Author Topic: Moving to Texas for Tradeskills  (Read 803 times)

Dragonstrike

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Moving to Texas for Tradeskills
« on: June 29, 2019, 03:33:16 AM »
Hello everyone,

My wife and I will be looking to moving to Texas in late 2020.  She'll be completing her online schooling towards Social Work and I will be looking to get into a trade skill (currently looking at becoming an electrician, possibly carpenter). I'll be applying to apprenticeship programs in Texas, close to Austin or San Antonio areas.  We both will be leaving active duty Army service in January and October 2020.

She and I will hopefully have roughly $60K in savings for living expenses.  Happy to say we hit $120K in total savings/retirement this month. I want to keep contributing to our Roth IRA's while paying down what should be her last $30k in student loan debt.

I know I'll be taking a pay cut with apprenticeship wages being somewhere around $15/hour starting until I hit journeyman rate, but luckily the GI Bill will pay a BAH stipend to offset the wage gap a little, and will go down every six months thereafter with projected increases in wages.

I was wondering if anyone has helpful advice for us transitioning there?  Does anyone have experience living in Texas?  What areas do you recommend to reside in for low cost of living and reasonable commute to San Antonio or Austin areas? Is there a major thing I could be overlooking by moving to Texas (i.e. bad market for trades/don't do it?).  My research so far shows they are in dire need of apprentices.

We want to do our best for the first year, in that she is finishing her masters degree and to get a starting job after, and I going into an apprenticeship. We hope to be somewhere above $50K or more combined take home pay per year once she gets a job. (Grossly underestimating numbers here as she and I could be making considerable more with given factors). We have a lot of hopes and dreams (going solar, buying a home in Texas instead of renting, getting an electric car and owning a wood shop for my side hustle work), but with us being in our early thirties, we still have that FIRE dream to look at.

We were looking at Boston, MA and Connecticut areas on the East Coast where we have family, but it seems like the trade skills in those areas are suffering, especially electricians. That, and cost of living could easily be higher, especially MA area.  Connecticut seems like we will even be taxed for breathing the air at this rate with how Ned Lamont is taxing everyone now.

I'm scared but greatly excited for our life transitions, but I just don't want to fail our FIRE dream and putting food on the table if you catch my drift. I want to do my best for my wife in our research before me make any major decisions.

Thank you for any advice as always. 

BicycleB

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Re: Moving to Texas for Tradeskills
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2019, 03:49:35 AM »
Not a trades expert, but I think you're looking at good choices for residence.

Experience living in Austin. The city's big shots are primarily the tech industry, the tech industry and (culturally) a bunch of artists. Celebrities and finance people are growing their footholds too. Plenty of people around here have money to pay you, though not everybody. Wages may not be high (unions weak) but there's lots of work. No state income tax. If you reach the point where you can run your own shop / be independent, you can increase your earnings. Maybe you'll be FIREd before then though!

San Antonio's less expensive. Not sure where the jobs are for your wife, but in Austin, consider state agencies. Good benefits, military advantage getting in. San Antonio respects all military. Play that by ear.

Both cities have a lot of traffic. So there's a trade-off in housing cost vs commute time. Short commutes are rare, often relatively expensive (especially in Austin) and require you to have a stable work location. Long commutes are cheaper but they are LONG. I'm guessing your best bet is rent where your wife needs to be, have her be the one who uses transit/bikes/etc, and buy as many gas-efficient cars as you need. Regenerative braking (used Prius!) could save you money every day.

I do have friends in social services. Initial pay often not good. She kind of has to progress to make money. It can be done, but as far as making money, it's a slow path. Trades and computers both pay better on average. Decent money in social services is a special case. To max her income, I guess research and network to follow the paths of the 10% or 20% who make good money - supervisors, the rare prosperous private practices, etc.

To be in profitable "caring" professions, I suspect medical specialties (radiation techs, respiratory techs, nurses, dental hygienists) have much better pay per hour invested, based on people I know. Physical therapists make good money too; seems to be a growing field. They also have more in-demand paths than social workers from what I can see. There seems to be an especially steep pay jump between the lower and higher people in PT, so if she goes that route, one or two years of extra training could mean a big pay jump.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2019, 04:07:53 AM by BicycleB »

Fishindude

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Re: Moving to Texas for Tradeskills
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2019, 12:01:27 PM »
Don't know about those specific areas but anywhere near petro production areas in Texas is booming and starving for tradespeople.   I've got a friend that works for a company that has a branch in Texas and he claims that there is a several year backlog of projects waiting to start when contractors get freed up.    Don't sell yourself short on the rate $15/hr is entry level construction money, you should be able to get up above $20/hr very rapidly with the high demand for trades.  A journeyman will easily make $30/hr.   

chasesfish

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Re: Moving to Texas for Tradeskills
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2019, 12:50:15 PM »
I'm currently moving out of Dallas.

