Author Topic: Drop Everything and Move Out West  (Read 13807 times)

benjaminbutton

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Drop Everything and Move Out West
« on: May 18, 2015, 09:00:13 AM »
Myself and my fiance make decent money living and working in Iowa.  136k combined, unfortunately we have about 140k of student loan debt.  Both engineers, I have my masters.

Fiance commutes close to an hour each way, doesn't really like her job. My job is 5 minutes away, can't stand the job.  Not much for careers in this area in our fields, so we are looking to move out west near family that has escaped the midwest.  Colorado or California... Maybe Arizona.  We have a month to month lease in a tiny apartment and we are ready to get out of town. 

The loans are shackling us here... Looking for any advice.  It is terrifying to up and leave without a job but we're just that despondent about our current situation that we are considering it.  We ideally want jobs before leaving but it is hard to get our feet in the door from so far away.

Help!

AlwaysBeenASaver

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2015, 10:54:00 AM »
Can you live on just 1 of your salaries? Maybe one of you can go "Out West" and secure a job and low cost apartment, before the other leaves their job?

thurston howell iv

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2015, 12:40:41 PM »
If you're browsing this forum you're already on the right track. Additionally, you seem relatively young.

Before you acquire a bunch of junk (eg: a house with rooms full of furniture, books, misc. cars, etc...) I would recommend setting a super strict budget.
If your student loans have great interest rates that's fine. If not, check out SL refinancing options.

Then I would figure out how much you guys can live on and put everything else toward the debt. For example, could you get by on $1k per month? (groceries, rent, etc.- all the basics only). With your salaries you guys could be out of debt in just over a year and then you would have the freedom of going where you want on your own terms.  Suffer a little now for greater rewards and freedom later.

Trust me, you do not want to try to move when you have a ton of debt, no job, and a bunch of junk to haul around all over the country.

Also, be mindful of the housing situations around the west. Some places like CA are VERY expensive.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2015, 01:16:09 PM by thurston howell iv »

Mirwen

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2015, 12:52:30 PM »
I hope those are Direct Loans.  If they are and you don't have income, you can call and get deferment or forbearance.  Or you can use Income Based Repayment to get a lower payment for a year or two (after relocating) to give you time to get back in the game.  There's little point (in my opinion) to making tons of money if you are miserable. 

The states you listed have very different tax environments.  It sounds like you need to do some research and decide on a location first and set aside some money for interview trips.  Once one of you has a job offer you can move.  The loans shouldn't tie you to your location.  Just make sure that where you go has plenty of jobs in your field so you have options after you relocate. 

benjaminbutton

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2015, 12:53:35 PM »
Yes, paying off debt first is smarter... We are just anxious to move somewhere that will be long term. Neither of us grew up in Iowa, we came here for jobs.  Feels like we're in limbo,  she wants to reduce her commute but jobs are limited unless you are a contractor for John Deere, which means no benefits and getting worked like a dog.

We can't imagine another year of being here, its been close to three years up here. 

I suppose we could couch surf at friends and familys places until we get hired where we want. 

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2015, 01:43:35 PM »
we are looking to move out west ... Maybe Arizona.

Plenty of engineering jobs here, just rent for a year first, and stay out of the no zone if possible.  ;)

benjaminbutton

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2015, 02:06:03 PM »
Wow that's a big area. Why is that a no zone?  Bad area?  I have a sister that's a doctor in Tucson which isn't too far away.

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2015, 02:20:05 PM »
Wow that's a big area. Why is that a no zone?  Bad area?  I have a sister that's a doctor in Tucson which isn't too far away.

It's the same story as any big metro area, really.  The best communities are generally outside of the core city itself.  Same story with Tucson.  Avoid city of Tucson, but the outlying suburbs, like Oro Valley, are nice.

Bob W

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2015, 02:24:45 PM »
You are very blessed and making bank ---

IMHO you should consider a move only if the numbers and family connections warrant it.    My guess is if you became hardcore you could save an amount equal to your student loans in less that 1.5 years (135 times .75 minus 25K living expenses)

I say save because it is better to have 140K in liquid S and P investments than to have 140K in paid off student loans.

In 1.5 years you can make the call at that time.    You will have many more options.   

If you can put your head to it you can theoretically be FI within 7 years.   

That said,  if an interesting opportunity were to come up for both of you,  you have been at least smart enough to marry a house. 

JoJo

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2015, 02:36:09 PM »
One of you should get a job in a location you want and then make the move.  You may also be provided with relo benefits if you do it this way.

