Where are the jobs?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Colin Dunn, Jan 2, 2002.

  1. Colin Dunn

    Colin Dunn Supporting Actor

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    At the end of November, I became yet another victim of the high-tech carnage in Austin. That means: Time to sell off my place in Austin and move to another place, where there is actually work to be done.

    With a deteriorating labor market, I am not optimistic about my earning potential. I expect I will probably end up making 20% LESS in my next job, making the affordability of my next home town even more important.

    But where to go?

    I was initially thinking about Dallas, but now I'm questioning whether or not I should move there. There are lots of companies based there, but the job market there has slowed from the torrid pace of a few years ago. Housing costs are up 15-20% over late 1999 levels. Unless I could make really good money there, now I wonder if it's worth putting up with the traffic.

    Houston is another possibility, since it's less subject to home-price inflation. Everyone gripes about the traffic there, but there is still dirt cheap housing all over town. Have the Enron mass layoffs killed off the job market in Houston yet, as Dell did to Austin?

    I don't know much about San Antonio. Is there much of an employment base there? Are Windows 2000/NT administrators even needed there?

    If I don't go to Dallas, San Antonio, or Houston, I will probably have to move out of Texas. The opens up a lot of other cities, but I don't know much about other regions.

    I have ruled out Denver, the SF Bay Area, NYC, and Boston. Those places are horribly expensive, and the tech-heavy job markets have collapsed there, too.

    Here's what I think would be ideal in a place to live...

    - Stable technology job openings (I have been doing Windows 2000/NT administration). I don't want to lose my job just 18 months after moving, as just happened in Austin...

    - Low cost of housing compared to prevailing salaries. I am single, so I need to get as much bang for the buck on one income as possible.

    - Reasonable commute times. I left the Denver/Boulder (Colorado) area because I was struggling to afford a small place, and driving an hour (or more) each way to get to work. I'd like to keep the commute to 30 minutes or less, unless I can afford a gigantic house in a desirable suburb (on one income, no less) to make up for the long commute time.

    - A liberal-minded, well-educated populace. I would prefer to live where old prejudices and ethnic tensions are at a minimum. Access to arts/culture would be nice to have.

    All this would probably suggest I should just stay in Austin, but unless some major companies start hiring in bulk here soon, I'm not going to outlast this downturn...
     
  2. CharlesD

    CharlesD Screenwriter

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    I would suggest the Kansas City area, which has had most of the key points you are looking for, except that now Sprint is shedding jobs which is casuing a drag on the high tech market and

     
  3. Dave Smith

    Dave Smith Stunt Coordinator

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    Sorry to hear that, Colin.

    How's your programming? The place I work at in Austin is looking for good C/C++ programmers. I'm in the video game industry, which after a couple of bad transition years is now booming again.

    If I had to move out of Austin, I have no clue where I'd want to go either.
     
  4. LDfan

    LDfan Supporting Actor

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    You might want to consider the Washington DC area. Very good employment opportunities with one major company, the federal government. There are also tons of other companies including many of the big defense contractors like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, TRW, EDS, and a few other big names like AOL, Oracle, and very soon Microsoft.

    Jeff
     
  5. SteveA

    SteveA Supporting Actor

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    "- A liberal-minded, well-educated populace. I would prefer to live where old prejudices and ethnic tensions are at a minimum."

    Well, that pretty much rules out Richmond, VA - which meets all your other criteria!
     
  6. Shawn C

    Shawn C Screenwriter

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    I'm a programmer also and live in the Vegas area. Programming jobs are few and far between here. Well, there are SOME programming position of you like working on slot machine code.. Ugh..

    Anyways, I second the nod to the DC, Northern VA, MD job market. I lived there for quite a while and there were always a TON of programming jobs there. I actually work for a company in VA while I am living in Vegas. That some telecommuting for ya!
     
