I currently work as a game programmer at a startup company in a big city.

I took the job out of desperation. I really hate living in a big city and would like to live in a smaller community of 300k people or less. When you approach 1 million residents you get more jobs but it's not really suitable for raising a family or making close friends with ease. It's also impossible to buy a house. 100k and less and it's still quite a small town. I also hate commuting - it's very difficult to commute when you have small children at home.

I also find the gaming industry to be too intense for me - I like to have days and periods of time where it's not as extreme and I'm not scrambling to get things done all the time.

Which kind of development would you suggest for my preferences?

When I look there are jobs in the smaller communities but are they also going to be as picky because they have less people to chose from?

Would you suggest just scoping out places that are more suitable for living and then check what the companies are doing there?

Does anyone have experience with my situation? I don't necessarily want to stay in game development either. I have only been out of university for 2 years so I'm pretty green.

  • 2
    Many people commute - small community for where you live with friends/etc. , and then drive a bit to a large city where the work is. Software dev in gaming is somewhat notorious for having hard, non-movable deadlines, but really I don't think you will find any developer/programmer roles that don't have stress - they are well-paid positions for a reason. Depending on your experience, you may want to look into teaching/research positions at a university or similar (not to say that those jobs are easy, but they do tend to have a different type of stress than code deadlines). Commented Apr 6, 2015 at 5:37
  • Small towns usually offer admin type if IT work at local businesses. I know people who maintain regional newspaper websites, take care of the university campus network and similar jobs. Some towns may have shared service centers that serve remote locations of large businesses. Some other companies hire developers online and you can build a career from home. oDesk, elance and freelancer.com are such sites.
    – takacsmark
    Commented Apr 6, 2015 at 12:52
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    You won't know if companies in smaller communities will be "picky" until you try applying at them. If you are a great candidate, then anyone would want to hire you. If you are middle-of-the-road, then it depends more on the local conditions and how much easier/stable it is to hire a local vs. import someone. If you're a low-end candidate, you may have to take whatever you can get.
    – Eric
    Commented Apr 6, 2015 at 15:22
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    A - Pick the type of work you want to do. B - Find out which companies do that particular kind of work. C - From that list, pick the ones located in cities you might want to live in. D - Start applying for jobs. Notice how step A was to pick what YOU WANT TO DO. You aren't going to be good at your job if you aren't interested in it. Do not pick the location or company first. Try to pick a location that has multiple employers that do the same kind of work you want to do.
    – Dunk
    Commented Apr 7, 2015 at 22:29

3 Answers 3


"Which kind of development would you suggest for my preferences?" I wouldn't dream of suggesting anything to you. The only thing that we know for certain from this and your other posts is that game development is probably not right for you for a multiplicity of reasons including the hours you have to put in and the difficulty of persuading the management to let you work remotely.

You probably have very little choice but to work in the big city, because that's where the jobs are. What you can do is find a job that's better suited to the needs of your small family - more flexible schedule, greater flexibility in working remotely, a more supportive workng environment, etc. Maybe you don't get 100% of what you want but 80% to 90% is not bad.

I'd say check out the help wanted announcements, which include the skils set required. Decide what you'd really like to do from your reading of the announcements, make sure sure you have the required skills and go for these jobs with everything you've got.


Ah yes. That was me many years ago. I started my career in an expensive big city, but I was fortunate to get a great job offer in a small city a couple of years after graduating. And partly because of that, I was more able to have my own family, which I did.

Sounds like you'd like to live a life which includes building your own family, and perhaps leisure and hobbies. To achieve that, you need an employer with a stable business model. That means not the game development industry, and not start-ups. A government IT shop is stable, as are many large companies with internal IT applications. Also, lots of enterprise software companies have stable revenue, as do a lot of the newer SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) companies. And in many of those, the money is good and the hours are civilized, and you won't live at the office.

The challenge in a small town with stable and prosperous software companies is that there are not that many jobs. You have to be prepared to stay with the same employer for a long time. You also have to be prepared for a long and frustrating job hunt should you lose your job. And you have to be prepared for your job skills to unexpectedly become irrelevant.

Figure out where you would like to move, look for a small cluster of companies in those towns, and figure out which skills they seek, and if they match your skills.

With the relatively recent advent of the internet and web applications, you now have the ability to strike out on your own, writing and hosting web applications for local businesses or remote businesses. If your company is small enough, you could even work at home. (I have one friend who lives in a very small town on the US west coast with his wife, and they both have clients all over the USA). If you don't have web development experience, I suggest that you build skill with with LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL and PHP) web applications and setting up web sites using Drupal or Wordpress.


Wow, to be you, at your age, skills, experience, education, asking that question. Please look at this time as one of the best in your life....

My best recommendation is to define an objective of making a decision in one year, then go out and work low-paying internships in a variety of small burgs - perhaps while taking on some contract work on Odesk or one of those sites to get the bills paid. Perhaps your employer might even move you to part time remote to help you the process.

Some of the happiest devs I know did this. They were able to make a long term decision based on personal experience rather than rely on a forum, opinion, or other people's ideas about what their life should be...

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