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Wow, I stumbled upon these forums and they have been an absolute gold mine to me! I have spent hours browsing the posts & reading the excellent information you have given others.
We're moving to the Springs area in June, and I feel so much better about it now. I've been able to pinpoint an area to look for real estate, and i've even learned some tips on things i'd never thought about - ie. I now know what to expect vis a vis utilities, bugs, traffic...even water quality.
I first want to say thanks for everyone who contributes to these forums, as you provide creepers like me with a wealth of information!
I would also like to pose a few questions of my own:
1. Anyone who wants to chime in once again regarding the buying vs. rent for active military, please do. This will be our biggest decision while we're here. My husband wants to live all the way out past Falcon on Schriever AFB. I told him I would become a clingy, isolated mess, and i'd like to buy in the 80915/22 Powers area. Opinions?
2. We'll need a second vehicle. Where would you recommend looking for something used?
3. I'd like to waitress while I get my Masters, but I'm a spoiled brat who likes making at least $40/hour. Where would you recommend working? I would like an established restaurant with a lot of traffic. I know I can make money at Hooters, but i'm doing fine dining right now and it's nice wearing a full shirt. Either way, i'll go wherever i can make the most $$.
4. Are there any good wholesale appliance stores? We'll need just about everything, most of all a washer and dryer. I like great deals.
Schriever is.......isolated. It's not at all far from town, but you run into the phenomenon a lot of bases have where it's just far enough that you don't do it often. And, if you homestead out there, you'll miss a lot of things that go on in town. Now, I spent 20+ years in uniform, and NEVER lived in base housing, for that specific reason, si I could be a bit biased.
As for waitressing, go to the Upscale (fine, fancy, swanky) Restaurants thread, and those places will be a great starting point. Obviously, a tip based on a fine-dining experience is going to be a lot more than for an order of wings and a beer. Of course, every experienced server in town knows this, so competition for the fine dining establishments is pretty intense.
Rent vs. buy? Depends a lot on how long you anticipate being here. Just a couple years? I'd rent. Good chance at staying 4-5 years? I'd buy.
For fine dining, check out The Famous (it's a high end steakhouse), Peppertree, the Penrose Room at the Broadmoor, and possibly Walters. These are all located downtown or near downtown. For appliances, try Appliance Factory Outlet, 680 W Garden of the Gods Rd (on the west side of 1-25, north of downtown). Ask about their factory seconds (minor dings and dents, but are new and come deeply discounted; the amount of discount depending on whether the dings/dents are visible) You might also try Shouse Appliances, local family owned place. Shouse is not a discount place, but has great service, and very knowledgeable salespeople. We're in the process of redoing our kitchen and Shouse is working directly with the kitchen designer to make sure everything fits, is delivered on schedule, etc. A year ago, we bought our washer/dryer from Lowe's. No drama; we got a good price, and they showed up on time and did the installation efficiently and professionally.
As for renting vs buying, tough call, particularly if you're military and will be transferring and/or deploying. Prices here are pretty reasonable now and the mortgage rates are incredible. Agree with Maynerd, that if you're only going to be here a short time and don't plan on keeping the property, I'd rent. Like just about everywhere, if you're buying for a short term investment, you'll probably take a loss, and it could be substantial once you factor in realtor commission and other closing costs, and don't forget ongoing maintenance, HOA fees, etc. However, if this is where you want to set down some roots and stay, then, if you're still inclined, buy. Most advice on this forum is to come here, rent for a year and get acquainted the area, and then buy. When we arrived here about 18 months ago, we had done a lot of research, had friends in the area, had made three visits to check out neighborhoods, housing prices, and get a sense of the community vibe. We were already pretty committed and had been working with a realtor for a couple of years, so we were ready to commit, and we bought immediately. However, our circumstances and priorities were markedly different from yours, as we were looking for a place to retire.
I won't feel bad about paying "lousy" tips ever again. That's more than most people with a master's degree make.
That's top end. Most wait staff probably don't come close to that. But obviously, if you pay 20% on your tab at a fine dining restaurant, to include that $100 bottle of wine, the server's gonna do pretty well. At cheeseburger at Chili's? Not so much.
With my Masters Degree, I have a retirement plan, medical and dental coverage, life insurance, paid vacation, and a steady income. That server you're tipping almost certainly has none of those things. They don't get paid if they get cut early due to a lack of customers. They don't get paid if they're out sick.
If you get oustanding service at a restaurant, you really should take good care of the server who added to the experience for you.
Strongly agree with Maynerd. Most COS restaurants simply don't have menu prices high enough to justify a tip (i.e., 20% of the tab) that's anywhere near that $40/hour mark. 20% of a $10 breakfast at Rosie's or any other breakfast joint in town is about $2. That waiter/waitress would have to be working 20 tables an hour to make $40 in tips, and I'm pretty sure they have to give the table bus staff a cut. Others can correct me, but I believe wait staffers make a very minimal hourly wage as well (well below minimum wage).
When I go out to eat, whether it's at the Famous or at Rosie's diner, I consider the service part of the meal. Good service should be rewarded, and i don't begrudge it.
I think the only ones making $40/hr would be those serving drinks - and that is not 40 hr/week nor with benefits. I think the wage is $4/hr or so without tips, and some places have a policy of splitting tips with bus boys, etc. Unless service is really bad, we almost always give around 20% - do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
I, personally, make $40 an hour, ON AVERAGE. There are some nights that's more like $20...but I think it's important to keep in mind a couple of things:
1. My wage, which I include in the 40, is $10/hr. Canada doesn't subscribe to this super low 'tipped' minimum wage that the states does.
2. Most of my guest's bills are $100 - $200 at the restaurant i'm at now. That's probably going to be a $15 - $30 tip. That means I only need one or two tables PER HOUR to make it to the $40/hour mark. Often i have more than that.
3. I also worked at Macaroni grill overseas! I would need to work two whole sections, but i DID make the same amount just due to volume of tables. It probably also helped I was serving soldiers just home from the desert. They'd been eating sand and hadn't seen boobs in awhile so, not such a hard sell there.
Anyway, it's a very subjective thing. I don't get offended by people who don't believe in tipping, because to be honest I too believe i'm not really doing a job extraordinary enough to deserve extra money from you. I mean, i carried over a plate. Paramedics probably deserve tips way more than me. Having said that, I love working 3 quick hours & walking out with an extra Benjamin in my pocket. Can't beat it.
I've looked at the fine dining threads and there are a multitude of restaurants that have price ranges that would certainly lend themselves to the wage i'm looking for, so that was an excellent suggestion; thank you.
I wasn't aware there was competition for these positions though. The job market must be truly awful.
Either way, i'm starting a Master's in August. Serving is just a great way to make a ton of money in few hours until I can get a "real" job.
Speaking of: DOES ANYONE ATTEND UCCS SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS? I'm also looking into volunteer committees to join. Right now i'm an executive event planner for a charity which aids cancer patients. Looking for something similar. If anyone has any affiliations and likes motivated & enthusiastic members, please let me know!
Thanks again for all input. Great board, like I said.
HAhah! Nice, but CoS is not Toronto. By any means. Good luck!
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