Where do we move to next? Software Developer edition
December 16, 2016 9:21 AM   Subscribe

I'm a degreed software developer with 7 years experience. My husband works for a large Internet retailer and could possibly transfer (but that's not a deal-breaker). After a move from DFW back to Michigan to be near my family, we've decided that this weather is for the birds.

We have only seriously considered PNW or Northern California as serious contenders for a move; Vancouver a little more seriously after the election. Are there other areas we aren't thinking of? We have no kids or relatives in ill-health that we need to take care of. We do not plan to have children. We do not need to necessarily stay in the US.

1) Need to be able to find a development job (front end/JavaScript, probably). A not-terrible economy so my husband can find a job would be nice, too.
2) Weather should not be frigid with months and months of snow. Occasionally cold is fine. I'd prefer it to also not be super hot or super humid in the summers (can mostly handle North Texas, probably not Arizona/Vegas).
3) I'd prefer to live somewhere liberal or at least liberal-ish
4) I'm a little on the older side for a software developer (nearing 40), so living somewhere where it's not ultra competitive would be great.
5) Somewhere with some music/comedy shows nearby would be nice.. Book stores, art festivals, too.
6) We would prefer to live in a house and not a condo/apartment but also to not have crazy traffic on our commute(s). Eventually, we'd like to buy a house with a little property.

We have visited San Francisco and loved it, but not sure if we could afford to live there. Perhaps San Jose?

Thanks everyone!
posted by getawaysticks to Human Relations (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 9:28 AM on December 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

If you don't like traffic, don't move to San Jose or anywhere in the Bay Area, unless you can live very close to your job. Getting a place with land is also pretty much out unless you win the startup lottery.
posted by libraryhead at 9:34 AM on December 16, 2016 [6 favorites]

we've decided that this weather is for the birds.

Uh...birds migrate for the winter!

Vancouver is hellishly unaffordable unless you live well out and then it is some of the worst traffic in the world (geography makes it kind of inevitable).
posted by srboisvert at 9:58 AM on December 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seattle is still relatively affordable and good for jobs / culture, but if you want land with your house there will be traffic or a ferry to deal with.

Maybe Portland.
posted by batter_my_heart at 10:12 AM on December 16, 2016

Vancouver real estate is bat-shit insane, as can be traffic. Houses are impossible unless you're way out in the 'burbs and even then might require having two people making developer-level salaries+. But the market for talented front-end/javascript developers is really strong here - other than the real estate situation I'd highly recommend it as it ticks the rest of your boxes.
posted by cgg at 10:15 AM on December 16, 2016

I think Raleigh-Durham checks more boxes for you than any other place mentioned so far.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 10:18 AM on December 16, 2016

Yeah, I live in Raleigh and my commute is fifteen minutes, property is cheap, and the surrounding cities have a lot to do. Raleigh itself has cool museums and bars but when you add on Durham and Chapel Hill there's a lot of concerts and good restaurants. A lot of people move here for tech jobs, but I can't speak to front end dev jobs. The statewide political scene can get depressing but Raleigh itself (and even more so Durham) is pretty blue. Also, it's sixty degrees tomorrow!
posted by clarinet at 10:32 AM on December 16, 2016

Seattle is not that affordable and the commutes are abysmal unless you live and work very near one of the rail options (link light rail or sounder trains) Plus there are a lot of tech-driven companies so the competition is fierce.
posted by Altomentis at 10:36 AM on December 16, 2016

yea, i'm going to say raleigh as well. although there are quite a few opportunities for remote work as a front end js dev. fyi - i am a bit older than you and was definitely denied chances in the pacific northwest because of that, so the competitive issue is a real thing. especially on the front end.

(nearly all my clients are/have been in the pnw, but i have aged out of a full time spot. and that's on the back end)
posted by lescour at 10:54 AM on December 16, 2016

San Jose is ridiculously expensive, even by my standards as a native Californian. A single family home, much less one with property, in the same city as a lot of the major tech companies (looking at you, Mountain View) is out of reach for even most tech employees. We bought a condo what should be 15 min from my spouse's tech job and the ridiculous rush hour traffic makes it an hour each way. The culture and weather here are nice, but are outweighed for us by the cost of living and quality of life issues with SO MUCH TRAFFIC.
posted by mouse noises at 12:24 PM on December 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, please don't move to SF/San Jose. I'm a DINK (both of us are software engineers, with no plans for kids ever) and considering moving out of the area because we can't afford to buy in the neighborhood we currently rent in unless the housing market tanks.
posted by serelliya at 1:12 PM on December 16, 2016

We live in the Bay Area and love it for many reasons, including great weather, lots of jobs, lots of cultural stuff, etc. But we are very much resigned to long commutes with crazy traffic. We live up in the mountains, so we have some land and housing is much more affordable, but it means a 35 minute commute each way for my husband at non-peak times (he's an engineer, so he works about 11 am to 7 pm in the office, with more time at home in the mornings and evenings). At peak times it would probably be an hour each way. I drove 1.5 hours each way at non-peak time for a year. It was no fun.