BuckeyeFinance

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2015, 03:16:01 PM »
If you are as miserable as it sounds, I think one of you should get a job elsewhere and live on that income until the other is able to secure a job in that location. If you're both qualified engineers and you actually try, it shouldn't be THAT hard to find a decent paying job in an area you'd like to live. That's one of the best things about being an accountant, nurse, engineer--they are needed everywhere. I would not advise you to leave without at least one of you having a job.

spokey doke

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2015, 07:33:15 AM »
So you make good money - great, make that work better for you in reducing spending to put you in a better situation to move...and I would be all about moving in your situation.

Make it an adventure - really cut your spending while 'shopping' for new places to live, researching jobs, housing and other expenses, transportation, climate, recreation, taxes.  Narrow it down to 2-3 destinations and get a really good feel for jobs and housing and start applying for jobs, knowing some decent options for initial renting.  See what pans out and enjoy an exciting next step in your life.  This sort of purposeful work for change can be really rewarding in itself, not to mention the pay-off.

benjaminbutton

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2015, 08:23:40 AM »
Thank you for all the replies and advice!  It is a terrifying thought to move so far away, though we talk about it all the time.  Ultimately, I will probably be the one to go out and couch surf for a bit until I land on my feet.  As a very smart female engineer, my fiance seems to have no trouble landing jobs and could follow soon after.  I hate that she has to drive so far each way for work, cannot wait for that to be over. 

The draw to California is my siblings, weather, ocean/mountains, great Universities for PhD and obviously the big tech companies and to be in the hub of all that innovation is exciting.  Not much innovation where we currently live...

Denver has a few of our friends and the awesome outdoors as well as big Aerospace and the ability to get my PhD at a nearby Uni.

bb11

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2015, 09:46:54 AM »
I quit my job in the Bay Area, CA (overrated IMO, move to So-Cal) last year to make a random move to NYC. Couldn't be happier with the decision. See my journal in my sig for more about me. I'd recommend just going for it though. I tried applying for jobs for months and couldn't get anything. The stars never really align IMO, you just gotta go for the things you really want in life.

Quote
It's the same story as any big metro area, really.  The best communities are generally outside of the core city itself.  Same story with Tucson.  Avoid city of Tucson, but the outlying suburbs, like Oro Valley, are nice.

Okay granted I've never been to Phoenix, but to wipe entire cities off the map for being a "bad area" is ridiculous to me. It's the equivalent of people who won't go outside of Lower Manhattan in NYC or the western suburbs of San Jose in the Bay Area (two areas I'm more familiar with). There are tons of tremendous communities all over the place in these cities. I would be surprised if Phoenix is any different.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2015, 02:01:11 PM by bb11 »

Hot_AZ

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2015, 10:36:07 AM »
I'm in the Phoenix area (live in Mesa, work in Scottsdale) and completely agree with the "NO" zones.  Definitely plenty of jobs here!

We are doing a similar move (from AZ to Wyoming) and my husband has been tasked to get a job before we move.  He's from WY originally and will have a harder time getting a job (he's self employed now and even with a degree, he's had a hard time).  It seems to be easier for me (IT Business Analyst with medical background) to get jobs so i'll get one once we actually get settled. 

Cookie78

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2015, 10:48:17 AM »
Okay granted I've never been to Phoenix, but to wipe entire cities off the map for being a "bad area" is ridiculous to me. It's the equivalent of people of won't go outside of Lower Manhattan in NYC or the western suburbs of San Jose in the Bay Area (two areas I'm more familiar with). There are tons of tremendous communities all over the place in these cities. I would be surprised if Phoenix is any different.

Ya. My favorite house is near the edge of this no zone. I don't live there often, but it's a nice area IMO. Nicer than the few areas in Mesa I'm familiar with.

scottish

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2015, 06:22:35 PM »
You're in the midwest, you hate your jobs and you want to move out west where there's family.   Engineers in hi-tech?   No kids, no property to tie you down.

Go for it.   There are lots of high tech jobs in California are there not?    One of you get a job and just go.


Ricky

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2015, 07:24:50 PM »
Wow that's a big area. Why is that a no zone?  Bad area?  I have a sister that's a doctor in Tucson which isn't too far away.

The best communities are generally outside of the core city itself.

That's...not really true at all? At least now. Maybe 30 years ago. Totally depends on the city too.

