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Thread summary:

Moving to Columbia: job market, economy, cost of living, housing, commercial development.

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Old 07-29-2008, 11:46 AM
 
1 posts, read 1,471 times
Reputation: 10

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I want to thank all of the posters and those that reply in this forum. I've been regularly reviewing it over the last few weeks, and there is a plethora of very knowlegable and informative info with regard to good neighborhoods, schools, shopping etc.

With that being said, we are a young professional married couple (early 30's), with 2 pre-school aged children. I am a licensed civil engineer (P.E.) and my wife is an attorney. We currently live in southern New Hampshire, which, for all intents and purposes, has turned into a suburb of the People's Republic of Boston/Cambridge, MA, and we are looking into relocation. For what it's worth, it is ridiculously expensive to live here, even with two decent salaries. A 3-4BR home in a decent area will run about $350K-$400K, with a property tax bill of $5k-$8k, say nothing of what our heating bill will be this winter with the exponential rise in fuel costs. It just seems like you get a lot more for you money in this area.

With the slowdown in the economy, particularly in the housing market, my work (private development) has really taken a hit. Residential construction is virtually non-existent. As interest rates are still relatively low, the commerical development/construction side has kept a lot of civil engineers employed, but even that has slowed. This seems to be true of a lot of areas in the northeast.

I am trying to guage if the same thing is going on in the Columbia area. Is there a need for civil engineers? Are developers still building homes and commercial developments in this area? Are salaries decent? With my wife, could anyone provide details about being admitted to the Bar in SC. Is there a need/market for attorneys?

Thank you in advance for any information that you can provide.
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Old 07-29-2008, 12:48 PM
 
Location: Columbia, SC
1,860 posts, read 4,347,918 times
Reputation: 775
Quote:
Originally Posted by NH Guy View Post
I want to thank all of the posters and those that reply in this forum. I've been regularly reviewing it over the last few weeks, and there is a plethora of very knowlegable and informative info with regard to good neighborhoods, schools, shopping etc.

With that being said, we are a young professional married couple (early 30's), with 2 pre-school aged children. I am a licensed civil engineer (P.E.) and my wife is an attorney. We currently live in southern New Hampshire, which, for all intents and purposes, has turned into a suburb of the People's Republic of Boston/Cambridge, MA, and we are looking into relocation. For what it's worth, it is ridiculously expensive to live here, even with two decent salaries. A 3-4BR home in a decent area will run about $350K-$400K, with a property tax bill of $5k-$8k, say nothing of what our heating bill will be this winter with the exponential rise in fuel costs. It just seems like you get a lot more for you money in this area.

With the slowdown in the economy, particularly in the housing market, my work (private development) has really taken a hit. Residential construction is virtually non-existent. As interest rates are still relatively low, the commerical development/construction side has kept a lot of civil engineers employed, but even that has slowed. This seems to be true of a lot of areas in the northeast.

I am trying to guage if the same thing is going on in the Columbia area. Is there a need for civil engineers? Are developers still building homes and commercial developments in this area? Are salaries decent? With my wife, could anyone provide details about being admitted to the Bar in SC. Is there a need/market for attorneys?

Thank you in advance for any information that you can provide.
I can't speak much for the attorney/civil engineer market, but I have noticed that there are still a fair amount of new developments going on in the metro area just from driving around. I've read numerous times that the area is planning on having 1 million people by 2030 - currently the metro is around 700k. So I would guess there will always be a fair amount of building going on for the forseeable future.

As for affordability, you can easily find a nice-size, newer 3-4 BR Home for under $200k pretty much anywhere in the area. Property taxes will be no where near $5-8k either, in the past year, the state did a property tax rollback and instead started relying more on sales tax for public funding i.e. schools, local govt., etc. Plan on about $1,000 per $150k in house you buy - just an estimate based on what I've found. SC does have a vehicle tax, based on how new and how many miles your car has. We have 2 older (2000 & 2002) used cars, and we paid just under $300 for last year to give you an idea. The main trade-off to keep in mind is I highly doubt regardless if you find comparable jobs here is that you will likely take a pay-cut from what you are making now in the Boston area. Hope you don't like snow, b/c it snowed all of once here last year, much different climate from the north as well. We moved from Ohio last summer, and didn't turn our furnace on until like New Years Day (we did have a portable electric heater for our bedroom at night before that). I think our highest gas bill was $60 or $70, the trade-off of course is that all summer your A/C will be on, but even still, electric is cheaper than natural gas.

I'm sure others on here will be able to help as far as your professions go and guiding you w/that.
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Old 07-29-2008, 06:21 PM
 
Location: Columbia, SC
6,536 posts, read 13,741,789 times
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The housing market has slowed somewhat due to the economy, but there is still a good amount of construction - both housing and commercial - going on in the Columbia area. A home like you described can be easily found for under $200K as Buckeye said along with the other taxes. You will save a fortune on real property tax. I can't give you details on the Bar in South Carolina, but I can tell you there are a number of large law firms in Columbia.
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Old 07-29-2008, 09:54 PM
 
432 posts, read 1,329,813 times
Reputation: 178
Quote:
Originally Posted by NH Guy View Post
I want to thank all of the posters and those that reply in this forum. I've been regularly reviewing it over the last few weeks, and there is a plethora of very knowlegable and informative info with regard to good neighborhoods, schools, shopping etc.

