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Best place for a geek to live

By rednecktek in Culture
Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 07:37:48 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

Being thoroughly disgusted with the state of politics, business, and general life on the US, I'm looking for opinions, advice, etc. on the "best" place for a geek and family to live (outside the US).

Being the good-ole country boy I am, I prefer a more laid-back style of life than this current culture promotes, but I enjoy the type of work I do (networking, computer technician). And although I greatly enjoy Sapporo, I understand Japan would not be gracious to my meat-eating diet. Maybe I'm wrong and the best place for me and my family is right here, but I'd like to hear what the rest of the world thinks about where they live.


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Best place for a geek to live | 61 comments (55 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
canada (2.75 / 4) (#3)
by alexm on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 03:32:06 PM EST

personally i'm biased towards canada, ottawa in specific. not only do we have a great high tech sector (silicon valley north), we also have a much more laid back lifestyle. if you're looking for country-living, we have plenty of it, or you could live in the city and get a cottage up in the gatineau hills. just a few thoughts for you :) alex

As easy as ABC.... (1.00 / 1) (#9)
by bigbird on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 03:53:46 PM EST

Rednecktek - Anywhere but Canada.

If you find the state of American politics, business and general life distressing, Canada will drive you truly insane. The office of the Prime Minister is a virtual medium-term dictatorship, voting in Parliament occurs exclusively among party lines, and freedoms that you take for granted in the US are curtailed. Oh, did I neglect to mention the higher tax rates, lower wages, and higher unemployment rate? And I almost forgot - Canada also has an activist Supreme Court, which has been busy for the past twenty years bending over to every special interest group in the land.

For fun, read the Canadian constitution someday, and do a critical comparison with that of the US. Actually, compare your constitution to that of almost any country , and you will find that it compares favourably. Little issues like freedom of speech and privacy are more secure in the US, despite the efforts of the FBI and NSA. Hope you don't own any guns (with a name like rednecktek, not likely), 'cause you will find that to be quite difficult in Canada, (unless you are a criminal - they have no problem getting guns). Private property rights were not placed into the Canadian constitution. Scary, eh?

There are benefits to living in Canada, but politics and business are not among the reasons.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Rom 1:16
[ Parent ]

Re: As easy as ABC.... (5.00 / 1) (#56)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 03:32:59 PM EST

Just a quick note:

Canada and the USA calculate the "unemployment rate" in a different way. What that works out to is there is about as many out-of-work folks in the US as there is in Canada (per capita), even though the "rate" is a higher number in Canada. Gotta love statistics. A 5% unemployment rate is different than a 5% unemplyment rate in the USA.

Oh yeah, and there are far fewer gun-toting, bible thumping types in Canada too. That's a bonus ;-)

[ Parent ]
The best place for a geek to live... (2.66 / 6) (#7)
by madams on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 03:35:41 PM EST

is in the US, actually. We do have the best technology sector in the world. Of course, the reason is not because Americans are better, but because we have a steady influx of foreigners into our IT industry.

The US is a great place to live (compared to other parts of the world). If you are sick of politics/business/whatever in this country, you may move somewhere else and find it's just the same product in different packaging.

Outside of that, have you considered moving to Canada?

Mark Adams
"But pay no attention to anonymous charges, for they are a bad precedent and are not worthy of our age." - Trajan's reply to Pliny the Younger, 112 A.D.

Re: The best place for a geek to live... (1.00 / 1) (#26)
by nuntius on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 08:55:53 PM EST

Not to mention that the US is the consumer of most of the world's geek toys.

Despite the faults of the US, I find it interesting when people complain about politics, business, and/or general life.

Last I checked, this was a free country. That means people with common interests can all move to one location and establish their own personalized community if they wish. That means you can ignore politics as you wish (ponder how many people don't vote). Business is more deeply rooted; but, here again, you don't have to buy what you don't want.

Why do I think the US is the best in these areas?
Politics: Have you heard about Fujimori in South America or the freedoms of China? Here things may be bad, but by Japanese (and indeed most of the rest of the world's) standards, we have no corrupt politicians.
Business: Here you can freely choose. The government doesn't prebuy things you don't need. 'nuff said.
General life: If its so bad, why are our immigration laws so harsh? Last I checked, there were millions sold on trying to get in to our country.

Maybe you should leave. That would open another space for an immigrant who does value the freedom we offer.

[ Parent ]
Re: The best place for a geek to live... (4.00 / 1) (#59)
by Paul Dunne on Thu Sep 21, 2000 at 09:46:18 AM EST

> Last I checked, this was a free country. That means people with common > interests can all move to one location and establish their own > personalized community if they wish.

Yes, and the Federal powers-that-be guarantee not to surround that place and burn most of you to ashes. Er, no, wait... Knee-jerk knocking of the USA (which the poster of this story wasn't doing, let me stress) bores me as much as anyone else, but let's not view the place through rose-coloured spectacles either.
[ Parent ]

What are you looking for? (3.50 / 2) (#12)
by aphrael on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 04:36:16 PM EST

It really depends on what you *want* in a place to live. I grew up in the suburbs, and like urban living; there are really only a handful of places i've been that I can imagine living.

Berlin --- big city, lots of stuff going on, good nightlife. Relatively friendly to foreigners (as long as you stay in the west).

Lisbon --- smaller city. Vibrant, energetic country, hot in the summer. Lots of nightlife, but it's different; the culture of the country seems to assume it, and whole families are out in the city plazas at 1 and 2 AM. The pace of life is slower, and hours are ... flexible, which could be frustrating if you're used to an American way of doing business.

Bergen --- small city. Beautiful countryside, far enough north to almost get endless summer. Has an amazing edge-of-the-world frontier feeling.

South Africa (4.00 / 1) (#13)
by cropped_7 on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 04:55:47 PM EST

The South African braai-culture would fit your meat-eating needs very well.

A moderate climate with weather in the 15-32 Celcius range, it would feel like mostly summer to people from Canada and the States.

All things technology basicly reside mainly in Johannesburg and Cape Town, so this is probably where you would find job to fit your profile. The current dollar to rand exchange rate is also constantly worsening. In the last 2 years it has went down from 1:5 to 1:7.15. Which means that you can live hear, and if you earn your money over the net (in dollar or in pounds) you'll be making more than enough to accomodate any type of diet and to afford any entertainment you might be into.

Re: South Africa (4.00 / 1) (#14)
by Scriven on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 05:30:50 PM EST

I heard a disturbing stat Saturday night on SexTV. South Africa is the rape capital of the world, with close to 50% of the female population experiencing some sort of rape or sexual harrassment (sp?).

That's pretty damn scarey. I think based on that stat alone I'd cross it from my list, personally.

This is my .sig. It isn't very big. (an oldie, but a goodie)
[ Parent ]
Violence (none / 0) (#63)
by cropped_7 on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 07:25:29 AM EST

Changed my mind in the last week.

My brother and a friends' car was stolen. And another friend of mine witnessed a robbery. Have a look at how i changed my mind.

[ Parent ]
Some info about Canada (4.50 / 6) (#15)
by Scriven on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 06:28:04 PM EST

I had this posted already, but forgot to pick "Editorial or Topical", I didn't read the warning, thought it was posted, and closed my window. At least I've learned, and won't do it again, but I digress...

As was previously stated, you need to tell us your particular political ideas, and the reasons why you don't like the US. Canada could be the WORST place for you to move (well, Ok, probably never that), depending on what you like/dislike.