Philo Beddoe

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2015, 07:28:05 PM »
You're in the midwest, you hate your jobs and you want to move out west where there's family.   Engineers in hi-tech?   No kids, no property to tie you down.

Go for it.   There are lots of high tech jobs in California are there not?    One of you get a job and just go.

I pretty much agree with this.

But, if you think your loans are "shackling" you there, how is twice the cost of living going to help? Yes, you will likely make more too, but it is f-ing expensive in California.

I spent 35 years in the Bay Area. Despite the one comment above that it's overrated, there are 7 million people who disagree. All of these people have cars, so if you choose the Bay, I recommend living really close to work.

Another Reader

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2015, 07:55:30 PM »
I dunno, Cookie78, Southern and 40th is not my idea of a good area to own rentals. 

I look at neighborhoods from the real estate investment viewpoint.  I generally agree with the Phoenix "redlining," although we could quibble about a few areas south of Bell and near Tempe.  The schools are poor quality, the housing is generally older and not consistently maintained.  South and West Phoenix have the real war zones.  There are also some rough areas in Mesa near downtown and in patches east to Apache Junction.  There is some revitalization in downtown Phoenix, but no critical mass yet.

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #20 on: May 20, 2015, 10:26:42 PM »
That's...not really true at all? At least now. Maybe 30 years ago. Totally depends on the city too.

Hop on bing or google maps, locate Chase Field (the pride and joy baseball field for Phoenix) and look at the neighborhoods even just a quarter mile south of it.  Most of the houses you see are actually gone now because they were so bad that they were condemned.  Many more are basically just small junkyards now.  Perhaps they'll eventually get rebuilt the way many areas in SoCal and the SF Bay area have revitalized and built up, but Phoenix is like a lot of other non-coastal cities where that simply hasn't happened yet in spite of tremendous population growth over the last 50 years.  All that growth has been away from the core of downtown Phoenix, even though that's where the international airport, the ball fields, convention center, state fair, many theaters, and many high rises with big corporate businesses are.  It would certainly be nice to see a turnaround though.

bb11

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #21 on: May 21, 2015, 08:04:58 AM »
Quote
I spent 35 years in the Bay Area. Despite the one comment above that it's overrated, there are 7 million people who disagree. All of these people have cars, so if you choose the Bay, I recommend living really close to work.

True, but by that logic So-Cal is even better since it's more populated. ;)

Someone's opinion who spent 23 years in the South Bay: Ungodly expensive (moreso than anywhere else is the US because real estate is so pricy AND you still need a car to get anywhere AND taxes are high; I'm saving quite a bit more in NYC), you can't easily live within 40 minutes of the beach because that's not where the settlement is along the peninsula, very spread out and suburban (the upside is there is less crime and poverty than most places), not a lot of buzz/excitement or nightlife, and highly tech oriented (a good thing in OP's case). I am in a small minority on this but the weather is also boring, the average temp is in the 50's for 6 months a year. I'd rather somewhere warmer to go to the beach or hell, I'm really enjoying the four seasons living in New York. Give me a few years and maybe I'll be jaded.

Now LA: Way too spread out but at least there's tons of lively, urban areas to explore. There are also quite a few beach communities still close to jobs. Warmer, more tropical climate. Cheaper than the Bay.

Denver I've only been to briefly but it's way cheaper, just as urban if you're not in SF, closer (and better) mountain activities, and four seasons. I'd like to try it.

YMMV, I think the Bay Area is a great place to raise a family on a high income, not a great place to spend your twenties unless you're in the heart of SF. The "beach living" stereotype is a misnomer because most people only go a few times a year, as you have to drive over the Santa Cruz mountains to get there. So-Cal is much better for that. But this is from someone who loves the car-less, apartment-living, urban lifestyle.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2015, 10:24:40 AM by bb11 »

Cookie78

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #22 on: May 21, 2015, 10:07:59 AM »
I dunno, Cookie78, Southern and 40th is not my idea of a good area to own rentals. 

I look at neighborhoods from the real estate investment viewpoint.  I generally agree with the Phoenix "redlining," although we could quibble about a few areas south of Bell and near Tempe.  The schools are poor quality, the housing is generally older and not consistently maintained.  South and West Phoenix have the real war zones.  There are also some rough areas in Mesa near downtown and in patches east to Apache Junction.  There is some revitalization in downtown Phoenix, but no critical mass yet.

