Help me pick a new city to start a new career in
May 17, 2012 4:48 PM   Subscribe

New career has me relocating to either Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Tampa, FL. Help me choose the best fit.

I have made it to the final stage of an interview. I am fresh out of college and the job deals with sales in the manufacturing industry. The company requested that I list my three top cities (from a specific list) that I would prefer to relocate and work in. I currently live in Minneapolis, MN. All three are very appealing to me, and I just can't make up my mind on which one to choose as my favorite option. Based on the info below, please help me choose what city would be best.

-I am a twentysomething, who enjoys going to bars/clubs on weekends, expanding my culinary horizons and meeting new people
-While I don't know the final salary, they have told me that the base will be between 50-70k a year. Does this amount depend on where I move to, because of the difference in cost of living?
-I have been to LA, and San Fran, but never to Tampa. Tampa's main appeal is the climate. The main appeal of LA and San Fran is the culture and the climate, but high rent prices and stressful traffic commutes make me weary.
-The job involves selling advanced equipment to manufacturing facilities with heavy travel. This will be my first sales job. I have a degree in marketing.
-My current car is in year 2 of a 3 year lease.
-I have no friends or family in any of these cities.

Please tell me the pros/and cons of your choice as well.

Thank you for your input!
posted by AMWKE1984 to Work & Money (44 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would not choose SF purely based on money. Rent is insane right now, and its only going to get worse.
posted by fshgrl at 4:51 PM on May 17, 2012

Also has the worst driving conditions of the three cities and there's nowhere to park.
posted by fshgrl at 4:52 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Could you explain what you mean by climate? I think of SF, LA, and Tampa as having very different climates. For instance, Tampa is famous for being the "Lightning Capital of North America", whereas you may go years without seeing lightning in the Bay Area.
posted by lukemeister at 4:55 PM on May 17, 2012

The benefit of living in SF is that it's the only city on your list where you could conceivably not own a car, which is awesome. I see you have a lease and depending on your job you may need one anyway.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:56 PM on May 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

Tampa's climate should not be its main appeal. I think you would be disappointed if you moved here solely for money and weather.

If it were me, I would really look out of what I wanted in a new city and go from there.
posted by signondiego at 4:59 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

At 70K/yr, you'll live with roommates if you pick San Francisco. It's a nice city, but it's always cold (55°F in the summer sometimes), it's very expensive, and having a car will be a pain in the ass unless you live just outside of town on the Peninsula or in the East Bay.

In Los Angeles, you'll spend a lot of time stuck in traffic. But, the rent is lower and when you get a movie part, your salary will go up (kidding... or not... hey, I knew you when!). There's lots of nightlife in Southern California, but it's really spread out and you have to know someone who knows someone.

Tampa's in Florida, which I'm attempt to return to Spain. But, Winter Music Conference in Miami is a good place to meet San Franciscans (if you like DJs).
posted by phoebus at 5:00 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Can you tell us what city your job would be in if you move to SF?
posted by MillMan at 5:00 PM on May 17, 2012

Response by poster: The SF job is actually located in San Ramon, CA. As for climate, the warmer, the better.
posted by AMWKE1984 at 5:01 PM on May 17, 2012

San Ramon is a *lot* warmer than SF. Completely different climate on the east side of the hills.
posted by lukemeister at 5:03 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I want to be able to live in a city where I will not be spending the bulk of my income on gas and rent. Being from MN, I hastily generalized any place that isn't -10 in November as having "the same climate" I also want to be able to meet like-minded people. From what I understand about the company, workplace friendships are few and far between due to constantly being out of office meeting with clients.
posted by AMWKE1984 at 5:05 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

... which is not to say that it's as warm as Tampa. Here are some stats on San Ramon's climate.
posted by lukemeister at 5:05 PM on May 17, 2012

If it sounds like I'm trying to talk you into San Ramon, I'm not. It's suburbia, 34 miles from SF. Depending on how much you like to drive, that might or might not be a problem.
posted by lukemeister at 5:07 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

San Ramon is pretty far from SF. If you live close enough to work to avoid totally hating your commute, you probably will not make it into SF very often. (BART doesn't run late trains on weekends, which makes it hard to go bar hopping safely, i.e., without driving yourself into the city.)

Many parts of the bay have absurdly good dining options, and there is a lot to love about the East Bay. Whether you'd be happy living there depends on how attached you are to the specifics of SF.

