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Old 03-29-2017, 07:10 PM
 
Location: Conway, SC
69 posts, read 69,524 times
Reputation: 68

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Over the years, I've moved to several different places. Born and raised in North Carolina, stayed briefly in the Chicago area for about 6 months in summer 2007, then moved to the Charleston, SC area from 2007-2016. Throughout my time in Charleston, I finished graduate school and got my initial stage of license/certification in my chosen career field of Social Work. To help with finances, along with a few other life circumstances, I accepted a job in the Myrtle Beach, SC area, about 2-2.5 hours away. This job pays better than my previous jobs in Charleston, and is allowing me to complete the 2 year process to obtain the next level of certification, which will make me more eligible for higher level opportunities - not to mention rent is cheaper where I live, allowing me to save money for my next plans of getting out of the South for multiple reasons (more progressive politics, more opportunities to meet others in the LGBT community, more job opportunities in various areas of interest/specialization, etc). I have approximately one year left of this certification process, and so I'm beginning to plan ahead into further options and areas I would like to live, as Myrtle Beach is not in my long term plan for many reasons.

One area that I am considering is the Boston area. I have some friends and colleagues who have connections in the area, so I feel my chances of finding employment in the area are good. What I'm not sure at, are options to live in the area.

I'm in my mid-30s and single. At the moment, my "kids" consist of a Maltipoo and a cat. I'm not entirely sure of exact budget yet, as the main thing I know, according to my research, is that, according to salary.com, "The median annual Social Worker (MSW) salary in Boston, MA is $68,373, as of February 22, 2017, with a range usually between $61,569-$75,735 not including bonus and benefit information and other factors that impact base pay." I'm okay with, for example, working in Boston and living in a suburb, commuting by public transit (I've visited NYC and DC enough to know how to learn public transit systems, etc., not to mention my time living near Chicago). At least at first, I am okay with renting rather than buying, having (responsible, similar age-bracket, and okay with pets) roommates, etc.

With that in mind, what would be my best options? I'm mainly looking at Salem, because that's the one I've heard the most about because of the tourism, witch trial culture/history, etc. Are there any suburbs of the area where you could get by without owning a car? Not having to worry about car payment/car insurance would certainly increase my budget for other things.

I'll admit I haven't visited yet, but I'm planning a "scouting" trip for later this year as part of an overall New England road trip.

Thanks so much for your help, and I apologize for the length! I'll be glad to provide any more information needed.
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Old 03-29-2017, 07:41 PM
 
599 posts, read 383,297 times
Reputation: 735
You have to realize that the areas that are best served by public transit are very desirable/not inexpensive here.

Salem downtown you MIIIIGHT be ok without a car. It's not on the subway, it's on the Commuter Rail which is much less frequent but only about a 30 minute ride to North Station (in the city) from there.

You might consider Allston or Brighton, they are cheaper but safe (just a lot of college kids) and well served by transit. But finding a cheap rental without roommates might still be an issue.

Renting is going to be tough with pets.

Social work might be difficult by public transit if you are doing a lot of case work.
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Old 03-29-2017, 09:44 PM
 
Location: Conway, SC
69 posts, read 69,524 times
Reputation: 68
Social workers actually have a pretty wide variety of work options that don't involve doing home visits for a lot of things. For example, I'm currently an addictions counselor who runs group therapy programs at a local drug and alcohol abuse center and haven't done home visits since my last job in a foster care agency.

In doing some of my research, I've read about people who live farther out (say, Rhode Island) and commute into Boston. Would that be a more affordable option, you think?

As for a car, I know I definitely wouldn't drive in a large city, I don't even like driving in my small town unless I have to. I would be willing to keep a car if necessary to, say, drive to the grocery store or to a park-and-ride station, but with insurance/gas/car payment costs, I'm not sure it would be worth it, by the time I added in transit passes too. I know when I briefly lived in the Chicago area, I lived in a suburb and drove to other suburbs (when visiting friends) and to a park-and-ride to go into the city. But at that time, I had an already-paid-for car given to me by my parents (was still driving my very first car I got in high school, that thing lasted forever!), and only had to worry about car insurance. Right now I'm in a similar situation as I inherited a car upon an uncle's death, but I know it won't last forever either.

Last edited by Chadly; 03-29-2017 at 09:46 PM.. Reason: More information.
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Old 03-30-2017, 04:46 AM
 
Location: North of Boston
2,939 posts, read 4,921,027 times
Reputation: 2543
Do you already have your LCSW (masters in social work required)? That salary range sounds higher than I would anticipate for social workers but maybe not for an LCSW. An LICSW working in a major hospital could easily make more than that range.

One of the best options for social work in MA is to get a job in a school system. That way your pay is tied to the teacher "step schedule" and, in most cases, you are eligible for the MA teacher retirement system.

Good luck! And you'll need a car!
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Old 03-30-2017, 07:04 AM
 
599 posts, read 383,297 times
Reputation: 735
You have to realize that the further out on the commuter rail, the fares become pretty expensive as well. A zone 10 pass costs $398 a month.

If you instead lived in the city and paid an extra $300 towards your rent, you could still get the $84 subway pass and have a way easier commute, or just walk/bike. then you have everything the city offers in your downtime as well. And your quality of life would likely be way better.

