8 responses to “Weekend Journal — Countryside Edition”

  1. John

    As far as the ‘working at the office but living in the country’ thing, I know quite a few people who do that here in NJ. That is, they work here, but they commute (sometimes 2 hours or more) from homes in Eastern Pennsylvania. Part of this is because they (or their spouses) prefer to live in the country, and part of it (I’m certain) is because the cost of living ‘out there’ is much less than it is here. NJ, particularly Central and Northern NJ (where all the tech is), is one of the most expensive areas of the country. So, for them, it’s a combination of cost and quality-of-life factors. In exchange, they have a 2-hour commute, but I guess it all depends on what means the most to you.

    I have a feeling that the next 10 years is going to see a huge increase in telecommuting options for EDA jobs, to the point where many of the design jobs are going to be remote (whether you like it or not), because it’s more cost effective for the organization. At that point, you can live wherever you like (as long as you have broadband).

  2. David Bley

    I lived in Northern MD and commuted to a city that was about halfway between DC and Annapolis (70 miles – one way and commute included Capital Beltway, BW expressway and Baltimore Beltway about 2 hours each way). Our apartment was in the country, but we mostly lived there for cost reasons. The job that I had entailed a fair amount of driving (up to 1 K mi. / week). The day after I fell asleep driving, I was looking for another job.

    My wife and I decided that we wanted to move to a different part of the country and we moved and I got at job at a company that had a startup electronic product line. I became an electronic product design engineer and continued to work for that company (with a small lapse) until it was purchased and moved. Now that I am over 60 and the engineering jobs here are not in what I have experience in, it appears that I will retire early and generate income by some other means.

    From what I have seen regarding engineering in my home town and where I live now, I would encourage engineers to pay a lot of attention to living below their means, saving and investing heavily, target a place to live with a low cost of living, and plan for a second career or your own company. Most engineers that I know have not been able to continue employment once they have developed some grey hair. I am talking about a graduate of Johns-Hopkins and an engineer that worked on Apollo 13 and others.

    If where you live is not important, follow the job. If you want to live in a certain place, move there and create your own source of income. If a family is important to you realize the hardships and benefits of moving around.

  3. AMS

    If you’re looking for tech+country, look at the Minnapolis+St.Paul area and the Milwakuee area. Lots of engineering jobs (especially for EE), less than an hour to mile-grid style farmland.

  4. Cherish The Scientist

    I’m not idea about the idea of living in a big city. The Fargo metro area is roughly 200,000…but I can drive about 20 minutes and be out in the country. There are people I work with who live in the country and drive into town. I personally wouldn’t want to live on a farm (work all day and then go home to more work!), but it’s doable here. On the other hand, the offerings for engineering jobs is fairly limited, so you’d have to be willing to work at some place like Bobcat or John Deere if you want to keep being an engineer. Also, Microsoft is here, so if you can do software, you’re probably okay. (And they do funny things like this: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/oldnewthing/archive/2008/12/22/9244583.aspx)

    Personally, I find the quality of life to be much better here than in a big city. It’s quiet, safe, affordable. On the other hand, if I can’t get a job I’d like to continue doing once I finish my PhD, chances are that I’ll have to move.

  5. Josh

    Pittsburgh Pa is another booming tech area. Since the steel industries decline an active effort to bring in new tech bases jobs. Now the economy is largely based on healthcare, education, technology, robotics, and financial services. Its not really country life here, but I do feel like it is different from other big cities. The cost of living is much less here and the state taxes are nice too. We have mountains, trees and rivers throughout the city. It is possible to live outside the city and commute in too. If you are looking for tech jobs you might consider Pittsburgh.

  6. Sophi

    I live in an upstate NY town of about 20k, surrounded by apple farms. I lived in New York City for a few years and didn’t like the rent. I love living in a small town- the bus to NYC is 2 hours, I have a big workshop (cheap!) and lots of other people around here have big workshops because they’re affordable.

    It is a challenge here to find interesting engineering work. There’s a bit of contracting work to be found, but it takes constant effort to get it.

    Sales Engineering or FAE type of work does seem more conducive to living in smaller towns as we make company visits only when needed.

    Off-topic: I would think this is a good second career for gray-haired engineers as you have to be capable to learn what your customers are doing, rather than having up-to-date design skills. Plus, the experience of doing design work provides conceptual insight into your customers’ problems.

  7. Charles Gervasi

    I agree with what Cherish said about mid-sized towns in the Upper Midwest being the best place.

    I would also add that hard-working Midwesterners should create high-tech businesses.

  8. GEARS

    I’ve never lived in a rural place but I get the sense that the times when a plant would spring up in a rural area are completely gone. I think most places are now at least sprouting near metropolitan areas. Now, they don’t have to be huge mega-centers for technology like Silicon Valley and Boston, but they generally have to be some area where there’s a sizable workforce.

    Everything that I’ve heard in the news is that there are a shortage of skilled workers for some jobs but there is a disconnect between the location of the job and the location of the person looking for employment. (And I’m not referring to just long driving distances.) I think as the tech community gets more efficient and more people leave rural areas, there will only be some opportunities for living in rural communities and people that have to cover a large business/support area are one.