I'm a twentysomething living happily in SF, but I wouldn't recommend it to everyone. The boom and bust tech economy (we're in a boom, locally) means that rental market spikes disproportionately hurt anyone who isn't in the industry.
posted by tantivy at 5:08 PM on May 17, 2012

If it's San Ramon, there is no way you're going to live in SF unless you want an insane car commute. You could maybe commute from Oakland - which is a lot cheaper to live in than SF and still has a lot of the benefits.

I live in San Jose and I grew up in Minnesota myself - I would describe the weather here as "unvarying" versus the extremes in Minnesota.
posted by MillMan at 5:08 PM on May 17, 2012

San Ramon has reasonable rents and it's still within range to head to San Francisco for nightlife activities. Your paycheck will be bigger than in the other two places. 70K is enough to live in San Ramon quite comfortably and you will certainly not miss the Minnesota winters. If you do, Lake Tahoe is just 2.5 hours away.
posted by phoebus at 5:11 PM on May 17, 2012

Yeah, San Ramon is a suburb and is pretty far from SF. Depending on how much you want to "commute" to entertainment options, you might not see the city very well. When I lived 30-45 min from SF, I didn't get there too often.

Just as with San Ramon / SF, "LA" is similarly generic. If you can live near work, traffic is uch less of an issue, although depending on where you are options for people/entertainment will vary. Where in LA?
posted by wildcrdj at 5:12 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Tampa. Tampa, Tampa, Tampa. I have several friends who moved to Tampa after college graduation (we are 30 now), they still live there, and they LOVE it. We were a pretty party-heavy crew in college and judging from visits I've made to them since, Tampa is a social butterfly's dream. I never hear them talk about high costs of living or traffic, but I do always hear them talk about the Rays game they went to, that day last week when they played hooky and went to the beach, the pub crawl they and their friends did last month. I know they found it easy to make new friends (who I met and are awesome and compatible) when they moved there and that will probably be important for you to consider as well.

I will also tell you that for friends/family you will probably get more visitors and be able to get home more easily in Florida than in LAX or SFO, it's only a three hour direct flight from Minneapolis to Tampa on Delta. That's something I didn't think about when I moved away, and although I don't regret it, I might have if I'd have the option of being on the same side of the country/time zones.
posted by stellaluna at 5:16 PM on May 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

SFO is a 4 hour flight from Minneapolis outbound and 3.5 hours back.
posted by MillMan at 5:20 PM on May 17, 2012

I second "where in LA," because holy heck San Ramon is not San Francisco.
posted by SMPA at 5:30 PM on May 17, 2012 [8 favorites]

I lived in Tampa (well, St. Petersburg) for a year. Random thoughts:
  • I would not recommend that anyone who is severely insect-phobic move to Tampa, except as some kind of exposure therapy. Just puttin' that out there.
  • Tampa is hot and humid from about mid-May to mid-October. As in, 90 F every day and 90% humidity. I grew up in Manitoba, so you and I probably have similar baselines for climate. You know how when you came in from outside in February in Minnesota, your glasses would fog up? Imagine your glasses fogging up every time you went outside from the air-conditioned indoors.
  • Of course, the other seven months of the year are pretty sweet. It's always nice to gloat about the weather to your friends back home, or how you're eating local strawberries in February.
  • Tampa is spread out; walkable neighborhoods can be found, but are not thick on the ground. The culture is definitely a "car culture". It's not as bad as L.A., but that's in no small part because there aren't as many people living there.

posted by Johnny Assay at 5:31 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tampa, hands down. Lots to do, pretty friendly folks and a MUCH lower cost of living than your other two options. It is a true city with actual Cultural Things To Do yet it is laid back and only pseudo-Southern. It's close to several of the top beaches in the country, has lots of public parks and if you're into bar hopping, there's plenty of that too.
Disclaimer; I grew up in the Tampa/St. Pete area.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 5:32 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Of the three, I would choose LA, based on the assumption there are larger companies there so you can swing to your next vine in 3 years. If Tampa has a similarly large cluster of large companies, then it would make sense too. But it's a bit remote, is it not?
posted by KokuRyu at 5:52 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

As to climate stuff, generally:

August in Florida is awful. You know how your hair feels like it's dripping even though it's not actually raining? Yeah, that. May through October are unhappy climate-wise, but I will never do August in Florida again if I can help it.