Consider places like Malden, Quincy, Revere, and East Boston as well. They are less glamorous cities that are on the subway lines.
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Old 03-30-2017, 07:08 AM
 
Location: East Coast
2,769 posts, read 1,571,313 times
Reputation: 3993
There are really too many variables at this point to give much meaningful advice. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that the cost of living is much, much higher than where you are now. It is also higher than it is in Chicago and D.C.

If you have friends here, and like the area, certainly look for a job in the area. But so much would depend on where the job you find is actually located.

If you're mostly just looking to get out of the South and want a city with more LGBT-friendly activities, with some decent social work opportunities, you might consider Philadelphia. The COL for a northeast city is surprisingly low.

I suggest keeping your options open at this point and casting a wide net -- I think finding the job first will be key.
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Old 03-30-2017, 07:13 AM
 
Location: Conway, SC
69 posts, read 69,524 times
Reputation: 68
Here in South Carolina, I have what is called an LMSW (What I figure is basically the equivalent of LCSW in MA, as different states call it different things and have different requirements). What I'm in the process of getting now is what SC calls LISW-CP, which sounds like it's basically the equivalent of LICSW you mentioned - I'll be able to bill insurance directly, hold higher level positions, and even have a private practice if I so choose. When I take the exam to get my LISW-CP licensure, I plan on having my exam scores sent to the SC licensing boards as well as those of whatever other state(s) I'm looking to move to, so that I can be licensed in multiple states, to both give more opportunities and let potential employers know I'm serious.

I'd be willing to work in a school system, as I've worked with kids in the past, and even have some kids as clients right now at the substance abuse treatment center where I work, but I'm finding I enjoy working with adults more than I thought I would. I would definitely jump at the opportunity to work in a major hospital to increase my knowledge base and variety of experiences. Right now my biggest areas of interest are adoption issues, LGBT issues, substance abuse, and people with disabilities.

Would I be able to get by if I happened to work in the actual city of Boston, and only have to use my car to travel within the suburbs? As stated before, when I lived in a suburb of Chicago, I drove around when I traveled within the suburbs, and parked at a park-and-ride and took a train in when I wanted to go into the city. I would be willing to do that again, provided I found a suburb to live in where both rent and the car insurance/payments were within my budget - and as of right now, outside of rent and utilities, my biggest monthly bills are my car insurance payments and my student loan payments, so if the salary is what you say it is, it may be doable. It's driving in the actual city that I'm not too keen on. And I'll definitely consider East Boston, etc. I'm fine living in the city as well if needed, provided it's a safe area within what my budget happens to be.

I'm certainly not too concerned with "glamorous" as long as it's a safe area. I'm not big on nightlife, only go to a club once every few months, so as long as there are *some* options for places to go when I decide to start dating, I'm good. I'm much more into cultural things like history, art, nature, museums, the nerdy stuff lol.

I'm definitely looking into different options. I've also considered DC, and may have some connections to both NYC and upstate as well. I'm willing to go whichever place hires me first. I understand the cost of living is higher, but the pay is better too. Here in SC, even with all my education and my current license, I don't even make $40k - *before* taxes. If it weren't for the fact that I moved in with friends who live in their grandparents' old home that is paid for, therefore we all just pay our part of utilities, food, etc., I'd either have had to stay in Charleston and/or take a 2nd (and maybe 3rd!) job. My primary reason for moving here was so that I could pay low enough rent to save the money I wanted to get out of the state altogether.

Last edited by Chadly; 03-30-2017 at 07:23 AM.. Reason: Responding to other posts.
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Old 03-30-2017, 07:42 AM
 
Location: Boston
1,106 posts, read 852,777 times
Reputation: 1171
Whats your anticipated salary-really? And what percentage of your salary are you willing to allocate to rent. For a one bedroom in a decent are you need about 1800, IMO, others on this board will say higher. They may be right you may need a firm 2k for a one bedroom near transit. Look into Roxbury Dorchester East Boston Chelsea Everett Quincy...
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Old 03-30-2017, 09:28 AM
 
Location: Conway, SC
69 posts, read 69,524 times
Reputation: 68
Honestly, I've been looking at postings through indeed.com, in addition to my connections through my friends, to get an idea of what the typical actual salary might be. I don't think I could justify moving to the area for anything less than 60-65k at a minimum. As for rent, I know ideally 1/3 of salary should go toward rent, but I'd be willing to go a bit further, provided (a) I have some kind of access to public transit, or (b) if I have to have a car for occasional driving (grocery store, etc.) I can get by with minimum required insurance and a bit of a clunker. And, of course, I'd be willing to have roommates, as I've pretty much either lived with roommates or significant others my entire adult life.
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Old 03-30-2017, 09:56 AM
 
Location: Boston, MA
7,854 posts, read 6,805,356 times
Reputation: 6573
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chadly View Post
Honestly, I've been looking at postings through indeed.com, in addition to my connections through my friends, to get an idea of what the typical actual salary might be. I don't think I could justify moving to the area for anything less than 60-65k at a minimum. As for rent, I know ideally 1/3 of salary should go toward rent, but I'd be willing to go a bit further, provided (a) I have some kind of access to public transit, or (b) if I have to have a car for occasional driving (grocery store, etc.) I can get by with minimum required insurance and a bit of a clunker. And, of course, I'd be willing to have roommates, as I've pretty much either lived with roommates or significant others my entire adult life.
If you're willing to have roommates, you don't need to set aside 1/3 even, not necessarily.
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