Which consulting job?
December 16, 2007 2:43 PM   Subscribe

Entry-level consulting positions: graduating in May, I have two standing offers from consulting companies, one in Dallas and one in Manhattan. Help me choose!

I am graduating in May with a BA. I have been doing the recruiting two-step for the past several months, and it's (finally!) near the end. I've explored options in several fields--I don't really have an ideal career at this point in my life--and I have it more-or-less narrowed down to two consulting companies. Both have given me nearly identical offers (in the low $60's, plus potential bonuses, etc).

One is in Dallas and is a small to mid-sized financial/banking consulting firm. It would involve a lot of travel, and I would need to relocate to Dallas, which isn't terrible but isn't my ideal spot, especially compared with...The second is with a larger (although not big-X accounting or consulting firms) firm in Manhattan, and the position is within a healthcare group. Very little (if any) travel, relocation to New York, which is still relocation but it's better than Dallas for a recent college graduate.

Like I said, I don't really have an idea of what I want to be doing in ten years, so choosing between these two offers is quite tough. I've been counseled that if I want to make contacts, etc. in the consulting biz it would be wise for me to take the New York job as it is, obviously, in New York, and is with a larger organization, etcetera. One thing that worries me is the prospect of living/existing in New York on the same salary as in Dallas. How tight is it going to be living in New York on that salary? Would I be crazy if I wanted to avoid living across a bridge or tunnel?

I know this is a relatively open question, but I'm wondering if anyone in the consulting industry, or anyone who has faced a similar choice in another industry, can give me some insight.

PS...for what it's worth, I have asked the New York company if there's any upward negotiability in their offer given that I have an identical offer from a company in a locale with a much lower cost of living. I haven't heard from them in regards to that yet; my gut feeling is that given my lack of leverage as an entry-level scab they're going to offer me more, as a sort of token gesture, but not much more.
posted by jckll to Work & Money (31 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
$60k is not a lot of money in the New York area. It probably goes a lot further in Dallas (as you already know). At $60k you will have to share an apartment -- or find something ridiculously small -- if you want to live comfortably and put a little money aside. Also I don't know where you're from, but perhaps you've not experienced a New York winter. If you're from the southwest, it's a non-trivial consideration too.
posted by clevershark at 2:48 PM on December 16, 2007

You can live pretty darn comfortably on $60k in Brooklyn, Queens, or The Bronx. I think it's very much worth it to be flexible about where in NY you live, as I think the NY offer would benefit you more in many ways.
posted by cmgonzalez at 2:53 PM on December 16, 2007

You probably will need a roomate or two no matter where you live, but living "across a bridge or tunnel" is really really really not a big deal. Depending on where your work is and where you live, you may actually be closer if you live in Brooklyn or Queens. Plus I think Brooklyn especially is way more livable than Manhattan and in many places is even more vibrant and interesting. Take a look at Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, and Park Slope (but the F train to Carroll Gardens and Park Slope can be killer in rush hour!). I also kinda like Astoria in Queens.
So don't reject the NYC offer just because you can't live in Manhattan on that salary.
posted by ohio at 2:56 PM on December 16, 2007

I wasn't really suggesting that living in Manhattan is expensive -- everyone knows that -- but I used to live in Hoboken and the least I could have paid to live comfortably by myself in a place where I could expect not to have six-legged roommates was, in 2001, about $1500/month. I'll admit that this was just before the dotcom bubble burst, though. I also had to pay around $5,000 in broker's fees and security deposit before I got the keys (combined, I can't remember which was how much).

On the flip side, if you go to Dallas you'll probably need a car. That's not a factor in New York, even if you're on the Jersey side.
posted by clevershark at 3:01 PM on December 16, 2007

I've lived in Brooklyn my entire life. You can definitely get a decent 1-BR for under 1500 a month here.
posted by cmgonzalez at 3:05 PM on December 16, 2007

Response by poster: Let me make a few addenda based on the first couple comments:

-I don't really have a problem with cold weather. I am not from the Southwest; I am from a relatively warm climate but we get cold winters, and I go to school in a place with pretty miserable (read: wet, long) winters. And my family is from Chicago and the Rockies...cold weather is not really a determining factor here. If I were choosing between Dallas and Fargo, maybe. I'll buy a coat.

