How to hire remote developers: best cities for software engineers

Karat explores the best cities for software engineers for remote developer hiring

Breaking out of the traditional tech hubs to find the next best cities for software engineers to hire remote developers isn’t a new idea. Distributed engineering teams can deliver financial savings by hiring in lower-cost markets, and DEI opportunities by tapping into more diverse populations.

But for years, organizations have hesitated to embrace remote work, pointing to productivity and collaboration tradeoffs. That all changed in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic radically changed the way the world works. Now, as more organizations consider making the shift to remote work permanent, many engineering leaders are turning to remote developer hiring as a core growth strategy for 2021.

There are tons of great resources out there for remote developer hiring. Active communities like Power to Fly and Flex Jobs are a great place to start, but technical recruiters also rely heavily on local industry associations and job boards. So Karat compiled our list of the next 10 hubs for remote developer hiring based on candidate performance across over 75,000 technical interviews.


Karat technical interviews assess for specific technical competencies. Our Interview Engineers make observations about candidates’ project discussions, coding performance, computer science knowledge, system design, cloud architectures, and other relevant skills based on the hour-long interview.

While different companies have the ability to set the hiring bar at a level that makes sense to them, we also have a default set of scoring tiers, of which the top two (“Invite To Next Round,” and “Fast Track”) indicate that the candidates have successfully passed their interview and will most likely be moving forward in the hiring process.

Unsurprisingly, the three established tech hubs–Bay Area, New York, and Seattle–have the highest percentages of candidates pass the Karat interview (i.e. score in the top two tiers). Decades of tech-talent concentration around these hubs has created strong developer pipelines.

But the next 10 cities aren’t far behind, and each has unique opportunities for developer hiring.

Karat’s 10 best cities for software engineers and hiring remote developers

Here are the ten best cities for software engineers outside of the traditional tech hubs based on the percentage of candidates who pass Karat’s technical interviews.

  1. Pittsburgh, PA: 39% interview pass rate
  2. Houston, TX: 36%
  3. Denver, CO: 36%
  4. Los Angeles, CA: 36%
  5. Atlanta, GA: 35%
  6. Austin, TX: 31%
  7. San Diego, CA: 28%
  8. Boston, MA: 24%
  9. Dallas, TX: 23%
  10. Chicago, IL: 22%

*Note, this study looks at big cities with a significant number of engineering candidates, and Raleigh, NC fell just shy of our threshold. But if we expand to the full Research Triangle of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, the region would have a 31% pass rate, ranking alongside Austin, TX for 6th place on our list.

Pittsburgh tops the remote developer hiring list

Pittsburgh has a lot going for it. It’s been a few years since the city stole the spotlight from Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher. The Steelers are in first place. The Penguins have been to the playoffs for 14-consecutive seasons. The cost of living is significantly below the national average. And, Pittsburgh is also the top-performing city outside of the traditional tech hubs in Karat interviews, with 39% of all candidates successfully landing in our top two scoring tiers.

While Pittsburgh’s roots may be in the steel industry, the city boasts a great developer pipeline with both Carnegie Mellon (#1) and University of Pittsburgh (#49) ranking in the top 50 computer science programs according to US News.

Furthermore, according to, there are less than 800 “software engineer” job postings within 50 miles of the city making it a much less competitive market for employers. By comparison, there are over 10,000 openings around the Bay Area.

It’s no wonder Microsoft and Google have opened up engineering centers there. The great editorial team over at GeekWire did an expose on Pittsburgh a couple of years ago, and the city’s Karat performance has only continued to improve from there!

Pittsburgh recruiting resources

Hiring remote developers in diverse cities like Houston, Los Angeles, and Chicago can boost DEI

Houston, Los Angeles, and Chicago all rank amongst America’s most diverse cities, and also fall into our Next 10 remote developer hiring list.

Furthermore, each city has unique areas of software engineering expertise that are worth tapping into.

  • Houston has benefitted from the rise of tech and automation across the oil and gas industry and also is home to Rice University.
  • Los Angeles is experiencing a boom in tech development around entertainment and streaming services, and the UCLA/USC rivalry hasn’t prevented both from ranking as top 20 CS schools.
  • Chicago’s tech sector has continued to see strong growth throughout the pandemic this year and is becoming a regional hub for engineering hiring for companies across the Mid West.

Remote developer hiring resources in America’s best cities for software engineers

Best cities for software engineers globally (video)

Expanding the search globally is another option for many. Shannon Hogue shared best practices and the top international cities for software engineers in a recent webinar. Check out the video below.


Remote engineering or bust

2020 has brought a lot of change, but the shift to remote work is going to be one of the most significant and lasting transformations. People who work from home are more productive (unless schools are currently closed, in which case, we’re sorry). They are taking fewer sick days, and tend to spend the time they save by not commuting working.

Forward-looking companies are already planning for this in their 2021 staffing plans and the ones who don’t will be forced to compete with an increasing number of employers for talent in their own backyards.

We’re at an inflection point, and the companies that don’t adapt and innovate the way they think about technical talent are going to be left behind.

For more information on remote developer hiring and remote interviews, download the full remote developer hiring infographic, or reach out to the Karat team for a free consultation or demo.


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