But, since we haven't been provided that information, I'll give my take on the 3 urban places in Canada that a techie would be likely to work. Montreal would be on this list, but the separatist gov't is enough to piss any english-speaking person off, and I know nothing about it, other than it's supposedly quite beautiful.
I'm going to focus on Vancouver, British Columbia, and Toronto and Ottawa, Ontario.

Vancouver, BC:
  Vancouver's on the west coast, basically on the Pacific Ocean (there's an island in the way, but it's close enough). I've never visited there, but I have known quite a few people from there, and most of them describe it like Shangri-la, but with a bit too much rain. 8-)
  It has an up-and-coming tech sector, that was recently the subject of a Radio program. The program was Definitely Not the Opera, on the CBC, on Saturday, the 16th of September, 2000. It spoke about downtown Vancouver being taken over and changed by all the tech companies, fast growth, stuff like that.
  If you're into skiing/snowboarding/mountain biking/hiking, there are the Rocky Mountains about an hour public bus ride away, year round.
  The weather is the warmest in Canada, I think, with little snow in Vancouver itself, but lots of wet.
  It's supposedly a very laid-back lifestyle, with lots of pot and shrooms, if you're into that.

Ottawa, ON:
  I've visited Ottawa numerous times, both as a kid and an adult. It's a beautiful city, with a lot to offer. Everyone who I've spoken to about Ottawa loves it, and wants to stay or move back. Seriously.
  It's on the border of Ontario and Quebec, about 5 hours (driving) from Toronto. North of Lake Ontario (about, oh, an hour, hour and a half north of Kingston, IIRC).
  It's considered Silicon Valley North, with a growing tech sector (not JUST Corel! 8-) ), and plenty to offer.
  It IS the capital of Canada, so you'd have to put up with the trappings, but you also get some perks.
  It's the coldest of the three cities, but that actually works to it's advantage. It's cold enough that the snow and ice freezes, making it MUCH easier to deal with (for a comparison, look at the info about Toronto's winters later on in this diatribe). The roads/paths/sidewalks are always cleared for you, usually it's done before 7am, so it's not bad driving/walking in the winter.
  There are bike/walking paths everywhere, skating on the river in the winter (assuming it freezes), and it's an older style city, with nice twisty streets and the like, a lot of character.
  Also, it's across the river from Hull, Quebec. Quebec is MUCH more free with their drinking/partying laws and stuff. Beer in the corner store, bars open and serving much later at night, and it's a short hop away, with public transit (buses, no subway or street cars) going between them regularly.

Toronto, ON:
  Last, and IMNSHO certainly least, is Toronto.
  Toronto is the largest city, population of 3 million+. It's on the north shore of Lake Ontario, north and west from Rochester, New York.
  Toronto is big, full of people, and smelly. Even though there's a transit system, and a pretty good one, everyone drives. The vacancy rating for apartments is, and this is NOT a JOKE, 0.2% right now, I think. Yes, that's 2 in 1000. It may be up to 9 in 1000, but not higher than that. Good luck finding a place to live.
  Being a big city, it has all the pluses and minuses of a big city. Lots of plays, sports teams, museums (Ottawa has a few kick-ass museums too), art galleries, stuff like that. But they're offset by the high prices (Royal Ontario Museum supposedly raised admission to like $20 per person, a few years ago it was $10). Tickets to sports events are stupidly expensive ($25 for nose-bleed Blue Jays tickets at the Sky Dome. Bring your opera glasses), and the teams generally suck anyway (GO Argos!).
  For work, it depends on what you're looking for. Most of the companies that I've heard of are very old-school, tho. You use the OS they say, work in their offices, very little flex-hours, little-to-no working from home (if anyone knows differently, LMK cause I'm looking for work/contract from home. 8-) ), so unless you want to slog through a sea of people and exhaust every day, it's not for you.
  The weather's just cold enough to be nasty, but not cold enough to actually FREEZE anything, so what you get all winter is slush. BUT, to make it worse, it's slush that doesn't actually get removed (sidewalk removal is generally the responsibility of the store/house/apartment building, not the city), so you have to portage through it both too and from work. In the summer it gets oppressively (sp?) humid and hot. You can't swim in the water cause of the pollution, and you can't breathe the air half the time (smog warnings, warning the elderly or those with breathing conditions to stay indoors. They actually had to come up with an Air Quality Index for the weathermen to use on a Daily basis during the summer).
  Also, it's very stressful. People are always in a hurry, no breaks, 80 hour work weeks, stuff like that.

So this is my take on Urban Canada. As was probably obvious, Ottawa's my first choice, with Toronto dead last by leaps and bounds. This was of course IMNSHO, and based on my experiences, and those who trusted sources (friends/family) have told me.

You mentioned family, too. I just want to finish by saying that I would NEVER raise kids in Toronto. They get way to sckewed (sp?) a view of life growing up here. And it's just so nasty.

YMMV and all that.
Hope I helped someone...

This is my .sig. It isn't very big. (an oldie, but a goodie)
Re: Some info about Canada (2.00 / 3) (#17)
by Wormwood on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 07:36:13 PM EST

DISCLAIMER: this is my personal experience of Vancouver. It is my opinions, and my personal knowledge. You may go there and have a completely different experience.

Vancouver, BC:
Vancouver's on the west coast, basically on the Pacific Ocean (there's an island in the way, but it's close enough). I've never visited there, but I have known quite a few people from there, and most of them describe it like Shangri-la, but with a bit too much rain. 8-)
It has an up-and-coming tech sector, that was recently the subject of a Radio program. The program was Definitely Not the Opera, on the CBC, on Saturday, the 16th of September, 2000. It spoke about downtown Vancouver being taken over and changed by all the tech companies, fast growth, stuff like that.
If you're into skiing/snowboarding/mountain biking/hiking, there are the Rocky Mountains about an hour public bus ride away, year round.
The weather is the warmest in Canada, I think, with little snow in Vancouver itself, but lots of wet. It's supposedly a very laid-back lifestyle, with lots of pot and shrooms, if you're into that.

Well, I've lived in Vancouver for 12 years, so I think I qualify to reply to this.

> like Shangri-la, but with a bit too much rain.

This is true. Vancouver is a very beatiful city.

> it has an up-and-coming tech sector

More like an established tech sector. Tech has been in Vancouver for years.

> The weather is the warmest in Canada, I think, with little snow in Vancouver itself, but lots of wet.

Wrong. The weather is cool, yet pleasant, if you're lucky (The hottest weather in Canada is in Osoyoos, which gets to 110 farenheit in the summer). Most of the time it's too hot (but that's me, I'm comforable in two degrees Celcius).
Also, every few years, there is a massive snowfall that closes roads for days. I'd say it's about half a foot to nine inches high, depending on your altitude. And even at the coast, it's still in the five inch range.

> It's supposedly a very laid-back lifestyle, with lots of pot and shrooms, if you're into that.

Maybe the people who told you that were into pot themselves. Vancouver is crowded, hot, contained, and generally irritating. It's only good if you're rich. And it's only really good if you're rich and asian. In Vancouver, oyu have to make a large effort and put up quite a fight to get things, even groceries. Plus, it does NOT treat people who don't have great social skills (now who could that be?) well, or even fairly. I hope you like being a total outcast.

Oh, and how about drugs? There's always those. And crime. And gangs, pedophiles, and everything else that makes a city suck.

Speaking of pedophiles, keep away from John Robin Sharpe. He's an aknowledged pedophile, he lives in Vancouver, and won a court battle to let him have kiddie pr0n.