-I don't have a particular need to live alone, and may even be able to get a place (in NY, not in Dallas) with people I know. I.E. no six-legged roommates.
posted by jckll at 3:06 PM on December 16, 2007

I'd go for NYC. There is nothing like the buzz of that city. Nothing against Dallas, but I think NYC would do your long term career more good than Dallas, plus you just can't compare NYC with a city like Dallas.
posted by 45moore45 at 3:07 PM on December 16, 2007

cklennon - in that case I say definitely go to New York. It's a more interesting place by far, you'll always have stories to tell around the table at Thanksgiving and when you have a few years' experience under your belt you'll find there are a lot more advanced opportunities for someone in your field.
posted by clevershark at 3:11 PM on December 16, 2007

I was born in Dallas. Not too fond of it.

It seems like New York is really the better choice for your career and lifestyle. Many people survive on less than $60,000 (although they might not have that bridge/tunnel hangup).
posted by grouse at 3:17 PM on December 16, 2007

Dallas would let you have a few more bucks for beer and dinner in your pocket, bit don't make the rookie error of allowing that to influence your career decision. I hire entry-level people with some regularity, and it's amazing how dense people can be on that point.

However, this doesn't mean the New York offer beats the Dallas offer. On first glance, the "counseling" you're receiving doesn't seem particularly sound.

Junior consultants don't do much networking in the consulting industry -- the people you meet are colleagues in your firm and your clients. Outside of the "big-x," size of firm tells you very little about the quality of the contacts you're going to make or -- more importantly -- the quality of the work you're going to do. The Dallas job, with lots of travel, and a more commercial orientation, sounds promising. A non-travel, healthcare focus in New York doesn't seem promising for a number of reasons (New York isn't a mecca of entrepreneurial health care services or biotech companies; what you get here is big pharma, generics, and not-for-profit services.) I'm sure I could be wrong about this based on its particulars, but make sure these sort of factors are being weighed in your decision.
posted by MattD at 3:21 PM on December 16, 2007

You probably will need a roomate or two no matter where you live

Nope. You can easily afford a perfectly nice middle-class free-standing single family home, alone, in D/FW on $60K.

If there is any traveling to be done, traveling from DFW is like getting the greatest blow job in the history of the world compared to trying to fly in or out of New York.

OTOH, Texas sucks if you're not churchy and your greatest concern isn't property value.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:28 PM on December 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

new york is a great place to be young and single. go for it! it's a wonderful education, it's expensive, vibrant, annoying, loud, cold, busy, bright, and magical. you won't need a car. $60k will be enough to live on alone, especially if you consider brooklyn (which i LOVE and highly recommend, esp. if you want to meet other young people). you'll meet way more people in new york, and will have many more networking opportunities, i imagine.

unless you LOVE the job or plan to live very cheaply and save a ton of money to pay off your college loans (which is nothing to sniff at--you won't be able to do that in new york), i can't imagine the appeal of dallas.
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:31 PM on December 16, 2007

It sounds like NY is your best bet, from what people have said, but if you ignore everyone and choose Dallas: I've lived near Dallas my entire life and I wanted to let you know that Dallas is not just churchy people and dumb Southerners. It's a big city with a fair amount going on, although obviously not as much as NY. What's cool about Dallas is you can find a really nice house in a good school district with parks and Little League and stuff for a hell of a lot less than nearly anywhere else that is still near a large city. Yeah, you're in the suburbs, but that's Dallas- it's all suburbs. This positive side of Dallas (nice cheap houses for families), however, doesn't really sound like your cup of tea. That said, Dallas does have a cultural life if you enjoy music and art and stuff. If you're willing to drive around and explore, Dallas has a lot to offer.
posted by MadamM at 3:47 PM on December 16, 2007

$60k is not a lot of money in the New York area.

$60k is plenty for a single college graduate in Manhattan. You could easily afford a rent of ~$1200/mo and still have plenty of play money left over. If you're willing to live with roommates you can do very well for yourself.

There's really no contest here. In terms of straight up quality of life Manhattan and Dallas aren't even in the same league. Unless there are existing social commitments or, perhaps, you want to build a nest egg quickly so you can run off to do what you really want to do then jump on the NYC offer .
posted by nixerman at 3:58 PM on December 16, 2007

Just adding another vote for Manhattan. It's true that Dallas is much cheaper, and therefore you could build up more of a nest egg quicker, but if it were me, I would choose a more vibrant cultural environment where I could enjoy each day. You can still build up some savings living in NYC at that salary, so it's not like you'd be scraping by. And for the record, I've lived in both Brooklyn and Fort Worth. Good luck, it sounds like a wonderful opportunity!
posted by polyester.lumberjack at 5:01 PM on December 16, 2007

