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Old 01-25-2008, 12:32 AM
7 posts, read 24,736 times
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Hi NY forum,
We're about to have our 2nd and 3rd children, and are pondering a move from the silicon valley in CA to upstate NY. Particularly, we have family in Delmar, NY, so it makes sense to consider the area around Albany (I think).

Our main motivation: 1. Lower cost of living / lower stress, 2. DW may stay at home for several years with the little ones.

My main questions are about: 1. Tech jobs, 2. Raising a family in upstate, 3. Climate

1. Tech jobs - do any of the readers here know what the job climate is like around Albany for tech jobs? Specifically, I'm a software engineer from a great school with ~8 years of experience in both startups and established companies. Any ideas on what salaries (or ranges) are like?

2. Is upstate, particularly Delmar/Bethlehem/Slingerlands a great place to raise kids?

3. I've been in CA my entire life, but at least as a visitor I've always enjoyed the snow. Do kids enjoy it? Really? (DW says so). Overall, will kids stay indoors much of their childhood winters? Do families w/kids get out in the snow a lot?

Thanks for your thoughts
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Old 01-25-2008, 07:08 AM
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Default living in the capital district

Albany gets about 64 inches of snow a year. That is not alot compared to other cities in upstate NY. Kids like snow but I would say teenagers do not; they like to complain alot anyway.

There is terrific skiing located relatively close to albany: whiteface which has had the olympics, vermont, and the berkshires.

Cost of living has to be way less than in silicone valley.

As far as tech jobs there are plenty of them in the area with more arriving all the time.

read these links
Tech Valley, NY in the Capital Region
TechValley Homes Real Estate in Upstate New York - Albany Saratoga Rensselaer County NY Realtors
New York's Tech Valley
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Old 01-26-2008, 10:58 AM
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I cant comment on tech jobs but Delmar is a GREAT palce to raise a family... Awesome schools, low crime, very very desirable.... and yes I live here and love it!
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Old 02-08-2008, 08:23 AM
Location: Raleigh, NC
502 posts, read 1,655,447 times
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I'm in the process of moving from Albany, NY to Raleigh, NC for much of the same reasons you are looking to move from CA to NY. Everything is relative I guess.

1. Tech Jobs - NY has been trying very hard to get the Hudson Valley to be the eastern version of Silicon Valley, and has thus been dubbed "Tech Valley" by someone a few years back. About 100 miles south you have a number of large IBM facilities, noteably the East Fishkill semiconductor plant. This has prompted IBM to invest heavily in the Albany higher ed environment to spawn people they can hire. In the Albany area you have several very good technical colleges... RPI, UAlbany, Union, etc. UAlbany has created a huge nanotechnology research center, that has now become the home of SEMATECH and their nanotechnology program. This has grown steadily for the last 5-10 years, but I would say that most of the jobs created in that are very specialized.

The biggest company in the Albany area is GE... their worldwide research and development center is here, as well as their power generation division. They sold off their plastics division which used to be headquartered here. Most of the jobs created by GE are engineering, not as much computer related.

The big question of the decade is if AMD will go forward with their plans to build a fab here. NY is giving them > $B to come here, and they are still saying that they are, but they are in huge financial trouble and there have even been rumors that IBM may buy them. If that happens, then I think the Tech Valley concept will have successfully taken hold. Otherwise, it is still in the early stages.

All of that is kind of background for your question. There are a number of small software companies in the Albany area... MapInfo being one that comes to mind. It is no where near what you have where you are, but there are some jobs out here. I'd encourage you to look into that more before moving by looking at Monster and other job posting locations. The other thing is the large NY state government that is located here and that is a constant ongoing software job creation engine since all their systems were about 25 years old until about 10 years ago when they started thinking about modernizing. I work for IBM and have been involved in many, many software development projects with the state here, and they will be going on forever. But there is a big difference between the consulting type development job and working in a lab... so not sure what your cup of tea is. Most people like one or the other.

2. Delmar/Bethlehem/Slingerlands are all great family friendly and safe places to raise a family. I believe they are all in the Bethlehem school district which is also excellent. Those areas tend to be on the high end of the housing price market, and they are very close in to Albany for an easy commute.

3. I grew up in Virginia and moved to Albany 20 years ago. I hated the winter then, and I still hate it now. I tend to hibernate in the winter and just sit it out. And its a long winter. It varies greatly from year to year, but on the worst case side we had one a few years back where it didn't go above freezing from middle of November until the beginning of April. That was brutal. They aren't all that bad though.

Now on the positive side, if you get a solid four seasons here which you probably don't have where you are. We've had a white Christmas I think all but one year out of 20 years. Generally here when it snows, it stays cold so its like white dirt... rather than a slushy icey mess that you get further south. IF your kids get involved in winter sports, then I'm sure they will love it. They aren't cheap sports though... snow skiing, snowmobiling, and ice hockey are the big ones here. People that are involved in any of those three things absolutely love the winters here. But you have to plan on it being cold for a long time, because you have pretty much 6 months of very cold weather. Like I said, I don't like it and never got used to it. My wife grew up in Vermont and that's why we moved here. She's finally gotten tired of the cold winters and wants to go south, so we are moving.