Texas is a great place to make a fortune, not the easiest places to live.  We hit FI and living there the past few years helped, now we're moving to a place with a better outdoor quality of life.   The only real place I found a decent outdoor quality of life was in the towns between Austin and San Antonio.  Those may be the winning spots for you based on what you're writing.

As for a trade, I would highly recommend HVAC Technician over anything else.  You end up learning some electrical knowledge, some plumbing/natural gas knowledge, and some mechanical knowledge.   Shortages of quality technicians is a serious problem with the growth in the area and you can earn six figures after your apprenticeship if you're willing to work the overtime when the June/July heat starts breaking everything.  The nice thing is many of these companies are HQd out in the suburbs where you can live and then you're in a company truck/van driving to the specific job site. 

Electricians and Carpenters are primarily needed for new construction, but so are HVAC people.  The advantage is heating and cooling systems are consumable, they  break, need repairs, and need replacement every 10-20 years.  Much more so than carpentry work and electrical, each of which lasts 50-100 years before replacement.

I can't predict the future economy, but in Texas (and especially North Texas), I can promise it'll be hot in the summer and cool in the winter and if you can fix an AC Unit, you will never risk starvation.

Duke03

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Re: Moving to Texas for Tradeskills
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2019, 03:37:51 PM »
As a Texas resident that lives where you plan on moving I 2nd the HVAC trade....  It gets hot in Texas and I don't care how broke someone is when the A/C brakes they find the money to fix it.....  My neighbor owns an A/C company and does vary well for himself.  With that said I have friends that are plumbers, electricians and even welders.  Everyone has plenty of work because people are always moving to Texas.  There is always an abundance of new construction.  If I was you I'd plan on either living in San Antonio or just on the outside and commuting in.  You can live 30 miles outside of SA and have a 40 minute commute depending on what side of town you are trying to get to.  If you have live 30 miles outside of Austin and trying to get into town forget it.  It's a nightmare.  Austin's road systems where never planned to support a city of it's size.  Not to mention Austin is getting way over priced compared to the rest of the state.

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Moving to Texas for Tradeskills
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2019, 04:16:55 PM »
If you are looking at buying a house, be aware that Texas relies heavily on property taxes.    Many areas with newer construction may also be in a MUD (municipal utility district) which also levies property taxes.  Where I live, the combined property tax is about 3.5% per year.

I agree that you should probably choose either San Antonio or Austin, because you won't want to commute into Austin every day.  The Hill country area is beautiful - lots of outdoor stuff to do, lots of pretty scenery.

If your wife is at all interested in working for CPS, you might want to choose a different state.  There have been several recent lawsuits because the state doesn't properly fund Child Protective Services, and even with the "fixes" they've put in place, I've heard it is still a miserable working environment.

use2betrix

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Re: Moving to Texas for Tradeskills
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2019, 06:39:03 PM »
It really depends on your goals. As a tradesman, by a very large margin, the most money is around the Houston area in the oil and gas industry. For cities of enjoyment, I love Austin and San Antonio. I havenít been to Dallas but Iíve heard itís nice.

Around Houston, Beaumont, Baytown, south to Corpus Christi, is never ending Oil and Gas work. Pipe fitters/fitters helpers, electricians, welders, iron workers, boilermakers, etc. Making $100k is pretty dang easy within a few years for most below average people with a good work ethic. If you keep your out of state drivers license, you can also get per diem on certain jobs. Much of it is long hours and hard work, but you can move up into lead/management roles if you are hard working enough and somewhat intelligent. With your military background, that will give you a small leg up starting up. Texas is very patriotic (and the industry is very right winged) so they especially love service people.

Thereís very little work in oil and gas in Austin and San Antonio, so it is unfortunately a challenging trade off. There are other good trades in those locations as well, and IMO, the quality of life is better. Granted, a lot has to do with your hobbies as well. I have lived all over the country and also several areas of Texas.

Uturn

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Re: Moving to Texas for Tradeskills
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2019, 06:59:59 AM »
I lived in TX for 40 years, just recently moved to NC.

TX is huge, really, it is big.  Do not go to one place and decide that this is what TX is.  But one thing about any part of TX, they need honest AC folks who know what they are doing.  Fort Worth, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston are your major job markets, but also your major traffic.  Holy fuck, I do not miss DFW traffic. 

Each of the major cities also have their own flair and ideology.  Fort Worth and Dallas are only 30 miles apart, but completely different cultures.  Austin is good for outdoor activities and live music.  San Antonio sucks if you want to sail.  Houston redefines muggy, but no zoning laws. 