When I was a kid I used to spend summers with my Dad in Texas. It sucked. Also, even though you won't have to pay much for rent, you'll need to pay lots of money on gas to drive around.
posted by delmoi at 5:23 PM on December 16, 2007

it is possible to live cheaply in manhattan if you dont need a lot of space -- try to get a room that an older person is renting out. Try near the big colleges (uptown by columbia or further north). Or try to hook up with other recent grads to share a place. You should be able to get something around $1000/month that way. I actually pay $500/month renting a room from an old lady in a rent controlled apartment. Its a great location and a great price and the trick was to not go through any brokers. Look in university housing notices or flyers on bus stops near universities. That is, if in your first year or two I assume you wont mind living cheap in exchange for the great location.
posted by jak68 at 5:25 PM on December 16, 2007

I should add that I once turned down a $450/month very large room on central part west -- again it was an older person in a rent controlled apartment who was renting out a room. Those are the best deals in manhattan.
posted by jak68 at 5:26 PM on December 16, 2007

I live in Dallas and am happy, so it's possible. This kind of sentiment:

OTOH, Texas sucks if you're not churchy

is ridiculous, especially with regard to Dallas. That being said, I certainly understand the allure of NYC. It's hard to argue that a young person with a job offer in Manhattan shouldn't take it, have crazy experiences, make hay, etc. I would talk to your professors and see what they think about the two companies and cities. Take care of your career, and you'll probably be able to move when you need a change or are ready to settle down.
posted by erikgrande at 6:01 PM on December 16, 2007

I think you can definitely live comfortably in NYC, you may not save a dime, but I don't think you'll have any trouble getting by. I think NYC hands down. Whatever interests you have in literally anything you can find. The only upside I Dallas has over NYC, is it's cheaper, warmer, and if you prefer suburban living over urban living, it has that.

The other determining factor I would go by, if I were you, is in which town do you have friends? Even having just 1 friend in town will make a huge difference, I assure you.
posted by whoaali at 6:43 PM on December 16, 2007

You're young. You just graduated from college. You got offered a job in New York paying a livable salary...

Good God, kid, take the New York job!

If you are still undecided, think about this: Dallas is not a bad place, but it's pretty suburban. Do you want to live in a prefab townhouse, eat lunch at chain restaurants, drive everywhere, and basically live like a 35-year-old? Or do you want to live in New York?

FWIW, a 22-year-old can definitely live a decent life on $60K in New York. I lived on $25K in NYC when I was 23 (6 years ago) and had a blast. My brother lived in NYC on $50K when he was 23 (2 years ago) and also had a blast, AND saved money. Live with roommates and enjoy the city.

Dallas will always be there.
posted by lunasol at 6:43 PM on December 16, 2007

Seriously, just think about how much money per year a New Yorker saves just not having a car. I always laugh when I see people saying some salary, usually more than twice mine, isn't enough to live on in New York.

Over the past three years, I've been making an average of less than 35K. When I got the job I have now, I was totally broke. No debt other than student loans, but no money either. My parents helped me pay rent that last month before I started my job. I've lived in Queens, with no more than one roommate, less than 15 minutes on the subway to Manhattan. I've saved more than 12K, not including the 6% of my salary that's gone to my 401K. I still have no debt other than my student loans.

You could totally live in Manhattan for $60K. But across a bridge or tunnel, you'll probably get a bigger, nicer, apartment that may even be closer to your job, for the same price or less. And you may be able to live alone. If you get a roommate, you can really start putting it away. I know people who make less than me and pay twice my rent. (But they live in Manhattan in a tiny apartment with a roomie, and I live in Queens in a nice big two-bedroom). Still, they manage to eat.

I don't know Dallas, but this is just to say that yes, you can afford New York. No question.
posted by lampoil at 7:07 PM on December 16, 2007

This kind of sentiment:

OTOH, Texas sucks if you're not churchy

is ridiculous, especially with regard to Dallas.

Dude, I just escaped from Denton this summer. It's not like I'm picking this out of a two-hour layover at DFW in 1989.

And yeah, the City of Dallas is less conservative than the surrounding area, but Dallas proper isn't really a terribly major part of the D/FW metro area, especially from the point of view of an incoming young professional. Your basic young professional is more likely to be living in Plano or Frisco or Carrollton or Richardson or Addison, and they're also likely to be working in one of those new complexes that have sprung up along the tollway and 75, not in the City of Dallas..

