Looking for a new city!
March 3, 2011 7:08 PM   Subscribe

Similar to firei's post, I've lived in the same town for almost all of my 23 years on this planet. I want to move to a brand-new, exciting city. Where should I go?

I'm a 23-year old male, currently living with my parents in southwestern Pennsylvania. I graduated from Penn State with a BA in Math in December of 2008, so I did live in State College for a few years, but other than that, I've pretty much lived in the same house in the same small town for my whole life. I need a change!

For most of last year, I worked as a software developer for a fairly large company. The actual "job" part of things wasn't bad, but the fact that I was working 15 minutes from my parents' house just added to my feelings of restlessness and anxiety about being "stuck" here. I became increasingly unhappy, and in January decided to leave the company.

Since leaving my software job, I've been spending a lot of time focusing on music. I have been working the past few years as a church organist north of Pittsburgh, and have focused more energy on that as of late. It pays well enough that I don't have to be super concerned about money for a little while, at least.

I think the time is right for me to make a move and explore a new city! What concerns me is finding a stable job, whether that be in software, music, or otherwise. Like I said, I do have experience as a developer, but I'm worried about what companies might think about the fact that I left my last position.

I've thought about taking a month off at my church gig (I can do this without any problems) and hitting the road, exploring different parts of the US. Is that a crazy idea, or should I just research places from where I am?

Here are the criteria for a new city:

- Nowhere in the northeast or midwest. I'd like to explore a new area of the country.
- Either a fairly large city (My idea of "fairly large" is a city that's at least big enough to have one pro sports team) or a college town.
- A good music scene (especially live music)
- An influx of young people that are involved in the community
- Decent job market for tech jobs, if possible

Any suggestions for where I should go? Also, any suggestions for how to land a software gig in a new town, especially since I quit my last job so recently?

Any advice on the moving thing and the job thing would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, guys!
posted by mrbob14 to Work & Money (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Austin TX for live music; not sure how market for tech jobs is, though I know someone there who's a traveling tech consultant who just makes Austin his home base.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:12 PM on March 3, 2011

San Francisco
San Diego

is how mefites roll.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:12 PM on March 3, 2011

posted by proj at 7:20 PM on March 3, 2011

You might look at a similar question I asked. I have more and slightly different criteria but I think there's probably a lot of overlap and there's lots of great cities listed there.
posted by geegollygosh at 7:23 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'll always vote for Austin, TX. If i didn't live in NYC i'd be there in a heartbeat. It's great for culture and while im not 100% on their economy, my buddies there are all in tech. It is also just stunning and the people are so friendly it doesn't seem real.

I would also rec Minneapolis MN if you didn't say no to the great Midwest.
posted by Blisterlips at 7:43 PM on March 3, 2011

Similar situation here honestly. I haven't found a solution yet myself. I'm glad to know that Madison, Wisconsin is well regarded; I actually just finished an application to the University of Madison.

As for music, I've heard the independent scene in Cleveland is very good. However, this is probably far too close to life in southwest PA.
posted by graxe at 7:47 PM on March 3, 2011

Find your spot seems like it just perfect for answering these questions.
posted by sien at 8:00 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sounds like a month of wandering could be awesome for figuring shit out. Narrow it down to a few choices, then go spend a week in each!
posted by mollymayhem at 8:07 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think you'll be fine, job-wise. Re-locating to a new city is a pretty solid reason to be seeking new work.

And all I'm gonna say is San Diego already got mentioned, but there is actually another city in Southern California you might want to look into.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:08 PM on March 3, 2011

How well do you actually know (and loathe) the northeast? Despite living in smalltown NJ for my entire life, and attending college in Virginia, I'd never actually spent any time in Washington, DC prior to moving here last year.

Like you, I desperately wanted to get away from the east coast, but have actually quite liked DC ever since settling down here (because it was the only place I could find a job that paid enough to live on). Although I doubt I'll be here forever, it's vastly exceeded my expectations. I won't recommend my own city out of personal bias, but I will point out that we readily meet 4 of your 5 criteria, especially the last – if you're 23 and want a job, this is the best place to be. It takes a very special kind of person to live in New York City, but I can assure you that it will be a dramatically different experience than living in smalltown PA.

If you want a groovy college town, Portland, ME and Burlington, VT are both surprisingly nice.

I'd avoid SoCal -- not sure why so many here are recommending it. It seems like the antithesis of "young and hip." Austin seems to be a "love it or hate it" kind of place (Pros: Austin. Cons: Texas)

If you could find a job there, Portland, OR would be perfect. However, odds are that you won't find a job there. Seattle's a close second though, and does have more jobs available! If you really want to take a leap, there's also always Canada.

