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Where am I supposed to end up?
December 15, 2013 5:22 PM   Subscribe

Not sure where to relocate to. Or how to even start looking.. Help?

I've been in a transition with myself lately. Taking care of a lot of things I have been putting off and I feel at some point very soon - I want to be able to finally start building my life. I'm in my mid twenties.

The problem is, I'm still stuck in my hometown. I really really don't want to be one of those people who just end up moving to a deadbeat town nearby and have a dead end job and end up living a domesticated lifestyle. I have a lot of bad memories with this town. I can truly say I have not met anyone with whom I've connected with, and I'm pretty damn sure I won't anytime soon. I want to roam and relocate somewhere where I can thrive. Creatively.

I'm an aspiring cartoonist who has a resume full of unrelated day jobs. I only took art classes after high school and never graduated with a college degree. I'm completely unsure of how to find a job in another city. I'm not even sure what kind of jobs to look for. I currently work for a non-profit organization. I feel this is a huge roadblock. Without a degree and/or connections, I'm going to have such a hard time landing anything. I want to keep pursuing my art whenever I have the time. Is it possible to just hit the streets and find something that'll pay me enough to live in a different city or town? I know it depends on the town/city but is there a better way to go about it?

Also, I'm not even sure what town or city I want to move to. I have absolutely nothing holding me back here. I want to move somewhere that has a thriving art or underground music scene. I would love to meet people my age and connect musically and artistically. I'm currently in NJ right now, and I have thought of Philadelphia but now I'm not so sure. I feel like there are better places that are along the east coast. I don't know how to start looking. Should I take trips out to places I'm interested in? Is that a good way to look?

I could sure use some guidance. Thank you
posted by morning_television to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Hurm...why not New York itself? You are young enough to find an affordable (though perhaps not ideal) housing share, there are all kinds of arty, undergroundy things there, and you seem willing to slog it out in any old jobby job while you chase your dream. The city will hurt you, but it will love you as well.
posted by vrakatar at 5:44 PM on December 15, 2013


I'm an aspiring cartoonist who has a resume full of unrelated day jobs. I only took art classes after high school and never graduated with a college degree.
I have a BFA, and this is me and most people I know (unrelated day jobs), and many many artists don't have college degrees, or don't have degrees in art. Aside from art, most people don't have jobs related to their degree anyway, full stop. (There are very few 'day jobs' in art, and the ones that do exist often revolve around making art for someone else rather than yourself, which isn't bad but IS different.)

I'm completely unsure of how to find a job in another city. I'm not even sure what kind of jobs to look for. I currently work for a non-profit organization. I feel this is a huge roadblock. Without a degree and/or connections, I'm going to have such a hard time landing anything.
Look for jobs similar to what you do now, in a different but near-by city. Any big search engine will let you specify location. Check Craigslist & contact temp agencies. Making a leap-move like this is easier if you know someone whose couch you can sleep on, if you can live-work, or if you have a decent safety net. I'm not very well connected, introverted (so networking is not my strong suit), and have a BFA which is 'worthless' - getting out of a crappy hometown is possible. It's not always a comfortable or elegant process though, and you can't really plan how everything will work out exactly.

Should I take trips out to places I'm interested in? Is that a good way to look?
Yes, take trips - but remember that vacationing somewhere is different than living somewhere. Plan on making a big initial move, and another move a year or so later when you figure out *exactly* what neighbourhood you want to be in. I would recommend picking a handful of different cities and applying to jobs in all of them, and moving where you find work. If you're nerdy like me, you browse Craigslist ahead of time to figure out what living expenses would be for each city, so you have *some* idea of how much more a job in Boston needs to pay over a job in Philly or Providence.

In the meantime, save as much money as you can!
AskAManager blog has good advice about resumes, leveraging what you've got, who to phrase things etc. As someone who's hired people, I find her advice spot on. Good luck!
posted by jrobin276 at 5:45 PM on December 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


So you want to be a cartoonist. And, just a guess, there aren't a whole lot of cartooning jobs in your hometown.

Your best bet is to do one of two things:

- Figure out where the cartoon industry jobs are, and go there.

- If cartooning is something that people can do from anywhere (Sorry, I don't know a ton about it), figure out a place where you could carve out a living for yourself, and where you would like to live, and go there and do that.

These are probably two very different approaches, unless it turns out Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network have studios in Austin or Savannah or the other similar places that always crop up in these sorts of creatively-tinged "where should I live" posts.
posted by Sara C. at 6:38 PM on December 15, 2013


Making a leap-move like this is easier if you know someone whose couch you can sleep on, if you can live-work, or if you have a decent safety net.

This a million times over. Are there people who move somewhere with absolutely 0 connections? Sure, every day. But I found my transitions were always that much easier because I had a friend or two who wouldn't mind me crashing at their place for a few weeks, and vice versa. It's really hard to rent in some cities before you actually get there, especially in places where the rental market moves really fast -- and I caution very strongly against renting sight unseen or without meeting potential roommates in person.

Try to save up two or three months living expenses before you hit the road, if possible. Don't worry about applying for jobs until you get there -- applying for entry level jobs from another state is a huge pain in the rear. You probably won't find your dream job on day one, but you can hopefully find at least a part time retail or service job to tide you over until you do. Definitely visit the city before you move, but remember that living and visiting are two totally different experiences.

This is also a great time to use social networking to your advantage. I can't tell you how many times a friend or acquaintance announced they were headed to X city and didn't know anyone, or needed a roommate, or whatever. People up and leave all the time -- especially in their twenties. You can do it!

Without a degree and/or connections, I'm going to have such a hard time landing anything.

