via the internet. The internet infrastructure is just sufficient to do that (which is one reason why I can't live in Cambodia). Internet telephony here is good (at least from my location). If your job is portable so you don't have to physically see your clients more than once or twice a year then this might "work" for you!

        By the way, the cost of living here is not going to be one-tenth that of the U.S. unless you live like a native. Instead if you insist on all the perks of the U.S. it's probably about half the U.S. cost of living (more if you want a car!). On the other hand, wealth is relative; compared to the natives you WILL be very rich and will be treated as such. That has its own perks. ;)

        * this recent study (which, to my travelled eyes cannot possibly be true) was based on a bunch of factors including how much (or little) the average person "impacted the environment". Since Vietnamese people are still very poor they don't impact the environment very much which led to a inflated score. Still Ho Chi Minh City has its charms; zero violent crime (it's a police state), pace of life (you can actually meet people and develop friendships), scale of the city (more like one giant neighborhood than a forest of skyscrapers). But act soon, things are changing fast and in 5 years it'll be unrecognizable. In that case you'll:

        Miss Saigon.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Living in Montgomery AL and installing Office on every PC in the air force does NOT sound attractive, thanks.
  • by mergy ( 42601 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:25PM (#15836531) Homepage
    'Best Places to Live' according to Money Mag/Rag 6/top100/index.html []

    1 Fort Collins, CO 128,000
    2 Naperville, IL 141,600
    3 Sugar Land, TX 75,800
    4 Columbia/Ellicott City, MD 159,200
    5 Cary, NC 106,400
    6 Overland Park, KS 164,800
    7 Scottsdale, AZ 226,000
    8 Boise, ID 193,200
    9 Fairfield, CT 57,800
    10 Eden Prairie, MN 60,600
    11 Plano, TX 250,100
    12 Eagan, MN 63,700
    13 Olathe, KS 112,100
    14 West Bloomfield , MI 65,000
    15 Richardson, TX 99,200
    16 Gilbert, AZ 178,100
    17 Parsippany-Troy Hills, NJ 51,600
    18 Santa Clarita, CA 172,500
    19 Carrollton, TX 124,700
    20 Henderson, NV 232,100
    21 Bellevue, WA 117,100
    22 Newton, MA 83,200
    23 Sandy, UT 89,700
    24 Westminster, CO 105,100
    25 Ann Arbor, MI 113,300
    • Some of the places on this list could be fairly okay for an educated, liberal, free-thinker type.
      But a lot of those places are damn scary.

      Also, it doesn't make sense that Richardson TX would draw less than half the salary of Plano TX.
      I mean seriously, these are both actually the same place for anyone who would be living in that part of the Dallas metro area, and for that matter, so is Carrollton. There may be a factor related to commuting on I-35 as opposed to Central Expressway, but come on... these are a

    • Apropros a previous poster who wanted to dis 'Bama & Idaho, how many correspond with the best public schools in America []?

      1 Talented & Gifted Dallas Texas
      2 Jefferson County IBS** Irondale Ala.
      3 BASIS Charter Tucson Ariz.
      4 City Honors** Buffalo N.Y.
      5 Stanton College Prep** Jacksonville Fla.
      6 Eastside** Gainesville Fla.
      7 Suncoast Community** Riviera Beach Fla.
      8 Science/Engineering Magnet Dallas Texas
      9 International Academy* Bloomfield Hills
      10 Academic Magnet North Charles

      • The criteria for the list is flawed. Looking at the number of AP tests students take doesn't indicate the quality of education, just that kids are encouraged to take AP exams. Look at the E & E% score of the #2 school. Even though the school averaged almost 10 test taken/senior, only 50% of seniors passed a single test!

        My biggest issue is how the scoring ignores the truly best schools. From the FAQ: "The Challenge Index is designed to honor schools that have done the best job in persuading average st
    • I'm really not sure that's a very trustworthy list. Santa Clarita [] is number 18 on the list. My sister and her husband live in Santa Clarita, and while they like it just fine, I can't say that I'd consider it a "Best Place to Live". Maybe "An OK Place to Live If You're Just Starting Out and Want to Buy a Home", but lets face it, it's still Los Angeles, just not the fun part. And it's freaking hot during the summer and extra cold during the winter. It's at a high enough elevation where they actually get snow
  • by RichMeatyTaste ( 519596 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:28PM (#15836548)
    Unemployment in the Raleigh/Durham area is sub 4% (statewide is sub 5). Forget the pharm and biotech companies; we have Cisco, Symantec, Red Hat, Microsoft, GFI, and countless others. There are constantly tons of houses for sale because some many "northerners" (of which I am one, an Ohio transplant from last year) are moving down here, and cost of living is more than fair.