  7. Steven K

    Steven K Supporting Actor

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    You might want to reconsider Boston. Despite what you hear, there are still many very good jobs out here, especially for programmers.

    Right now, Memphis and Atlanta are hotbeds for the tech industry; alot of companies moved south to save money.
     
  8. Chad Isaacs

    Chad Isaacs Supporting Actor

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    How about good old Indianapolis?It is pretty low cost and It is a growing city with alot(from what I hear) of oppertunity.
     
  9. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    The Northern VA/Washington DC area is incredibly conservative. You won't find more stuffed shirts in a laundromat.

    The traffic is hellish, the worst in the country. The cost of living is extremely high (Fairfax CO is one of the richest counties in the country and the home prices reflect this).

    Yes, the federal government is here, but many dot bombs set up shop in the Dulles Corridor so the high tech job market here is very tough.

    The schools are good. The mountains are nice. It's a nice place to live.
     
  10. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Avoid California at all costs; it's an employment bloodbath here. Best of luck.
     
  11. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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    I like it here. Not a lot of jobs available, but $120k will buy a very nice house in a great neighborhood. $250k will buy a 4000+ sqft home. $400k buys a mansion.

    Have you considered the Seattle area? Last I checked, there were all sorts of jobs available.
     
  12. McPaul

    McPaul Screenwriter

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    Colin, have you ever considered Canada? If you've considered Boston and NY, you're looking at the same distance away from home. Contrary to popular belief, the winters are getting much more milder thanks to global warming, in Calgary we hardly have any snow, whereas buffalo had 6 feet in a matter of days. Not to toot my own horn but I would consider Calgary over the other big cities, as the cost of living is less, and it is so much safer compared to Vancouver and Toronto. Plenty of oil, and other companies here so lots of tech jobs available. Especially in the Techworld. There is no place else you could imagine that would have as low a cost of living, especially with our dollar. $160 would buy you a nice house in the suburbs. Keep in mind this is in CANADIAN funds. I wouldn't rule it out just because it's a different country. I'd be happy to provide some more info for you if you'd like.
     
  13. Stacie

    Stacie Stunt Coordinator

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    Colin, I can't speak to the tech job market here (not even close to my field), but I think the Twin Cities pretty much meet your other criteria. Housing costs are up a lot from four or five years ago, but I think they're still pretty reasonable, and things have started to level off. It's certainly worlds more reasonable than Denver/Boulder; some very good friends of mine just moved here from there, and bought a three-bedroom, 1700 sf house for the same amount that they sold their one-bedroom, 700 sf Boulder condo. And their house is in a neighborhood where property values appreciated 30% last year.

    The freeway system here is pretty good (though it seems more crowded by the day), so if you choose the area of your home well in relation to your job, you can end up with a very short commute. My husband and I live ten minutes from work -- in heavy traffic. The central cities are mostly quite livable as are the suburbs; there are lots of choices.

    And in terms of your third criterion, for its size, the Twin Cities are for the most part wonderfully open-minded and fairly well-educated, though not as ethnically diverse as some places you could live. The arts are top-notch for a city of this size, with two major orchestras, and more good theater than you can shake a stick at. It's not New York, of course, but as I said, for its size...

    Anyway, to my mind the only serious drawback to living here is, duh, the weather. And there just isn't anything to be done about that. If you can't hack long, cold winters, you may be miserable here in spite of everything else.

    Stacie
     
  14. Colin Dunn

    Colin Dunn Supporting Actor

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    Charles -

    Yes, I have some savings from the good times, but I don't think they'll last indefinitely. Austin has a lot of stock-option millionaires who can hold on forever, whereas I have just 9 months before the money runs out.

    Having bought at the top of the last real-estate market, I have a good-sized house payment. That's a major reason I cannot wait 2-3 years for the local economy to rebound. The low-level service jobs and government positions in this area pay so poorly I would still have negative cash flow WHILE WORKING.

