It’s been a rough year—the pandemic has made things even harder for young businesses, especially those unable to adapt because they rely on in-person interaction. But what about tech? Not only is it inherently innovative, but some companies (looking at you, Zoom) are thriving in our new normal by providing the very services keeping businesses afloat.

Suffice it to say, now’s a bad time to own a movie theater, but a considerably less bad time to own a tech startup—and to work for one. If you’re a tech pro, you’re in luck: you can probably get a job in one of these five top cities for tech startups without having to move.

Raleigh, NC

Inc. has been spilling ink about Raleigh, North Carolina, since at least 2015, and that trend seems to be continuing. Raleigh is just a part of the larger “Research Triangle” startup ecosystem in the state, which also encompasses Chapel Hill and Durham (also great cities to find tech startups). What was once an elephant graveyard of abandoned tobacco factories (especially in Durham) and warehouses has been transformed into a lively hotbed of culture and entrepreneurship. One example: Raleigh Founded’s (formerly HQ Raleigh) 20,000-square-foot co-working space (plus several other locations across the city, as well as support services like accelerator programs and free legal and entrepreneurship clinics).

The Tech Tribune named Pendo, PrecisionHawk, and Constellation Digital Partners among their top Raleigh startups for 2021.

Boston, MA

Not only is Boston is the center of the universe when it comes to advanced robot dogs, it also has a heap of colleges, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which you may have heard of. Boston’s more or less the “Silicon Valley of the East Cost” and has a huge incubator scene, including MIT’s own Global Startup Labs.

Entrepreneurs will find plenty of young, international talent graduating with advanced degrees; jobseekers will find plenty of startups created by said talented alumni. It’s also a cheaper place to live than San Francisco and is arguably more walkable/bikeable than it is drivable (if you actually need to be there for the job). Unfortunately, we can’t think of any notable startups from Bost—oh wait, Facebook got started there. And HubSpot. You’ll also find companies like Constant Contact just outside the city.

Denver, CO

If Boston’s too close to sea level for you, Denver offers another center for tech innovation a bit closer to the sky. Do picturesque mountains inspire a healthy startup ecosystem driven by towering new ideas? That’s unclear. What is clear is that startup accelerators like TechStars did quite a lot to boost that ecosystem. Another thing that certainly helps: state and city governments that have made startups their peak priority. Some notable Denver startups: BiggerPockets, SonderMind, Zen Planner, and Craftsy.

Austin, TX

Speaking of nice weather, lower cost of living (compared to San Francisco, anyway), and amenable government policies (like no state, personal income, or corporate tax), there’s Austin, Texas. No big surprised here—Austin put itself on the map for being a hip city with a popular music festival (SXSW). Then, like so many young bass players, Austin realized that it could make more money in IT, and still play music on the side. The result is a nesting ground home to over 4,700 tech companies and nearly 50 startup incubators. Some of the many startups in Austin include Athena Security, Bungalo, DocStation, and Wheel.

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