10 Best Cities For Startups You’ll Want to Be Based In

When you hear the word ‘startup,’ your first thought is probably ‘San Francisco.’ While the Bay Area is undoubtedly the center of the startup boom in the U.S., the landscape is changing. So, why would you want to base your remote company elsewhere?

Budding companies and job seekers alike are starting to avoid San Francisco because of factors such as the high living costs and the lowering quality of life. Instead, business founders are opting for cities that offer diversity and new opportunities, yet don’t suffocate startups with inflated pricing and overcrowding. While the location is not that important for determining, say, distributed teams’ salaries, owners of remote companies also choose the city to launch their business carefully.

Cost of living, availability of talent, and access to industry information and strategic connections are just some of the factors that you’d want to evaluate. As the hub of your activity, the place you’re based in should meet both your personal and business needs.

We have to admit that not every city is as exciting as San Francisco. Yet a number of places across the country offer beneficial conditions for basing your remote company without sacrificing a rich cultural life and plenty of networking possibilities. Here’s a list of ten great cities you can launch your business in.

Seattle

Seattle is well-known among corporate pioneers such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks, all of which launched their business there. The West Coast city is renowned for its creative people, as well as its spirit of innovation and change.

best cities for startups

While there are no special tax incentives for new businesses, the living costs in Seattle are significantly lower than in the Bay Area, so you can keep your overhead expenses under control. The city boasts an impressive mentoring network, as well as private investment options, as well as startup incubators and accelerators such as 9Mile Labs and SURF Incubator.

Seattle is renowned for its creative people, as well as its spirit of innovation and change. Click To Tweet

With more than 30 co-working spaces in the Emerald City, you won’t be short of options for meeting interesting new people or organizing your monthly remote team get-together. Seattle is also historically known for its bustling music and arts scene, which you can enjoy when you base your remote business there.

Portland, Oregon

Portland, another West Coast entrepreneurial hub, is already known for its thriving small businesses and its passion for green living. It’s one of the best places in the country for launching tech and non-tech startups alike. A number of founders have already relocated from the Bay Area to enjoy the opportunities of the new entrepreneurial territory.

best cities for startups

Portland is among the top cities in the U.S. in terms of resources available to small businesses. Its living costs are comparatively low, making it a suitable base for newly founded companies. It was ranked fifth in terms of established small businesses in 2015. For every 100,000 Portland area residents, there are 1,113 budding companies. One of the main propellers of startup activity are the Portland Incubator Experiment and the Portland Seed Fund, which have provided the basis for more than 60 companies already.

In Portland, you can be sure that your remote team meetup will be a great experience. Click To Tweet

Besides its business benefits, the City of Roses is famous for its culture and events scene. Let’s not forget Portland’s numerous microbreweries and micro-distilleries. You can be sure that your remote team meetup or industry convention will be a great experience.

Austin

Austin ranks as the fourth most affordable city in the U.S. to launch a tech startup in terms of rent and wages. Its business climate is friendly to small businesses, with Texas having no individual or corporate income taxes. A tech startup scene has already sprung in the city, so you won’t be alone when you launch your company.

best cities for startups

If you’re looking for local talent for your team, you can also count on young graduates from the University of Texas, which is based in town. Austin has great incubators and accelerators so you can get mentorship from professionals, as well as great networking opportunities. The city is the home of the SXSW conference as well, which attracts thousands of entrepreneurs every year.

Looking for local talent? You can count on graduates from the University of Texas. Click To Tweet

Austin is often called the live music capital of the world because of its abundance of music venues, as well as festivals. It’s known for its alternative culture and a lively university scene – a place you won’t get tired of living in.

Dallas

Another city in Texas certainly belongs on this list – Dallas. It ranks as the sixth most affordable place to launch a tech startup in the country according to a CBRE report. It’s also the hometown of 25 billionaires, a number of Fortune 500 companies, and 50+ higher education institutions.

best cities for startups

In the last few years, Dallas has grown into an unexpected entrepreneurial hub. With great networking events such as the Dallas Open Coffee Club and Dallas New Tech, integrating into the local startup community is easy. The ecosystem is still rather small, which means you can make a difference in its development.

With events like the Dallas Open Coffee Club, integrating into the community is easy. Click To Tweet

With its arts district, numerous museums, and a vibrant music scene, the city has a lot to offer in terms of lifestyle too. And let’s not forget the State Fair of Texas, which takes place in Dallas, is the biggest one in the country, so entertainment is certainly abundant.

Start tracking time for free
Pay nothing for the first 14 days

Start boosting your bottom line

Denver

Denver boasts a great business climate, and its central-west location makes it a convenient hub for companies of all industries and sizes. It has been a favorite startup location since 2010, when it ranked fourth in the U.S. In fact, it has been on the list ever since 1990, when it took the ninth position.

best cities for startups

Denver is especially attractive for overworked employees and startup founders looking for a change of scenery. Many of them have escaped the craziness of the Bay Area and want to focus at one thing at a time. This means you can get access to an impressive talent pool. There are also quite a few incubators and accelerators in Colorado, many of which are based in Denver and in the startup hot spot — Boulder.