You will probably not agree with the locals, or anyone from SoCal, who says that San Francisco is cold. I'd actually say the climate, of "Tampa" vs. "LA (generally)" vs. San Ramon, is quite decisively in San Ramon's favor. The biggest thing you'll notice about San Francisco is probably the drizzle/cloud stuff.

You will have a lot more spending money in not-California, which is a factor because you must have A/C in both Tampa and LA.

LA climate really does vary quite a lot - you could be in the high desert, or a swampy area, or something else altogether. You may also be subject to wildfires and mudslides and flash flooding that is frankly stunning to me even as a native, or never encounter them at all. See here and also here.

Also, take your pick: earthquakes (etc.) or hurricanes?

The nice thing about hurricanes - as opposed to both tornadoes and earthquakes - is that you generally get advance warning.
posted by SMPA at 6:01 PM on May 17, 2012

Definitely need to know "where in LA?" but i would lean toward LA generally, for these reasons:

-As a sales rep you will must needs have a car, and LA is better set up for having a car.

- LA is big enough that you can find whatever community fills your groove.

- as the job involves heavy travel, LA has lots of airports to choose from, and you can fly nonstop to a lot more places than you can from the Bay Area.

- San Ramon is not SF, and is far enough that it will be hard to find a happy medium place to live for someone in your demographic.

- LA can be slightly less nosebleed-inducing expensive than the Bay Area.

I have no data on Tampa. But you need more than climate to go on.
posted by ambrosia at 6:36 PM on May 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

If you are fine with humidity then Tampa will work for you!

Be aware that Tampa is not a beach community, you'll have a good 30 -45 min. drive to get to a decent beach. Florida does not have personal income tax! No sales tax on food items at the grocery, some if it is considered not a basic. Liqueur prices are better than many states. Housing is low, low, low at the moment.

You have to have a car there. If you speak Spanish it will be helpful but not necessary. It is easy to meet people in Florida because so many are transplants.

If you enjoy golf, running, tennis, boating you will be quite happy. There is a change of seasons, but it is very subtle. Much of the flora is not native so it is hard to spot the changes.

That said, Florida is too humid for me and I would move to S.F. in a heartbeat if I had an income which would allow it!
posted by cat_link at 6:38 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

If sales == driving, I would pick Tampa.

California has terrible traffic in the cities, and gets worse when you leave it. It's a large sprawling state that has to build highways around mountains. It always takes me twice as long to get to [random small city] as I anticipate.

LAX would be convenient for direct flights. But that's only a win if you have a company that doesn't consider travel time part of your 40 hr work-week.
posted by politikitty at 6:45 PM on May 17, 2012

Definitely tell us where in LA this would be.

You can live quite easily on 50-70k here, it just depends on where you live/what sorts of amenities you require.

If you are interested in expanding your culinary horizons, you should read some Jonathan Gold and come eat your way through Los Angeles. You will not be disappointed.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 6:47 PM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

I am a twentysomething from North Dakota, which I like to pretend is Minnesota, and have lived in LA and visited Tampa.

Depending on where you'd be living in LA (for example, Duarte ≠ Los Angeles) I'd pick Tampa hands down.

The weather in Tampa is much less humid than in the inland areas of Florida. I despise humidity and actually found the weather in Tampa to be quite pleasant.

Tampa is a really nice size. The sprawl in Los Angeles is really a pain and makes it hard to do things outside of a small geographical area unless you're willing to drive, and by "drive," I mean sit in traffic.

Relatedly, I was very surprised at how much "culture" there is in Tampa. It is, indeed, a real city with stuff to do, even for twentysomethings.

Your money will go much, much further in Florida than in California. If you're making $70k, you might be able to swing living close to downtown LA, but I don't think it will be comfortable in the same way it would be in Tampa.

Anecdote: I know some people who moved from MSP (the southern 'burbs, though) to Tampa and LOVED IT.

Finally, Tampa has manatees. When I visited, we biked to a city park and saw wild ones swimming around the pier. It was pretty awesome.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 6:55 PM on May 17, 2012

Here's the thing about L.A.: There's plenty to hate about it. But when you finish the hate, you'll be able to acknowledge that we have absolutely everything. From the highs down to the lows. Some of the richest people in the world, and some of the poorest. Great neighborhoods to live in (all along the economic range) and terrible neighborhoods. Every ethnicity you can imagine, and all of their cuisines. Horrible traffic, and some of the loveliest natural places you could ever find. You can drive an hour from downtown and be skiing, or surfing, or hiking in the desert. Whatever your niche is - no matter how random - you can find it, and likeminded souls, here.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:53 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

What do you like to do?

