Author Topic: Which city to start a tech career? Portland/Seattle/Austin  (Read 4401 times)

Ricky

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Which city to start a tech career? Portland/Seattle/Austin
« on: March 25, 2016, 01:49:51 PM »
I graduated a few years ago (I'll turn 26 in a few days) but didn't move into a "career" type position because I was working a job where my boss was very good to me and I had finished everything online, was living at home, and just genuinely had no reason to push forward. I quit that job about 8 months ago. I wanted to buy a house near home so that I'd have a place to come "home" to and be near family and still say sane, which I have accomplished, but it's time to move on. The house will pay for itself and I can focus on a career elsewhere.

I'm wanting to start out as a System/Business/Quality Analyst or Help Desk role until I can work my way up. Degree is in MIS. Nothing like this in my area. And if there is it's extremely low pay and no room for growth.

I've narrowed it down to these three as I visited them all last year and Portland was where I really fell in love. Great biking culture, growing, lots of young people, etc.  I'm closer to Raleigh and know it's got everything I'd want career-wise but really dislike Raleigh for the weather/area and want to be near nature/outdoors.

I'm leaning towards Portland but have always heard it gets a negative rep for lack of jobs and too many "retired millennials" competing for menial jobs. I'm not necessarily interested in menial jobs but I may have to take what I can get before I can get my foot in the door.

I've applied to positions in all of these places and get denied or no callback at all I think because I'm not local or really have any experience. I do have experience fixing computers on the software/hardware side, and some basic coding, but not much else, and nothing that I can really put on a resume. I'm just going to have to move, try it, and see what happens. Worse case scenario I come back home and find something like I was doing. I just want to make an educated guess as to where I should go. I just love the PNW and know Seattle is probably more abundant in tech jobs but I preferred the more relaxed vibe of Portland. I just figure Portland is large enough that I'm bound to find something. It's much bigger than my city of 80K where I can't find anything worth doing. I've come across a few "tech" related jobs, but they just seemed like a waste of time. I'd rather position myself in an area where I won't have to move too frequently to hop up in my career. I definitely won't mind moving, but don't think I can get a good of a start where I am as if I moved.

Any thoughts from Portlanders?
« Last Edit: March 25, 2016, 01:56:01 PM by Ricky »

AZDude

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Re: Which city to start a tech career? Portland/Seattle/Austin
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2016, 02:01:57 PM »
Never been to Portland, but I have been to Seattle. Its a very nice city and I have a feeling you will have more success, career wise, in that area. If your heart is in Portland, then go and make it work. At 26 with no one depending on you, now is the time. I love the pacific coast and understand its allure.

Good luck.

randymarsh

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Re: Which city to start a tech career? Portland/Seattle/Austin
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2016, 02:05:59 PM »
All are great for an IT career path from what I hear and I think they all have similar costs of living. I'd go with Portland if that's the one you prefer.

Your lack of callbacks is almost certainly related to you not being local. I was able to set up a few interviews in Denver from OH, but just barely. Once I was a week from visiting, I started putting my friend's address on my resume and that definitely helped.

Quote
I'm leaning towards Portland but have always heard it gets a negative rep for lack of jobs and too many "retired millennials" competing for menial jobs. I'm not necessarily interested in menial jobs but I may have to take what I can get before I can get my foot in the door.

I've heard people say similar things about Denver. "ohhh it's hard to get a job because there are so many talented college graduates competing for jobs!!" IMO it's complete crap. There are many more people here, but it's precisely because there are lots of employment opportunities.

You shouldn't have much of a problem getting a Help Desk role. Since you're light on work experience in the field, you could get a simple cert like A+ or Network+ to provide a boost. They're easy and only cost a few hundred bucks.

zoltani

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Re: Which city to start a tech career? Portland/Seattle/Austin
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2016, 02:16:39 PM »
Why not apply to jobs in all 3 and see what comes through?

Portland is a nice city, as is Seattle. Lots of biking culture, young people, and culture in Seattle. Plenty of tech jobs too. I have no experience with Austin.

ekimatuan

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Re: Which city to start a tech career? Portland/Seattle/Austin
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2016, 02:24:43 PM »
I know you say you've settled on those three locations. However, have you looked at the Silicon Slopes, aka Utah?  Big tech community here, great outdoor activities nearby, incredible National and State parks, etc.

MerryMcQ

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Re: Which city to start a tech career? Portland/Seattle/Austin
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2016, 04:28:58 PM »
I've lived and worked in both.

Seattle has terrible traffic. No, seriously, TERRIBLE. Mass transit is a joke and the city is built on a pretty darn steep (and narrow) hill, so biking is... a lot of work. Housing is outrageously expensive if you want to be close in to the city center - and even a few miles out can add 30+ minutes to a commute. The Sounder Train runs through random suburbs (instead of along the main I-5 freeway) and is on actual train tracks, so it is a) slow and b) only runs a few times a day. It also closes a few times a winter due to mudslides on the tracks. The light-rail is very underdeveloped (unless you want to go from the airport to downtown). No state income tax, which is great. Sales tax is pretty high (over 9%) but if you don't buy stuff, you don't pay it. :)  Seattle has a reputation as a "cold shoulder" kinda place - people are more standoffish, or so some folks say.

Portland has a well-developed mass transit system (MAX) that funnels into the downtown core, so your options for (less) expensive housing and a simple commute are larger. More developed bike infrastructure, too. Fewer jobs and there is state income tax. No sales tax, though. Portland has a different vibe than Seattle. More environmentally friendly, accepting of different folks, and a bit more friendly. You'll find more jobs in cool fields, like renewable resources and small interesting companies. The downtown is cleaner and more walkable, designed a bit more pedestrian-friendly. Graduates are moving to Portland in droves, which means there is more competition for entry-level professional jobs and cheap housing.

Portland also gets more daylight during the winter. Not by much, but if you're coming from a non-grey climate, you may find it really hard to handle the endless days of over-cast and the short days in the winter. A lot of people can't handle several months straight of thick clouds and intermittent drizzling rain.

zoltani

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Re: Which city to start a tech career? Portland/Seattle/Austin
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2016, 05:21:26 PM »
I've lived and worked in both.

Seattle has terrible traffic. No, seriously, TERRIBLE. Mass transit is a joke and the city is built on a pretty darn steep (and narrow) hill, so biking is... a lot of work. Housing is outrageously expensive if you want to be close in to the city center - and even a few miles out can add 30+ minutes to a commute. The Sounder Train runs through random suburbs (instead of along the main I-5 freeway) and is on actual train tracks, so it is a) slow and b) only runs a few times a day. It also closes a few times a winter due to mudslides on the tracks. The light-rail is very underdeveloped (unless you want to go from the airport to the university district). No state income tax, which is great. Sales tax is pretty high (over 9%) but if you don't buy stuff, you don't pay it. :)  Seattle has a reputation as a "cold shoulder" kinda place - people are more standoffish, or so some folks say.

Fixed it for you, the extension just opened. Extension south will open soon-ish. But yeah, traffic sucks. however, I've lived in seattle without a car, biking everywhere, it's not bad and actually quite enjoyable city to bike in.

pdxvandal

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Re: Which city to start a tech career? Portland/Seattle/Austin
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2016, 11:11:26 PM »
What she said. As far as weather, Portland will have hotter/sunnier summers than Seattle. Many times when it's 75 in Seattle in July, it's 85 in Portland, likely because of the Puget Sound effect.

But you're right, Portland has a way more laid-back vibe than Seattle and a far more organized downtown. I love both cities, but picked Portland for livability.

I've lived and worked in both.

Seattle has terrible traffic. No, seriously, TERRIBLE. Mass transit is a joke and the city is built on a pretty darn steep (and narrow) hill, so biking is... a lot of work. Housing is outrageously expensive if you want to be close in to the city center - and even a few miles out can add 30+ minutes to a commute. The Sounder Train runs through random suburbs (instead of along the main I-5 freeway) and is on actual train tracks, so it is a) slow and b) only runs a few times a day. It also closes a few times a winter due to mudslides on the tracks. The light-rail is very underdeveloped (unless you want to go from the airport to downtown). No state income tax, which is great. Sales tax is pretty high (over 9%) but if you don't buy stuff, you don't pay it. :)  Seattle has a reputation as a "cold shoulder" kinda place - people are more standoffish, or so some folks say.

Portland has a well-developed mass transit system (MAX) that funnels into the downtown core, so your options for (less) expensive housing and a simple commute are larger. More developed bike infrastructure, too. Fewer jobs and there is state income tax. No sales tax, though. Portland has a different vibe than Seattle. More environmentally friendly, accepting of different folks, and a bit more friendly. You'll find more jobs in cool fields, like renewable resources and small interesting companies. The downtown is cleaner and more walkable, designed a bit more pedestrian-friendly. Graduates are moving to Portland in droves, which means there is more competition for entry-level professional jobs and cheap housing.

Portland also gets more daylight during the winter. Not by much, but if you're coming from a non-grey climate, you may find it really hard to handle the endless days of over-cast and the short days in the winter. A lot of people can't handle several months straight of thick clouds and intermittent drizzling rain.

Lanthiriel

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Re: Which city to start a tech career? Portland/Seattle/Austin
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2016, 10:35:56 AM »
I grew up in Seattle and lived in Portland for six years. Seattle has a much stronger in job market, but it will cost you more to live close to the urban center and in transportation. My experience in
Portland was that the pay was low, competition for jobs was stiff, and rents were rising astronomically. I disagree that Portland is accepting of lots of different types of people, but as a millennial in the tech industry, you should be fine. I hope you like 90s throwback bands and IPA (the stereotypes are real).

If you haven't lived in the Pacific Northwest, you should be honest with yourself about how OK you are with rain and not seeing the sun for months. I moved from Portland to Anchorage, Alaska and VASTLY prefer the weather up here, even with a month of under 6 hours/day of daylight. I was constantly damp for 25 years, and now that I've dried out, I can't go back.

RonMcCord

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Re: Which city to start a tech career? Portland/Seattle/Austin
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2016, 08:05:40 PM »
Commenting to follow the thread.  This is basically the exact same boat I'm in right now. 

JLee

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Re: Which city to start a tech career? Portland/Seattle/Austin
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2016, 08:47:14 PM »
I would go where the opportunities are found.  I started in Phoenix and 3 years later I'm just outside of NYC.

Ricky

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Re: Which city to start a tech career? Portland/Seattle/Austin
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2016, 08:54:13 PM »
Well, there are opportunities everywhere obviously. It gets tiring as someone with no resume-based experience applying from a distance and never hearing back or never bothering to apply to 75% of the postings at all since most explicitly state "local candidates only". I figure why not move to a place you can tolerate that has plenty of opportunity and hustle from there. I will continue applying out of state in the mean time, but gotta make things happen one way or the other.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2016, 08:58:44 PM by Ricky »

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Which city to start a tech career? Portland/Seattle/Austin
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2016, 11:50:44 AM »
How much starting funds do you have? Portland isn't cheap right now. We have less than 2% rental vacancy currently. I filled out rental applications IN THE DRIVEWAY of houses I visited, and it still took 6 applications before we got one last summer. And it's gotten worse since then. At open houses, people were offering cash up front higher than the asking price to rent in desirable areas. So just... prepare for a little bit of a blood bath on that front.

As for the jobs- yes, there is competition. But there are also jobs. Portland really really wants tech here, and the city is working hard to get both employees and employers here. You have good odds, so long as you're not hoping to be a barista, lol. There actually is quite a bit of competition for barista/bartender/restaurant jobs here.

And the weather is no joke. Have an exit plan, Seasons Affect Disorder is real. Some people just cannot handle the grey. Source: born and raised Oregonian, proud owner of a mood light, daily consumer of vitamin D pills.

RonMcCord

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Re: Which city to start a tech career? Portland/Seattle/Austin
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2016, 02:39:45 PM »
How much starting funds do you have? Portland isn't cheap right now.

Not OP, but I have about $10k saved up.  If I wait until next year, I could get another $5-10k saved up. 

TabbyCat

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Re: Which city to start a tech career? Portland/Seattle/Austin
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2016, 08:06:29 PM »
Sounds like you should go with Portland. I'm in the greater Seattle area and love it, but the cost of housing is nuts. Seattle is also much bigger than Portland, which does mean more jobs but Portland has a community and culture that Seattle doesn't have in the same way - our community and culture is more defined by neighborhood and varies widely. Portland is better for biking also. The two are very close - easy to visit for the weekend and easy to move between the two if you ever want to.