Vancouver has some nice stuff, like the beaches. It also has terrible stuff, like syringes buried in the sand. However, in the ration of good:bad, bad is much, much larger.

Do yourself a favor, and stay away from the succubus of cities.

[ Parent ]
Re: Some info about Canada (4.00 / 3) (#22)
by CanSpice on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 08:33:35 PM EST

I feel, as an expatriate of Vancouver, I have to respond. Vancouver's not nearly as bad as you say. The crime rate is lower than comparable American cities. Drugs, yeah, but unless you live in the East End, odds are that you won't be terribly affected (unless you -want- to be). The weather... you described it as "cool, yet pleasant" and "hot". Your first is right, your second isn't. Vancouver's warmer than most Canadian cities in the winter, cooler than most in the summer. It's one of Canada's more moderate cities, weather-wise.

Vancouver's got a decent technology scene centred around Yaletown, and although it's no Silicon North (claimed by Ottawa, Ontario), it's getting better. However, on a recent trip there I found their lack of internet cafes to be appalling.

Claiming that pedophile as a negative is appalling. Find me a city that doesn't have pedophiles and then your argument -might- hold some water. It's bad stuff, yeah, but all cities have sick people like that.

The ratio of good to bad is higher than most cities of the same size. All in all, Vancouver is nowhere near the hole of despair you make it out to be. Nowhere near.
--- I don't have a sig.
[ Parent ]
Re: Some info about Canada (none / 0) (#25)
by Scriven on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 08:40:01 PM EST

Wrong. The weather is cool, yet pleasant, if you're lucky (The hottest weather in Canada is in Osoyoos, which gets to 110 farenheit in the summer). Most of the time it's too hot (but that's me, I'm comforable in two degrees Celcius).

Amen to that! Bring the cold, let the winter winds blow!
On a serious note, I've always heard how warm Vancouver was, from everyone that I spoke to. Colour me corrected!

Plus, it does NOT treat people who don't have great social skills (now who could that be?) well, or even fairly. I hope you like being a total outcast.

Same as I do in Toronto, so what's the difference?

Do yourself a favor, and stay away from the succubus of cities.

You're preaching to the choir here, I agree. Ottawa's beautiful, tho.

This is my .sig. It isn't very big. (an oldie, but a goodie)
[ Parent ]
Re: Some info about Canada (5.00 / 1) (#37)
by dead_penguin on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 01:02:40 AM EST

I'm not wanting to flame you here, but your post sounds like you've been living in small towns all your life. Of course Vancouver has drugs, gangs, crime, pedophiles and all that, but I think *all* moderately sized towns (and probably most small towns) in the world have these problems. It's been my experience that Vancouver is actually somewhat better in these respects than most other cities of a comparable size. I'd say I feel quite safe walking around downtown in the middle of the night-- not all areas mind you, but safe enough not to worry.

As for the weather here. The summers here are generally very nice. Being on the ocean, it doesn't get quite as warm as in the interior, and there's always a breeze blowing. Warm days are in the mid twenties (that's degrees celsius; I don't do pagan units)! This usually stays like that (on and off) through September. Today was a great day. Winters, on the other hand can get a bit dreary, but that's the case everywhere. It rains quite a bit, but if you dislike shovelling snow, that's a good thing! There's usually one or two snowfalls a year (a few inches at most), but since nobody here knows how to drive on it, it can get fairly chaotic. The "Lower Mainland" is really the only area in Canada that doesn't get snow regularly in the winter.

The lifestyle here is pretty laid-back. While a bit of an exaggeration, many see the typical Vancouverite as someone who doesn't really go out and party hard-core on the weekends, but rather would go climbing out in Squamish or mountain biking on the North Shore for enjoyment. I suppose a comment about weed, shrooms and other "light" recreational drugs fits in here too... For all intents and purposes, pot's almost legal here. Vancouver Police have (almost) come out and said that they couldn't be bothered charging someone for posession of it if it's a small amount (i.e. they're not dealing). It's not surprising to be walking down a street, even in a "better" residential area, and suddenly smell that skunky odour wafting out from somewhere. Of course some people claim that "BC bud" is the best in the world, but personally I wouldn't <ahem> know anything <cough> about that...

Right. Now doesn't that all sound like a very odd travel brochure for the place...

[ Parent ]
Whats the house music scene like in Ottawa/Canada? (none / 0) (#28)
by torpor on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 10:18:55 PM EST

In general, what's the house scene like up there? Anyone know?

The LA house scene is about the last thing keeping me here - there are a couple of really decent clubs, and the house music scene is expanding like a ring of 'shrooms right now - which makes for a lot friendly nightlife.

Being young(ish) - 30 - I'm interested in the club situation in Canada - I also am looking for a geek-friendly ecosystem to move to, having lived in LA for 15 years (I'm Australian), and I'm pretty convinced I should take a closer look at Canada based on the responses to this article, and a similar one on /. recently...

Just need good nightlife, and I'll be happy to shove it from LA...

j. -- boink! i have no sig!
[ Parent ]
Re: Some info about Canada (5.00 / 1) (#35)
by sugarman on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 12:18:15 AM EST

Well, as a resident of Calgary...Alberta, Canada, I think that it might be reasonable to include it in the list.

1) Mild winters. Nowhere near as mild as the West Coast, but the draft we getoff the mountains can melt all the snow in the middle of December.
2) Lowest taxes in the country. No PST, and the government has actually been succesful in using the budgetary surplus to pay down the provincial debt.
3) No rats. =) Seriously. Alberta is cited as one of the few "rat-free zones" in the world.
4) You like meat? Have you heard of Alberta beef?
5) LOcation. A half-hour drive outside of town and you are in the Rocky mountains. So if you like it a little rugged, its easy to find somewhere to do your thing.
6) Casual attitude. well, Country music might not be your thing, but the Stampede is basically a 10-day vacation (especially for the downtown tech companies). A general city-wide blowout. Definetly good fun. =)

As for tech related matters, well, that's a trickier question. Calgary does tend to have a lot of corporate head offices, and the large oil companies all have *large* IT Departments, with a high demand for skilled people.

There are also a fair number of tech colleges, and trade schools, so there is a definite trend for an educated workforce.

Oh yeah, broadband. I've had a cable modem for 2-1/2 years, and the city is completely covered. $40/month (CDN), unlimited usage. There is also a number of companies offering ISDN a/o ADSL services, for varying rates, so you shoudl be able to find a high-speed service that floats your boat.

Hope that helps.
[ Parent ]

housing rate in ottawa.. (4.00 / 1) (#49)
by alexm on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 10:13:07 AM EST

vacancy rate in ottawa is about as bad as toronto, 0.6%.. we have a shortage of construction workers right now because they are all being snapped up to build offices and housing for all our high tech companies. just thought i'd pass this along since the author included the vacancy rate for toronto..

[ Parent ]
Re: Some info about Canada (4.50 / 2) (#55)
by ertman on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 03:26:27 PM EST

I've been living in Ottawa full-time for over 5 years now, and I worked 4 of my 5 co-op terms here during school, so let me fill in some details:

- This is -the- place to be in Canada if you are serious about your high tech career. Every major tech company in the world seems to have an office here. Telecommunications and networking is king of the hill, though. Nortel Networks, Alcatel (formerly Newbridge), and Cisco are the biggest players. If you are the type that wants to hop between jobs every few years in search of the bigger and bigger money, this is where the game is played. Expect LARGE signing bonuses, relocation pay, stock options, large salaries, etc. if you have the skills.