You didn't mention the cost of living, but you are probably moving from one of the few places where the cost of living might be higher. The taxes in NY are crazy, but CA is probably the same. In NY though, the Albany area is on the lower end of the tax scales for the state. You should be aware if you are using online tools to compare things that Albany's home prices shot way up over the last four years, so many of the cost of living websites are out of date. They are still probably very cheap compared to CA, but not what they were 4-5 years ago when it was half what it is now.
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Old 02-11-2008, 11:55 PM
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Thumbs up Thanks for the great replies. So about those tech jobs...

Thanks for the great & detailed comments. I really appreciate them.

convergent, you mentioned looking at the job boards which I've done for a bit. In general, there are pretty few postings in Albany compared to the other areas I'm thinking about (Seattle, Chicago). This makes sense of course, but still it's tough to get a feel for the area.

Any idea how it is in the area for experienced (8-10yrs) Software Engineers? With three kids, I probably prefer full time over contracting. If there are any other SWEs out there or convergent if you have thoughts, please let me know. Basically, I'd probably be fine with relatively little choice, but still want enough choice to try to make work interesting (I go for more than just the paycheck, if you know what I mean).
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Old 02-13-2008, 12:19 PM
Location: Raleigh, NC
502 posts, read 1,655,447 times
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Well, like I said... its not a thriving software mecha. You might try this site for more info... New York's Tech Valley .

The largest employer in the Albany area is NY State. Most of the agencies are headquartered here, and a lot of their central IT operations are here too. That means they have some software development jobs. They are still going through a lot of migration from old outdated mainframe systems (IBM and Unisys) to new web based systems. In most cases, they are web enabling the mainframes, rather than replacing them. There is a lot of work going on using Websphere, Java, and J2EE development. The problem is that the state jobs pay a lot less than private sector, but they do have excellent benefits. Beyond that, you'll find a lot of smaller companies. I know there is MapInfo that comes to mind. I used to have a friend that worked for a local video game developer in Troy. There are certainly software jobs in the area, but not plentiful. You have to wait a while to find one.
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Old 02-02-2009, 03:19 PM
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The Albany area has tried to brand itself as Tech Valley, but Tax Valley is a more honest name.

I've been in technology my entire career (25 years), but now I am unemployed. I've decided to change careers. You might find a tech job here, but it is not fertile ground for that. I'm speaking as a person who sold a small technology company that employed software engineers. NY government and some components of GE offer sw jobs in and around Albany. Outside of that, there are several struggling startups looking for cheap labor willing to work long hours. This is good for recent grads who live with their parents

A note on climate. The summers can be nice - a bit humid and short, but hey the mosquitoes need to live somewhere. We usually don't get a winter - just 6 month of inclement weather - cold rain, ice, wet snow and gray skies. The biggest recreation of Albany is watching cable TV and bowling. Some people ski on the hills of NY - but the ski centers are better described as sloping ice rinks. I've retired from this sport until I return to the west.

You will not have access to the parks of the quality and size of the western US. NY has designated a section of upstate NY as the Adirondack Park. It is not a park, unless your idea of a park contains factories, decaying small towns and cities, trailer parks, private hunting camps, condo, strip mall, factor outlets, parasailing concessions, etc. We used to live in Colorado and Wyoming, so we have been spoiled. We think a lake within a park should not be rimmed by private homes, shacks and no-trespassing signs.

We will move out west as soon as our current family responsibilities are settled. By the way, most people live here because of family ties. Except for refugees from war torn counties and city slums, few people move here and stay here.
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Old 02-02-2009, 04:39 PM
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As a kid, I loved playing in the snow. If your kids have snow pants, snow boots, a ski jacket, gloves, and a hat, they will stay out there for hours at a time(looking out the window every 5 minutes is a good idea though, my brother almost died once when building a snow fort, luckily my mother happened to glance out the window just in time.) Sledding is real fun too.

I'm from Bethlehem... went to Slingerlands Elementary. Terrific school. The middle school and HS are good academically too, but the people.... eh.
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Old 02-02-2009, 08:25 PM
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I grew up in NY south of Albany, and lived in San Francisco for a dozen years, working in tech. I now live here in Albany, working in tech.

1. Tech Jobs - there are some. I was pretty happy to find a job in my field when I moved here. If I were you, I don't think I'd move here without a job, though. Things in the private sector are getting tough. There have been layoffs in the area. I'd do some digging on Monster and see what you can come up with.

2. Raising kids - this is definately a family friendly area.

3. Climate - kids love snow. Adults, not so much. At this point, I am really over it. If you have a fairly high tolerance for cold, it's okay. I really don't. Part of why I left SF was being tired of fog and cold. The summers are great, but winter stinks (as far as I'm concerned anyway). And pretty much starts in November and goes through March. If you like skiing and snowmobiling, it's probably not so bad.

Life is alot less expensive here, and what they call traffic is just darn laughable. It's a slower pace and I think a nice place to grow up. But things are getting tough here like everywhere else.
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