You couldn't give me all the tea in China to live in Tampa over the Bay Area, or even LA.

Do they have an overload of requests for SF? Will your chances be better with Tampa or LA?
posted by barnone at 8:02 PM on May 17, 2012

Response by poster: Sounds like San Romon is out of the picture. The job is located in Gardena.
posted by AMWKE1984 at 8:24 PM on May 17, 2012

Response by poster: A few more notes:

-A car is a must for me
-I enjoy running

-Being close to major concert venues is also important. I worry that Tampa may not attract as many big names and smaller bands than LA
-As for the insect increase in Tampa, I have a slight aversion to spiders.
-Humidity I can deal with. I spent last August in Italy and enjoyed the near 100 degree days.

In terms of bills, a rough breakdown of my pre=rent monthly bills are:
Car: 250
Student Loans: 500
Insurance: 100
Cell Phone: 70

Couple that with rent potentially anywhere from 600-1000. Ideally I'd like to be in a 1 bedroom apartment alone, but I feel that room mates would be a great way to start meeting people.
posted by AMWKE1984 at 8:35 PM on May 17, 2012

The job is located in Gardena.


You may then want to look into shared rentals in one of the beach cities due west (Manhattan Beach). You'll be around tons of people your age. Iconic SoCal beach culture (for both good and bad). Lots of bars, restos, disgustingly attractive tanned young people milling about.

Renting a place solo there won't work at your salary, but share a place close to the beach, and you can really have a fun lifestyle for yourself. Get a beach cruiser, a surfboard, really do it up.
posted by quivering_fantods at 9:13 PM on May 17, 2012

San Ramon is as white as it gets, work there dont live there. If you commute from SF or Oakland its a reverse commute, 30 - 45 mins.(i drive a truck i know) Most everybody will be going in the opposite direction your going low stress density etc. It will be 78deg. in sf and 90 in San Ramon the same day.

I hate LA all of it. Think NYC but you have to drive all the time.

Tampa is in Florida.
posted by pianomover at 9:47 PM on May 17, 2012

Here's a thread about a job transfer to San Ramon, thinking of living in Oakland. That's what I would do!
posted by barnone at 10:03 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have many friends who live in Tampa and love it. These are people who could live anywhere due to the nature of their jobs. I also have many friends who live in LA and are always talking about moving, money, traffic etc. I'd have to vote for Tampa these days.
posted by fshgrl at 10:11 PM on May 17, 2012

Although traffic congestion is worse in both SF and LA than in Florida, the drivers of Gulf Coast Florida can be a bit unpredictable. Tampa bugs are not so much spiders as roaches and fire ants. And mosquitoes but your lanai will have screens. Clearwater Beach has (surfless) sandy beaches for miles, and the water is warm (in the mid-80s for the summer months). LA beaches have surf to spare, and the water is brisk (in the high 60s for the summer months).

As noted, San Ramon really isn't part of SF. The city and county of San Francisco is just the bitty 50 sq mi on the peninsula proper, and San Ramon is on the other side of the Bay, over the hills and further east into the San Ramon Valley. Pianomover's right - San Ramon's warm relative to the rest of the Bay Area, much warmer than SF. The airport you'd likely use is Oakland, not SFO. I would live in Oakland, not San Ramon or SF. Actually, I did live in Oakland. It was expensive. There was always something to do. I couldn't afford any of it. I was sad.

Downtown LA is 450+ sq mi, and the LA metropolitan area is over 4800 sq mi. Gardena is part of the LA metropolitan area, so it really is LA, but it's such a big place that even though I guarantee every band will play LA I cannot promise they'll be within 50 miles of you.
posted by gingerest at 10:12 PM on May 17, 2012

There are a lot of fun places to live within a reasonable (depending on your definition) commute of Gardena. Even Santa Monica would be doable (I've done approximately that drive, and the traffic that direction isn't too bad). Venice, Culver City, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach. For my preferences, these are the best parts of LA to live in (but others' preferences vary greatly). Also it's close to LAX, which is great if you're going to be traveling a lot.
posted by primethyme at 10:28 PM on May 17, 2012

expanding my culinary horizons

For your consideration, may I present:

L.A. Taco Madness

The humble taco inspires fierce passion and debates here. Come with an appetite. Embrace the taco truck culture.