With that being said, we are a young professional married couple (early 30's), with 2 pre-school aged children. I am a licensed civil engineer (P.E.) and my wife is an attorney. We currently live in southern New Hampshire, which, for all intents and purposes, has turned into a suburb of the People's Republic of Boston/Cambridge, MA, and we are looking into relocation. For what it's worth, it is ridiculously expensive to live here, even with two decent salaries. A 3-4BR home in a decent area will run about $350K-$400K, with a property tax bill of $5k-$8k, say nothing of what our heating bill will be this winter with the exponential rise in fuel costs. It just seems like you get a lot more for you money in this area.

With the slowdown in the economy, particularly in the housing market, my work (private development) has really taken a hit. Residential construction is virtually non-existent. As interest rates are still relatively low, the commerical development/construction side has kept a lot of civil engineers employed, but even that has slowed. This seems to be true of a lot of areas in the northeast.

I am trying to guage if the same thing is going on in the Columbia area. Is there a need for civil engineers? Are developers still building homes and commercial developments in this area? Are salaries decent? With my wife, could anyone provide details about being admitted to the Bar in SC. Is there a need/market for attorneys?

Thank you in advance for any information that you can provide.
NH Guy - thanks for taking time to research this forum and get a feel for the Columbia area. We are also transplants (from Northern Virginia - another region with escalating housing and other costs) and have been happy with our move. I was lucky to get a comparable salary as I was making before but with the slowing economy I'm not sure annual raises are going to be as high as they have been in the past.

My general impression of private development is that single-family residential construction has definitely slowed to a crawl, so I would not be terribly optimistic about finding jobs in that specific field (Developers seem to be either not hiring or outright laying off people, although you might get lucky with a prudently-managed local builder or something). Commercial and industrial development may also have slowed. Road construction doesn't seem to be a major driver of engineering/construction work either.

As for attorneys, Columbia is a major regional hub of lawyers, being a state capital and home to the state's flagship public law school. Your wife should not have too much trouble finding work.

That being said, please make sure you line up a job before moving down here (I did in 2005, even when the economy was good then). Too many people have made the move without a job and then find themselves financially handcuffed. The good news is that once you do find a job, finding a house is the fun part, with interest rates still reasonable and a large supply of houses to choose from. A really good 4 bedroom home in a top-notch school district can easily be had for $250k. Keep in mind we don't have basements here so factor that into your space needs (e.g., may need to use a finished room over a garage or bonus room for a play room or storage).
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Old 07-31-2008, 07:03 PM
 
549 posts, read 1,531,776 times
Reputation: 231
Quote:
Originally Posted by NH Guy View Post
A 3-4BR home in a decent area will run about $350K-$400K
That all depends on how you define "decent" IMO a decent home costs $300+ in the Cola area too.
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Old 07-31-2008, 10:34 PM
 
Location: Columbia, SC
6,536 posts, read 13,741,789 times
Reputation: 1783
Quote:
Originally Posted by Palmetto Heel View Post
That all depends on how you define "decent" IMO a decent home costs $300+ in the Cola area too.
Wow, $300K is more than double the average home price in the Columbia area.
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Old 08-01-2008, 09:02 AM
 
1,047 posts, read 2,049,821 times
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As a civil with a PE, you might want to look at SCDOT, they always have a lot of slots open. Sounds like you may be more structural than transpo. The amount of construction has dropped over the rate, say, a year ago.
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Old 08-01-2008, 09:03 AM
 
1,047 posts, read 2,049,821 times
Reputation: 412
Quote:
Originally Posted by Palmetto Heel View Post
That all depends on how you define "decent" IMO a decent home costs $300+ in the Cola area too.
Call me a cheapskate, but I'd have a heart attack paying the mortgage on something like that.
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Old 08-01-2008, 04:54 PM
 
549 posts, read 1,531,776 times
Reputation: 231
Quote:
Originally Posted by waccamatt View Post
Wow, $300K is more than double the average home price in the Columbia area.
I was just joking and it's all relative. My friends who live in $500k+ homes think that my little $350k house is "charming."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Captain Worley View Post
Call me a cheapskate, but I'd have a heart attack paying the mortgage on something like that.
Capt. Worley, I'm with you on the mortgage thing. My wife and I could have taken out a much larger mortgage but we went with an amount that fit comfortably into our budget. 28% of gross income is ridiculous.
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Old 08-21-2008, 12:31 AM
 
3 posts, read 10,794 times
Reputation: 11
Default sc bar admission

as far as the SC bar, it is 3 days long. Two days of essays, and the last day is the MBE. As far as employment as an attorney, columbia is saturated with attorneys, due to the law school. Most firms, don't post jobs, so you have to get one by networking, but there are attorney jobs out if you have enough experience. Due to the economy, I have heard from many attorneys that their law firm are not hiring due to the economy and their business is down.
Getting back to the Bar, it's a marathon, but not that difficult. You only need a 125 on the MBE. But you can only fail 1 essay.
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