- Being in Canada, just about every house can get either cable of xDSL high speed access. In fact, I can get ISDN, xDSL, cable modem, and wireless microwave high speed access at my house. No need to worry about that.

- Housing costs are low compared to cities like Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal. Not cheap, though. Prices are climbing high and fast over the last few years. Urban sprawl is starting to become a problem, but even in the worst of traffic conditions, it won't take more than 45 minutes to make it between any two points in the city.

- The athmosphere is very laid back. Everyone seems to have a favorite outdoor sport, be it running, hiking, kayaking, rafting, mountain biking, rock climbing, skiing, snowshoeing, etc. Right across the river is a large (national?) park where you can enjoy just about any outdoor activity you could ever hope for. Don't get me wrong, there isn't any world-class skiing or mountaineering to be had, but there are decent 2-pitch rock faces and several smaller ski hills only 15-30 minutes from downtown.

- Taxes will frighten you, though. If you come from a plush job in the US, expect to pay a LOT more in taxes. The interest on a mortgage for your house is not tax deductible. There are two sales taxes (provincial and federal) on EVERYTHING. I don't know the exact numbers, but it works out to something along the lines of 40-50% of your income is eaten up by taxes (as opposed to 25-35% in the USA). However, the cost of living is much lower than in, say, San Fransisco. And your taxes pay for things like universal health care, so you need not worry about that.

- Expect to earn a lower salary than in most big us tech centres. But then again, the cost of living is much lower. It's really a trade-off.

Like I said, I've been here full-time for 5 years. I moved here right after graduation from Calgary. If I could keep my same job, and move to Calgary, I would do it in a heartbeat. But Ottawa is THE place to be for tech in Canada right now, so I end up living in Ottawa and flying to Calgary (4 hour flight) every chance I get. Calgary just can't be beat for quality of life (especially if you love the mountains as I do), but Ottawa can't be beat for the quality of work.
-- "The impossible is easy, itís the unfeasible that poses the problem." - Gordon Moore
[ Parent ]
Consider Australia (2.25 / 4) (#16)
by Dacta on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 07:26:44 PM EST

If you are qualfied, you should be able to get in fairly easily. We're pretty laid back, and there is lots of meat around. Of course, our politics is sometimes more fsked than the US, but occasionally it's better, too.

Definitely think about Australia (4.00 / 7) (#18)
by Anonymous Hero on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 07:53:40 PM EST

My family moved to Australia around 11 years ago, and I have to say that when it comes to Tech places, Australia is incredible. The life style is laid back, regardless of what city you go to, and the people have to be among the friendliest i have known. Even if you are the WASP stereotype, i have to stay that i have encountered little or no racism here. I personally live in Victoria, and the state is particularly agressive in getting the IT bucks, so, there is definitely good employment to be found. As for raising a family, i think the worst element of Australia is that everyone here worships football in one form or another.

Re: Definitely think about Australia (none / 0) (#23)
by zaugg on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 08:36:24 PM EST

I feel obliged to stick up for my part of Australia -- Queensland. It's climate is faultless, and the IT sector is growing fairly rapidly, although there still are more jobs in the southern states.

Recent companies to set-up in Queensland are Boeing, Red Hat Asia Pacific, Oracle (I think). There is also a growing local games industry.

Just my (probably biased) 2c.


.sig free for eight months!
[ Parent ]

Re: Definitely think about Australia (none / 0) (#27)
by haakon on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 09:53:33 PM EST

Australia is definatley the place, I live in Sydney and it is easy to get work if you know what you are doing. However If you are going to move here I would suggest The following places;

Brisbane, Lovely place one of the cleaner cities in Australia. Low cost of living. Great Weather, as the Toursit Board puts Beatiful one day perfect the next.

Melbourne, Lots of Culture. Reasnoble cost of living. So So weather.

Sydney, The most jobs, the most pollution of an Australian city (still better than most US cities). Bigger cost of living, you wold have to Earn about AUD$10-15K per year more to maintain the same cost of living than in Brisbane. Just look at the Olympics if you want to see what the weather is like. The City scenes of the Matrix where done in the Sydney CBD, I must admit I never have seen that lady in the red dress in Martin place :(

Perth, don't know to much about the job scene there but friends have told me it is so so. Nice City though.

[ Parent ]
Re: Definitely think about Australia -CAREFULLY (5.00 / 1) (#34)
by nufsaid on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 12:09:29 AM EST

Speaking as an Australian who has lived 4 years in the U.S. I'm fairly familiar with the differences between the two places. I agree that Australia has a lot to offer in terms of lifestyle, but rednecktek should be aware of some of the disadvantages, especially in the political area, which seems to concern him/her.

Politically, Australia seems to be modeling itself more and more on U.S. style politics, with career politicians gradually replacing the real people.

If rednecktek is concerned with recent U.S. developments in the areas of freedoms on line (decency acts, copyright acts, etc) he/she should be aware that the Australian government has attempted to take a strong anti-online-liberty stance on these issues whenever it can. Of course, by nature, many Australians try to ignore politics, so it is unclear how much difference any of this really makes. In the U.S., at least, there is more hope that sanity will prevail on constitutional grounds.

One major indication of the state of Australian politics is that last year the population (which claims to be about 70% in favor of dropping the British monarch as the head of state) failed to vote to change the constitution make Australia a fully independant republic. It's unclear if the U.S. population would be capable of such a decision these days, but at least it was capable at one point in its history.

Enough ranting... Australia is a great country, with high standard of living, small but strong economy, and great people. Just don't go there looking for a wonderful political scene.

[ Parent ]

Apropos /. discussions (1.66 / 6) (#19)
by mlinksva on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 07:55:02 PM EST

Cities and Towns for Geeks, Worldwide and Best Countries for Geeks.
imagoodbitizen adobe unisys badcitizens
Re: Apropos /. discussions (none / 0) (#20)
by mlinksva on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 07:57:18 PM EST

Arrgh, the correct counties link. I missed copy&pasting the trailing 'l'...
imagoodbitizen adobe unisys badcitizens
[ Parent ]
Canada (4.57 / 7) (#21)
by Deltan on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 08:07:04 PM EST

I live in an area known as Maple Ridge which is just slightly East of Vancouver BC. Out of the way or as some people say, "In the sticks". I've got the best of both worlds. A great place to live as well as working from home for an American company. You get lots of Canuck bucks for those Greenbacks. Remote work is where it's at. I highly reccomend it.

There's lots to do around here as many people have pointed out. Whistler is only a 2 hour drive for you skiers out there. Mountain biking trails are carved through the mountains. Lots of concerts & theatre shows to see in downtown Vancouver. My one complaint is that of the rain. It starts to rain in November and doesn't stop till April. If we're lucky there's some snow in there but it's not often. Once you get used to it though it's kind of comforting in a strange sort of way.

There's also quite a geek community here, of course User Friendly is based in Vancouver and one of their sponsored events is "Geek Rave". Check it out!

So pack up & come to Canada... They love geeks here.

Mark Sears

Re: Canada (5.00 / 1) (#36)
by dead_penguin on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 12:19:22 AM EST

Heh. I think I'd rather take the rain over snow any day! Don't have to shovel it...