(Gardena also happens to be a hotbed of Japanese and Hawaiian chow, among other cuisines. L.A. is a mouth-watering region.)
posted by quivering_fantods at 11:11 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you for all the great feedback!

In terms of future career potential, my research indicates that LA provides many more potential opportunities than Tampa. As for meeting people, LA seems to harbor more people like myself than Tampa. As noted above, Tampa IS in Florida, and I'm a tad apprehensive about the culture (Stand your ground, the 1000 weird crime stories that come from FL, etc) Therefore, I'm leaning towards LA, with Tampa 2nd, and San Ramon completely out of the picture due to it's high rent and distance from San Fran. I feel like LA would provide an endless array of restaurants, bars, attractions, natural sights and beaches to see, whereas in Tampa, the entertainment options may run thin after a year or two.

Please, keep the feedback coming! Since I am leaning towards LA, any city suggestions or websites to go about finding roommates?
posted by AMWKE1984 at 12:28 AM on May 18, 2012

If I were you, I'd snap up the Gardena posting, and move into this nice vintage trailer park off Alameda, or buy one of the daffy Lakewood chalets. You'll eat better and more varied food in Southern California than anywhere else in America (1, 2 , 3, 4), and if you're in sales and traveling you can schedule your life around the worst traffic. Live music, bar scene, young people, we've got all those. If you open your mind and heart to Los Angeles, you'll be surprised what an interesting, livable place this is.
posted by Scram at 3:52 AM on May 18, 2012

I lived in St. Pete for a few years, worked in Tampa, and loved both. The weather was not as bad as I'd expected it to be, I just had to readjust my thinking: up in the north I spent more time indoors in the winter, in FL I spent more time indoors in the summer. It also wasn't nearly as humid as I'd thought it would be and the weather was always great at the beach where the water was warm enough for swimming most of the year, unlike the ocean in LA, let alone SF. As others have said, awesome parks and beaches.

I also found that even in the hottest part of the summer it never went above 95 degrees, usually quite dry unless it was actually raining, and it was always cool enough first thing in the morning for a long vigorous walk.

I was also concerned about the right wing mentality and was pleasantly surprised by the great number of people of all ages I met whose politics were way left. Check out this community radio station for a sense of local culture: WMNF
posted by mareli at 5:47 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hiya, I moved from San Francisco in 1991 to Florida (the other side, Ft. Lauderdale) and I gotta tell you they are two completely different animals.

I've also spent a ton of time in So Cal, since a lot of my family is still there.

I think you've ruled out San Ramon, and frankly, I would too. It's WAY too suburban, and too far from The City to actually be useful for a social life. I used to live in a cute apartment in Oakland, with a view of Lake Merritt and commute to San Jose. Let me tell you, that was horrible. Over an hour in each direction. Miserable. Can't recommend it.

I can speak to Florida in generalities. I've never been to Tampa. Florida is mostly old people from up north. I think, that you think, that you don't want to live there. I recommend that you go down for a long weekend and just check it out. On the surface Florida seemed to be a great place to be a young person, but what I discovered was that it was either Jersey Shore caliber of folks or complete skeeze-balls and wackadoodles. Most women have boob jobs and spray tans. Miami, South Beach, a classier version of that, but still, it's a thing. As for sales, it's a tough row to hoe.

Gardena isn't LA proper, and that can be a good thing. I vote try LA, live in either a beach community, or maybe even Hollywood, although a beach community would the gill! I like Manhattan Beach, but even Marina del Rey by the airport can be fun. Or live in Gardena and hit the beach on your time off.

I agree that LA will have more options, either for other work options, or for moving up in your current company. Tampa tends to be an outpost.

Hope that helps!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:01 AM on May 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Downtown LA is 450+ sq mi, and the LA metropolitan area is over 4800 sq mi. Gardena is part of the LA metropolitan area, so it really is LA, but it's such a big place that even though I guarantee every band will play LA I cannot promise they'll be within 50 miles of you."

Uh, downtown LA is like 5 square miles. The city itself is about 500 square miles (including a lot of random neighborhoods of wildly differing densities), and the Southland is around 4800 miles because it includes a lot of Orange County that's very much not LA.

Gardena's kinda not really LA either, it's more the vague amorphous Southland. It's got some cool history itself, especially in the Japanese communities, but if you're looking for night life, you'd probably be closer to Long Beach if you were living near work.

Given that the SF and LA spots weren't really SF and LA, I wonder if the Tampa might not be similar.
posted by klangklangston at 5:16 PM on May 20, 2012

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