If you've got a car and gas money, by all means take a cross-country road trip and visit all these places. You won't be able to get a perfect feel for any of the cities, but it's sure as hell better than just reading about them on the internet.
posted by schmod at 8:24 PM on March 3, 2011

zOMG, San Francisco.
posted by Pecinpah at 8:31 PM on March 3, 2011

Take some time on trains/in a car/something and go explore a bunch of cities. For further away, I really recommend Seattle for a while; I lived there 7 1/2 years before moving back east, and don't regret it at all. Portland is also lovely, if you can find a job.

Also, don't discount the entire northeast. Maine is lovely, and very different, as is Nova Scotia. Montreal and Quebec City are an entirely different world from New England. You're a tech worker with a bachelor's degree; you can get into Canada super-easy as soon as you find a job here (that's what I did). (There are plenty of English-language tech jobs in Montreal.)
posted by criacow at 9:06 PM on March 3, 2011

If you're liking the sound of Austin I can tell you that Austin's tech sector isn't as strong as it was before the recession hit but there are still jobs. If you come check us out, ask for a meetup.
posted by immlass at 9:32 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd also say Austin. I've lived elsewhere for the past couple years, so don't know the job market, but it nails all your other points. Except for a pro team. But they've got the Longhorns, so I'll let you decide if that's better.
posted by BevosAngryGhost at 10:13 PM on March 3, 2011

I've thought about taking a month off at my church gig (I can do this without any problems) and hitting the road, exploring different parts of the US. Is that a crazy idea, or should I just research places from where I am?

If you can afford the gas money, I don't see why that would be a bad idea at all. I did it. Get to Seattle and hop through towns as you go south. If you can afford a month to do it, see all the cool sights along the way (Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, Yosemite, US 101, Crater Lake, Columbia Gorge, Redwoods, Golden Gate, etc.)

On behalf of my adopted city: Portland might work out for you because you are in tech. There's a quiet rumbling of tech jobs provided you are willing to work in the suburbs, mostly Beaverton and Hillsboro. It doesn't change the fact that unemployment is still 10%, but tech seems to have a lot more openings in the last 6-8 months. The best place for postings will be dice.com when it comes to the tech world (in my experience).

Anyhow, to fit the lifestyle you had in the bullet points, find somewhere to live in Portland city proper, that's where the cool kids are. Any quadrant, but west of NE/SE 82nd, and probably not SW down in the hills, and you'll find your way.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:09 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Austin definitely hits most of your points and I love, love it. Lived there for 8 years, but just recently moved away mainly because of the HEAT! I just could not ever get used to the 100 plus temps day in and day out for months. I couldn't take my dogs out for walks during the summer until around 9PM or they would overheat after a few blocks.

Another issue, if you want to take a road trip somewhere cool, say hiking in the mountains, you are gonna have to drive for hours (14 or so to get to Colorado I believe). Being smackdab in the middle of a huge state can be frustrating. This is one of the things I love about the northeast, it's all crammed in and road trips are reasonable. Of course there are cool things to see in Texas, just sayin.

As far as your plan to take a month off to drive around the US. Are you kidding?? Hell Yes!! No better way to figure out what places you like.

What about Denver? Raleigh-Durham? Not sure if there are huge amounts of tech jobs, but I also love Blacksburg, VA
posted by meta87 at 12:31 AM on March 4, 2011

Thanks for all the responses so far! Portland has definitely been on my list for a while, as has Seattle. I'll add Austin to that list as well as some others.

I have no real hatred or dislike of the northeast or midwest, but I've done a lot of traveling throughout most of these states over the past years and know so many people in a lot of the major metro areas. I'd like to have a fresh start in a new place where I don't really know anyone. My only experience on the west coast has been visiting San Diego once for a few days, and my only experience with the south is going to Disney World as a kid. Needless to say, those areas need to be explored!

I'm going to try to hit the road in late April (after Easter, due to the church job) and do some exploring! In the meantime I'll check out Dice, Stack Overflow, etc. and start getting my resume out there. I'm hoping to be able to make some contacts in a few of these cities to make the task of finding a tech job a little easier.

Thanks again, everyone, for all your help. Ask MetaFilter is truly awesome!
posted by mrbob14 at 5:55 AM on March 4, 2011

I had this same feeling when I got out of school. I've enjoyed my time in Denver a lot. Beautiful weather, mountains close by, a vibrant city; not much to complain about.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:11 AM on March 4, 2011

Some companies (like mine) hire plenty of telecommuters. I am always happy to plug Minneapolis as an awesome city as well.
posted by gregglind at 10:45 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

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