    I don't manage my finances like a dot.bomb, so that's why I'm getting ready to relocate.

    Jeff -

    I looked into the Washington, D.C. area, but it's too expensive for a single person. Homes within a reasonable commute go for well over $100 per square foot. Contrast that to Austin, where I bought a brand new house for $52 per square foot. In other words, housing is twice as expensive, and that's by far my biggest expense item. Unless I could more than double my salary (not likely), I probably need to stay away from D.C...

    Shawn -

    I'd consider living in the Las Vegas area, particularly if there are suburbs with affordable housing (and plenty of air-conditioning). Do you know anything about whether local businesses need Windows 2000/NT administrators? I'm not really a programmer or software developer.

    Any tips on how to get a telecommuting job? Much of my work could be done with a telephone, broadband connection, and virtual private network (VPN). However, almost every 2000/NT admin job I've seen they want the person in the same city as the servers, in case someone needs to go in and push the Big Red Button...

    Jack -

    I'd pretty much ruled out the major California metro areas (L.A. and S.F.), for just the reasons you describe. Too many dot.bomb layoffs, and stratospheric real-estate prices. Before I go there, I'll have to wait for thousands of foreclosures to happen. Real-estate prices in California need to come down to about 1/4 their current levels before I'd consider them reasonable...

    Ryan -

    I am considering Seattle, though most of the Seattle area is too expensive for a single person (again, those >$100/sq. ft. homes!). Do you know which suburbs of Seattle tend to be affordable, yet not crime-ridden?

    What are the Tri-Cities? I suspect they're not near Seattle, but rather in a different part of the state.

    Paul -

    I am a U.S. citizen. Does Canada often authorize people from the U.S. to work north of the border? If I could be hired and authorized to work in Canada, I would jump at the chance. Probably wouldn't buy a home unless I later decided to immigrate.

    Here in the U.S., I hear a lot of people bashing "high taxes" in Canada. How would you describe the tax burden there? Do you keep a substantial fraction of your paycheck, or take home just a little bit of your pre-tax pay?

    Stacie -

    I think I missed the cut-off to move to the Twin Cities. Homes are selling for >$100 per square foot, more than twice what I paid per square foot in Austin. This problem with 30% appreciation and prices more than doubling over the last few years is why I had to leave Colorado!!! Because I am on ONE income, I can't pay top dollar for a home.

    Other than that (and winter), the area sounds good to me. Are there any suburbs within an hour's commute of the jobs, where I could get a 2,000 sq. ft. home (with full, finishable basement) for
     
  15. MarcVH

    MarcVH Second Unit

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    Yes, the tri-cities are not near Seattle. They're not near much of anything, which you may see as a plus or a minus.

    I don't think I would call jobs plentiful here right now, though I still have one for the time being. You can get reasonable cost of living, but that means living in burbs which probably don't fit your criteria for reasonable commutes and liberal-minded populace.
     
  16. Sean Conklin

    Sean Conklin Screenwriter

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    I can get you hooked up with a good snow shoveling co. here in Mt, you like snow? j/k.[​IMG]
    I lived in Olathe, Ks (Johnson County) for about a year(all my wifes relatives live in the KC area). And I would say Kansas City and the surrounding area is booming.
     