    There are tons of tech jobs of every kind out there, especially programming positions. My wife is a teacher and the market for her is evening better than it is for me (as a network engineer/admin type).

    I love Ohio, and I bleed scarlet and grey, but there is just no comparison between RTP and any major area in Ohio)

    And for you elitest types (I keed!), RDP is home to the second highest percentage of PHD's (per capita) outside of Silicon Valley.
    • Huntsville, AL has come in high on the per-capita PhD list most years as well. ISTR Huntsville coming in at #1 some years, but I have been unable to find a definative source (local Chamber of Commerce stuff doesn't count). I can't find who publishes such a list; I guess my Google-fu is weak tonight.
    • And for you elitest types (I keed!), RDP is home to the second highest percentage of PHD's (per capita) outside of Silicon Valley.

      And sadly, because of this, the Triangle is following Charlotte and Atlanta in becoming Just Another Metropolis - it's Southern identity and charm lost forever. My sister, who lived in Durham from 1982 to 2002, said she didn't realize how bad it had gotten - till they moved to Irvine (CA.) and found the differences less than expected.

      Even worse - my beloved Triad (I a

  • Outsourcing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by owlman17 ( 871857 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:29PM (#15836550)
    In other third world countries where these tech jobs are being outsourced to, $USD400-$600/month is very high. I live in Manila, and the minimum wage is roughly less than $USD 6.00 daily. Those who work in outsourced tech-support call centers make $300 monthly and they're very happy about it. I had a short web-design stint making about $450 monthly and I was really really happy about it, to say the least. Single people here could live like kings on that.
    • And to think I clear 3900 USD/mo and that's not alot for me ... hehehe (it's way more than enough, just seems you always find a way to spend your money).

      Of course I live in Canada so the cost of living is a bit higher than $6/day. Without a cell/net/tv you could survive on about 900/mo (rent+food+clothes) but your life would suck balls.

  • by Tink2000 ( 524407 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:29PM (#15836551) Homepage Journal
    As someone who lived in Idaho Falls, Idaho, I strongly advise against it unless you think man-made falls are cool and love a few of the Temple at night, and like the idea of living in a city that has nothing around it for miles except scenery, where the tallest building is nine stories tall and it's a hotel.

    I lived there for a year and pretty much loathed every moment of it. Of course, I came there from Atlanta, Georgia, so ... it was a bit of culture shock for me.

    If you're going to live in Montgomery, you might as well consider Huntsville as well. Although it might be slightly harder to get a job there as everyone has some sort of technical background for the most part, it's a fairly agreeable city and not at all representative of the rest of Alabama.
    • by Burdell ( 228580 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:57PM (#15836693)
      As someone who lives in Huntsville (born and raised here) and also does some business in Montgomery, I'd have to agree. I'm not aware of a whole lot of tech jobs available in Montgomery; there's always demand in Huntsville (especially as another 7-12 thousand Army and contracter jobs come to Huntsville in the next few years). I don't know how the cost of living compares (Huntsville is a good bit lower than the Atlanta area though). The "metro" areas around Montgomery and Huntsville are about the same size IIRC, but Huntsville has a lot more "outside" influence (German rocket scientists in the 1950s and people from all over the world since).

      Huntsville can be an odd place sometimes; mixing rocket scientists and rednecks has interesting results.
    • The most important quality of life question for Idaho Falls:

      Can you buy booze on Sunday?

      (Personally, I'm a non-drinker, but I don't want to live in a town where people can't get drunk on Sunday if they want.)
    • Miles of scenery trumps miles of strip malls IMHO.

    • Ah, yes, the water cascading over the concrete barriers and gently splashing into the concrete-lined culvert below. I remember going to sleep to the sound of 300 car trains hauling potatoes out of town.

      Many of the software engineering jobs aren't in Idaho Falls itself, but out at 'The Site', the Idaho National Engineering (and Environmental) Laboratory. It's a convenient 75-90 minute bus ride out of town, just north of Atomic City (Quonset hut with a bar, gas station, and post office).