Seriously, I think Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities I've ever been in and I'm happy to be living here now. The only real downside to it is the cost of living. Housing costs are astronomical; if you're renting, you end up paying almost twice what you would in some other areas of the province. Property prices are (not surprisingly) also high; just leafing through a real-estate brochure, it seems like the starting price for many neighbourhoods is around CDN$400K. Taxes here in British Columbia also seem to be somewhat higher than in most other provinces, but who doesn't enjoy complaining about taxes...

So why am I still here? Like I said, I really love this city, in spite of its shortcomings. You might say I think you get what you pay for!

[ Parent ]
Austin, Tx... (1.83 / 6) (#24)
by driph on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 08:39:29 PM EST

What about Austin?

My girlfriend just found a place out there, so I'll probably be moving that way sometime soon(from Las Vegas).
From what I've seen, it looks to be a great city for the geek mentality, much different than the rest of Texas..

Anyone here work and/or live in Austin? How is the tech environment out there? Looking to hire a web designer? :]

Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave
Re: Austin, Tx... (3.00 / 1) (#48)
by blixco on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 08:02:23 AM EST

Well, it doesn't really match the poster's criterea for being outside the US, but it definitely isn't like any town in Texas. We're filled with yuppies (half a million or so), and in the last ten years have seen a huge increase in traffic and other big city problems. Crime's not too bad west of I-35. Every freaking dot-com in the world is here, as well as every major PC and server manufacturer. Companies known for their "cool" culture are having to stop it (Tivoli sounds more and more like IBM, and less like a hacky-sack playing Friday beer drinking place of employ). The University of Texas has over 50,000 students. Think about that...50,000 additional bodies to screw with traffic and crowd every decent bar. Right now, there are construction projects on the major hiways and throughout downtown that are expected to last until 2002, but don't hold your breath (been to Boston? Think Big Dig). Things to do: drink on 6th street, drink on Lake Travis, drink on Town Lake, drink at any of the small hiking trails, drink while floating downstream in a raft, drink at work, drink and eat some bad mexican food (the worst in any spanish speaking part of the US), drink and try to pronounce Guadalupe the way we do here (Gwa-dah-loop).
There is no culture, it's all bought and paid for, made somewhere else and brought here.
As far as work, it'll take you about two days to get your name out...and then everyone will try to hire you. Don't go to work for any of the smaller .coms, they're failing faster than I can count. Don't work for Dell, they don't pay hardly anything comparitively and they offer no growth path. Don't try to rent a house or apartment as rents are really steep (silicon valley steep) and 99 percent occupied. The DSL and Cable access is OK, and everyone is a geek....those that aren't haven't started picking up pitchforks yet, but you never know.....
The scariest thing about this place? My dad visited recently, and was shocked by the prices for food at the stores, shocked by my rent, and shocked by the 200.00 electric bill (we've got a few systems on all the time)...and he lives in Silicon Valley.
The root of the problem has been isolated.
[ Parent ]
Calgary AB (4.00 / 6) (#29)
by metalgeek on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 10:24:32 PM EST

I would vote for Calgary, Alberta. Its in We have some of the lowest taxes in canada, lowest cost of living, were thinking of getting rid of income tax as well (alberta's, not canada's) as well Calgary has the highest ratio of university degrees per capita in north america. great weather, an hour from the rockies, so lots of activities nearby. As well internet access is dirt cheap. you can get a 1.5 Mbit DSL line for $449.00 a year here. and no real natural disaters either (earthquake, tornado, flooding, etc.) metalgeek

"K5 is a site where users have the motto 'Anyone Who Isn't Me Is An Idiot, And Anyone Who Disagrees With Me Is Gay'." skyknight
What about Indonesia? (3.40 / 5) (#30)
by vwswing on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 10:26:22 PM EST

Ok.. I'll say from experience, that Indonesia is a wonderful place to live. There is a growing economy, a need for tech people, and the dollar is very, very strong against the indonesian rupiah. Bad points : Political instability Expect some excitement if the government falls. Far away from america and your family if you have extend family in the us You'll pay out the butt for taxes on imported cars Good points : You'll make $100k+ USD Pay nothing in taxes The people are wonderful The food is wonderful There are enough americanized restaurants in the cities if you want that Indonesian chicks DIG american men. (not a good point for your wife) Weather is beautiful if you like tropical weather Companies will usually provide you with furnished, serviced housing You won't be in america People there aren't yet as americanized as in singapore or Japan Low cost of living LOTS OF GUAVA JUICE (that pink/green stuff they hand you @ indonesian restaurants) Most indonesians speak english, indonesian, malarysian and some chinese.. great place for your children to grow up multi lingual It's a place to consider.. Though if you're not into the city thing you could maybe live in pemblang, or a suburb of jakarta.. and commute.. The traffic in jakarta is really bad, but it's sort of an art.. silicon valley, new york, la.. nothing in comparison.. In la if someone cuts you off well you honk.. in indonesia you jsut drive a circle around them if you're mnaking a turn.. Very cool in it's chaos.

The US is the "best" place for a geek! (4.33 / 6) (#31)
by kakibesar on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 10:46:17 PM EST

I'm a geek. I live in Malaysia (Southeast Asia). I have a cool job building web architectures for a large localised portal here. There is a strong initiative from the government in realising its own Silicon Valley, called the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC). In the heart of the MSC, there's a tech university, incubators, a high-tech smart homes community; a dream come true for the average geek.

Why am I not happy? I'm an IT worker. I make US$8k/year. Let me repeat that. I make US$8k/year. In the US, the same position I hold would command at least US$48k/year. I have a decent car, house, I can afford to put food on the table, but I work like any geek -- hard and in a caffeine-induced stupor! At US$8k/year, it's just not worth it.

Of course, I could quit and become a "tech" consultant and fsck companies over, but, well, I have my principles. =)

And politics, they're fscked up the world over, deal with it!

Step back and breathe (1.62 / 8) (#32)
by xah on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 11:50:57 PM EST

I think you need a vacataion. The USA is the best. Don't leave because of one stinking election.

Re: Step back and breathe (3.00 / 1) (#42)
by Commienst on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 03:15:21 AM EST

The US does a lot of things that I as a citizen do not condon. We spend the same amount of money on our military that we do on building roads, education and our infastructure. We have agencies like the CIA that basically meddle in the affairs of other countries doing things like staging coups and trying to overthrow governments and assainating people. Taking advantage of poorer nations by loaning them money and then making them pay us back with high interest does no strike me as well.

[ Parent ]
Grass is always greener... (3.12 / 8) (#33)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 12:05:56 AM EST

I'm not sure why you think that there is some place *better* to go to. If you've paid any attention at all to world events, you'd know that life is no picnic in most places you could choose.

Australia? Aren't they trying to force ISP's to block obscene material? What kind of geek would want to move to that and call it a change for the better?
UK? Not much different. And remember, both of these governments participate in the Echelon setup with the USofA.
Canada? Sorry, with all due respect to our friends from the north, Canada is not much more than another US state. The vast majority of the population lives within 50 miles of the US border. US culture/media permeates Canada like a stale fart in an elevator. How "outside" the US is that?

I could go on and on, but you get my point. For all the US bashing that goes on in forums like this, other countries really aren't all that much better.

Grass colour varies with distance (4.00 / 3) (#38)
by eric.t.f.bat on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 01:03:48 AM EST

Disclaimer: I've never left Australia, so my opinions on other countries is hearsay. YMMV.

