Best Places if You’re on a Budget
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 the third-most-affordable big city in the United States by The Simple Dollar. Jacksonville was also ranked second on the list 2016's Best Cities for Tech (Outside California and New York) published by DataFox. It's easy to see why the city has become a top pick for tech entrepreneurs drawn by the combination of the laidback atmosphere and friendly business community.
"Who wouldn’t want to live near the beach?" says Mandy Putnam, the director of community operations at Tech Talent South. "You can start a tech company and surf all in the same day!" And so Jacksonville also gets an honorable mention as a great place for beach bums.
Tech Talent South is a southern tech education company training the next generation of coders. It offers fulltime, eight-week code immersion boot camps throughout the southeast. In Jacksonville, Tech Talent South classes are offered in CoWork Jax, one of several co-working spaces in the city where freelancers and small-business owners set up shop.
Jacksonville "gets it" when it comes to the importance of IT jobs. The city's Chamber of Commerce even created the JAX Chamber Information Technology Council (JITC) to help IT professionals form partnerships and share information.
"The technology community is screaming right now, it's just growing by leaps and bounds," says Joe Flask, president and COO of BrightLink Technology, Inc., a managed services IT provider, and vice president of the JITC. "We understand that technology is the future. The Jacksonville Chamber and the IT council have recognized that welcoming and fostering a technology-driven environment and community is good for both technology businesses and the businesses that use that technology."
The JITC also holds the annual Tech Coast Conference, which unites the tech community for one mega-day of networking each year. In 2016, the event drew more than 800 attendees. Putnam says there are also several active Meetup groups for the tech community, including APIs & IPAs and Tech on Tap. Hard to go wrong when you combine networking and beer!