And the surrounding suburbs where most of the living and working action is are deeply conservative. Even to a more-or-less southerner, North Texas is horrifyingly traditional and conservative.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:19 PM on December 16, 2007

You should also consider the potential for growth in these two jobs. Many jobs in NYC start out with mediocre pay (by NYC standards) for the first couple years but have the potential to skyrocket a few years in depending on how good you are. New college grads frequently make the mistake of looking only at the immediate future when really it might be wiser to consider a few years out.
posted by ch1x0r at 7:58 PM on December 16, 2007

Dude, I just escaped from Denton this summer. It's not like I'm picking this out of a two-hour layover at DFW in 1989.

And the surrounding suburbs where most of the living and working action is are deeply conservative. Even to a more-or-less southerner, North Texas is horrifyingly traditional and conservative.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:19 PM on December 16 [+] [!]

You're a Banks fan, so I don't doubt your intelligence. And I don't doubt you've paid your Dallas dues. All I know is, I'm not churchy. None of my friends are churchy. I can't speak for them, but I doubt any of my friends would say that Texas sucks; I certainly wouldn't. I agree that there are many conservative folk around here... but so what? It's a metropolitan area of around five million... you can find every type you'd like. I think you're painting with an overly broad brush. Personally, based on the information at hand, I think the OP should take the NYC job. Nonetheless, I can't remain silent while you put forward a version of Dallas that conflicts so violently with my own experience.
posted by erikgrande at 10:51 PM on December 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

incidentally the real drain on your wallet in nyc will probably be food (eating out costs a TON, and you'll tend to eat out a lot in manhattan. its just too convenient, and eating in takes a lot of discipline).
posted by jak68 at 12:44 AM on December 17, 2007

All I know is, I'm not churchy. None of my friends are churchy. I can't speak for them, but I doubt any of my friends would say that Texas sucks; I certainly wouldn't.

Okay. It's not like I don't believe you.

Let me put it this way: North Texas is the kind of place that people try to move away from because it's so overwhelmingly conservative. Even if you like it, it really does drive people away.

But then I expect that I would have thought that north Texas sucked even if it was hugely liberal, just from the hot, flat, and charmless.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:32 AM on December 17, 2007

IMO, Dallas sucks. That said, it's a nice place to fly from compared to NYC, and if you'll be travelling much of the time, you won't notice the suckitude. In other words, it has its advantages.

Career wise? It doesn't matter whether you're living and working in NYC or in Dallas and travelling to wherever the hell. You can always make the switch to an NYC-based job later. I would think that a consulting firm would like to see that you were willing to pay your dues regarding travel.

That travel, if it's a lot and you play it right, has the advantage of being like a built-in salary increase, what with all the frequent flier miles and hotel points. Those can be worth thousands of dollars a year, and can be used to visit places like NYC on the cheap. As far as the car is concerned, how big of a difference that will make depends solely on whether you're the sort who will run out and buy a brand new car off the lot or not. If you don't mind a used car that won't require a loan (and thus full coverage insurance), they are cheap. New cars and full coverage insurance are very expensive.

Of course, I'm the sort of freak who would prefer to get financially established before making the jump to a relatively expensive city.
posted by wierdo at 6:51 AM on December 17, 2007

Just in case the OP (or anyone else who stumbles upon the thread in the future) likes churchy we do that plenty good here in NYC. No matter what you denomination/level of practice/etc. you are, it's happening here. And that goes for synagogues, mosques and other religions too.

There are two things you won't get a lot of, at least in the primarily white & middle class circles. The evangelical culture, though it's there if you look for it, and it's clearly more of an influence in the Black and Hispanic communities. And, the density of churchgoing responsible for conversations like the one that surprised me when I first moved to Virginia after growing up in the northeast. I was dropping off a suit for pressing on a Friday, I think, and was asked "When would you like to pick it up sir? Sunday after church?"

(We also do conservative: Commentary magazine, the NY Sun, the New York Post, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, the Institute for Religion and Public Life, a Federalist Society Chapter, the Manhattan Institute, and Campus Crusade for Christ's The Kings College are all based in Manhattan.[Note: this should not be read as an endorsement of all of the above.])
posted by Jahaza at 8:53 AM on December 17, 2007

I'd go for Manhattan - seems like the opportunities are probably best there.

Also, if you don't mind, I can send you a MeFi mail with some details I do not necessarily want to post on the public internets [/paranoid about job]
posted by pointystick at 1:14 PM on December 17, 2007

Since no one mentioned this, I thought I'd add that business travel is a financial bonus. If you're on the road 3-5 days each week, those are all days that you don't need to pay for food, parking, dry cleaning or gas. Business travel is a burden, but it's also lucrative.

Where would you travel on the Dallas job? It would make a big difference to me if the travel was to Odessa or Brussels.
posted by 26.2 at 8:50 PM on December 17, 2007

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