by Thomas Wailgum

Worst Cities to Work in IT: International Edition

Jan 25, 2010
CareersIT Jobs

You think you've got it bad working your IT job in Detroit, Anchorage or Cleveland? Check out our global list of the riskiest and most toxic work environments -- then count your blessings.

Linfen, China

You work in IT for a coal or energy company. Your boss tells you he’s got an exciting…and…challenging assignment for a real “go getter,” like you! The job: Setting up new IT operations in China’s rich coal-producing center of Linfen. A Google search reveals Linfen, with more than 4 million residents, to be one of the most polluted cities in the world. “Um, hey boss, can we talk?”

Available IT Jobs in Linfen/Shanxi region (as posted on Jan. 22 on / 54

Mexico City, Mexico


It’s hot, crowded and a natural geographic “pollution trap.” Oh, and by the way, there’s a high-profile and dangerous “war on drugs” campaign going on all over the country.

Available IT Jobs in Mexico City (as posted on Jan. 22 on 20+

McMurdo Station, Antarctica


True, this “city” of anywhere from 250 to 1,000 hearty souls (the population swells during the “summer”) does need IT support year round—an IS group assists the McMurdo community with “installation of new computers, repairs, software training” and a 24×7 help desk. And, of course, many consider it a researcher’s paradise—if, by paradise, you mean “freezing your ass off.”

For the masochists out there like Ken Klassy (who took this photo in Antarctica), here’s an IT jobs page.

Beijing, China

In the shadow of Tiananmen Square, there’s tons of IT engineering and programming work going on inside the “kinder, gentler” Beijing, especially at companies like Google—what’s that? Google is pulling out due to censorship and allegations of government hacking? Oh. Forget about it.

Available IT Jobs in Beijing (as posted on Jan. 22 on / Thousands (translation issues)

Jakarta, Indonesia


Research from ORC Worldwide (a global human resources firm) ranks Jakarta as the No. 2 riskiest assignment for workers. The most critical problems center around: pollution, disease and sanitation, medical facilities, political violence, repression and crime, as reported in In addition, “the threat of violence, from Islamic extremists in particular, is a serious drawback to living here,” notes the ORC.

Available IT Jobs in Jakarta (as posted on Jan. 22 on 50+

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia


Coming in right behind Jakarta on ORC Worldwide’s list is Riyadh, another “very high risk” location due to “political violence and repression” and other government and social issues. “The possibility of a terrorist attack is an ongoing threat,” according to ORC research, “while wide-ranging restrictions on dress, movement, conduct, food, alcohol, travel and communications limit expatriate life.” As for female IT workers, the glass ceiling appears especially low. Did we mention sand? Lots o’ sand.

Available IT Jobs in Riyadh (as posted on Jan. 22 on 19

Mumbai, India


Thinking of following the IT job trail to India? Mumbai also shows up on ORC Worldwide’s list of high-risk assignments. ORC’s top risks: pollution, disease and sanitation, infrastructure, political violence and repression. “India’s financial capital has some of the country’s best architecture, restaurants and museums,” notes, but “it also has some of the worst slums, traffic jams and security problems.”

Available IT Jobs in Mumbai (as posted on Jan. 22 on 2,105

Nairobi, Kenya


While an expat assignment to the African continent might sound once-in-a-lifetime, an IT gig in Nairobi isn’t without its share of difficulties, social strife and potential danger. “Violent crime is a significant drawback and shortages of water and electricity can be a challenge,” according to ORC Worldwide research.

Available IT Jobs in Nairobi: N/A

Anywhere, Afghanistan and Anywhere, Iraq


Unless you’re in the military, any city in either of those countries is not a destination of choice for tech honchos. (And hats off to those brave men and women who are overseas right now.)

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