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Guadalajara: Top City to Hire Software Engineers

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The Karat Team

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Guadalajara, Mexico is among several up-and-coming Latin American cities that are rising in our ranking of top cities to hire software engineers. Known as the Silicon Valley of Mexico, the city has attracted large tech companies, including Amazon, IBM, and Google, as well as startups. In fact, Jalisco, the state that Guadalajara is located in, has 40% of the country’s IT industry

Apexon, a digital services company, is one of the companies that recently opened an office in Guadalajara due to growing demand for its products and services. Sandeep Dhar, Director of Delivery at Apexon, said, “By harnessing Mexico’s exceptional technical expertise and engineering community, Apexon is better positioned to provide its clients with access to a diverse talent pool, ensuring greater flexibility and resilience in the face of market challenges.”

Let’s take a deeper look at why Guadalajara and its region is an emerging place to hire software engineers, as well as some of the city’s hiring challenges that companies should be aware of. 

Why Guadalajara

  • Close to the U.S.: Guadalajara is geographically close to major U.S. cities such as San Francisco and New York City. This makes it convenient to communicate and collaborate with a remote team there, since they either operate in the same or a similar time zone. As a result, Guadalajara is a popular nearshoring location.
  • Government support: The state of Jalisco has launched several initiatives over the years to encourage tech companies to set up offices there, support startups, and brand the state as the center of innovation in Mexico. In 2017, the government put out an ad on POLITICO that invited tech companies, innovators, and entrepreneurs to relocate to Guadalajara. In 2021, they launched the “Network of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centers,” a “group of physical innovation centers located in 9 different regions of the State” to promote high-impact entrepreneurship, digital transformation, experimentation, and networking. More recently, Jalisco introduced the “Tech Hub Act” to “boost the capabilities of Jalisco’s technological ecosystem, take advantage of nearshoring opportunities and position the state as the most important innovation and talent hub in Latin America.” In addition to these examples, the government has taken many other steps to foster tech innovation through different initiatives, policies, partnerships, and events. 
  • Robust workforce: More than 10,000 tech graduates join the workforce each year in Jalisco, and the state contains some of the top universities and technical institutions, such as Tecnológico de Monterrey, Universidad de Guadalajara, ITESO (Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente), and Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara. Most notably, Tecnológico de Monterrey was ranked as the #1 private university in Mexico and #6 overall in Latin America. 
  • Low cost: From salaries to real estate, operating costs in Guadalajara are significantly less than the U.S. Software engineer salaries in Guadalajara are about 60% to 70% lower than in the San Francisco Bay Area. With a median software engineer salary of $49,000 across all levels and median entry level salary of $29,000, Guadalajara is a time-zone friendly option for many American companies looking to set up Global Capability Centers. Employer taxes and healthcare costs are also lower in Mexico. Federal and state governments even provide incentives, like capital grants, tax breaks, and subsidized infrastructure, that lower a company’s costs even more. It’s also important to note that although Guadalajara’s cost of living is higher than many other regions, it’s far less than Mexico City, another major tech hub in Mexico.

Hiring Challenges in Guadalajara

  • Experience gap: Because it can take some time before new technologies reach Latin America, the seniority levels of software engineers in Mexico don’t exactly match that of the U.S. “In Mexico, a senior developer is someone with 9-10 years of experience while in the U.S someone with 6+ years of experience might be considered a senior developer or worker.” When hiring in Guadalajara, companies will need to adjust their experience requirements accordingly. 

If you’re considering tapping into global tech talent to rapidly grow, manage costs, or expand into new markets, see our full report on the top cities to hire software engineers in 2024

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