The options seem to me to be as follows:

1. Countries where English is not the primary language (Indonesia, Malaysia, Scotland, etc)
2. Canada
3. South Africa
4. The UK
5. Australia

I would vote against #1 on the very simple principle that, unless you're one of a very small proportion of English speakers in the world, you speak ONLY English, and you're going to have far too much trouble. Culture shock is baaaad, ng'kay?

I would vote against #2 for the same reason many have mentioned: you're hardly making a break, are you? If you're going to leave the country, Canada barely counts.

I would vote against #3 simply because the politics seems to be hideously ugly, and there's no skin colour that won't make SOMEONE hate you. Of course, read my disclaimer here. I'm just going on what I hear. The weather's very nice, I hear!

I would vote against #4 because petrol is currently over one pound a litre, and there's hardly any beef, and the UK has been heading toward Third World status since WW1. (Read the disclaimer - and remember, I'm an anglophile, so how must the cynics feel by comparison?)

I would vote FOR #5 because it lacks most of the preceding problems, and because Australian culture is more like American culture than any of the other cultures are (except Canada - duh!) so the culture-shock-to-pleasant-surprise ratio is better. Oh, and our politics is just as pointless as yours, but we spend MUCH less money on it.

Things to look out for in Australia:

1. Every animal, bird and bug is deadly poisonous. Never mind; we survive. You might too, if you avoid patting things.

2. Everything seems expensive cos 1 US dollar is approximately equal to 1 kazillion Aussie dollars.

3. Our coffee and beer are stronger than you're used to. Ask for weak coffee ("I'm from the States") and lite beer.

4. Australians engage in an activity called "taking the piss" - ie ribbing, bagging, teasing, even being rude and sarcastic. It's just our way. Smile and nod and let us think you're an idiot; your TV shows already give us that impression anyway, so why spoil it?

5. Don't believe the "slang dictionaries": no one says "cobber". Ever.

6. It's pronounced "ozzie", not "ahssie". Learn to pronounce the Australian "o" sound and you'll aggravate the bigots much less - if that's a worthwhile goal in your mind.

That'll do you. Come on over (AFTER the Olympdics) and give it a whirl. Just try to venture outside the Sydney tourist traps, OK?

: Bat :

[ Parent ]
Avoid the UK (1.66 / 3) (#41)
by FeersumAsura on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 02:56:11 AM EST

Aren't they trying to force ISP's to block obscene material? What kind of geek would want to move to that and call it a change for the better? Avoid the UK. I live here, hell I was born here and I don't like it. Unless you live in the South the jobs pay poorly, but if you live in the South you can't afford to buy a one bedroom flat (£175,000 average wage £20,000). We have an evil government with no decent alternatives. Censorship and limited free speech. High fuel taxes (74%). The only good point is that it isn't America and we aren't a very religious country.

I'm so pre-emptive I'd nuke America to save time.
[ Parent ]
ireland, germany, australia, us (4.28 / 7) (#39)
by zakkk on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 01:13:59 AM EST

I've lived and worked as a geek in ireland, germany, australia and silicon valley. Heres a quick summary, I've really haven't put any politcal comments in, thats because I pretty much assume everyones out to get me :-)


Dublin has the most action but it a big noisy city with big city problems, Galway is very cool and laid back but harder to get cool work.

pluses: great place, you can have a real life outside work, money is good, striving to be the ecommerce capital of europe. Great culture, great guinness :-)
minuses: taxes higher than US (but better quality of life on less money IMHO), weather

Germany :

I worked in Dortmund but I'd recommend Berlin - Berlin is a really cool, modern exciting place and germans geeks are incredibly smart - the product of a great educational system.

pluses: good money, good people, exciting city (Berlin), a lot of people speak english.
minuses: can take a while to meet compatible people, there are some anti-immigrant feelings in some sections of society - not against geeks but against some east europeans.

Australia :

I didn't like Sydney personally but a lot of people do, its just another big city. Other options are Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. Melbourne is great but gets very cold in winter. Perth is nice but very small and isolated, its also hard to get cool non microsoft work there. Brisbane is a jewel. Its not too far from Sydney or Melbourne, has good weather, and is a really nice city.

pluses: laid back, good weather (but not as good as california), nice people. Not overly populated like Silicon Valley.

minuses: lousy pay (outside of sydney/melbourne), lousy australian dollar, expensive and crappy ISPs - high bandwidth just arriving and pretty expensive. Still has prehistoric store/mall/shopping hours in smaller cities. (no 3am shopping )

Silicon Valley

What can I say ? great money, too many people, too many geeks, incredibly high rent/real estate. bad traffic jams. Imagine having to book a camping site 3 months in advance (Big Sur), things like that drove me nuts. I found it interesting for 2 years and then obnoxious for 2 more.

I plan on heading to Italy in a few years, then I'll update this post :-)

Dirty little secret.... (3.16 / 6) (#40)
by warpeightbot on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 01:56:20 AM EST

Unless you've got tons of capital and can afford to start your own business in the Cayman Islands (or other ocean-bound haven) or (si se habla espanol) Costa Rica (which I hear is damned civilized), IMHO the best place for a geek to live is....

looks around furitively, and in a stage whisper

Pick your (most excellent) coffee drink (grande irish cream latte), your microbrew (Alaskan Amber), learn to ignore the rain, and get to work. I've been here nearly a year now, and I love it. More laid back than the Valley, and (currently) a damn sight cheaper. The jobs pay almost as much, though, and if you can't find a job here, you ain't got your eyes open. Microsoft and Boeing are beating the consulting companies' doors down for people at any price, and when you get tired of one or the other throws you out, the dot.coms snap you up in a (ahem) New York minute.

On the other hand, if you don't like coffee, if you can't stand the rain, if bare feet and the top down are things you can't live without, if it simply MUST top 90F for you to be warm enough, then PLEASE, DON'T COME! GO AWAY! You sunlovers and you eschewers of the Sacred Bean, get thee gone, you Will Not Like It here! If Sandy Eggo or Phoenix or Boca is your kind of town (or worse yet, if you're a hard-core cold-and-snow type, like Chicago or Many Apples or Buffalo (ugh)), Shoo! Extremism in any form Ist Verboten in the Emerald City. Oh, yeah, and if you insist on National League ball, fuggedabowdit. We don't deign to require our pitchers to swing a bat here. Or, for that matter, if you require a consistient championship football team of any sort, g'way, you bother me. We do play football here, but don't get your hopes too high.

Oh, and one other thing. Seattle is a Long Damn Way from most places on the planet. But, if you can put up with all the little niggly details, if you don't mind being wet and the constant hiss of the coffee machines (and the idea that not all fish has to be cooked :) then this just might be the place for you.

Don't spread it around too much, y'hear? Somebody might get a bright idea, and then the housing prices will REALLY go berzerk.

Sign me,
Sleeping in Seattle

Its not all bad in the UK (3.62 / 8) (#43)
by vrai on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 03:33:38 AM EST

The UK is pretty cool, depending on where you live and for who you work (like anywhere really).

If you like cities then London is fabulous (anyone with a even the slightest IT talent is pulling in GBP30K+), while Edinburgh is cheaper and an absolutley beautiful.

Thanks to the wonders of the service sector boom even places like Newcastle, Birmingham, and Manchester are OK for a techie - a lot of places are paying London wages in areas with a far lower cost of living.

That said, if you are on of those privacy obsessives (I personally am not), then this might not be the best place. Oh, and contrary to popular belive high petrol taxes are good - more money for public services, and less people on the road (more room for me :)

Re: Its not all bad in the UK (2.00 / 3) (#45)
by codemonkey_uk on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 04:54:23 AM EST

Talking as a UK resident, I getting really sick of the UK.

