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Old 12-09-2012, 12:34 PM
Location: OC, California
192 posts, read 281,109 times
Reputation: 93


I am 26, and about to graduate with my BA in geography this month, and I am at the point I have to start making decisions for what happens afterwards. I currently live in Southern California. I have been thinking about moving out of California for over a year now, and have not made up my mind yet. The main reasons I have wanted to move were that I am ready for a change (I have lived in same city my whole life), because I find it way too expensive to live here on your own, and the massive traffic issues.

I currently have 20K or so in savings with no debt, and have the ability to make the move at anytime. My goal is if I do move, to do it within 14 months from now when I turn 28.

I have settled on my top two cities to move to which are Atlanta and Chicago. I visited Chicago a few months ago, and I just loved it. Lately though, I have been rather down on it for two reasons. One is the weather which I know gets quite cold there. Even in Southern California, I frequently find it it too cold while counting down the days until winter ends, and it is one of the warmest places in the U.S. during the winter. Not to mention, I plan on living car free there, so I would be walking around in cold quite frequently. The other reason is if I ever decide I want to buy a condo, while they are cheaper in Chicago than Southern California, the tax situation there is very similar to California's which makes me not sure I would ever want to own there.

I have been thinking more about Atlanta with which I have gone back and forth with Chicago. I have not visited Atlanta yet, but am starting to plan on visiting it early next year. The main downside of Atlanta is that unlike Chicago where I was planning on trying to live car free, I would have to have a car to live there(I currently own a car which I can bring). One of the main reasons I wanted to leave California is because I hate how everything is spread out, along with the massive traffic everywhere you go, but Atlanta is like a mini Los Angeles when it comes to that. Condos are in much cheaper in Atlanta along with what appears cheaper taxes than Chicago though, which is a big advantage to me. The other advantage is that it's winters are much warmer than Chicago's(I know overall Atlanta's winters are much cooler than Southern California's).

Other factors that are of less a decision maker for my decision include that the area has large black and gay population because I am a white gay man who likes to date interracially. I am into living a healthy lifestyle, so a health conscious vibe to the area would be nice. A wide variety of historical and cultural sites is important because I enjoy going to all types of museums, and places involving history. I like to be around both highly urban and nature settings.

I am open to suggestions of other cities, but I have done extensive research so it has come down to either staying in Southern California, or moving to Atlanta or Chicago, unless I have a drastic change of mind.

I am highly concerned with the job market, and it does not look like my BA in geography will help much in finding a decent full time job. My outlook is that I can get me a entry level job that makes 30K-35K if I am lucky. I also have accepted the fact that I may not every make much of a salary my whole life considering the future outlook for the U.S. economy especially for people with few specialized skills(I am not interested in anymore school, just brings debt and I have been going for 8 years already, and I am tired of it). This makes me cautious about my next step, and to make sure I conserve my savings, so I can keep me options open until I have a clear path to a stable future.

From what I have read on here and the job listings I look at, it seems Atlanta's job market is in shambles, but finally starting to improve slightly with most current openings being specialized jobs in a couple of industries with no entry level opportunities, while Chicago's job market is in okay, but not great shape with more job openings including some not so specialized, in a wide range of industries, but there seems to be not really much entry level opportunities either. Southern California's job market seems to be horrible in most anything, for example in a restaurant that just opened in the suburb I live in, there was 200 jobs for 4000 applicants, and the few entry level jobs I see posted for here, usually involve the housing industry.

My plan for Chicago is to move there and rent a cheap room for six months while I tried to find a job, and if not I would just move back home. My plan for Atlanta is to find a job here in Southern California, work it for a year, and then with more savings and more job experience, move there and rent, and once I found a job, start planning on buy a condo. My plan for the two cities is different because I do not want to ever take out a mortgage, and it will take me quite a few more years to be able to buy a condo in Chicago for cash compared to Atlanta.

I have also considered just staying in Southern California, but that would mean living with my parents for several more years until I had enough savings to buy a place, and most likely it would involve taking out a mortgage since it is the most expensive place out of the three. This would be my least desirable scenario, but I would at least get to stay to close to family which is the only advantage of me staying here. The other slight advantage is that I have a part time job that pays a great wage, which allows for me to be choosy in any full time work I take, but at the same time though, I do not want to put my life on hold for too long.

Sorry for such a long and detailed post, but as you can see I have made much serious consideration to this subject, and I am hoping for quality responses to help perhaps point out anything I may have overlooked and/or should consider. Any input would be greatly appreciated!

Last edited by Flamedown; 12-09-2012 at 01:03 PM..
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Old 12-09-2012, 02:20 PM
21,207 posts, read 30,412,852 times
Reputation: 19655
You might consider looking at the DC metro area despite your extensive research. The job market is much better than either Atlanta or Chicago (DC has a 5% unemployment rate, versus over 8%) and you would be able to exist car-free to cut your expenses and enhance your lifestyle. It also has more of a diverse/mixed gay scene (lived there as a gay male myself for nearly 10 years). Winters aren't nearly as bad as they are in Chicago and living within closer proximity to DC (or in the city itself) would compare quite favorably with your Atlanta option. Feel free to direct mail me for more info on living in DC. Good luck!
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Old 12-09-2012, 02:46 PM
56,705 posts, read 81,017,273 times
Reputation: 12544
Houston may be another option as well.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:29 PM
Location: Austin,Tx
1,691 posts, read 3,094,041 times
Reputation: 698
Maby check out Houston,Dallas or Austin

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Old 12-09-2012, 09:09 PM
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
1,112 posts, read 3,434,980 times
Reputation: 1220
Have you specialized within geography, at all? Any GIS experience? If not, I'd say as much as you DON'T want to, finish up your bachelors and then go get a GIS cert. You'll be thankful you did and might actually be able to use your degree!
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Old 12-13-2012, 01:06 PM
Location: OC, California
192 posts, read 281,109 times
Reputation: 93
Why Houston or the other Texan cities?

I have thought about Texas, but I just do not know. I have done some limited research on it, and its low cost of living, warmth, and job market are appealing factors. I am concerned I would find the heat too excessive though along with its renowned conservatism makes me slightly uneasy about more strongly considering it. Is the job market there still good, or is it starting to cool down?

@ CodyW: Yes, I have taken 3 classes in a GIS along with some limited internship experience with it. It seems likes most GIS jobs these days want you to have programming skills which I am not really interested in. I only care about the applied Geography side of it, but I will be looking for any opportunities with it.
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