In a general sense I agree with you completely, especially if you are talking about owning rentals. However I know a little pocket near Southern and 40th with a great community with very friendly people and nice houses, which I adore very much and look forward to spending more time in in the future. It's also in the Tempe school district for some reason, even though it's not in Tempe. I felt much safer walking around there at night than I did in the community I was at in Mesa. So it's hard for me to label everything in that zone as 'NO'. Just pointing out exceptions I guess. And reminiscing.


desertCyclist

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #23 on: May 21, 2015, 10:26:48 AM »
Not sure what types of engineers you and your fiancee are, but a few companies you two could look at in az include: Intel, Boeing, General Motors, Avnet, Raytheon, Gore... not to mention all of the smaller companies too. One of the bigger ones may offer a nice moving package.

I almost moved to the bay area after college for a job, but decided to stay in AZ. It is so easy to get out of town on the weekends here... in CA we spent hours in traffic coming back from Tahoe. I bike to work every day and rarely have to deal with bad weather. Sure, it gets hot but you get used to it. The COL here is also much better compared to CA and even CO.

benjaminbutton

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #24 on: August 12, 2015, 07:25:29 AM »
It is happening, the fiance is taking a position in Boulder,CO.  Now I have to deal with finding some income out there ASAP.  Anyone have any connections out there?  This is happening faster than I imagined!

I'm a red panda

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #25 on: August 12, 2015, 07:50:06 AM »
I personally would secure at least 1 job between the two of you, then move.  Heck- the company may even pay for you to do it.

Cwadda

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #26 on: August 12, 2015, 07:51:10 AM »
If I were in your position, I'd drop your location like it's hot. It's what I want to do once I graduate school.

To put it in perspective, my sister dropped everything she was doing and moved to California last winter. She has no degree and her bf has an associates in engineering. Yet she managed to find a place a few blocks away on the beach for $1400/mo rent. They're doing just fine and she absolutely loves it out there.

You have every resource to be more happy, including money. Engineering is one of, if not the most, employable degree. Why not do what makes you happy? Sounds like I'm giving off some sort of entitlement complex vibe, but that's not what it's about.

Trudie

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #27 on: August 12, 2015, 08:53:35 AM »
I live in Iowa also, for what it's worth.

I recommend looking at Tucson.  My folks live there and have a reasonable cost of living in the northwest suburbs (Marana).  The defense and aeronautical industries are big there and I suspect you could find engineering jobs.

Also, Tucson housing suffered some of the worst of the 2008 crash.  I think that reasonable housing can be secured there.

Good to see you on this site.  I think that declaring war on your student loans is a good first step.

stlbrah

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #28 on: August 12, 2015, 09:04:42 AM »
I would take a paycut to get away from this ridiculous humidity in Missouri. Can't wait for winter.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #29 on: August 12, 2015, 09:33:35 AM »
If I were in your position, I'd drop your location like it's hot. It's what I want to do once I graduate school.


I think when you graduate is the best time to make a big move. It is a lot harder to make the decision when you are earning a very high wage for your area; because you have to make an actual choice to give that up.  If you've just graduated and job hunting, you aren't giving up a known for an unknown; but an unknown for a different unknown.

If they had shit jobs in Iowa, I'd say dump them and get the hell out of Dodge, but they are making good money here.

benjaminbutton

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #30 on: August 12, 2015, 10:21:06 AM »
I would take a paycut to get away from this ridiculous humidity in Missouri. Can't wait for winter.

I hear you, went to school by STL.  Iowa is just as humid.



I think when you graduate is the best time to make a big move. It is a lot harder to make the decision when you are earning a very high wage for your area; because you have to make an actual choice to give that up.  If you've just graduated and job hunting, you aren't giving up a known for an unknown; but an unknown for a different unknown.

If they had shit jobs in Iowa, I'd say dump them and get the hell out of Dodge, but they are making good money here.

Yea, just hit our 3 year anniversary of moving to Iowa from St. Louis.  Iowa has really grown on us.  The job pay is great, especially for the area.  Our current jobs themselves are very underwhelming in terms of industries and day to day tasks.  She found a great place in Boulder to work dealing with renewable energy and I am hoping to find something too.  Next, up is finding a reasonable place to live that is at least close to her work...

I'm a red panda

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #31 on: August 12, 2015, 10:29:37 AM »
Quote
She found a great place in Boulder to work

That seems like enough to make the move.  From your first post, it sounded like you were just going to drop everything and see what happened.  I see now that if I had read the post right before I originally posted, she had secured the job!

