Can I move to Houston and get a sucessful job? Or any good paying job?
October 28, 2008 2:20 PM   Subscribe

Is moving to Houston without a job lined up a terrible idea given the state of the economy?

I've fallen in love with Houston and I'm planning to move there in January. With the state of the economy, I'm wonder how easily I'll be able to find employment. I've got 6+ years in the medical billing/paperwork/getting stuff done fast and smooth. I've got excellent recommendations and references, and been told my resume is impressive, but I have no idea if that's enough. I want to be making at least $16 an hour. Hopefully more.

I know they've got a giant medical center there, but I didn't know what it's like to find a job there. I was planning on getting a temp job as soon as I move and am going to start calling temp agencies a week before I move. Is it a bad idea to do this now? What would be the chances of me finding a good job?
posted by Attackpanda to Work & Money (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Short answer: probably.

Longer answer: With experience & good refs in what is definitely a needed skillset in the medical center, you're likely to get something fairly quickly. If there's anything you can do ahead of time (send resumes to local medical-field employment agencies before heading out, get some recruiter contacts, have a list of places to hit up from Craigslist and local classifieds, actually apply for jobs from your current location with the understanding you won't be there until January), do it.

Houston is having economic contractions like the rest of the country, but you sound like you've got the bases covered to make it above the lowest level applicants.

Hurrah on being willing to give Houston a go. It's a challenging city, but I think it's got a lot of good points that go unappreciated by most.
posted by batmonkey at 2:37 PM on October 28, 2008

Make sure your car is in good shape because there are several medical complexes around the city that you might go to when searching. Driving from one side of Houston to the other is not always easy on a vehicle.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:48 PM on October 28, 2008

Keep in mind that unless you have a rare, in-demand skill, no one is going to want to give you the time of day until you are physically in the Houston area code, so don't be dissuaded if when you call they give you the brush off. temp agencies and employment agencies, and, hell, HR departments deal with the here and now. even if you swear up and down you will be there in january, things happen. i even went so far once to get a p.o. box and voicemail in the local area code. the problem is that even if they are interested in you, you have to say "well i'll be there in a month" and in a month a lot of things can happen. sure they can say "call us when you get here" but, again, a lot of things can happen. so keep that in mind.

by all means do your research and groundwork now. get a list of potential employers, research the temp agencies (and look online to see what people think/say about them). look at apartment ads, read about neighborhoods, buy a houston-area map (thomas guides or something comprehensive), read the local papers online and learn as much about the city as you can. that way when you are there and needing to run from interview to interview you will know better than to schedule consecutive appointments on opposite ends of town, and things like that. read craigslist missed connections. get the local alterna-paper. is there a yelp! houston? posting in 'talk' there might get you a lot of very helpful advice.
posted by micawber at 3:00 PM on October 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

It depends enormously on how much savings you have. If you need to find a job within 2 weeks or you'll start starving, it's probably a terrible idea. If you've got enough money to last several months without a job, it's probably not so bad.
posted by Class Goat at 3:07 PM on October 28, 2008

A few extras based on what other folks have said:

Definitely have a solid vehicle or be willing to spend an entire day on the bus (best bet is to travel to one area per day and spend the whole day out there).

Houston doesn't have a Thomas Guide - that's West Coast. You'll want the Rand McNally (which happens to also make Thomas Guides).

I've moved across the country and from city to city a few times and have searched for jobs (in this decade) without being in the place physically, and have many friends who have had success with this approach even with their background being in less skill-based industries. It definitely does work to pre-contact before heading out. It's at least worth a try to increase your chances.
posted by batmonkey at 3:23 PM on October 28, 2008

The economy in Houston has not suffered like other parts of the country. Due to the oil crunch the rest of us feel, the economy in Houston is booming, because energy is based in Houston. There's an amazing amount of spending on public works, public art and the like. Hell, even the Catholic Church scrapped together 30 million dollars (I think) to build a brand-new cathedral for Houston. This is not a city in need. You'd be fine if you moved and began to temping and looking.

It depends on how much savings you have and what condition your car is in, but this is a move could make with significantly less money than other moves more often considered on this site. Houston apartment complexes literally beg tenants to move in with offers of free month or two months of rent. Car emissions and other inspections testing are incredibly lax. There is no state income tax. Food and toiletries prices run anywhere from 20-30 percent below other parts of the country. (Speaking as a resident of the East Coast)

It's important to remember that the Houston metro area is larger than some states. Do your research on where you want to live, traffic patterns, and so forth. Sign as short term a lease as possible. The job you find may require a commute and ultimately a move across town.

The medical center is in the urban, pleasant part of Houston, secluded from the suburbs that many people despise about Houston and Texas itself. If you have an open mind about suburbia, you'll likely increase your chances of finding a job tenfold.

In sum, Houston is probably one of the few cities you could move to and expect to find a job right now. Especially if you are open to location. Also, if you have no qualms about them, I'd look into defense contractors and energy sectors. They pay extremely well. Who knows what opportunities will turn up?

From an ex and future Houstonian, who at one time fled, but has since grown up and realized there's nothing worse about Houston than any other city in the U.S.
posted by vincele at 3:30 PM on October 28, 2008

Absolutely do not move to Houston unless you have a good, reliable car. The public transportation is bad, bad. It won't get you to most places you need to go at all.

