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Beyond London: Best Cities to Live and Work in Tech in the UK

In the ever-evolving landscape of the UK's technology sector, the spotlight often shines brightest on London, a globally recognized hub for innovation, investment, and career opportunities. However, the narrative is shifting, with cities beyond the capital emerging as formidable contenders in the tech arena. This shift underlines a broader trend: the dispersion of tech opportunities across the UK, reflecting the industry's resilience and expansive growth. That is why we at Tech Nomads prepared this article to inform you about the best cities to live and work in tech in the UK.

Bristol - The Startup Hub

Bristol, crowned the top city for tech jobs outside London in 2022, stands out as a beacon for tech professionals seeking growth, innovation, and a community-oriented ecosystem. The city's tech scene is distinguished by its dynamic startup culture, characterized by a significant year-over-year job growth and a vibrant community of entrepreneurs and innovators. Bristol's tech ecosystem thrives on the diversity of its companies, particularly startups and high-growth entities, making it an appealing destination for those passionate about innovation and development.

A closer look at Bristol reveals a tech landscape rich with opportunities across a range of in-demand roles and skills. From software development to IT project management, the demand for skilled professionals is robust, reflecting the city's commitment to advancing its technological capabilities. Moreover, the variety of sectors flourishing in Bristol, including aerospace, robotics, and digital media, contributes to a rich tapestry of career paths for tech talent​​​​.

However, potential movers should consider the cost of living and housing prices, which have seen a continuous rise, partly due to the city's growing desirability among tech professionals and startups alike. Despite these financial considerations, Bristol's quality of life, coupled with its status as a leading tech hub, continues to attract a diverse workforce eager to contribute to its thriving tech ecosystem​​.

Manchester - The Digital Tech City

Manchester, historically celebrated for its contributions to the industrial revolution, has evolved into a leading tech city with a rich heritage of innovation. Today, it stands as a beacon of the digital tech sector in the UK, offering a diverse landscape of career opportunities that extend far beyond its industrial roots. With an economy bolstered by a strong digital infrastructure, Manchester has emerged as a pivotal hub for technology, drawing professionals and companies alike to its dynamic environment.

The tech job market in Manchester is both vibrant and expansive, marked by a high volume of open roles spanning various sectors. In the past year alone, Manchester posted tens of thousands of technology job vacancies, with significant expected job additions in the coming years​​​​. The city's tech ecosystem is particularly notable for its strength in fintech, cybersecurity, and gaming, sectors that not only contribute to Manchester's economic diversity but also offer a broad spectrum of opportunities for IT professionals looking to specialize.

Manchester's supportive business culture is another key factor that makes it an attractive option for IT professionals. The city is home to leading universities, providing a pipeline of fresh talent and ongoing research collaboration that fuels innovation. Additionally, Manchester's cost of living, while rising, remains more affordable compared to London, making it an appealing destination for young professionals and families alike.

Cambridge - The Intellectual Hub

Cambridge's global reputation for academic excellence and groundbreaking research is mirrored in its tech sector, making the city a magnet for tech talent and multinational companies. Renowned for its prestigious universities, Cambridge has fostered an environment where innovation thrives, particularly in fields like artificial intelligence and biotechnology.

The growth in tech jobs in Cambridge has been steady, with the city experiencing significant increases in tech-related employment opportunities. The median tech wage in Cambridge is notably high, reflecting the city's appeal to professionals seeking lucrative opportunities within a distinguished and intellectually stimulating environment​​. This economic vitality is supported by the presence of leading employers such as AstraZeneca and the University of Cambridge, alongside a host of startups and tech companies that contribute to the vibrant local economy.

Cambridge's tech sector, often referred to as the "Cambridge Cluster," is a testament to the city's enduring legacy as a center of innovation and learning. The focus on cutting-edge sectors like AI and biotechnology not only underscores Cambridge's role in shaping the future of technology but also highlights the city's unique position as a nexus of academia, industry, and research. This symbiotic relationship between the city's institutions and the tech industry provides unparalleled opportunities for those looking to advance their careers in an intellectually rich and forward-thinking environment.

Birmingham - The Emerging Tech Star

Birmingham is rapidly establishing itself as a burgeoning tech hub, with its diverse tech scene and significant investments in fintech and emerging technologies marking its ascension within the UK's technology landscape. The city's tech industry is characterized by a vibrant mix of established companies and innovative startups, particularly in the fintech sector, where it has achieved recognition for its contributions to the financial technology revolution.

  • Diverse Tech Scene: Birmingham's technology sector is diverse, hosting a range of companies specializing in everything from digital media and software development to biotech and green technologies.
  • Investments in Fintech and Emerging Technologies: The city has become a focal point for investment in fintech, driven by a supportive ecosystem that encourages innovation and growth in this and other emerging tech fields.
  • Variety of Tech Roles: The job market in Birmingham offers a wide array of opportunities across different tech disciplines, reflecting the city's broad-based approach to technology development.
  • Opportunity and Attainability: With lower average home prices compared to the national average, Birmingham presents a balanced proposition of opportunity and affordability, making it an attractive destination for tech professionals and their families​​​​.

Edinburgh - The Tech Town 

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, has maintained its position at number 7 on the Tech Town Index this year. This stability may be attributed to the city's significant emphasis on AI research, particularly notable in Edinburgh's tech landscape. This focus on cutting-edge technology seems to be reflected in the financial rewards, as the area ranks third on the index in terms of salary.

  • Edinburgh’s salary with a median tech wage of £40,107, 47% higher than the overall median wage.
  • Local employers advertised 24,459 open tech positions last year.
  • Estimated to add 256 new tech jobs in 2023.
  • Edinburgh ranks no. 7 in cost of living, with an average home price of £321,679, just 13% higher than the UK average.

Other Noteworthy Cities

Beyond Birmingham, several other UK cities are making their mark on the tech landscape, each offering unique opportunities and strengths in the technology sector.

  • Nottingham: Known for its strong fintech roots and a skilled population, Nottingham stands out for its cost of living and job growth, making it an emerging tech hub with a promising future.
  • Leeds: With a focus on health tech and digital agencies, Leeds offers a dynamic tech environment supported by a robust digital infrastructure and a collaborative ecosystem.
  • Belfast: As a city with a growing reputation in cybersecurity and software development, Belfast provides a mix of innovation and tradition, fostering a unique tech community.
  • Newcastle: Known for its creative digital agencies and tech startups, Newcastle's tech scene is vibrant, supported by strong university-industry collaborations and a friendly startup ecosystem.

While London continues to be a powerhouse in the tech industry, with its unparalleled scale of tech vacancies and venture capital, the focus on alternatives like Birmingham, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, Belfast, and Newcastle reveals the competitive advantages these cities offer. Each city brings something unique to the table, from cost of living and quality of life to specific industry strengths and community support, making them attractive destinations for tech professionals looking to explore opportunities beyond the UK's capital​​​​.

In summary, the UK's tech sector extends far beyond London, with each city offering a unique mix of opportunities, challenges, and rewards. By broadening your horizons and considering these alternative tech hubs, you open the door to a wealth of career possibilities, each with its own set of lifestyle benefits that can enrich your professional journey in the technology sector.

How Tech Nomads Can Help

Tech Nomads is a global mobility platform that provides services in international relocation. Established in 2018, Tech Nomads has a track record of successfully relocating technological talents and teams. Our expertise in adapting to regulatory changes ensures our clients’ satisfaction and success.

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