We moved to Iowa for husband's PhD and really love it here. We both really like our work here though; in fact- this is basically the best place for me to be for my industry.  Husband is a bit underpaid in his, but together I think it is a good match for us. I never thought I'd enjoy living in Iowa... we came very reluctantly.

bittheory

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #32 on: August 12, 2015, 10:36:59 AM »
Congrats. Boulder is an amazing place to live. It can get a little pricey, so be patient when searching for housing. Try to find employment in the city of Boulder if possible, the commute down to Denver or even some of the nearby suburbs can be soul crushing, especially in the winter.

I am from Colorado and currently live in Denver. I spent a couple of years out in SoCal, and despite what you hear about the high cost of living, which is true, it's somewhat comparable to Denver/Boulder now. The whole area has exploded in job growth and by default, so has rent and cost of living.

AZDude

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #33 on: August 12, 2015, 11:59:23 AM »
we are looking to move out west ... Maybe Arizona.

Plenty of engineering jobs here, just rent for a year first, and stay out of the no zone if possible.  ;)

You left Mesa in the "yes" zone... Just saying...

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #34 on: August 13, 2015, 10:12:44 AM »
You left Mesa in the "yes" zone... Just saying...

Well ultimately my gauge for choosing a place to live is actually based on the quality of the public schools.  If you live somewhere with very good public schools, chances are it will be a nice, safe place to live and maintain good resale value.  Parts of Mesa are just fine.  Other parts maybe not so much.  Mesa certainly has a cruddy area too, same as just about any city, but the "no zone" is almost exclusively red & yellow rated.  It was mostly a joke, but based on schools it really does line up a fair amount.

RosieTR

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #35 on: August 13, 2015, 10:09:43 PM »
Congrats on Boulder!!! I would recommend looking at the nearby towns: Gunbarrel, Superior, Loiusville, Lafayette, etc. Check the bus system and bike paths before you rent. Biking is possible year-round tho of course look into the blog post about winter cycling. Nothing worse than IA except wind. Also be aware: the places in the hills can be temptingly cheaper but you will likely have to drive, and are at risk of wildfire. Traffic in Boulder can rival much bigger cities at rush hour, and not a day passes that you won't see a cyclist. No lie. It will be soooo much better than IA, and (IMO) far better than Phx. This from a CO native who wound up with an upside-down house in the No Zone.
Enjoy the adventure!

RobinAZ

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #36 on: August 14, 2015, 12:25:41 AM »
We are strongly considering leaving Phoenix for Des Moines!!!!  :-)

A lot of that No area IS awful.  I live adjacent to the Biltmore area in one of the best school districts in town but all in all, Phoenix sucks.

We love Colorado, good luck!!

benjaminbutton

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #37 on: August 14, 2015, 02:23:20 PM »
Congrats on Boulder!!! I would recommend looking at the nearby towns: Gunbarrel, Superior, Loiusville, Lafayette, etc. Check the bus system and bike paths before you rent. Biking is possible year-round tho of course look into the blog post about winter cycling. Nothing worse than IA except wind. Also be aware: the places in the hills can be temptingly cheaper but you will likely have to drive, and are at risk of wildfire. Traffic in Boulder can rival much bigger cities at rush hour, and not a day passes that you won't see a cyclist. No lie. It will be soooo much better than IA, and (IMO) far better than Phx. This from a CO native who wound up with an upside-down house in the No Zone.
Enjoy the adventure!

We will definitely be checking out those areas.  The fiance is going from a 50 minute commute to a much shorter one and we are both excited. 

In other news my current employer is allowing me to work remotely under a contract while I job hunt.  A very unexpected turn of events, I only suggested remote work as a long shot when I gave my 2 weeks.  I am beyond relieved!

nottoolatetostart

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #38 on: August 16, 2015, 10:26:35 AM »
So excited for you and your fiance. Maybe the work from home will turn into something permanent?

SunshineGirl

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Re: Drop Everything and Move Out West
« Reply #39 on: August 18, 2015, 10:53:37 AM »
Wow that's a big area. Why is that a no zone?  Bad area?  I have a sister that's a doctor in Tucson which isn't too far away.

It's the same story as any big metro area, really.  The best communities are generally outside of the core city itself.  Same story with Tucson.  Avoid city of Tucson, but the outlying suburbs, like Oro Valley, are nice.

Depends what you want. I live about as central as can be in the city of Tucson and wouldn't want to live in the outlying cities.