I feel like I share a nationality with a bunch of gready, selfish, morons. But I'd probably feel that way wherever I lived...

"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]

Re: Its not all bad in the UK (3.33 / 3) (#46)
by vrai on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 06:33:03 AM EST

Yeah ... but speaking as someone who has travelled quite widely - people are people. No matter where you live you'll find top geezers, and bloody awful w**kers.

If utopia existed, it wouldn't be long before people began to spoil it.

You know what they say: the grass is always greener on the otherside of the fence - mainly because you can't see the cows**t.

[ Parent ]
relax (4.25 / 8) (#44)
by Shiftless-Jungle-Bum on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 04:03:59 AM EST

I'm an American expat living in Germany. My wife is German and we live here with our kids. Living in a foreign country is not always the answer to the disgusting state of affairs at home. Every country has an ugly side which might not be noticable at first glance because of language and culture gaps. We're all tired of big money running the show; of Gush vs. Bore; of Hollywood and big oil; but it's no different abroad than it is stateside.

If you go expat, what you are really saying is that you are ready to turn your world upside down and try something radical. You can do this at home. Move to the opposite corner of the country. Trade a pay cut for a less stressful, perhaps more fulfilling, job. Throw out all of your clothes and buy new, really different ones. If you're not willing to do this then don't consider living in a foreign country.

Since going expat I've created my own cultural limbo in which I love and hate both the US and Germany. So I'm sort of homeless now as Germany is not really home but there are things that really annoy me about the US when I'm there. I came to the conclusion some years ago that it really doesn't matter where you live. People matter, not geography, and it is possible to change you circle of friends.

To sum up, if you really want to live abroad, then by all means do so, and do it right away so that you don't kick yourself later for never making the jump. But don't expect life abroad to be Paradise Lost.

Best Places to live? (4.33 / 6) (#47)
by beerwolf on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 07:32:00 AM EST

I am currently living and working in Reykjavik, Iceland (!). I am originally from Toronto and worked there for 4 years, worked in Vancouver for 1 year and have been in Reykjavik for about 4 months. Here are some comments I have on moving to foreign countries. First of all, be prepared for a big culture shock unless you are American and moving to Canada or vice-versa. Be prepared for people who do not converse in English if you move to a non-English speaking European country. I guess its all in the mindset. I knew before I got here that I was probably only going to be here temporarily. So my mindset has been very "home-oriented". I always find myself comparing Canada (specifically, Vancover because I love it there but more about this in a minute). But this is just me. If you have a mindset that you are moving to a country permanently, then maybe you will find it easier to live there. In that case, I would suggest that you visit the country where you are planning to move, for a few weeks as a tourist before you actually decide to move. You might change your mind once you have this experience. Then again, you might fall in love with the place and it would be a done deal. Now some comments on the places I have lived in: Toronto: Huge city. Concrete Jungle. New York of Canada. Fast, lots of people, traffic, little old ladies push you out of the way to get on the subway (no joke...happened to a friend of mine). If you like that lifestyle, then my all means go for it. But I personally DETEST it...specially after living in Vancouver and Reykjavik. There is no way I will ever go back to Toronto for long term after having experienced other cities. Vancouver: Big city. Friendly people. Lots of rain. Nowhere near as cold as Toronto. Beautiful parks, drive a couple of hours and you are in BEAUTIFUL country. If you are an outdoorsy type like me (camping, fishing, hiking, snowboarding), then BC is utopia trust me. Housing prices are expensive. The tech sector is growing. Great Canadian Beer <tm>, awesome weed. Reykjavik: Ahhh Iceland. What can I say about Iceland....The first thing that pops to mind is that beer is CDN $10 in the bars, a dinner is anywhere from $40 upwards. To say that it is expensive would be a terrible understatement. Beautiful clean country, night life is awesome (did I mention expensive). Big culture shock if your north american tho. They have lots of requirements for technical people here but Icelandic is almost a necessity since people around you will speak it among themselves (even tho most people speak good english) but sometimes you feel left out. So it will overall kind of a culture shock. Anyway, if your like me and like adventure and experiencing new things, then by all means try them out. But I know for me, my heart belongs in Vancouver and I will be there someday and "settle down for good". Beerwolf
The US is pretty big. (4.66 / 6) (#50)
by eann on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 10:24:11 AM EST

A few years ago, I was living in a large southern city, terribly dissatisfied with the state of the US and my life in it. Fortunately for me, my wife is from a vastly different part of the country, and we decided to move to that area (easy to relocate on near-$0 if you can live in mom's basement for a few months while you get settled).

Only 1000 or so miles away from my former home, I now live in rural western New England. The lifestyle is laid back, the cost of living is a little higher than it was in the south (real estate is tight), but it's still much better than Boston and New York (both only a couple hours away). The tech sector is hot in Boston, and growing slowly-but-surely out here. Primary and secondary education facilities aren't any worse than they are in other parts of the country, and the area is known for high-quality colleges. And the political and social climates are as different from the south as the meteorological effects. Three years later, it's still amazing to me what a difference it makes to be around like-minded people who aren't already in my circle of friends. Most people never think of how strangers affect them, but it's how we know we're part of a society.

I would suggest that you not assume the entire US is like where you live, or that being in another country would necessarily be better.

As others have pointed out, you didn't give much information about where you're from and what, specifically, is bothering you. It's hard to address "best" if we don't know what you're rebelling against.

Obligatory political .pseudo-sig:
The current government is unsafe at any speed.

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. —MLK

$email =~ s/0/o/; # The K5 cabal is out to get you.

Netherlands (4.42 / 7) (#51)
by HypoLuxa on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 10:35:19 AM EST

This really depends on why you want to leave the States, but you should look at the Netherlands. There is a lot of tech business going on in software, communications, telephony and the like. Everything is an hour train ride from everything else (they have a great public transportation infrastructure). The people are very nice, and you can get by just fine only speaking English. As far as politics are concerned, they are very socially progressive, if that's what you are looking for. And, if you happen to be single or become single, there is an abundance of beautiful people there.

The downside is money. Taxes are significantly higher than in the US, and property (even rental) is really expensive. Take a look at it.

I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
- Leonard Cohen
Re: Netherlands (4.00 / 1) (#61)
by Wah on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 02:11:06 AM EST

do you know of any good resources for jobs over there. That is one of the places I have considered moving, seriously.
Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]
Re: Netherlands (4.00 / 1) (#62)
by HypoLuxa on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 03:29:35 PM EST

I actually don't. I was there for a couple of weeks working for my company, and I really liked it. From what I understand, they have a pretty tight IT job market. Although you can get by only speaking english, not being able to understand Dutch is likely to be a problem if you are going to be working for a Dutch company.

I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
- Leonard Cohen
[ Parent ]
US still the best. (2.00 / 7) (#52)
by jrwilk01 on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 10:41:58 AM EST

Its not that the US is so great, just that everywhere else sucks.

Just move to the mid-south, KY, VA, TN. Somewhere like that. Decent technology market, not bleeding edge, decent pay, low cost of living. Polite southern neighbors (I'm sorry, yankees are rude even when they don't mean to be).

You can eat your steak, carry your gun, and not expirence the things that make you think the world is heading to hell in a hand basket.

Re: US still the best. (5.00 / 1) (#57)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 04:29:43 PM EST

Just move to the mid-south, KY, VA, TN. Somewhere like that. Decent technology market, not bleeding edge, decent pay, low cost of living. Polite southern neighbors (I'm sorry, yankees are rude even when they don't mean to be).