Denver makes the list due to access to an impressive talent pool in the metro area and outer cities. Click To Tweet

The Queen City of the West offers enviable living conditions, with affordable rental costs and a laid-back atmosphere around town. Denver’s proximity to the Rocky Mountains makes it a great place to be based in if you enjoy hiking and weekends in the nature.

San Diego

Despite its proximity to the Bay Area, San Diego is the tenth cheapest city to start a tech company in the U.S. according to CBRE. For every 100,000 citizens, there are 155 startups. Besides its affordability, the ‘Silicon Beach’ city attracts a ton of investments. In 2015, they amounted to $1.28 billion.

best cities for startups

With its low startup costs, San Diego is a great choice for launching a remote company. The startup ecosystem is thriving, with plenty of incubators, accelerators, and coworking spaces, providing you with much needed mentorship and contacts. Local talent is also abundant and not as difficult to hire as in San Francisco.

Events like the San Diego Startup Week will surely keep you busy. Click To Tweet

San Diego’s craft breweries are on the rise, and events like the San Diego Startup Week will surely keep you busy. The city also hosts various exhibitions and live music events, festivals, and theater plays. With its great weather, San Diego offers entrepreneurs great quality of life on top of the business opportunities.

Boston

In 2016, the 1776 startup incubator from Washington, D.C. named Boston the top city to launch a startup. The rating was based on factors such as access to funding, availability of skilled employees, ecosystem connectivity, and population density and lifestyle.

best cities for startups

Top universities are based in the Boston area, including MIT, Harvard, and University of Massachusetts. This means there are plenty of young professionals in the city who can feed into your talent pool. The startup scene is also promising. You can apply for tens of Boston accelerators and incubators, which help with mentoring and networking opportunities.

The living costs in Boston are more affordable, plus the conditions offer a higher quality of life. Click To Tweet

The living costs in Boston are more affordable, plus the conditions offer a higher quality of life for entrepreneurs than the Bay Area. The city is known for its love of good food and beer, as well as thrilling sports events.

Chicago

With one of the strongest startup ecosystems in the U.S., Chicago is a great alternative to San Francisco for launching your business. In 2015, the city had 105 entries on the Inc 5000 list of fast-developing companies.

best cities for startups

Between 2011 and 2015, 40,000 new tech jobs were created in the Windy City. Diverse industries have chosen Chicago as their base, from airplane builders to shared vehicle services. The startup community is close and supportive, with a number of quality incubators and accelerators contributing to its development. The city is also rich in co-working spaces, so you’ll never get lonely if you’re the only person on your remote team who’s based in Chicago.

In 2015, Chicago had 105 entries on the Inc 5000 list of fast-developing companies. Click To Tweet

Beyond the Chicago-style hot dog, the city can offer you a lot in terms of arts, culture and music. As the birthplace of blues, jazz and hip hop stars, it’s never short of great live events. Chicago is also the center of improvisational comedy, which was born as a genre there. If you’re organizing a team building get-together, your remote teammates will surely stay entertained.

Raleigh

The capital of North Carolina ranks as the second cheapest city to base a tech startup according to the 2015 CBRE report. Raleigh-Durham was on founders’ lists already in 2010 because of its numerous accelerators and incubators, as well as its closely-knit startup community.

best cities for startups

The Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill area is known as the Research Triangle Park, with a number of technological hubs based there. It’s one of the largest research parks worldwide and has its roots in the three top universities located in each of the cities: Duke University, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Basing your remote company there means you can get access to some of the smartest people in the country – be it for mentorship or partnerships.

Basing your company in Raleigh means getting access to some of the smartest people in the country. Click To Tweet

Besides the affordable living costs, which means better conditions for less, Raleigh is situated less than an hour away from the Wrightsville and Carolina beaches – and a couple of hours from the Smoky Mountains and a number of great hike trails.

New York City

While the living costs are not much lower in NYC than in the Bay Area, the Big Apple still has a strong attracting force for startup founders. New York is a place where things just happen, so there will always be a ton of networking opportunities, interesting events, and potential hires.

best cities for startups

The startup ecosystem has developed greatly in the last couple of years. Today you can count on tens of great incubators and accelerators based in the city. They can provide you with support when you launch your business, as well as with useful connections that can help its development. Plus, your remote colleagues will always be glad to make a trip to NYC and spend some time together with the team.

Your remote colleagues will always be glad to make a trip to NYC and see the sights. Click To Tweet

The city can offer you much more than that, especially if you’re a cosmopolitan person (and can handle the stress of living in a metropolis). The place overflows with artistic, musical, and cultural events organized by people from every point of the world. You just have to embrace the chaos that goes along with the thrill.

Which is your city of choice?

How did you decide where to base your business? What were the factors that brought you to your current city? Your insights are priceless for all the follow remote company founders out there. Thank you for sharing them!