One more thing -- I don't know anything about art, but you probably won't advance very far in your unrelated day jobs without a degree. (Personally, I doubt that college degrees really make you a better qualified employee, but that's just the reality of the current job market). Are you ok with this long term in the event you don't make $$ from your art? If not, have you thought about finishing your degree? I hate to sound like my mom, but it's easier now than later, if it is a goal of yours. This also might help you focus your search to places with affordable programs in whatever it is you are interested in. In my experience, you can sometimes get subsidized student housing and other benefits such as discounted transportation, etc., that make living in the city easier. Of course, there's always tuition to worry about, but you should qualify for much more aid than an 18 year old who has to factor in his/her parent's income. Good luck.
posted by snarfles at 7:33 PM on December 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Considering you're in New Jersey, I suppose you could conceivably look for jobs in Philly or New York and commute for a while. The commute will probably be awful, but might allow you to save some money and get you better acquainted with the city.
posted by elizeh at 7:39 PM on December 15, 2013


It occurs to me that a part of your issue is that the question is so wide open for you. It's hard to think pragmatically about where to live, if you have no real criteria for what you're looking for, and the main thing against where you are now is "I hate everyone."

So here are some ways of coming up with a list of places to consider:

- Places where you already know people. Not only will it be easier to get started with a couch to crash on, it can be REALLY hard to build a personal network from scratch. Since the reason you want to leave home is that you don't see eye to eye with people there, is there a city where you have people you do like? Write any place that meets this criterion down.

- Places where you're likely to meet kindred spirits in cartooning, or maybe even potentially network for jobs. Just a guess, but this is probably New York, Los Angeles, and any other large city where cartoon studios are based. Write all those places down on the list you started with "Places I Know People"

- Places you already know you love. Surely you've visited some other cities than where you currently live. What places did you like? What did you like about them? You live in New Jersey, which is extremely well located in the US to explore different areas. If for some reason you've never availed yourself of that before. You can likely be in NYC in an hour, Philadelphia is on your doorstep, and there are cheap bus services to DC, Boston, most of the larger New England towns, a lot of Pennsylvania, and potentially Maryland and Virginia as well. You don't need to take "vacations" to these places. Just go visit. I've cumulatively spent about 4 days each in Philly and DC and could tell you based on that whether either would be a city I could live in. Add all the cities you've visited and thought "Hm, I could see myself here" to your list.

- Places that are pragmatic for some other lifestyle reason you haven't mentioned. Love the outdoors? Maybe consider Alaska or the Mountain West. Wish you lived somewhere warmer, with great local culture and friendly people? Look into the South for sure. Hate driving? New York, Boston, or San Francisco are your main options. Need access to a particular ethnic or religious community to really feel comfortable? Make a note of that. Etc. Add any places that comes up for you in thinking about that stuff.

So now you have a list of potential places. This is where you start narrowing it down. If there are places that work on more than one criteria, shortlist those.

THIS is where you start visiting and making plans and finding a job. When you're down to a couple of cities that are the obvious choice, and you just need to make it happen. Say you shortlisted both Austin and Philadelphia. Well, one benefit of Philadelphia is that you can probably commute there by bus to pound the pavement and look for work. On the other hand, if you have friends in Austin, you could use their address on your resume. But frankly I wouldn't worry too much about this micro level stuff until you've narrowed down, in the grand scheme of the entire world, where you want to start.
posted by Sara C. at 7:50 PM on December 15, 2013


I'm going to recommend Atlanta.

We've got Cartoon Network/Adult Swim here and if you decide you want to complete your degree, you've got a lot of universities in a pretty concentrated area.

Here's a random job I found on the Turner Communications website.

You may not be ready for that position, but get your foot in the door, even as a CNN Tour guide, and you may have a chance to learn other things while there.

Atlanta has a thriving art and music scene, and tons of funky neighborhoods.

Get a couple of jobs. A day job and a bartending gig. Meet people, fall into creative endeavors. At least in Atlanta, you have temporate weather, a lower cost of living and less of a pressure to have been the bestest at everything.

New York and Los Angeles are competative as HELL and can be intimidating, especially if you're more of a wanderer than a laser focused person.

You can get a regular day-job in Atlanta and support yourself in a pretty okay kind of way. We have decent mass-transit (as long as you stay in the downtown areas) so you don't have to have a car if you don't want one. And because of the University concentration downtown (Georgia Tech, Georgia State University, Savannah College of Arts and Design, etc) there are lots of young people to hang with.

Take the Megabus on down here and check it out. It's pretty sweet here.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:16 AM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Look for jobs similar to what you do now, in a different but near-by city. Any big search engine will let you specify location. Check Craigslist & contact temp agencies. Making a leap-move like this is easier if you know someone whose couch you can sleep on, if you can live-work, or if you have a decent safety net.
This is almost exactly, to a T, what I did over 20 years ago (moved from rural Dayton, Ohio exurbs to inner-city Cincinnati). I had shitty foodservice job history at the time and no degree and a vague desire to do "design-something". I translated that into various clerical temp jobs (and more and different foodservice jobs, and a stint as a bike messenger) as I worked my way up into desktop publishing and from there got a pretty decent series of administrative jobs. I never followed through on the art / design thing to the fullest extent that I could, but I also squandered a lot of chances through insecurity and an oppressive relationship (you don't have to do this). I did eventually move around the country and even to Europe for a short while, using my portable clerical / design / tech writing background to do all sorts of temp / contract / freelance work and my portability of experience and usable skills meant I could pretty much hit the ground running anywhere I wound up.

If you're doing anything art and/or design related, you should go where interesting art and/or design related things are happening. This is generally in larger metropolitan areas, although not exclusively. But I absolutely agree that a first step would be to make an interim leap from your small-town area to the next bigger city over.
posted by lonefrontranger at 6:50 AM on December 16, 2013


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