The job is important – but so is the location. It’s never a bad idea to take an honest assessment of why you work at your current location and consider what it would look like to take your life to some other part of the country.
Huntsville, Ala. happens to be one of those underrated cities in America when it comes to building a career. Of course, you have to have fantastic air conditioning or enjoy the muggy heat for most of the year. If you can move past that, the place has a lot to offer for technology careers. The city is known for it’s love of aerospace engineering, military technology, and all things missiles and rockets. But aerospace programs involve entire teams, not just aerospace engineers. A software engineer can easily find a great job market in this city.
While it can be beneficial to build skills and experience in Silicon Valley or around the Nation’s Capital, the numbers for Alabama speak for themselves.
- Median housing cost in Huntsville is $223,400. Alexandria, Virginia’s median housing cost is $475,000.
- Software Engineer III has a median salary of $99,356. That same position in Alexandria pays a median salary of $115,479.
Housing costs in Huntsville are half the cost of Alexandria; however, the same position may only pay about $15,000 more per year. As someone who has understood the tradeoffs to living around our nation’s capital, I will argue that unless you have a big reason for remaining in your current location – friends, family, church, or city dynamics – it is important to consider the impact finances have on your attitude towards work and enjoyment in what you do.
You can log onto ClearanceJobs now and find open positions in software engineering across the country – not just on the coasts. Defense contractors including SAIC, Booz Allen, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and L3,as well as many other major organizations doing cleared work, reside in Huntsville, along with a number of smaller companies with competitive opportunities. With the city’s heavy focus on military technology and aerospace engineering, cleared work supporting the government via federal positions or contractor positions is readily available.
Location is important. When you choose a new city, be selective. Unless you need to take whatever position comes along in your field, pay attention to the landscape. The key is to compare salary, cost of living, and preference. Another major factor to consider is the number of defense employers in the area. In the contracting world, especially, you need to be ready with different options when contracts come to an end.
Moral of the story: If you find yourself grumbling about the cost of living compared to your pay, you may want to pack up your software engineering skills and head south.