      INE(E)L is located s
  • Without having RTFA I can tell you that's probably Fort Smith, Arkansas (or Fort Worth, Texas, though that seems less likely).
  • by osho_gg ( 652984 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:30PM (#15836557)
    There are interesting questions here. One could go for one of these highest paying jobs in obscure locations where few companies are there. However, what is the growth potential in such locations? How many companies are there to work for in such locations that can pay high salaries for specialized skills? How many companies can pay more than 100k in places like Idaho Falls, ID? And, what happens if that company goes bust/one is laid off in such areas?

    I dislike the high cost of living, traffic, unaffordability of houses etc. in places such as Silicon Valley. But there are lot more companies where one can work for with decent salary. One's chances of finding another job with close to maximum salary in one's field are lot higher there without having to move.

    These are not just idle concerns. I have been asking many such questions to myself recently as I am not in high-tech area such as Silicon Valley. There are no easy answers to such questions. These become even more difficult once one has family, house etc. and has established roots in one place.


  • You might as well write an essay on how Pluto has the highest salaries because there's no competition for real estate on Pluto.

  • Collateral Damage (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NoHandleBars ( 10204 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:35PM (#15836576)
    I once oversaw moving a firms's HQ and IT functions from Silicon Valley to San Antonio, TX because of the "math" some white collar genius put together like this Forbes nonsense. Sure, the "average" wage was one-half of what it was in Palo Alto, but because of the "quality" of local talent, we ended up hiring THREE TIMES as many staff to do the same amount of work. (For the math-challenged, that meant productivity sucked by 50%.) This wasn't just a drain on company resources, but on the few people who DID know their chops and had to hoist it in for the dullards. Those that made the move and saw the disaster had to in turn move completely out of the area to restore sanity to their careers. And the "icing on the cake" is that San Antonio is the only place I've stood hip deep in mud and had sand blow in my face. No thanky-thanky.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 03, 2006 @06:19AM (#15838276)
      It cracks me up to read that people think that Silicon Valley has better local talent than San Antonio.

      Sure, MAYBE the cream of the crop is better (and I say Maybe), but are you going to be hiring Steve Jobs or Larry Ellison or Scott McNealey (or Bill Hewlett, RIP)?

      Stanford was a great producer of educated people, but educated people don't necessarily equate to talent on the job. And the gold rush of the late 90s brought a lot of VERY untalented people out of the woodwork and into silicon valley.

      The average silicon valley wonk is far below the talent of what you can find in middle America if you just conduct a reasonable candidate search. And the average wonk in silicon valley is paid 40% more.

      My experience? I used to interview and hire people across the country for a MAJOR silicon valley-headquartered company. Hiring in Silicon Valley was the hardest spot I had to hire in - not because there wasn't some talent there, but because there were so many wanna-bes who job hop to rack up their salary and hide their deficiencies.

    • by kabocox ( 199019 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @09:08AM (#15838905)
      I once oversaw moving a firms's HQ and IT functions from Silicon Valley to San Antonio, TX because of the "math" some white collar genius put together like this Forbes nonsense. Sure, the "average" wage was one-half of what it was in Palo Alto, but because of the "quality" of local talent, we ended up hiring THREE TIMES as many staff to do the same amount of work. (For the math-challenged, that meant productivity sucked by 50%.) This wasn't just a drain on company resources, but on the few people who DID know their chops and had to hoist it in for the dullards. Those that made the move and saw the disaster had to in turn move completely out of the area to restore sanity to their careers. And the "icing on the cake" is that San Antonio is the only place I've stood hip deep in mud and had sand blow in my face. No thanky-thanky.

      This just tell's me that your firm doesn't know how to hire people. There are plenty of talented people in Texas. Heck, there are plenty of talented homegrown people in the Litte Rock, AR area. If your company can't find them, don't blame the area. I personnally believe this applies to all of the US. There are plenty of trainable college grads in most major US cities. If you think the talent/gurus are much better in a tech hot spot, then you are willing to pay a premium for equal talent not better talent. I'd think that most businesses that move to area's where the cost of living is lower end up hiring more people not to do the same amount of work. They hire more people because its cheaper and can get more done if the organization is properly run.
    • by DaFallus ( 805248 )
      That's odd. Southwest Research Institute is based in San Antonio and although they primarily do a lot of government funded research they have a lot of talented people working for them. There are also a large number of smaller technical companies based in San Antonio. I have a number of friends who still live there working in various tech jobs.

      San Antonio is a great place to live if you don't mind the slow pace of the city. It is one of the few cities I've lived in where you can do pretty well for yoursel
  • I was excited there for a minute...
  • No one *wants* to, so there's no competition.
  • Why would anyone assume that pay rates are great here? ("here" being relative, as I work in RTP) The cost of living here is so low compared to the northeastern cities that most of our workers immigrate from that there wouldn't be a lot of justification for high pay rates.

