Traditionally, the “Battle of the Bays” refers to when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face off against the San Francisco 49ers. However, a new “Battle of the Bays” is brewing — the Tampa Bay area is starting to rival San Francisco as a major contender in the tech world. In the past year alone, the number of startups in South Florida has skyrocketed, and the place once known as the “home to newlyweds and nearly deads” is becoming a respectable destination for tech businesses to set up shop.

Heading straight for Google, Microsoft, or Apple headquarters in Silicon Valley might seem like a tech superstar’s dream, but when areas like San Francisco and Seattle have rents so high that not even a six-figure salary can cover it, is the opportunity really worth it? Florida provides an opportunity to gain more experience, pay less in monthly expenses and income taxes, and have the same opportunities for social activities and entertainment.

Why Not Silicon Valley?

Simply put, the idea of becoming a millionaire before the age of 30 is out of reach for most new graduates due to the costs of living, taxes, and limited opportunities in Silicon Valley. Smaller startup leaders can’t attract top talent in this area because they can’t compete with the salaries offered by big corporations. Being located near bigger fish like Google, Snapchat, Facebook, and Apple often results in getting eaten before growing big enough to thrive.

Florida, to be blunt, is cheaper — a lot cheaper. You don’t have to shell out as much money for office space, and because Florida doesn’t have a state income tax, a company owner could add an additional $250,000 to a million-dollar business’s profits. This area, especially Tampa Bay, also attracts the country’s top physicians, professional athletes, and Hollywood elite. And it isn’t devoid of big-name businesses either. Companies like Wikipedia, Tech Data Corporation, and Bloomin’ Brands call Florida home.

You’ll find plenty of talent on Florida college campuses. The University of South Florida, for instance, has no shortage of diversity. And in 2015, the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur magazine ranked USF’s interdisciplinary graduate entrepreneurship program 13th among the top 25 programs in the nation. Due to the amount of people and ideas from different cultures, Miami is also a place to find talent with a variety of worldviews.

Pick Your City

Florida is a big state, so once you decide to go there, what city do you choose? If you want to be where the action is, Tampa or Miami are your best options.

If you want to cut the cost of office space by 50 percent or more (and put more into attracting top tier talents by offering salaries comparable to Silicon Valley), give the Tampa Bay area a chance. The term “Tampa Bay area” encompasses four counties, three sizeable cities — Tampa, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg — and at least four connecting bridges. It has all the perks of a large metropolitan city without the long list of aggravations that come with big-city living.

Several brilliant business leaders and big-name innovators have already recognized the potential and are investing heavily in the area to help expedite growth. Bill Gates is partnering with Jeff Vinik — current owner of the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning and AFL Tampa Bay Storm teams — to build up the waterfront and provide an exciting place for professionals to live and work. Now is the time to get on board before the rental rates go up.

Miami, on the other hand, has gone through some major changes to become the second most entrepreneurial city in the country. Both Apple and Facebook have regional offices in Miami, and entrepreneurs, government leaders, and VC firms have expanded to the area. With its unique ability to draw in talent from both the U.S. and Latin America, Miami is in a position to be a major player in the global technology game. Plus, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Miami is a third of the price of a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco.

The Florida Tech Hub’s Bright Future

Since Florida is already a melting pot of diversity and entrepreneurial spirit, it would not be foolish to see it becoming a major tech hub contender, attracting future tech businesses away from the West Coast. If this trend continues, I think we can see some exciting things in Florida’s future:

1. Tampa Becomes the New ‘Bay Area’

With so much opportunity in available land alone, Florida’s growth has endless possibilities right now. Combining the startup opportunities with the renowned academics in the area, I wouldn’t be surprised if we find the next generation’s Steve Jobs walking across USF’s sprawling campus. Or, while grabbing a fresh-pressed Cuban sandwich from a deli you might walk by Bill Gates, in town for the inaugural opening of the new downtown waterfront later that evening.

This is not such a far-fetched fantasy as it may have seemed five years ago, and looking forward five years, anything is truly possible. Many businesses have relocated to Florida simply to eliminate tax expenses, and Florida has given no indication it will enact a state tax anytime soon. With opportunities for additional profits, this may be just enough to convince your startup team to relocate.

2. More Opportunities for Tech Grads

As more businesses move to the area, students from South Florida universities won’t have to move far from friends and family to make it in the tech industry. Their talents will develop literally in their backyards, and the chance to make a difference in the industry will happen at businesses nearby rather than across the country.

There’s not much in the way of traffic here, either, so candidates from outside the region won’t have to deal with the hassle of a long commute. For example, it takes me 10 minutes to get from my home in northern Hillsborough County to my office near downtown Tampa. While Florida may not provide the bragging rights of working for one of the big four in Silicon Valley, it does provide tech grads the chance to grow their dream career without going bankrupt — whether from the cost of living or costs of traveling to see family.

3. St. Petersburg College Becomes a Major Tech Institution

Sure, the traditional tech universities will always be at the top of the list of respected institutions, but it’s easy to envision the next generation of tech rock stars studying for finals from the comforts of a cabana on Sunset Beach. I can picture them building the next world-changing gadget out in their Seminole Heights bungalow.

With the tech scene growing in local cities, it only makes sense that undergraduates will start flocking to smaller up-and-coming colleges and universities for entrepreneurships, internships, and career opportunities the region has to offer.

As attractive as Silicon Valley is, Florida offers entrepreneurs the chance to grow their startup at a fraction of the cost. Tech entrepreneurs can find a wealth of talent, business opportunities, and relatively inexpensive office space, without the high taxes and the costs of competing with the big fish. Tampa is well on its way to becoming the next tech hub by the bay, and it’s only a matter of time before savvy entrepreneurs realize this. So make the most of these opportunities before the mainstream gets wind of just how special the area really is.

Author's Bio: 

Daniel Wesley is a Florida-based entrepreneur who founded CreditLoan.com, and is president of Quote.com, where he is transforming the way the world thinks of quotes. Daniel is a current contributor/member of the YEC and has been featured in Forbes, TIME Magazine, Entrepreneur, and The Wall Street Journal. You can find him on LinkedIn.