Europe is known for being excellent in a lot of things: from the buoyant economy to a soccer industry that’s adored by all, you just have to give it to them. However, when it comes to being conducive for software engineers, the continent appears to still have a long way to go, maybe you would say otherwise.
While Silicon Valley can be described to be North America’s tech hub, there’s no similar place on the European continent. However, that doesn’t mean there are no excellent cities for software engineers in Europe; to be clear there are many.
In this article, you’ll learn about the best cities for software engineers in Europe and what makes those cities deserving of that accolade. Also, you’ll learn if professionals in this career are in demand in Europe, and I’ll show you the city that’s closest to Silicon Valley if there are any. While you are at it you could also check on the highest paying tech jobs in demand
Are Software Engineers in Demand in Europe?
Before moving to Europe to grow your software development career, a crucial question that’s worth asking is this: are software engineers in demand in Europe? If they aren’t, there’s no real point in leaving your current location in pursuit of a new software engineering job on the continent.
To start, it’s crucial to note that asking using Europe as a sample size for a question checking for the demand of software engineers is not ideal. The continent is so big that the demand for engineers differs across countries, and even individual cities.
Generally, however, there’s a high demand for software engineers across the entire European continent. Of course, some countries or cities have a much higher demand than others, but in general, you have a higher chance of getting a job in Europe than say a random African country for example.
However, the demand isn’t enough reason for you to leave your country for Europe, especially if your country also has a market for software engineers too. The cost of living in Europe, particularly in cities with the highest demand for software engineers, is so high that you may regret the move.
However, if you already have a decent job and help from your employer to move to the country, moving to Europe to ply your trade might be the best idea. The following sections will show you some of the best countries and cities to consider moving to, for the best development jobs in Europe.
Which Europe Country is Best for Software Engineers?
At the moment, the UK is the best European country for software engineers, more specifically, England. This outcome isn’t really unexpected, given that London is unarguably the biggest destination for software developers in Europe.
If you’re planning to pursue your software development career in the UK, you should try to stay within the UK since most of the opportunities are there. Going by official statistics about the state of software development jobs in the UK, employment opportunities are spread pretty unevenly.
If London sounds like an impossible destination, you may also want to consider Berlin, Germany. Most people like to regard the city as Silicon Allee, the Silicon Valley of Europe. With Britain trying to exit the European Union, Berlin might be the only rightful city to bear the title of the best city for software engineers in Europe in the coming years.
Best Cities for Software Engineers in Europe
- 1. London, UK
Pending UK’s exit from the European Union, London will continue to be the best city for software engineers in Europe for obvious reasons. Firstly, London is always first in anything in Europe, so this is not very surprising, but there are some very strong statistics to back up this claim.
In the UK alone, there are around 100 tech unicorns, and London houses more than 60 of them. Ordinarily, this should already cement its reputation as the tech capital of the European continent, but there’s even more. The issue with London is the same with every other city that’s regarded as a major tech hub around the world: the cost of living is terribly high. If you can manage to get a decent software engineering job before your move, however, you shouldn’t have any complaints about the city.
You could also check out this piece of tech unicorns in Africa
- 2. Zurich, Switzerland
If the cost of living is not a problem for you, Zurich can be one of the best cities for software engineers in Europe, especially when salary is the main metric. However, there are many problems with working in the city that will make other alternatives a lot more appealing to you.
To start with the positives, the average salary of a developer in Zurich is around $150,000. While this looks massive, you should note that this city is one of the few European cities that have managed to beat any American state when comparing the cost of living, so Europeans aren’t particularly proud of it.
Also, Zurich has one of the best security systems in the world. It dwarfs most other European cities when it comes to infrastructure, safety, and general quality of life, making it one of the best cities in Europe to live in. As you’d expect, most of those advantages also come with big tradeoffs.
The most noticeable drawback of seeking a job in Zurich is the cost of living. According to Mercer, it’s ranked as the most expensive city in Europe, even faring worse than London and Dublin. The huge salary won’t seem so big anymore when you discover you’ll be spending it all on just surviving.