    The pay rates here are less than my "home" city of Philadelphia. But the cost of living is so much lower that I actually get a nice net raise out of the relocation. Still, if you are just after a big income, this is not the region to loo
  • Anywhere within 30-40 miles of Washington D.C. As long as you have lived a decently clean life and aren't showing signs of severe character flaws, the job security alone is worth it.
  • The small company I work for is based in Florida. I live in Dallas. Other employees live in Atlanta, LA, and a few Florida cities. The modern IT company does not need to be based anywhere in particular.
  • How about Iraq? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Digi-John ( 692918 )

    According to a reliable friend of mine, the starting salary for IT jobs in Iraq is around $100,000 a year. He says you don't really need much training, you just need to be good with computers and willing to take risks. Of course, working in Iraq is pretty certain to end up more unpleasant than working in Idaho or Arkansas.

  • Intriguing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by glwtta ( 532858 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @10:12PM (#15836760) Homepage
    Lets see: cheaper housing + cheaper food/necessities + NOTHING ELSE TO SPEND MONEY ON = lower cost of living.

    Sad as it is, the expensive places to live are often expensive for a reason - people want to live there.
    • Lets see: cheaper housing + cheaper food/necessities + NOTHING ELSE TO SPEND MONEY ON = lower cost of living.

      Oh come on... We are nerds... We buy everything online and don't need to go out to buy stuff... As long as we can get borad band we'll be fine...

      We can get broad band at these places right?

      What? We can't... Well to hell with them!
  • According to the map at forbes ( smap_16.jpg),

    I guess that da U.P. doesn't register. Furthermore, it appreas that Canada keeps moving closer....I'll miss the big lake...
  • Is championship (or any?) hockey! Its the intangables that count, give me RTP.
  • I know where the jobs aren't... State College, PA...

  • by razvedchik ( 107358 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @10:22PM (#15836798)
    The biggest factor for me is to consider the possibility that if your job goes south (project ends, company folds, you don't like your boss), then you are stuck in the middle of nowhere. If you are relocating, you need to understand that at some point you will need to move again.

    If you are used to an environment where you can lose your job today and have a new one by the end of the week, then you will be shocked when you spend 6 months unemployed.

    Now don't get me wrong, I grew up in Idaho, but you need to realize that it is a complete backwater. =)
  • Montgomery? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by siwelwerd ( 869956 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @10:38PM (#15836871)
    The article's selection of cities seems random at best. Huntsville by far has the largest tech industry base in the state, and is roughly the same cost of living as Montgomery. Growing up here, roughly 40-50% of the kids I knew had at least one parent in some form of engineering. The defense/aerospace industry is huge here, so there are plenty of SW Engineering opportunities.
  • by jascat ( 602034 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @10:39PM (#15836874)
    This place sucks! The job market is bad and you're going to be pretty much stuck working for either the state government or the DoD if you can find someone that has the right connections to get you a job. If you don't have a secret clearance, your chances seriously go down. Tech here just ain't it. Most places in Texas have lower costs of living with larger populations and better job markets. That's why I plan to head there in 2008.

    I've GOT to get out of this redneck filled, racist, little freaking town!
  • Try Charlotte NC (Score:3, Informative)

    by alshithead ( 981606 ) * on Thursday August 03, 2006 @12:02AM (#15837266)
    Charlotte is a great area. You have to search a little bit for jobs because the VLB's (very large banks) are outsourcing to India but I got my current gig because of that fact. The customers don't like dealing with people who don't speak English as their primary language or people who's accents are mostly indecipherable so I get to help them migrate to a new version of an application they consider very important to their business. It's a well paying contract position, which is new to me having worked 8 years for my previous employer in DC and 10 years for my employer before that. It's kind of cool being able to be focused on one main task instead of wearing way too many hats on a daily basis because of the historical knowledge I had gained over the years. The job market looks really good here for the future. Big banking isn't going to suddenly go away from Charlotte and there is starting to be signicant bleed over from the Raleigh area in other IT centric businesses. Other Charlotte benefits are good schools, real estate where you can get twice the house for half the price of the DC metro area, people who are mostly civilized (unlike the uptight pricks in the larger metro areas to the north), and almost none of the crappy winter weather of the north but still get the change of seasons. The mountains are an hour to the west and the beach is a few hours to the east. There are plenty of larger city type recreational opportunities in Charlotte while a lot of the negatives of major metro areas are absent. Crime isn't too bad and despite locals' complaints the traffic isn't nearly as bad as the DC or areas further north. You also have all of the rural type recreational activities failrly close to civilization. Life is good here. Don't screw it up for me. ;)
  • by nick_davison ( 217681 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @12:16AM (#15837315)
    Job A:
    $50,000/year, $10,000 annual rent.

