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Best Places to Live for Tech Entrepreneurs
Boston, MA
Best Places for Foodies
Austin, TX
Best Places to Raise a Family
Lincoln, Nebraska
Best Community Vibe
Washington, DC
Best Places for Night Owls
Las Vegas, NV
Best Places for Night Owls
Queens, NY
Best Places for Night Owls
Jersey City, NJ
Best Community Vibe
Madison, WI
Best Community Vibe
Pittsburgh, PA
Best Places for People Who Love a Comeback Story
Portland, OR
Best Places for Outdoor Enthusiasts
Seattle, WA
Best Places for Outdoor Enthusiasts
Riverside, CA
Best Community Vibe
Salt Lake City, UT
Best Places for Outdoor Enthusiasts
Denver, CO
Best Places for Outdoor Enthusiasts
Raleigh, NC
Best Places if You’re on a Budget
Atlanta, GA
Best Places for Foodies
Baltimore, MD
Best Places for People Who Love a Comeback Story
Cincinnati, OH
Best Places to Raise a Family
Cleveland, OH
Best Places for People Who Love a Comeback Story
Detroit, MI
Best Places for People Who Love a Comeback Story
Houston, TX
Best Places if You’re on a Budget
Jacksonville, FL
Best Places if You’re on a Budget
Nashville, TN
Best Places if You’re on a Budget
Oakland, CA
Best Places for People Who Love a Comeback Story
Overland Park, KS
Best Places to Raise a Family
Philadelphia, PA
Best Places for Outdoor Enthusiasts
Plano, TX
Best Places to Raise a Family
San Antonio, TX
Best Places if You’re on a Budget
Silicon Beach, CA
Best Places for Beach Bums
Virginia Beach, VA
Best Places for Beach Bums
Chicago, IL
Honorable Mention

It's a good time to be a tech entrepreneur. Employment in IT is expected to grow 13.1 percent by 2024, making it one of the fastest-growing industries tracked by the BLS. And nearly 40 percent of small businesses planned to increase spending on IT services this year.

Not too long ago, folks who wanted to "make it" as tech business owners had to settle in Manhattan or San Francisco for access to the nation's best talent. But as demand for technology services has grown, so have the hot spots for owning a tech business. Today, there are great tech cities all around the United States.

So if you're thinking of becoming a tech entrepreneur, where do you do it?

There have never been more (excellent) choices. This report outlines 31 IT destination cities around the country that aren't San Francisco or Manhattan. What they have in common is a booming tech scene, but what distinguishes them is where things really get interesting.

To assemble this list, we started with hard numbers at the state level, including:

  • Total non-employer IT businesses: how many single-person IT businesses are there overall?
  • Non-employer IT businesses per capita: how high is the concentration of single-person IT businesses, based on the state's population?
  • Non-employer IT businesses as a percentage of total non-employer businesses: How well is tech represented among all single-person businesses?

Once we had an idea of which states offered fertile environments for tech business owners, we started digging at the city level. This is where our analysis got more qualitative. We considered reports on emerging tech scenes and talked to entrepreneurs from the cities that kept coming up.

We dug deeper when a place had something really intriguing – like Cleveland's tech czar or San Antonio's dedicated tech district. And we'll admit: some of the cities surprised us (Overland Park, Kansas? You bet! A stone's throw from Kansas City, plus top-ranked schools!).

Every place on this list is a good bet for starting a technology business. Beyond that, we grouped them into eight categories based on the lifestyles they support:

  • Best Nightlife
  • Best Places to Raise a Family
  • Best Places if You're on a Budget
  • Best Places if You Love the Outdoors
  • Best Places for Beach Bums
  • Best Places if You Love a Comeback Story
  • Best Community Vibe
  • Best Places for Foodies

Check out our interactive map to see how your favorite city fared – or to get an idea of where you may soon be forwarding your mail.

Think we missed one? We'd love to hear about it. Get in touch to tell us about a tech scene we didn't cover.

Boston, MA

Foodies with a deep love of seafood, you would be hard-pressed to find a better city to settle down in than Boston. Restaurants like Atlantic Fish Company, Neptune Oyster, and The Daily Catch...

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Austin, TX

Austin is known for a lot of things: being a tech hub, having a killer music scene, and, well, weirdness. But in addition to drawing young tech entrepreneurs, it's proven itself a great place to raise a family.

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Lincoln, Nebraska

If you don't think of Lincoln, Nebraska, as a tech hub today, you probably will soon. A growing number of tech entrepreneurs are calling Lincoln home, and several have been...

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Washington, DC

Sure, Washington, DC, is known primarily as the seat of our national government, but the capital is also a draw for night owls who love to stay out eating and drinking past midnight. Last call at DC bars is...

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Las Vegas, NV

Surprising exactly no one, Las Vegas crushed every other city on our list for nightlife, landing in U.S. News & World Report's top spot. I mean, what else is there to say about the city whose bars...