Re: being on the older side for a developer, I know my husband has a developer in his 50s or so working for him, and couldn't care less about his age - if you're a good developer, that's all that matters.
posted by bananacabana at 2:14 PM on December 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'd be very surprised if you were able to emigrate to Vancouver; typically, that's only possible easily if you have a skill that native Canadians don't have (or a shit-ton of money), and IT people in Vancouver are not exactly uncommon.

Your "not ultra-competitive" comment leads me to strongly recommend Portland, where I live. There are a ton of IT jobs here, and more coming, but Portland has always been a place where you have a choice between climbing a corporate ladder in the traditional sense or finding your niche and just riding it to wherever it takes you, often in the same industry.

There's not a lot of big companies headquartered here, like there are in SF or Seattle, but a lot of the big tech companies have decent sized outposts here (Google, Squarespace, etc) and there are a ton of mid-level companies here (Urban Airship, Puppet Labs, New Relic are the three that leap immediately to mind, but there are a lot more) that are always looking for developer talent.

The weather's really pretty ideal, too - we've had snow/ice on the ground the last couple days, but that's not the norm in the winter, and typically summers don't get into the 90's for more than a week or so.

The commutes here are...well, I can't really speak to them because I bike to work, so for me they're easy, but I do know that if you live in the city and not in a suburb, commutes even by car aren't terrible, especially relative to San Jose/SF or Seattle. TriMet is a good bus/light rail system, and biking is definitely more common here than in a lot of places.
posted by pdb at 3:13 PM on December 16, 2016

I think Seattle would be great but you should get a job first and have them relocate you, unless you have some specific timeline for your move. Do this because (a) you don't want to move here and find out you can't get a job (b) you probably don't want to live across the water from your job so it's easier to lock down the job location and then pick where you live.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 4:47 PM on December 16, 2016

Consider Pittsburgh, PA. The only thing that doesn't completely check your box is the winters, but we're much much better than Michigan for sure. Summers are fine (we don't have AC) and there's not even that many bugs. Lots of tech: big (Google, Apple, Uber, Disney who pay Bay Area salaries) and small (Carnegie Mellon has a big start up scene) along with a huge (medical) nonprofit sector, and folks are always hiring. Lots of great culture: internationally well regarded Symphony, and Ballets and lots of smaller venues. An oasis of blue in a reddish state. Housing is affordable. The only people who complain about traffic here have apparently never left the City in their life. We have a bookstore around the corner and live in a Victorian house that is a 30 minute walk (or a free train ride) to the main cultural district downtown that cost literally 6 times less than my colleagues' house in San Jose (and we probably make comparable salary). My family is in the Bay Area, and I love to visit California but there's no way you could convince me to live there again.
posted by DarthDuckie at 5:13 PM on December 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Check out the Denver/Boulder area. We have a great tech scene, cheaper than Cali and while it does get cold we get lots of sun and snow usually doesn't stick around. While it's snowing right now it was 60 yesterday.
posted by benk at 8:27 PM on December 16, 2016

West side of Los Angeles. There are still pockets of affordability within a non-shitty commute of "Silicon Beach", which has tons of tech companies.
There are other areas in LA as well with lots of programming jobs.
It is true that traffic here sucks, but it's entirely possible to live close to where you work - especially as software developers - and not deal with it.
A lot of people are biased against LA, but I've lived here for almost 20 years after moving to the area for college, and I've found that my impressions of the city from before I visited were entirely incorrect. It's worth a look!
posted by flaterik at 1:41 AM on December 17, 2016

I'd be very surprised if you were able to emigrate to Vancouver; typically, that's only possible easily if you have a skill that native Canadians don't have (or a shit-ton of money), and IT people in Vancouver are not exactly uncommon.

It's relatively easy for software developers if you're a US/Mexican citizen with a CS degree - Nafta is much more forgiving than the regular labour market opinion needed to get a work permit. Worth checking with a lawyer, though.

as others have said, Vancouver ticks your boxes except for real estate, which is worse than almost anywhere in literally the entire world, but maybe it's still worth a go. I get the impression that software development here is slightly less cutthroat and with better work life balance than Seattle or SF, though the salaries are correspondingly lower. I've worked here as a games developer for 10 years or so, and while I'd love to move to Seattle, the work-life-balance factor does put me off.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:08 PM on December 17, 2016

My wife and I have been talking about a relo away from DC in 2017, and this thread motivated me to spend an hour researching Raleigh online. I may be sold. Looks perfect for us.
posted by COD at 6:22 AM on December 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thanks, everyone! Tons of helpful information and a few places we hadn't thought of, too. Marking resolved but I'll check if anyone else comes back with more ideas.
posted by getawaysticks at 3:33 AM on December 20, 2016

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