    Job B:
    $100,000/year, $40,000 annual rent.

    Relative to the cost of rent, Job A is phenominal: You're making five times the cost of rent. Job B sucks: you're only earning 2.5 times rent. By this measure, job A is far and away the better option - by a factor of 2.

    The thing is, once you've paid the varying rent, where do you spend the rest of your money? The decent spec new PC will be $2,000 in Rancho Santa Fe, Manhattan or BFI. The new $25,000 car will be $25,000 wherever you buy it. The big TV is the same price wherever. And, most important of all, the internet porn subscriptions run the same wherever you are too.

    At that point, would you rather the job that's 5 times "cost of living" but only leaves you with $40,000 or the one that gives a sucky 2.5x but leaves you with $60,000 extra.

    Next, on the simple level, let's look at that cost of living. Assuming you get on, buy and pay a mortgage off, in 20 years time the place with the poor salary relative to cost of living will leave you with a $500,000-$1,000,000 home vs. the $200,000-$250,000 place in the "better" area. Now, aged 40, you can up and move to the cheap place, selling your home, buying one of the nicest places in the cheap area and having a nice large nest egg lfet over to let you get to retire early. My in-laws have just done exactly that and apparently a lot of people in Texas are getting seriously pissed at all the Californians coming in, buying huge homes after selling up smaller places in CA and pushing up the Texan cost of living for people who're still paid no more.

    And, finally, there's a reason rent and property are so expensive in some areas. Go to California and look out of the window. Rumor has it that other parts of the world have a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder. Land is expensive in California because you never shovel snow, you rarely deal with crazy humidity, you rarely have the insane heat of Arizona, you rarely get mosquitos the size of Volkswagens and you can sit on the beach on New Year's Day. In short, supply and demand means that when there's a crazy price, there's generally a great reason for it.

    So, yes, some areas have high costs of living and lower salaries in relation to that cost. But I.T. is famous for the fact that we out earn most other professions and, once you get past earning about three times cost of average rent, everything else is gravy. Sure, you reach that point faster elsewhere - but once you do reach it (and you do in I.T.), you keep going even further when the numbers are bigger.

    I've watched a lot of friends leave California because they're in other fields and it's just too expensive to live here if you don't earn well. But once you get to the kind of salaries I.T. tends to pay, the cost of rent becomes a relatively minimal part of the total cost of living a great life.
    • by nick_davison ( 217681 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @12:19AM (#15837326)
      Wait a moment, what am I saying?

      The more people realize this, the more they'll be encouraged to move here, the more demand for the same supply of housing and the more I have to pay.

      Iowa is the shiznit. It's the coolest place ever. I'm in California and it's awful here. We have to walk up hill both ways and the hills are steeper here (the land's scrunched up by our daily earthquakes). And hot? Like you wouldn't believe. Don't believe that stuff about coastal areas being cooler - it's hell here. No one should ever move here because, high salaries or not, life's too expensive. Iowa's the place. Des Moines is just super awesome. Off you go!
      • I know you meant "Des Moines is just super awesome" as a jab, but it really is a great place to live. Granted, it has terrible weather just like the rest of Iowa, but if you can get past that, it's wonderful. And, I'll have you know, that as of 2004 Des Moines officially employs more people in the insurance industry than any other US city -- Hartford, CT is now the Des Moines of the east. Mind you, that only employs tens of thousands of information technology people, but no worries. Wells Fargo is movi

    • The thing is, once you've paid the varying rent, where do you spend the rest of your money? The decent spec new PC will be $2,000 in Rancho Santa Fe, Manhattan or BFI. The new $25,000 car will be $25,000 wherever you buy it. The big TV is the same price wherever. And, most important of all, the internet porn subscriptions run the same wherever you are too.

      At that point, would you rather the job that's 5 times "cost of living" but only leaves you with $40,000 or the one that gives a sucky 2.5x but leaves yo

    • Insightful, indeed, however there are still dangers in that water. I lived in SoCal and couldn't wait to get out. To many stupid people to deal with. And I grew up in DC, so that's really saying quite a lot. It was nice not to have rain, but unless you lived on the coast the weather was stifling for a good bit of the year and the air made your throat and lungs hurt in the summer months.

