Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

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#1 dev9  Icon User is offline

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Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 07 January 2014 - 09:10 PM

When articles and career experts publish lists of the "hottest" places for tech jobs (usually including Silicon Valley, Seattle, etc), is the message here that any programmer who moves to those places will find it easy to find jobs? Or is it the opposite, meaning because these places attract the best companies and tech professionals, there's actually too much competition and an abundance of super stars that some developers find themselves unable to compete?

Are these places like Los Angeles is for aspiring actors, where there are too many hopefuls, too much talent, and very little room left?

And so by that logic, a good programmer could have a more relaxed career and a comfortable life in places that are not on those lists, places that career experts do not recommend, where there is some demand but not too much competition (they all moved to Silicon Valley), and so said good programmer gets to be the super star?

Is it risky, therefore, for said programmer to move to, say, Seattle, on that basis, where the "demand" for tech skills is artificially inflated by the presence of the likes of Amazon and Microsoft, where only the best of the best make it, and geniuses from around the country (and the world) move in and fill the void, making said good programmer work harder to find a job and possibly fail to do so?

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Replies To: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

#2 Atli  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 07 January 2014 - 09:44 PM

Who moves to a new city before nailing down a job there? That's just silly.

Perhaps understandable for people in the movie business, since Hollywood seems to be "the" place for that sort of thing, but good programmers are needed pretty much everywhere.
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#3 dev9  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 07 January 2014 - 10:00 PM

View PostAtli, on 07 January 2014 - 09:44 PM, said:

Who moves to a new city before nailing down a job there? That's just silly.


Didn't mean to imply that. Getting a job in a new city before moving there is not a guarantee that you will always find it easy to get a job there.

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Perhaps understandable for people in the movie business, since Hollywood seems to be "the" place for that sort of thing, but good programmers are needed pretty much everywhere.


There is variation in skills and talents. What you have to know to write Google's search algorithms is not at the same level as the knowledge you need to make a website for a company. So the question I was asking: Is it wise for the website programmer to move to a place where he's competing with Google-caliber developers?
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#4 Atli  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 07 January 2014 - 10:51 PM

I don't see that it make much difference how many Google-caliber developers are in the area. They will all have jobs already, so they won't exactly be competing with you for the typical jobs we regular people are hired to do. (Unless you're trying to get a Google-caliber job?)

There may well be an increase in developers in the area - those hoping to be hired by the "hot" companies around there - which might affect your prospects. If you're worried you won't keep the job that brought you to the area for long, it may be a concern. Hard to predict that with any certainty.

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Getting a job in a new city before moving there is not a guarantee that you will always find it easy to get a job there.

Of course not. There is never any guarantee that you will always find it easy to find a job anywhere. The availability of jobs fluctuates, regardless of where you are.
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#5 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 08 January 2014 - 08:49 AM

Competition is going to exist anywhere you go. It's to what degree the competition will exist.

A "hot city" will definitely mean competition, where as say a little whole in the wall town in the middle of nowhere may not have any (but also not have much else either). It'll also definitely mean high quality developers will be there fighting for those jobs, but that doesn't mean there isn't high quality developers elsewhere... just that they'll most CERTAINLY be there.

But yes, I agree, you could have a more relaxed career outside of the "hot cities". In a hot city, your replaceable, no matter how good you are. There's the overhead cost of replacing a developer (no matter the skill level, replacing a developer will come with a period of down time), but none the less, there's someone else in town ready to take your job. This means a bit more stress in respect to making sure you're on the ball. And employers like this, it means you don't get lazy. And many developers like this, because it keeps them on their toes. It's the office job equivalent of an adrenaline rush.

Where I live the developers tend to migrate away from (if only a couple hours south). I COULD go south and get a better paying job, and work on cooler projects. But in the same respect I'd have to commute the fuck down there (I own a house, and the market and ripe for selling), and I'd lose all my free time I get to work on my OWN cool projects at home. Also, my job is far more secure, which despite the lower pay gets me nice little added perks around the office. They know I COULD just leave and go down south, and they can't afford to compete with those down south on a salary level, BUT they can compete with added benefits and perks. For instance I'm "working remotely" from New England currently, spending my winter up here skiing on the weekends.