If you get out west, it gets pretty desolate, dry and sandy.  There's people who enjoy that too.  Big Bend Park is just gorgeous, but days of ugly to get there.  Don't forget to stop by Marfa if you are in that area.  The McDonald observatory tour is cool.

If you get to the north east area, you are into more trees and the land starts to not resemble a pool table.  This also gets you closer to Arkansas, which is just a beautiful state!  Outdoors person's playground.  And the people watching is almost a destination on its own.

I strongly recommend NOT buying a house until you have been in a local market for at least 1 year.  I don't care what blogs or magazine you read, or who you talk to, there is no way to know if an area is right for you until you spend some time there.  The exit costs of real estate are too large be buying on a whim. 

Snow White

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Re: Moving to Texas for Tradeskills
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2019, 03:08:26 PM »
I lived in Austin for over ten years and San Antonio for almost as long. Hubby and I left Texas when I retired and no amount of money could make us move back.  Austin has the reputation of being a live music venue and has a cool vibe but your ardor will cool quickly when you realize it will take you two hours to drive one way to an event that might be only twenty miles away! Someone said it earlier and it is true that the roads were built for a population that is a fraction of the current population. Oh, and there is very little public transportation. There IS a small, light rail line in a limited area so if you carefully chose a house and a job within walking distance of it, that would help.  I think it would be unbearable though for a tradesman who had to drive in the traffic from job to job. 

San Antonio traffic is bad but more bearable than Austin because they have better infrastructure and better city management in my humble opinion.  Corpus Christi might be an option if you really want to live in Texas but the humidity much of the year is stifling.   A concern for me would be that they DO get hit by hurricanes and google how many times in the past few years the city has to switch to a "boil water" warning because of the poor city water quality.

If at all possible, go visit any city you are considering and don't just buy into their marketing and PR campaigns!  Good luck. 😁

Jon Bon

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Re: Moving to Texas for Tradeskills
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2019, 04:11:39 PM »
I think you have a fantastic plan, if you were near me I would PM you so I could have you do work on my properties!

HVAC could be a winner, people are always needing them here and we only use AC 4 months a year. Texas im sure you would do just fine. My HVAC guy is fantastic he makes a solid six figures but cant find anyone to work for him!

Good luck out there.

Ditch Lily

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Re: Moving to Texas for Tradeskills
« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2019, 09:00:24 AM »
Why are you limiting your move to the Austin/ S.A. corridor, may I ask? If you imagine those are cool, hip, woke areas, I would respectfully disagree and urge you to rent first with a short lease. A lot of places have a rep for being wonderful, but the reality is different. I just moved from Texas after almost 50 years there, having lived in the Houston, S.A., Dallas, Corpus, El Paso, San Angelo, and Midland/Odessa areas.

As Lincoln said, "A man is about as happy as he makes up his mind to be," but if you want to have a solid trade AND make a huge amount of money, head to the Midland/Odessa area, or the soon-to-boom Corpus area. People are talking about starting wages of $15 or $20 for electrician's helper and such - Pardner, the KFC starts you at $17, and dishwashers start at $15.

My son's best friend made it to journeyman in a couple of years, and he makes $150,000. My son left his I.T. job to drive for an oilfield company and makes $120,000 with zero stress. His wife is a clerk in the same company and started at $45,000 with no experience other than retail work. They get stock, free breakfast and lunch, free snacks, free use of company pickup, free gas, double matching 401ks, paid-for good insurance, and much more. This is not unusual. When my son developed a drug problem, the company stood by him.

People think West Texas and Corpus are dull. You know what's dull? Living where you can't afford, stuck in traffic, high humidity with no breeze putting the quietus on any outdoor fun, and wasting prime earning years looking for some elusive vibe. I found an open attitude in what was supposedly a closed- down place: the oil patch.

This is not meant to put down anyone's search for a place they feel is cool, and a place they think they will find like- minded people. It's just an attempt to share my experience with others. I met a lot of people from all over in the Permian Basin, and many regretted they hadn't rolled in sooner. A dying family member is the only thing that pulled me from Midland, and I plan to return there. Employers are begging for good job candidates they can train up in numerous skilled trades.

chasesfish

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Re: Moving to Texas for Tradeskills
« Reply #11 on: July 04, 2019, 11:00:15 AM »
@Ditch Lily I love the perspective.

