UX designers have a lot of things in common. They look at the world and try to figure out how to make things easier, how to enhance the experience for everyone. If you are at a doctor’s office and things are inefficient, you may have to bite your tongue to keep from telling them how they can fix their scheduling issues. It is natural for a UX designer to look at the world as a problem to solve.
UX designers appreciate efficiency and technology which makes some cities stand out as excellent places for them to live. Sometimes it’s because they want to live close to the hub of activity in design, and at other times the city’s efficiency stands out. Perhaps there are a lot of design jobs in that location. Here are six of the top cities that designers should consider:
1. Los Angeles, California
By the year 2020, expect to potentially make about $90,000 per year as an experienced UX/UI designer. However, some cities pay more than others. California, for example, ranks as the top state to get a job as a web designer — they hire the most designers and pay the highest wages. Even though Los Angeles is the largest city in California and thus has a lot of opportunities, there are jobs in other areas in the state.
The cost of living in California is a bit higher than in the middle part of the country, so take that into consideration as you field any job offers. Housing, in particular, is more costly. Of course, this varies depending on whether you live in Los Angeles or outside of it and which part of the city you want to live in.
2. Shenzhen, China
If looking for international locations where your design skills might shine, Shenzhen, China makes for an interesting choice. The city has grown rapidly in a couple of decades. In 2017, Shenzhen had about 6,000 design firms and 100,000 people working for those firms. It’s considered a hotspot for designers in all specialty areas.
Hong Kong is near the city, which gives designers another resource on which to draw when networking with other designers. There are many contemporary designs to enjoy in Shenzhen, such as a 600m-tall skyscraper. You certainly wouldn’t lack inspiration living and working in this city.
3. Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm is one of more than a dozen smart cities springing up around the world. The idea of a smart city seems like something out of the future, but it also sounds like a creative hub right up any designers alley. A smart city collects data from city processes, citizens and various government entities to keep the city running smoothly. The goal is to reduce costs and offer the highest and latest technology imaginable. Other cities might have smart elements, such as sharing cars or new technology to reduce energy usage.
Stockholm has hundreds of different projects developed by the government, businesses and individuals to make the city run more efficiently.
4. Seattle, Washington
If looking to move to one of America’s tech hubs, you don’t have to focus solely on Silicon Valley. Seattle, Washington has a cluster of tech startups and opportunities for designers and developers abound. However, it is quite different from Silicon Valley, in that many of the locals aren’t quite sure they want to be known as the next Silicon Valley and all the changes and growth that brings. People tend to stick with their jobs more in Seattle, not switching to new ones or leaving work to open their own businesses. However, the cost of living is much lower and there is no state income tax.
5. Copenhagen, Denmark
Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and known for its design. More than just web design, you’ll find inspiration in museums, furniture galleries and even the way the trash bins are designed in the city (which also help the homeless).
The city is also trying to become greener and has a goal to become the first carbon-neutral city in the world by 2025. If you’re looking for a thriving city where you’ll find inspiration and cutting-edge technology, green living and innovation, Copenhagen makes an interesting choice.
6. San Jose, New Mexico
In San Jose, designers are sought after and it is listed as one of the hot job markets in the industry. The work/life balance for San Jose was about a 3.5 on a five-point scale, but other factors come into play making it a desirable place to live, such as the cost of living, availability of jobs and mild climate.
For those who want to stay in the west but would like to get outside of California, San Jose may be an attractive option.
Best Cities for UX Designers
Even though these six cities stand out, don’t rule out smaller areas hiring designers. Jobs in the Midwest for designers may be less abundant, but the cost of living and need for skilled designers in these areas could create a recipe for success. While big cities have a lot to offer, smaller towns often have a warmer feel that draws you in and helps you set down roots.
When deciding where to job hunt, don’t forget to factor in quality of life aspects. Even elements such as distance from family are important to consider. The final decision hinges on far more than simply who will pay you the highest salary. You also want a job that isn’t just a job but feels more like a calling.