      If you're going to stay and ride the housing price wave, remember that prices can (and do) stagnate from time to time. Eve
  • by Hoi Polloi ( 522990 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @12:18AM (#15837321) Journal
    The problem with the smaller places is that they tend to be one horse towns. They usually have one big employer (like Micron in Boise) and a few much smaller companies that rarely hire and that is it. If you moved there to work for the big company and got sick of it or they had a layoff you'd basically have to sell the house and move. Your choices are just too limited in those places. Also the cost of living might be lower but so would your pay. Ok you say? But the cost of cars, plane tickets, computer toys, etc doesn't go down for you. You generally pay the same as the guy in NYC. They aren't going to sell you that cool new car at half price just because you live in East Belch MO.

    Now if I could get a job in, say, Grand Junction CO so I could hike in some incredible terrain every weekend I might be willing to make an exception.
  • Go to Alberta (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Easy2RememberNick ( 179395 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @12:29AM (#15837374)
    If you want to know where high paying jobs are go to Alberta, Canada it's insane!

      McDonald's workers are getting $15/hour, signing bonuses and $100 extra pay if you show up for all your shifts that week.

      Housing is a bit of a problem, there's a booming business finding old homes, ripping them off their foundation and dragging them to Calgary.

      Calgary is sprawling outward at an incredible rate, it's bigger in area than NY city.

      It's all from oil, tar sands that is, Canada exports oil since we make more than we use. The US gets about 10% of its oil from Canada and that will probably increase due to the US public's of growing concern about "foreign oil".

      People are going there by the thousands every day, it's crazy!
  • by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @12:32AM (#15837387) Homepage
    One problem with cost of living arguments is that many items nowadays are priced nationally, not locally. If I want a brand new MacBook Pro, for example, its going to cost the same whether I live in New York City or Frostbite Falls, Minnesota. Same for HDTV sets, and many other things that we geeks like to buy at a much higher rate than the "typical" family whose needs are used to figure cost of living.
  • Telecommute (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BenjyD ( 316700 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @04:22AM (#15838004)
    Get the best of both worlds - telecommute from a cheap area to a job in an expensive area. Works for me, and means I might actually be able to afford to buy a house before I retire.
  • by Dogun ( 7502 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @04:26AM (#15838010) Homepage
    You know, Forbes put out an article about a year ago saying Seattle was the most overpriced city in the USA. As I had just started working when this article came out, I was mildly concerned about that statement.

    Turns out Forbes is a rag. Seattle is cheaper than any other city I have ever lived in. Rent is cheaper. Wages are about the same. Gas is just as bad here as anywhere. Fruit is decent quality and only slightly worse than california prices. There's no state income tax.

    Considering the rather 'innovative' reporting they've done on the SCO v. IBM matter as well, I really do wonder if there's a substantial difference in quality between New Scientist and Forbes.

    I'm not saying THIS article is crap, but quality of life and cost of living can be very different matters and are not easy things to sum up. I'd advise that nobody use an article like this to make a life-altering decision.
  • Basic Economics?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Yad ( 713195 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @09:32AM (#15839074)
    I think a lot of people have been missing something here. If you work in I/T in Silicon Valley, your wages may be lower, but you also have a low switching cost. On the other hand, if you work in Montanta in I/T your wages may be higher, but there is also a higher switching cost. Example: If you get layed off in Montana, it will take longer to find another job in the I/T field, and if you get laid off in the Silicon Valley, it won't take you as long. This is basic economies of agglomeration. So while it may seem wages are higher/lower in one area or another, what is really happening is that firms in Montana have to pay more because of the high switching cost associated with finding a new job in the field. More than likely the person will end up having to move and/or spend some time unemployed.
  • by AnalogDiehard ( 199128 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @10:34AM (#15839563)
    I turned down a great job in Long Island. While the pay was attractive, it put me in a higher tax bracket and took away the ability to pay for the outrageous cost of real estate. Not to mention higher cost of insurance, auto maintenance, utilities. It all added up to higher expenses and too little money to put away for savings. And if I lost my job, unemployment would not begin to meet the cost of rent. has a tool that lets you find the cost of living in an area where there is a job opening.

    Too many people neglect to check salary offers against income taxes - you'd be shocked how much of a bite they take out.

There's no such thing as a free lunch. -- Milton Friendman