- 3. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam is cementing its place as one of the best cities for software engineers in Europe every day, and no, you don’t need to learn Dutch to work in this city. Most companies hiring software engineers in the Netherlands don’t have a Dutch requirement, making it easy for English-speaking professionals to gain employment in the booming tech economy.
Amsterdam makes the top five list of European cities with the most unicorn startups, and there are more tech startups per 1 million people in Amsterdam than the European average. While it’s relatively expensive to live in the city, it’s nothing compared to places like London, Zurich, or Paris.
The city is HubSpot’s best tech city for work, and software developers earn around $47,000 per year on average. If that looks terrible, you should know it’s a very livable wage pretty much anywhere outside the United States; the average salary in the Netherlands is $35,000!
- 4. Berlin, Germany
Berlin is otherwise referred to as Silicon Allee, which is to point out its similarity to the ever-famous Silicon Valley. While London is still the closest thing to a Silicon Valley in Europe, that will have to change if or when Brexit happens, and Berlin is a very strong contender.
Compared to other tech hubs like London and New York City, Berlin has a relatively low cost of living. In addition to that, it’s home to most of the world’s biggest tech firms, even though they only run branches in the city at the moment. Also, there’s also the fact that Germany isn’t planning to leave the EU anytime soon, so you’re guaranteed continued access to the rest of Europe.
Software developers in Berlin earn around $50,000 annually, which is massive for someone living in a region with a low cost of living; and that’s only for developers with beginner-level experience (2 to 4 years). If you can also speak a bit of German, there’s literally no reason why you shouldn’t move to Berlin as a software engineer.
- 5. Paris, France
If you’re comfortable with French, moving to Paris might be one of the most rewarding moves for your software engineering career. Paris may be one of the most expensive places to live in the world, but you’ll surely earn enough money there to live comfortably, especially as a competent software engineer. To encourage techies to move to cities in France, the French government set up the French Tech Visa that makes it easier for professionals in the software engineering field to secure a pass to the country. If you’re considering making a move to Paris, you should consider learning more about the visa.
In addition to the special visa for techies, the French government has plenty of other initiatives that give you no excuse to not relocate to France. If you’re running a startup, for instance, you may want to check out La French Tech, which may help you secure funding, among others. All of these factors make Paris one of the best cities for software engineers in Europe.
Highest Paying Cities for Software Engineers in Europe
Europe is not the best at paying software engineers, but if you’re lucky enough to secure employment in one of the highest-paying cities for software engineers, you’ll likely be walking home with a fat take-home pay every month.
At the moment, Zurich, Switzerland is the city that pays software engineers the most in Europe, even if you’d eventually spend all of that money trying to survive there. In other words, the cost of living in Zurich is the highest of any city in Europe, which eventually won’t make the heavy salary appear to be much.
In addition to Zurich, cities like London, Amsterdam, and Munich also pay software developers pretty well. If you can also speak French moderately, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll get a high-paying software engineering job in Paris, but I’d like to assume you’re not French.
What is the Tech Capital of Europe?
One question that gets asked a bit too often is about Europe’s tech capital. Since Silicon Valley is agreed to be the de facto tech capital of North America or even America as a whole, it’s not surprising that many people expect other continents to have capitals.
To the surprise of nobody, London is the city that can be regarded as the tech capital of the European continent. If anyone was asked to take a wild guess, there’s a very good chance that London would be their pick since it’s unarguably one the best cities for software engineers in Europe.
At the moment, there are a little over 100 tech unicorns in the United Kingdom, and London houses nearly 60% of them. This feat alone puts it on par with other tech cities like California, San Francisco, Lagos, and Beijing.
London’s reign as the tech capital of Europe isn’t expected to end anytime soon either, as the city has seen the number of total unicorns rise by around 127% consistently since 2017. If this welcome trend continues, it may not be too long before we start comparing London to San Francisco, California, and Cupertino.
Europe cannot compare to North America or even Asia when it comes to the number of companies seeking software developers. However, that doesn’t mean you cannot get high-paying software engineering jobs on the continent. If you’re on the lookout for one, this article has outlined most of the best cities in Europe for software engineers.