Young couple with nothing need jobs and a place to live - where?
September 30, 2011 3:48 PM   Subscribe

Where is the best market in the US for unskilled labor jobs combined with a place where a young couple with nothing can start their lives?

I am asking for a 19 year old kid I know who has gotten into some pretty major trouble but is finally settling down a bit and trying, with his girlfriend, to start his adult life. They have no family, no education - not even a GED between them - no money, no car, no job experience aside from a couple of loose dishwashing and construction gigs, a patchy background that won't stand up to much of a check, nowhere to live and nothing to lose. They could move anywhere in the US that Greyhound will take them and they will have about $1000, total, when they get there. Where can they go? Where can they start over? Where is there work and affordable housing? And where is it possible to live and work without any access to a car?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Nebraska, and North and South Dakota have the lowest unemployment rates in the country.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:54 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Something like a cruise ship or a fish processor that provides room and board is their best bet. Do a few stints, save some cash and get a place eventually. Less temptations at a small town cannery if that's an issue. The Alaskan fisheries will be ramping up here soon through April or May. Look online at Trident or Unisea or Westward in Dutch Harbor. They'll probably hate the work but they'll survive. And meet a lot of people.

Forget about walking onto a boat and making bank, that is the stuff of movies because its not 1971 anymore. But they could make a living for a while.
posted by fshgrl at 3:56 PM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

CNN article on North Dakota jobs
posted by true at 4:15 PM on September 30, 2011

Many storage facilities have onsite live-in managers. (apartment is located on the storage facility) You get a salary and a free apartment. They're often referred to as "On-site resident property manager". Pay isn't great but you get a free place to live.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 4:17 PM on September 30, 2011

Go rural. I was in their situation in my teens during the recession of the 70s. We caught a bus and hit the fruit picking trail and lived on site in tents or farmer-supplied caravans. Bought a cheap car after 3 months from another worker and spent a couple of years travelling from north to south as the crop seasons changed. Work hard the first season and the farmer welcomes you back the second. It's not a career but it is a real life education that pays you.

These days I'd go Wwoofing. No money but food and board, and most importantly training in a wide variety of skills that will be useful throughout life - machinery repair, food production, animal husbandry, land management etc. Although wwoofing doesn't pay, there's always a day's work available here and there in a rural or farming community.

You can tell your young friends that I think that their lack of ties and assets (and debts! !!) is a lucky break. They can ignore the broken paradigm shown by this thread and begin their adult lives with a clearer view of what is going to be really worthwhile in 20 years. I wish them well.
posted by the fish at 4:23 PM on September 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

I was checking out the CoolWorks Twitter feed the other day, and notice some interesting jobs. The site focuses mostly on seasonal work, but it might get you started.
posted by magstheaxe at 5:09 PM on September 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

NPR on North Dakota's oil boom
posted by loosemouth at 5:22 PM on September 30, 2011

Agreeing that North Dakota would be a smart move. The oil companies will train them if they work in the oil fields. They set up housing for their workers (rather simple places, but clean), because housing becomes a serious problem in boom towns. The boom will end eventually, but he can ride this wave, put aside some money, and gain some skills.
posted by Houstonian at 5:26 PM on September 30, 2011

Also, if the girlfriend is not keen on working in oilfields, there are lots of other opportunities in a boom town. The area is full of people with cash to spend, so most of the businesses are doing well. For example, see the "help wanted" section of the Williston Herald. Again just as an example, the airport is looking for 12 people for food prep. No experience necessary, overtime possible, will train, no educational requirements, pay $10.33 to $15.50 per hour. There are 65 postings in the general "help wanted" section, and more in other sections.

In the field, this ad at Rigzone shows a typical job as an equipment operator. It's entry-level, no experience necessary, on the job training, high school education or GED and a driver's license, $15 - $17 per hour, and available hours are 60 - 100 hours per week. Annualized, that's between $46,800 and $88,400. And there is medical/dental/vision insurance.
posted by Houstonian at 5:56 PM on September 30, 2011

Right at this moment? If they can live off those savings for a month (or do a few stints at something like LaborReady), I might look to ski towns. They do their hiring around this time, though work wouldn't start until after they have their snow base (around Nov).

I'm trying to think which ones have cheap housing and good car-free living but don't know. (Salt Lake City has cheap housing but you'd need a car to get up the canyons. Telluride you could get around without one but might not have an easy time finding cheap housing.) Maybe someone else can recommend one.
posted by salvia at 7:05 PM on September 30, 2011

We were not in that precise situation, but not too far off. We landed in Michigan's U.P. We love it here, and it's a great place to be broke- public transit, low cost of living, cheap four year schools. It's also beautiful and cool.
posted by Leta at 10:37 PM on September 30, 2011

I grew up in North Dakota. Great place to raise kids relatively cheaply (public schools were great), but you do need a car. It gets really cold and it'd be miserable without transportation a lot of the time. Fargo is the big metro area, but without education may be easier to find something in one of the smaller towns.

If you look at the articles on the oil in North Dakota, housing is really expensive in those places so they'd want to have enough money on hand for the first month.
posted by ejaned8 at 8:05 AM on October 1, 2011

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