This post has been edited by lordofduct: 08 January 2014 - 09:00 AM

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#6 Win-War-D  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 08 January 2014 - 08:53 AM

After college, I couldn't get a job in my field living in southern New Mexico. The only technology jobs were working at White Sands Missile Range - If you didn't already have a security clearance, with 10% unemployment, you didn't have a chance. I moved to Dallas Fort worth without a job because I read it was a great market. Was hired inside of three weeks.
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#7 no2pencil  Icon User is online

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 08 January 2014 - 08:56 AM

I can say from experience that interviewing in a desired area is difficult. Larger cities seems to look down on outside potential employees with a degree of uncertainty that they will be able to find residence. & from their perspective, they need the employee relatively soon ... so it may not be in their interest depending on how serious that the applicant is, & living there certainly shows that seriousness. Or having an address, date, plan, yada yada. Plus, in case you are not familiar with a standard interview process, you generally can do the first interview over the phone, but there will likely be 2 more interviews. This all depends on how high of a position you are interviewing for. How much can you afford that commute? Travel, hotel, food. And that's just for one potential job. Do you have what it takes to interview at 5 places? It's exhausting, emotionally & financially.
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#8 dev9  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 08 January 2014 - 09:08 AM

View Postlordofduct, on 08 January 2014 - 08:49 AM, said:

This means a bit more stress in respect to making sure you're on the ball. And employers like this, it means you don't get lazy. And many developers like this, because it keeps them on their toes. It's the office job equivalent of an adrenaline rush.


One can't go through life on their toes though. Maybe college grads who just arrived in Seattle can participate in this game, but as they go through the phases of life, do they end up having to leave at some point because they figuratively run out of breath?

And given that, is it a bad idea for people in their thirties and forties, or people with a family and kids, where longevity and stability probably outweigh other benefits, to move to such places?
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#9 no2pencil  Icon User is online

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 08 January 2014 - 09:13 AM

View Postdev9, on 08 January 2014 - 11:08 AM, said:

is it a bad idea for people in their thirties and forties, or people with a family and kids, where longevity and stability probably outweigh other benefits, to move to such places?

High risk, high reward. Families take risks & travel an ocean to get here with but a few dollars.
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#10 DarenR  Icon User is online

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 08 January 2014 - 09:17 AM

where I live tech jobs are vast and demand for programmers is high since there arent many of us here.

when I look for a job -- i look at the following perks...

work hours ----
location
benefits
pay

in that order

i do not have time to work 60+ hours a week with 2 kids playing 4 sports at the same time consuming 30 hours a week

my family time and kids are more important to me than making money for some fat cat because they cant schedule work right
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#11 dev9  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 08 January 2014 - 11:10 AM

View PostDarenR, on 08 January 2014 - 09:17 AM, said:

where I live tech jobs are vast and demand for programmers is high since there arent many of us here.



Is where you live one of those places on the hot spots lists?
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#12 DarenR  Icon User is online

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 08 January 2014 - 11:27 AM

what lists?
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#13 dev9  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 08 January 2014 - 11:34 AM

View PostDarenR, on 08 January 2014 - 11:27 AM, said:

what lists?



You know, the ones that always include Silicon Valley and Seattle. Like this one:
[cio.com]
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#14 DarenR  Icon User is online

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 08 January 2014 - 02:10 PM

nope not in those lists
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#15 blankwavercade  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are hot tech cities a bad place for the average good programmer?

Posted 09 January 2014 - 11:11 PM

I think something to factor in is what kind of job you want in these cities. You could go to a city on the hot list and get a job programming for some huge old fashioned corporation. They aren't looking for the best talent out there. The biggest reason these cities are on these lists is due to money being poured into the startups. Start ups in silicon valley look for the best of the best because they need their product done so their investors don't get mad at them.

In reality there's nothing wrong with being a good programmer at a non start up in the city of your choice. It's my plan one day to do that. But for now I'm enjoying the start up game and will continue to do so until I have a real need to settle down and have a secure job for the next x years.
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