Where should a single 26 year old guy look for work?
June 27, 2012 5:44 PM   Subscribe

How can I decide where to settle down after graduating from grad school? I'm a 26 year old single guy and looking to plant roots.

I'm graduating with my master's in civil engineering in December and am trying to figure out where to find a job. I will be 26 and single, and grew up in a small town of about 1,000. I never really dated much until after college, when I moved to a town of about 6000 near my hometown and lived there for two years. The next largest 'city' nearby has a population of about 60,000 and is 45 minutes away.

I'm trying to figure out if I should try to get a job back in the town of 6,000, or look in a larger city. A lot of aspects of small town life appeal to me, and most importantly, I'm sick of the single life. I've had a few relationships, and my most recent breakup was really tough. I don't want to find myself isolated in a larger town. In a small, town, there isn't as many eligible, single 20-somethings, but I would be a lot more of a catch... more of a big fish in a small pond type situation. When I was living in the small town, I had people offering to set me up all the time! I also want to be able to buy my own home, and housing prices are cheaper in most smaller towns.

I'm not into the bar scene, attend church regularly, and love outdoor activities. I like the amenities of the college town of about 60,000 I'm living in now, but the people are kind of transient and I don't think there will be work here.
posted by Amistad to Human Relations (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Does your church regulary schedule activites? If so, they will do so in the larger cities as well.
posted by brujita at 5:50 PM on June 27, 2012

There are advantages and disadvantages to any place you live. A cousin of mine could be described pretty similarly to you (grew up in the south, good Christian girl, doesn't drink, etc.), and she didn't find a long term bf until living in D.C. for a year. Personally, I am a big fan of suburbs surrounding big cities. You get the benefits of small town without it suffocating you (know your neighbors, better schools for the future young'uns, good church communities, outdoors, etc., but more people and options).

However, don't put the cart before the horse. Even with a big fancy degree, the job market is still on the sucky side, and you might have limited options once you start applying. (Or you'll have lots of options, which would be great!) So I wouldn't worry so much about where to live right now -- I'd worry about getting the best job you can.

Also, I don't know how important family is to you, but you might want to consider distance from family in your decision.
posted by DoubleLune at 5:58 PM on June 27, 2012

What country?
posted by dgeiser13 at 6:23 PM on June 27, 2012

Thing you have to be careful with with small towns is a lot of them are places single people get out of and only come back to when they're married, if they come back at all. I wouldn't want you to go back expecting to be a big fish in a small pond only to find nobody's fishing.

Off the top of my head, given the rough criteria you've listed, I'd suggest somewhere out in Colorado if you can deal with the snow. Lots of outdoorsy stuff, if you go far enough outside Denver you can find some pretty nice small towns, but you also have Denver as the big city and employment draw in the state.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:30 PM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's massaging to the ego to be a big fish in a small pond, but you fly higher as a (relatively speaking) small fish in a big pond.

Big ponds have bigger fish. Surround yourself with the highest caliber people you can. They'll drag you upwards with them.

Perhaps consider a satellite town with good quick transit to a nearby big city if you want to keep a small-town community without sacrificing access to big fish and big job markets.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:00 PM on June 27, 2012

In a small, town, there isn't as many eligible, single 20-somethings, but I would be a lot more of a catch... more of a big fish in a small pond type situation.

Yes, but you'll probably want an equally big fish, of which there will be a much more limited number in that small town.
posted by deanc at 7:20 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Stay in the general state or region your family lives in. If you intend to settle down and possibly marry and have kids, having grandparents around or within a day's driving distance is invaluable (both for the parents and grandparents).

This is something I did not appreciate until after I married and had kids of my own.

Of course, as others have mentioned, you may not have that luxury, if you can't find a job.
posted by katyh at 8:30 PM on June 27, 2012

find a job first. if you can get multiple offers then you can choose which place to live.

i'm not in your field, but i'd imagine that with 5 years of experience you'd know a lot more what you'd want and the type of place you'd like to live, and you'd have a better chance of getting a job in your field there.
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:39 PM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Look for your dream job in your dream industry - try to figure out what that would be. Wherever you find it, that's where you'll live at first. Since you're that ambivalent about where you're going to live, don't make it a big factor in your decision.
posted by hazyjane at 10:54 PM on June 27, 2012

It sounds like you want to live the small town life ultimately, which means you'll want to find a mate who wants that also. While there are a lot more single women to meet in big cities, you won't necessarily meet many that want what you want, esp if you prefer church and the outdoors to bars and clubs.

That said, are there actually jobs for young civil engineers in the kind of places you'd like to live? I don't know, but you should go check that out before thinking too much further on this.
posted by philipy at 8:32 AM on June 28, 2012

I'm going to agree with folks that you'll probably want to nail down a job first, then start looking for a relationship, then, finally the place where you settle down.

Depending upon where that job is, there are lots of larger metropoli(ses) with awesome little towns surrounding them. I live in Atlanta, but if you go to Norcross or Roswell, or Villa Rica (God help you) you can get that small-town, country life you want.

Don't run off and buy a house, rent something and get a feel for the area first. Also, what happens if you lose your job? This happened to my mom when she worked for a court. She has to pick up and MOVE just to find a job in another jurisdiction. Just something to think about.

Can you narrow it down to a geographic area? Are you willing to try things on to see if they fit?

Just a thought.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:42 AM on June 28, 2012

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