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These are the top cities tech workers want to relocate to

Published Jun 27th, 2024 8:00AM EDT
New York City skyline
Image: TTstudio / Adobe

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By Amanda Kavanagh

Over the last decade, one city has reigned supreme as the most attractive destination in a survey of 150,735 workers from 188 countries. It’s London, and the city has been at the top of global workers’ wish lists since 2014.

The Stepstone Group, Boston Consulting Group, and The Network – together with affiliate organizations – conducted the latest anonymous, online survey from October through December 2023.

It found that 9% of survey respondents would be willing to move to the English capital, and a number of key reasons were listed. 

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Firstly, English is naturally the primary language, it has an exceptional global talent pool already, there are plentiful economic and financial opportunities, and it has access to both Europe and the U.S. 

And despite Brexit, the survey creators say the city has a “welcoming, multicultural brand”. 

For Hideo Daikoku, an R&D engineer, the city makes sense: “London seems very young. There’s always stuff happening in London. Another big factor, I would say, is the language. People would rather move to an English-speaking city because they already speak English.”

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Amsterdam is the second most desirable destination with 8%, while the Middle Eastern cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi (both 7%) came in joint third place. New York then makes a comeback to the top five in this year’s fourth place with 6%, while Berlin completes the top five. 

Numerous North American cities made the top thirty. Toronto came in 11th place, Los Angeles was 12th, Austin was a totally new placement in 15th place, Washington D.C. came in 20th place, Vancouver and Atlanta followed in 21st and 22nd spots respectively, then Chicago in 24th, and finally, Montreal in 29th place. 

In North America, just 16% of workers are actively willing to physically relocate, but 55% are willing to work for a foreign employer with no physical presence in their country.

Engineering and technical professionals were the most mobile occupations, with 29% willing to relocate. Some 30% of those in senior management were happy to relocate, 32% of workers in their twenties, and 35% had already moved abroad before.

The main reasons cited for international talent relocation was for salary and career advancement; 64% of those who are willing to relocate do so for financial and economic reasons, while 56% cited career factors like work experience as their top reason.

The quality of job prospects was the most important consideration (65%) for those who gave a specific reason for selecting a country to relocate to, while quality of life and climate came in as the second priority (54%). 

Other country-specific traits like health care (15%) and citizenship opportunities (18%) also matter, although these were secondary.

The survey makes it clear that employees who relocate overseas anticipate their employers to take the initiative to facilitate their migration and onboarding as well as to foster a global, inclusive culture. 

Eight in ten respondents anticipate receiving help with housing (79%) and with obtaining a visa or work permit (78%), and over half anticipate receiving assistance with relocation (69%), and language support and training (54%).

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Effects on U.S.-based workers

For tech professionals in the United States, these findings present both challenges and opportunities. On one hand, increased global mobility means potentially fiercer competition for roles. On the other hand, it opens up a literal world of possibilities for those willing to consider international opportunities.

If you’re more the latter, developing skills that are in high-demand globally makes sense, as does learning about tech ecosystems in your top desired cities. Next up is networking with tech professionals in those locations – thankfully much of this can be done online, and lastly, start researching companies with strong international relocation programs. 

For the latter, search job specs for keywords like: relocation assistance, overseas, visa sponsorship, work permit, housing allowance, and relocation package.

As industry demands continue to evolve, the landscape of talent mobility is likely to keep changing. US-based tech workers who stay informed about global trends and remain open to international opportunities may find themselves well-positioned for exciting career moves in the years to come.

Whether you’re considering a move to Amsterdam’s canals, Dubai’s futuristic skyline, or simply curious about what opportunities might exist beyond U.S. borders, keeping an eye on global tech mobility trends can help you make informed decisions about your career path in an increasingly interconnected world.

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