I live in the mid-south. Memphis, specifically.

1. Decent technology market: sure, if you want to work for FedEx or IP or a tiny startup that might or might not be around in six months.
2. Not bleeding edge: no kidding. A lot of the tech here (hardware wise, at least) is 1-4 or more years out of date. Only people with money have good tech. Software is iffy. If you want good parts, order online. If you want good software, order online. There are no good tech supply stores in this town. None.
3. Decent pay: Only because of the low cost of living. I have been offered entry-level jobs with salaries of 20k. See the point below for why this is bad. If you are making more than 30k/year, you're doing well.
4. Low cost of living: Two can live comfortably on $200 of food a month (or $150, if you don't mind a lot of monotony). Rent is outrageous: a one-bedroom in a halfway-decent part of town will run you about $500. Yes, I know, rent in New York and Silicon Valley is higher, but remember that wages are higher there, too. If you want to live downtown, expect to pay several hundred per year for parking. Most apartments that were not built in the past ten or so years (which is most apartments here, period) are horribly energy-inefficient. Expect utility bills of greater than $100 per month, especially in the summer months. There's no state income tax (which is good), but there is a sales tax of 8.25%, one of the highest in the 'States.

What are the other points?

1. Racism. This town is split 60/40 black white, with an increasing Hispanic population. In another five years or so, you'll probably need to know some gutter Spanish if you like hanging out in the rougher parts of town. Because of the racial divide, there is an incredible amount of tension between whites and blacks, especially in border areas of town (not at the city limits, necessarily: there are fairly well-defined areas where it isn't advisable for you to go if your skin is the wrong color). And yes, there are probably people here who will shoot you if they don't like the way you look.
2. The town itself. A couple of years ago, Memphis went on an annexation spree. One of the areas they annexed (Hickory Hill) has declined noticably since being incorporated into Memphis. A lot of businesses died. Crime went through the roof. There's a lot of business space available standing empty, because nobody wants to put a business there anymore. The businesses that remain are dying, some faster than others.
3. Crime. Memphis is consistently in the top ten nationwide for worst crime rates, usually in the areas of car theft and assault. Oh, before I forget: if you care about these sorts of things, Memphis leads the nation in percentage of syphilis cases, and is number four for gonorrhea. This is a dirty town in many ways.
4. Not geologically sound. Downtown will be wrecked when the New Madrid fault decides to let go. In some places, you have to go down twenty to fifty feet before you hit bedrock. One of the apartments I lived in was actually starting to sink into the ground.
5. Poor public education. This is a bigger deal if you decide to live in a poorer neighborhood. East High School has a literacy rate of about 37%. The suburbs have better schools, but then again, they aren't Memphis. Did I mention that the city could afford to build that ridiculous pyramid, but still can't put air conditioning in all the schools, and still closes some of them when it's too hot outside?
6. Water. We have good drinking water, some of the best in the nation.

Enough ranting. The point is this: if you want to find a good place to live in the mid-south (TN, AR, AL, MS), you should avoid Memphis as if it were the diseased town that it is. There might be some good tech in Nashville, there certainly is in Huntsville, but there's not much in AR or MS. If you're a geek, this region is probably not for you.

[ Parent ]

Re: US still the best. (3.00 / 1) (#58)
by mcj on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 04:38:22 PM EST

Beware...the tech market in the mid-south is sparse at best. In the middle TN area, there are very few employers that are viable.

Example - I worked at a startup-type place until they declared bankruptcy. The other staff and I all bailed at the same time. After hearing so much about the supposed US tech labour shortage, we figured it's be a couple of weeks before we found new positions.

Yeah, right.

We ended up all applying for the same jobs, which is tough, since if you get hired (good thing), your friend is still screwed (bad thing). As it ended up, I'm the only one of the 10 or so from the failed startup who was able to find a position without having to move to another region of the country.

I guess the moral of the story here is, don't be in the mid-south and jobless. (:

[ Parent ]
Latin America? (3.80 / 5) (#53)
by El Volio on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 10:51:37 AM EST

My wife and I have been considering moving to Latin America for some time. She's originally from Mexico, and while I'm a regular American (my nick means "white bread", sort of a general name for non-Latinos, like "gringo"), I do speak fluent Spanish. One of the places we've been seriously considering is San Jose, Costa Rica.

CR has a well-developed economy and is quite peaceful, in contrast with most of the rest of North America and especially Central America. The fact that it's one of the most beautiful countries in the world doesn't hurt, either, nor does the fact that it never gets cold.

It takes a little while to get to the point where we're ready to move, but I would say it's likely within another two years or so. If there are any K5'ers from any part of Latin America, I'd be interested to read your opinions on what you think about living where you do.

Montreal, Halifax, Ottawa (Why and why not) (3.50 / 2) (#54)
by escapist on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 03:11:06 PM EST

First of all, Halifax.
Born and raised in Halifax. It is possibly the mos beautiful city in the world. Lots of things to do, great bands, friendly people, non-intrusive municipal government. Cons: no jobs. Yeah, that's right.
But, it is beautiful to look at. You'd also have to be blessed with my friends. Which you're probably not.
Lived here for three weeks. Great place. Good job.
Nothing but nice things to say.
Great bands, beautiful people.
Not too hot. Not too cold.

Nothing but ill-feelings. Lived there for four months. Hated every minute of it.
Everyone is rude. Bus drivers are cranky. Just politicians steady-politickin'.
Nobody knows how to have fun.
The place runs exactly perpendicular to my Nova Scotia party animal leanings. so.

Don't let the changes, get you down now.
Scotland is OK but you might do better elswhere (4.00 / 3) (#60)
by cezarg on Thu Sep 21, 2000 at 10:00:41 AM EST

Having lived as an immigrant to the UK for over seven years now this is what I can say about it:

The Good:

  • Friendly albeit somewhat pretentious society. They do get along with most newcomers though.
  • Unemployment is at all time low and those that can even spell computer find jobs no problem.
  • Laid back attitude in most places. Employers will go for flexible hours in many tech companies.
  • Edinburgh! It's cool, it's pretty, it's trendy! It's so expensive it's gonna make you dizzy. But it's a fantastic place to live with a half decent uni.
Tbe Bad:
  • Housing costs. It was exactly two years that ago that I got priced out of the market. Housing near major cities costs ridiculous amounts and you don't get a lot for your money
  • Other costs. Everything is expensive. I mean everything. There is no such thing as a bargain buy in the UK. You pay through your nose for all goods/services.
  • The dull weather may get to some people. Those from places like Portugal/Spain or Miami should steer clear of the UK weather. Too much of a thermal shock for you folks.
The ugly:
  • Glasgow. I know I'll offend some people here and I know that the council took on quite a few ambitious projects but the rundown went on for too long to make up for it. Glasgow is butt ugly and it just got very expensive.
  • John Prescott. [insert your favourite antiLabour rant here]
To me the balance doesn't work out so I'm outta here. If you want to own an entire flat [for the British-English impaired: flat==apartment] to yourself (as opposed to renting or even sharing a bedroom) you have to pull > GBP30K. Don't even get me started on the costs of proper housing. I'm looking for a place where I can afford my own place + a car + a fast internet connection. A clean city would be a bonus too. I'm moving to Calgary next week for good. I'll see how that compares.

Best place for a geek to live | 61 comments (55 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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