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Queens, NY

First things first: as part of New York City, Queens is one of the best cities for anyone who wants to keep odd hours or be able to bar hop until dawn. It also scored three...

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Jersey City, NJ

Skyrocketing housing prices continue to cause many in Manhattan and Brooklyn to turn their attention to Jersey City and its more affordable housing stock, according to...

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Madison, WI

Midwesterners are known for their friendliness, and Madison is no exception. With its casual, laid-back atmosphere, the city is an easy sell for tech entrepreneurs looking for a new place to call home.

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Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh may have gone through some tough times in the 1980s when many of its steel mills closed, but thanks to its strong education and research base, the city has rebranded itself as a leader in...

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Portland, OR

So why are tech professionals choosing Portland over the flashier Silicon Valley? For many, it's the proximity to nature. Portland residents can surf, hike, camp, and ski – not to mention it's one of the most...

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Seattle, WA

If you want to forge a career in tech and enjoy spending your leisure time frolicking in nature, then Seattle should be on your radar. The city topped Niche's 2016 Best Cities for Outdoor Activities in America, as well as...

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Riverside, CA

Riverside placed eighth in Forbes' ranking of America’s Coolest Cities. Criteria included entertainment, recreation, and food options; the percentage of millennials who call the city home; overall population...

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Salt Lake City, UT

Utah has long been known as the home to both world-class skiing and the Mormon religion, but today it's gaining a rep for something else – its burgeoning tech scene.

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Denver, CO

If you want a city lifestyle that also offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy nature, Denver is a perfect choice. It boasts 4,000 acres of traditional parks, plus another 14,000 acres of mountain parks.

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Raleigh, NC

Raleigh gets a lot of love on "best places to live" lists, and for good reason. It has a moderate climate, lower-than-average cost of living, hundreds of miles of walking and biking trails, and easy access to both the beach and the mountains. 

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Atlanta, GA

It should come as no surprise that one of Atlanta's nicknames is "The Big Peach." This is a city in love with food. You can find everything from southern comfort and soul food classics like fried chicken, barbecue, and fried green tomatoes...

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Baltimore, MD

A few decades ago, Baltimore was home to many high-paying jobs in steel and manufacturing. As those industries began to disappear, the city fell on hard economic times. But flash forward to the present and the city is...

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Cincinnati, OH

Cincinnati is a bit of an overachiever. It made our list for one of the best cities to raise a family due partly to Indian Hill Exempted Village School District being ranked ninth in the nation by school district analysis site Niche...

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Cleveland, OH

Cleveland has a lot to smile about these days, and not just because the Cavaliers recently won the NBA Finals – the city's first major sports championship since 1964. Cleveland also played...

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Detroit, MI

Detroiters have weathered tough economic times, but positive change is afoot. The city exited bankruptcy in 2014 and many residents are pivoting...

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Houston, TX

Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States, but its cost of living is far lower than that of New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago. All three of the nation's most populous cities land in the top ten for most expensive...

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Jacksonville, FL

Nestled on Florida's northeast coast, Jacksonville is hard to beat for location and weather. It has a cost-of-living index below the national average, and was named...

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Nashville, TN

With lower-than-average housing costs and no state income tax, Nashville residents are able to live more comfortably than many residents of similar-sized cities. Music looms large in Nashville, but it's also home...

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Oakland, CA

Oakland is a city experiencing significant change. Like many cities, it's had its share of ups and downs over the years, but was recently profiled by USA Today as a hard-knock city working on a comeback...

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Overland Park, KS

Overland Park, Kansas, is a family-friendly suburb of Kansas City, Missouri. If you want to raise kids while freelancing or starting a tech business, be sure you don't "overlook" Overland Park (sorry).

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Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia may be heavily associated with America's past, but it's also very much a vibrant city of residents proud to call it home. It's also a great place for people who love...

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Plano, TX

For IT freelancers who want a comfortable life in a city with one of the best school districts in the country (Plano Independent School District is ranked 81st in the nation, according to Niche) and reasonable housing costs, it's hard to beat Plano.

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San Antonio, TX

When you think of San Antonio, what's the first thing that pops into your head? We're going to guess the Alamo, possibly in combination with memories of the movie Pee-Wee's Big Adventure.

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Silicon Beach, CA

This "city" is trickier to define than the others on our list, partly because it's not really a city at all, but rather a loose collection of neighborhoods in LA's Westside region...

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Virginia Beach, VA

Folks from Virginia Beach want you to know that yes, there are several military bases in the area, but no, that's not the only thing going on. For one, it's an outdoor lover's paradise.

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Chicago, IL

Okay, so technically Chicago didn't make our list, but we live and work in this amazing city and are impressed by how much our own tech scene has taken off in recent years, so we had to give ourselves an honorable mention.

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