One of the problems of living in Houston is that it is huge, so trying to find a job and a place to live within a reasonable distance to each other can be difficult. Traffic is very bad. You will have to be able to afford gas. Prices are falling right now, and they've been lower in Texas than they have been nationally, but it's nothing to scoff at. Also, depending on where you end up living and where you find a job, you might have to use the tollroad, which is another expense. (Alternate routes have excruciating hours of traffic. My mom's job has some flexibility so she's started coming in around noon and leaving at 9PM to avoid it.)

The ease of finding a job has everything to do with your skills, experience, and education.

Like others have said, I don't recommend it unless you have enough money to last a few months. If you need a job within a week or two... without more information, I'd say it's a bad gamble.
posted by Nattie at 3:39 PM on October 28, 2008

I do have a good car. (knocks on wood) How long is a few months? 2 or 6? I'll have access to a few grand. And I figured a temp job would at least help me with some expenses.
posted by Attackpanda at 4:07 PM on October 28, 2008

Houston is probably one of the best places to move without a job lined up. This place is ridiculously entrepreneurial and open to newcomers -- if you demonstrate you have the chops, you will get a job. The medical center is enormous and there are plenty of medical offices outside the medical center as well. (The med center would probably be a fun place to work -- lots of people in a small area to meet). It wouldn't hurt to call temp agencies now, but you may only be taken seriously once you land here.

The traffic can be icky in the med center during rush hour, but it is accessible by train from desirable living areas (museum district, lower montrose, midtown). There are cheap apartments to be had in any of these areas with a little research. Jobs outside the 610 loop will expose you to more traffic than inside, unless you live and work outside, which can be alienating.
posted by *s at 4:22 PM on October 28, 2008

How long is a few months? 2 or 6?

More 6 than 2. 8 would be better yet.
posted by Class Goat at 4:42 PM on October 28, 2008

Business is still good here in Houston. Two weeks ago, unemployment was at 5.1%. We have two main industries -- energy and medicine. So, things look VERY good for you! Right now, if you search for "medical billing" in Houston, there are 59 jobs listed, and many in the Medical Center itself are not listed on Monster, but instead on their own websites (such as UT Health Science Center, Baylor College of Medicine, MD Anderson).

Yes, we have a very large medical center: The Texas Medical Center, where more than 75,000 people work, and it covers 37 million square feet. Public transportation (Metro buses) do offer many routes from suburbs and urban areas to the Medical Center, to accommodate those 75,000 people. In addition, the MetroRail goes from downtown to the Medical Center. There are also the Metro shuttle and the circulator.

Of course, you'll want to apply to those places first, but we have lots of other hospitals, clinics, and doctors offices. Remember, we're a city of 5 million, and lots of people travel to Houston for medical care.

Cost of living is low compared to most of the rest of the United States.

Instead of the Rand McNally map, I'd suggest Key Maps. Most people use them, have them in their car, and many places can tell you exactly which page and square they are on the map. You've been here, and love us anyway, so don't let traffic scare you off!

Welcome to Houston! Feel free to send me a Mefi Mail anytime.
posted by Houstonian at 5:23 PM on October 28, 2008

I moved to San Francisco in 2001 and got a job before I got here: a friend of a friend got me hired at his work.

So, if your current job knows you'll be leaving, start asking people if they know anyone in Houston, especially in the field in which you'll be looking for a job. Reach out to former co-workers and supervisors - anyone you have a good professional or personal relationship with. You might hear about a job that hasn't formally been posted yet, but is looking for someone like you to fill in for someone going on maternity - and they need someone to start the day after you arrive. Network like crazy before you leave home.

Good luck, and have fun!
posted by rtha at 6:51 PM on October 28, 2008

Ach. How could I forget Key Maps?!? bad, bad, bad Houstonian (, not the user w/ the good input above). Definitely, Key is MUCH better than RMc.

Nthing Houstonian, *s, and vincele (well, and I guess I was seconding Burhanistan, earlier) - I've still got friends and family in Houston, go visit fairly frequently, and several of the folks in my social circle up here are from Houston with a similar situation...our experiences bear out their recommendations.

But that's not what I came back in for. This is:

There's a Houston LJ community that's pretty active and it's a great place to get quick info, make connections, figure out good places to live, and that sort of thing. Even if you're not an LJ member, you can draw it into your RSS reader - look on bottom of the left hand nav pane.
posted by batmonkey at 7:00 PM on October 28, 2008

KHOU-TV news had this last night: Houston job postings up a month after Ike:
...Hurricane Ike kept thousands of workers off the job for days and destroyed some businesses.

Now, more than a month later, the number of job postings has gone up once again.

“We’re all of a sudden back up to where we were a year ago,” said Torres.

Job postings are projected to hit 5,000 this month, nearly double last month and on par with a year ago.
If you read the whole thing, it'll help you feel more confident.
posted by Robert Angelo at 7:16 PM on October 28, 2008

I think if you are excited about moving to a city just because you fell in love with it, go.

Perhaps not good advice, nonetheless I am inspired by your post and even if it doesn't work out, at least you won't be haunted by a what if.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 8:18 PM on October 28, 2008

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