  17. McPaul

    McPaul Screenwriter

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    Tough questions Colin. I quite often overhear people saying that they're up from the US for work for X number of months. I don't know what the process is - I guess it's a work visa.? Perhaps there are people on the forum here who have done that very thing. I don't think the government is averse to it, especially for tech jobs, which are always in demand.
    As far as taxes go, no. They dont seem to be much out of sorts. I don't find it to be a burden at least. Here in Canada, we pay Federal tax on our paychecks as well as Canadian Pension Plan, and Employment Insurance charges. These last two are minimal, and an accountant can tell you what the actual percentages are. Without knowing what the situation is in the states is, it's hard to say how muchh we pay in tax. I guess taxes are around 1/5 - 1/4 of your gross check, plus or minus depending on how much you make.
    As for myself, I usually get a pretty sizeable rebate on my taxes each year which helps a bunch (actually I want to fix it this year where I zero out in April.)
    You have to figure in that most companies would be paying for your provincial healthcare, so you don't have to pay blue cross a ton of money, except if you want dental work, glasses, etc.
    On purchases we pay 7% across the country (callled GST).
    We also pay provincial tax of 7-8% depending on which province you are. Here in Alberta there's no provincial tax - it's the only province where this is the case.
    If you wont be buying a house, you can expect rents for a 2bedroom apartment to be $700-750 +/-
    By the way, yesterday it was +7 Celcius (about 40-something) with a beautiful Chinook arch up overhead. It's been gorgeous here this winter, which everyone said was going to be so bad for us.
    Any other questions, please let me know, hopefully I can answer them better! [​IMG]
     
  18. Chris Wittry

    Chris Wittry Stunt Coordinator

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    I'll throw my vote in for Omaha.
    1. Very stable job market. Last time I checked, we were still looking at several thousand open tech jobs in the city itself, and that's while much of the country is looking at unemployment.
    2. EXTREMELY reasonable housing market. I just bought a house about a year ago and can say that the market is great for the buyer right now.
    3. Commute times - Depending on where you decide to live and work the commute will run you between 10 and 20 minutes - and that's in heavy traffic!
    4. As for your last requirement, the city is working on it. We've got a lot of blue-blood in this city, but as the next generation of people grows up, we seem to be moving in the liberal direction and the populace is well educated, with almost no racial tension. As for arts/culture, we've got some of that too!
    Hope this helps! [​IMG]
     
  19. Michael Silla

    Michael Silla Second Unit

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    Paul.
    One of the ways that this could be done is through a NAFTA visa. It allows for cross border travel of professionals between Canada, the United States and Mexico. The Job categories that are allowed "free movement" are specific in nature. If you go to Canada Customs or and INS office in the United States, you can obtain a document listing these professions (it's also probably on the web).
    Before I say this, please understand that I'm proudly Canadian [​IMG]. I don't see why anyone currently residing in the United States would want to pursue an opportunity in Canada UNLESS the compensation provided far outweighed the many negatives. Calgary is a wonderful city - it has alot of big city comforts without being "too big". Coming from Winnipeg, I find it to be a very expensive city though.
    Now to toot my horn....[​IMG]
    Salt Lake City has most of what you are looking for. Just like many other states tech sectors, we are hurting from the "post 9-11" environment. Several big tech companies such as Novell and Iomega have reduced staff significantly as of late. Since I am not in the tech sector, I really can't comment further. Any other HTF'ers living in this area that can comment?
    The one big perceived negative about Salt Lake city is the culture. I wouldn't exactly call it "liberal-open minded" but escpecially in Salt Lake itself, things are changing rapidly. It shouldn't be a reason NOT to move here.
    As far as housing costs go, they have risen significantly in the last 10 years or so. if your budget is
     
  20. Ryan Witt

    Ryan Witt Agent

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    It looks like you are concerned more with the average cost of living.
    Therefore, I will put in another vote for the KC area. Most likely the Missouri side, but everything here is booming. As long as you don't live in Johnson County, Kansas (which used to be in the top 5 richest counties in the nation) your costs should be pretty low.
    I live in Blue Springs, MO which is about 12 minutes (by highway during reasonable traffic) from downtown KC. Don't know what the average $ per square foot is, but I would bet it's near the lowest in the nation.
    Two big (tech) companies in town are Sprint (which just laid-off quite a lot of people) and Cerner (www.cerner.com; I have no idea on their current hiring status but they used to hire just about anyone near the qualifications required). Of course, a network admin doesn't have to work for a tech company, so that increases your chances of getting a job.
    good luck
     

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