More tech grads are applying to jobs in Boise, Madison, and other small cities

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  • Young workers are applying to cities outside traditional tech hubs, according to a new report.
  • They’re looking for a lower cost of living and a wider range of industries to apply their skills.
  • From Columbia, Maryland to El Paso, Texas, here are 10 US cities attracting new talent.

Forget Silicon Valley, Austin, or even Miami — young workers are hunting for tech jobs in smaller cities across the country.

Columbia, Maryland, followed by Boise, Idaho, and Fairfax, Virginia top the list of places trending among college students and recent grads with tech-related majors, according to a January report from Handshake. The job and internship platform, used by millions of college students every year, tracked job applications from students with technical degrees like computer science and statistics.

Handshake determined which US cities saw the biggest increase in job applications between 2021 and 2023, based on the number of full-time job applications submitted on its platform.

The surge in job applications to cities outside the country’s traditional tech hubs comes as tech giants have slowed down hiring or made massive cuts to their workforces over the past couple of years. Handshake’s report found that the number of applications submitted to tech jobs in California, Washington, and New York — where companies like Amazon, Meta, and Google have headquarters — declined significantly in the past year. So it’s not surprising that Handshake found that applications to traditional internet and software companies also dropped by more than 30% between 2021 and 2023.

The waning interest in Big Tech has made way for a host of new opportunities. Retail and consumer goods companies have amped up their efforts to recruit young tech talent, and the number of applications tech majors submitted to government jobs also doubled between 2021 and 2023, per Handshake.

The cities on the list “tend to be more affordable, have less stressful commutes, and are starting to feature many of the elements people enjoy in larger coastal cities,” Christine Cruzvergara, Handshake’s chief education strategy officer told Business Insider by email. “I expect to see interest in moving to these smaller cities grow as more and more Gen Z workers prove that a location or specific industry does not define what a ‘tech job’ is.”

And it’s not just recent college grads. Tech workers of all ages are gravitating to mid-size cities in search of lower cost of living and a more laid-back lifestyle.

Handshake found these 10 cities had the biggest year-over-year increase in job applications on its site: