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Old 08-28-2015, 07:44 AM
 
97 posts, read 78,663 times
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Hi folks!

First time poster, long time reader.

I am set to relocate to the Austin area in one month (Oct 2015). I run a successful dog walking and pet sitting biz in Boston, where I've lived for 17 years. I am planning to set up something similar in Austin.

I should say upfront: I cannot wait to get out of Boston. With every fiber of my being I am sick of living here. Here is why:

The cost of living has become astronomically expensive during the years I've lived here. I've watched it morph from a relatively affordable city to now being as pricey as San Fran and NYC.

I absolutely hate the snow, ice and cold. I grew up in Georgia and have never adjusted to blizzards and snow shoveling or the general dark frigid vibe of winter.

And finally, most important: the unfriendly culture here has grown incredibly tiresome. Polite but guarded, keep to yourself, act totally indifferent to strangers or people will think you're crazy. Ugh. People's social networks here are pretty much closed by 30, and after that, the only way you can get to know anyone new is by ending up as their coworker, maybe by being a young parent and meeting other young parents. Other than that, making friends past your twenties is very very difficult in this city. It's all but impossible to get past people's polite guardedness.

I've done tons and tons of research on where to relocate and finally settled on Austin. I've visited, and know that it has all the friendliness I could want, as well as plenty of local interest in certain niche things I'm interested in (vegan/vegetarian/health nut scene). It's affordable. I have close friends there. I can swim every day! And best of all: sunshine! I miss the sunny warm climate of my youth. I grew up with swimming pools, cookouts, and gated communities. That is my childhood.

As my move date gets closer, here is what has begun giving me cold feet:

I am concerned that I have lost my mind thinking that I can take dogs out in the mid day when it's in the 90s and 100+. I'm outside walking around for at least a couple of hours every day during the week. I know that when it gets hot, people naturally want to sit indoors all day in the a.c. I won't be able to do this. I just don't know if central Texas, with its high winds and torrential rain storms, is the kind of place you'd want to have an outdoor biz.

My fear is I'm going to get carted off to the emergency room with heat exhaustion (this actually happened to my ex when he moved to Albuquerque back in the 90s - he got heat exhaustion 3 separate times, just from walking to and from work). Or that after a week of it, I'm going to just throw up my hands and say, I give up! See ya Austin!

I should have probably reached out here months ago, when I was still making my decision on where to move. But... it's not too late. I can still get out of my apartment as I haven't signed a lease. My second choice city is San Diego: dog walkers paradise. They even have an entire beach there for dogs. I would never ever worry about weather there. There's a health nut scene.

But San Diego is more expensive, and it doesn't at all have the fun exciting vibe of Austin, with lots of smart interesting people around. I've never in my life been to a city with more brain dead people than San Diego. So many druggies and drifters and people with wasted lives, wandering the city. But oh... that gorgeous scenery, and that weather. Sigh.

My first choice is still Austin, but I'm getting cold feet because of what I do for work. Is it absolutely insane for someone to think they can work outdoors year round in Austin? What say you?
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Old 08-28-2015, 08:00 AM
 
Location: Austin, Tx
123 posts, read 89,065 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mcginty74 View Post
Hi folks!


I am concerned that I have lost my mind thinking that I can take dogs out in the mid day when it's in the 90s and 100+. I'm outside walking around for at least a couple of hours every day during the week. I know that when it gets hot, people naturally want to sit indoors all day in the a.c. I won't be able to do this. I just don't know if central Texas, with its high winds and torrential rain storms, is the kind of place you'd want to have an outdoor biz.

My fear is I'm going to get carted off to the emergency room with heat exhaustion (this actually happened to my ex when he moved to Albuquerque back in the 90s - he got heat exhaustion 3 separate times, just from walking to and from work). Or that after a week of it, I'm going to just throw up my hands and say, I give up! See ya Austin!

My first choice is still Austin, but I'm getting cold feet because of what I do for work. Is it absolutely insane for someone to think they can work outdoors year round in Austin? What say you?
Yes, it can be pretty hot for a human walking around between 11-6 for at least 3 months out of the year, but what about the dogs? The pavement gets very hot so, unless you take them directly to a trail, dog walking during most of the day is a bad idea. Even if you only do hikes you'd want to pack lots of water and keep them short, depending on the dog.


You can run a dog walking business in Austin, and many people do, but if I had a choice in it I'd rather be a dog walker in SD than in Austin.
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Old 08-28-2015, 08:03 AM
 
2,625 posts, read 5,609,873 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mcginty74 View Post
But San Diego is more expensive, and it doesn't at all have the fun exciting vibe of Austin, with lots of smart interesting people around. I've never in my life been to a city with more brain dead people than San Diego. So many druggies and drifters and people with wasted lives, wandering the city. But oh... that gorgeous scenery, and that weather. Sigh.

My first choice is still Austin, but I'm getting cold feet because of what I do for work. Is it absolutely insane for someone to think they can work outdoors year round in Austin? What say you?
It's not insane to think that you can work outdoors year round in Austin. There are a lot of hard working people out there that do it. A lot of us even go out and run a few miles in the heat for fun. A proper diet along with constant hydration, sunblock, and headwear makes it do-able.

I've lived in San Diego for 30 years and Austin for 10 years. Your generalization of San Diego makes it sound like you only visited Ocean Beach and Mission Beach. My main concern is whether or not you have a good amount of money saved up to relocate and to pay for housing in either place or if you were planning on getting roommates?

I'm not sure how successful a full-time dog walking business could be in either place because neither San Diego nor Austin are particularly "Urban". The dog walkers and pet sitters in my neighborhood for example are typically stay-at-home moms that do it on the side or High School/Middle School kids that do it when they get out of school. But, most people that I know have their kids walk their dogs or they just go out to the backyard to get exercise, because again, neither city has the big city/Urban areas.

Maybe it would work as a full-time gig if you actually lived in downtown Austin or downtown San Diego, but then you're looking at a very expensive apartment in either place. Good luck, but I'd try to research how you could maintain a successful dog walking/pet sitting business in mid-sized/spread out/non-Urban cities like San Diego and Austin before I'd even consider moving as these two cities couldn't be more different than Boston in my opinion.

With that all said in regards to both cities, do you have a friend or family network in either place? That could help you out tremendously in my opinion.
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Old 08-28-2015, 08:11 AM
 
97 posts, read 78,663 times
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Quote:
Your generalization of San Diego makes it sound like you only visited Ocean Beach and Mission Beach.
I actually used to live in SD, ten years ago. Beautiful beautiful place, but the vibe in general, at that time, I found to be, as you say, quite different from Boston. I visited again this past winter and thought that SD had changed much for the better over the past decade, at least in my opinion. It seems more "hip" now - more interesting restaurants, interesting people around. Just my impressions.

Quote:
I'm not sure how successful a full-time dog walking business could be in either place because neither San Diego nor Austin are particularly "Urban". The dog walkers and pet sitters in my neighborhood for example are typically stay-at-home moms that do it on the side or High School/Middle School kids that do it when they get out of school. But, most people that I know have their kids walk their dogs or they just go out to the backyard to get exercise, because again, neither city has the big city/Urban areas.
@mark311 - do you live in SD or Austin now?
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Old 08-28-2015, 08:15 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
1,763 posts, read 2,158,332 times
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A friend of ours runs a pet care business that includes dog walking (but is more focused on in-home visits) and says it's fine, though you'll want to be near neighborhoods with disposable incomes for that kind of thing or else you'll spend all day in traffic.

A COL analysis between the two (as reliable as anything on the Internet, anyway)

Asutin vs. San Diego COL:Moderator cut: link removed, linking to competitor sites is not allowed

Last edited by Yac; 09-09-2015 at 07:19 AM..
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Old 08-28-2015, 08:19 AM
 
913 posts, read 990,626 times
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It sounds like you'd enjoy being here but it doesn't sound like your business model will transfer without some adjustments. Would you consider working for a doggy day care type place? Have you checked around Austin and San Diego to see what the going rate is for your services? Make sure the math works out - this area isn't as affordable as it was five years ago. I agree with mark311 that that kind of business is not typically done as full time - most of the time it's on the side or done by teens. This is a very pet friendly city which means it's relatively easy to find someone to help with your pets.

We only get high winds and torrential downpours on rare occasions. And rain isn't as common in the day as it is in the evening. The heat is more realistic concern. It does take time to acclimate to it.
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Old 08-28-2015, 08:34 AM
 
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Quote:
Would you consider working for a doggy day care type place?
Oh heavens no! Those places are exactly what I market my business against - their type of clientele and my type of clientele are very different. I market to the true blue dog lover who wants the best experience for their dog, a long term best friend to come and visit them and take care of them when the owner isn't around. The doggie day camps are just churn and burn money making machines, with underpaid employees and way too many dogs. To go from being my own boss, setting my own schedule, and keeping 100% of the money I make from clients, to being an employee on a small hourly wage, suddenly having a boss dictating my day - no thank ya.

Quote:
I agree with mark311 that that kind of business is not typically done as full time - most of the time it's on the side or done by teens. This is a very pet friendly city which means it's relatively easy to find someone to help with your pets.
Austin is full of people who work outside the home, and is also full of transplants, with dogs, who know no one else in the city other than their new coworkers. These people need someone to visit their pups during the day while they're at work, as they won't have time to come home themselves and take the dog out. This is where people like me come in.

Interestingly, here in Boston, a lot of my clientele are retirees. Affluent people with plenty of time on their hands but who for whatever reason decide to outsource their dog walks. Many of them will be home relaxing when I come to get their dog. Go figure.

As long as you have people with pets and disposable income, you will have a demand for people like me.
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Old 08-28-2015, 08:36 AM
 
331 posts, read 982,398 times
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I am part of the Nextdoor site and get updates for tarrytown and pemberton. There seems to be plenty of demand for dog walking. Yes, you may have some competition from teenagers and retirees, but it seems to be a service people want.
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Old 08-28-2015, 08:41 AM
 
97 posts, read 78,663 times
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There seems to be plenty of demand for dog walking. Yes, you may have some competition from teenagers and retirees, but it seems to be a service people want.
@GreenPlastic - what about San Diego?
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Old 08-28-2015, 08:49 AM
 
2,625 posts, read 5,609,873 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mcginty74 View Post
Interestingly, here in Boston, a lot of my clientele are retirees. Affluent people with plenty of time on their hands but who for whatever reason decide to outsource their dog walks. Many of them will be home relaxing when I come to get their dog. Go figure.

As long as you have people with pets and disposable income, you will have a demand for people like me.
Interesting point. In that case, places like Rancho Santa Fe and La Jolla in San Diego definitely have that type of old money. People that have relocated to Austin are more like myself in that 30 to 50 year old age range most with families from what I've seen. That's not counting all the college grads and students that move here all the time as well.

There is a really nice retirement community on the very outskirts of the Austin Metro area(Sun City in Georgetown) that has a concentration of those types of clients, but again, it comes down to finding enough clients in a single target area so you're not driving an hour and back from Tarrytown to Georgetown. Also, if you chose to live in Georgetown to be close to those Sun City clients, then that's not the "Austin" that you're looking for in your original post.
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