I think Texas is a great place to earn a fortune.   A great place to live for lifestyle?  That varies.  You have to build a good sense of community because outdoor recreation just isn't abundant

Coming from someone one day away from packing the moving truck and driving out of DFW

Dragonstrike

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Re: Moving to Texas for Tradeskills
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2019, 01:52:01 AM »
Why are you limiting your move to the Austin/ S.A. corridor, may I ask? If you imagine those are cool, hip, woke areas, I would respectfully disagree and urge you to rent first with a short lease. A lot of places have a rep for being wonderful, but the reality is different. I just moved from Texas after almost 50 years there, having lived in the Houston, S.A., Dallas, Corpus, El Paso, San Angelo, and Midland/Odessa areas.

As Lincoln said, "A man is about as happy as he makes up his mind to be," but if you want to have a solid trade AND make a huge amount of money, head to the Midland/Odessa area, or the soon-to-boom Corpus area. People are talking about starting wages of $15 or $20 for electrician's helper and such - Pardner, the KFC starts you at $17, and dishwashers start at $15.

My son's best friend made it to journeyman in a couple of years, and he makes $150,000. My son left his I.T. job to drive for an oilfield company and makes $120,000 with zero stress. His wife is a clerk in the same company and started at $45,000 with no experience other than retail work. They get stock, free breakfast and lunch, free snacks, free use of company pickup, free gas, double matching 401ks, paid-for good insurance, and much more. This is not unusual. When my son developed a drug problem, the company stood by him.

People think West Texas and Corpus are dull. You know what's dull? Living where you can't afford, stuck in traffic, high humidity with no breeze putting the quietus on any outdoor fun, and wasting prime earning years looking for some elusive vibe. I found an open attitude in what was supposedly a closed- down place: the oil patch.

This is not meant to put down anyone's search for a place they feel is cool, and a place they think they will find like- minded people. It's just an attempt to share my experience with others. I met a lot of people from all over in the Permian Basin, and many regretted they hadn't rolled in sooner. A dying family member is the only thing that pulled me from Midland, and I plan to return there. Employers are begging for good job candidates they can train up in numerous skilled trades.

Myself being new to Texas areas, what part exactly of Midland or Corpus? And what company does your son's friend work with? I'm still doing alot of research before we get our feet wet.

And I like your comment about renting/lease. We definitely won't buy unless we feel our job stability/community make it worth it.  We chose San Antonio and Austin areas because of trade unions with reputable programs were there and we're close to the training centers and my wife's social work school opportunity.

Psychstache

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Re: Moving to Texas for Tradeskills
« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2019, 08:30:56 AM »
Why are you limiting your move to the Austin/ S.A. corridor, may I ask? If you imagine those are cool, hip, woke areas, I would respectfully disagree and urge you to rent first with a short lease. A lot of places have a rep for being wonderful, but the reality is different. I just moved from Texas after almost 50 years there, having lived in the Houston, S.A., Dallas, Corpus, El Paso, San Angelo, and Midland/Odessa or the small town in East Texas where my mom's family is.

As Lincoln said, "A man is about as happy as he makes up his mind to be," but if you want to have a solid trade AND make a huge amount of money, head to the Midland/Odessa area, or the soon-to-boom Corpus area. People are talking about starting wages of $15 or $20 for electrician's helper and such - Pardner, the KFC starts you at $17, and dishwashers start at $15.

My son's best friend made it to journeyman in a couple of years, and he makes $150,000. My son left his I.T. job to drive for an oilfield company and makes $120,000 with zero stress. His wife is a clerk in the same company and started at $45,000 with no experience other than retail work. They get stock, free breakfast and lunch, free snacks, free use of company pickup, free gas, double matching 401ks, paid-for good insurance, and much more. This is not unusual. When my son developed a drug problem, the company stood by him.

People think West Texas and Corpus are dull. You know what's dull? Living where you can't afford, stuck in traffic, high humidity with no breeze putting the quietus on any outdoor fun, and wasting prime earning years looking for some elusive vibe. I found an open attitude in what was supposedly a closed- down place: the oil patch.

This is not meant to put down anyone's search for a place they feel is cool, and a place they think they will find like- minded people. It's just an attempt to share my experience with others. I met a lot of people from all over in the Permian Basin, and many regretted they hadn't rolled in sooner. A dying family member is the only thing that pulled me from Midland, and I plan to return there. Employers are begging for good job candidates they can train up in numerous skilled trades.

Myself being new to Texas areas, what part exactly of Midland or Corpus? And what company does your son's friend work with? I'm still doing alot of research before we get our feet wet.

And I like your comment about renting/lease. We definitely won't buy unless we feel our job stability/community make it worth it.  We chose San Antonio and Austin areas because of trade unions with reputable programs were there and we're close to the training centers and my wife's social work school opportunity.

Not sure if it is applicable to you, but there are social considerations as well. I've lived in Texas my whole life and enjoyed living in Houston and San Antonio, and currently enjoy living in Dallas, but as a non-white non-christian, there's zero chance I would ever live in the Midland area.