Employment in rural areas

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by cast iron, Nov 10, 2004.

  1. cast iron

    cast iron Well-Known Member

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    New person checking in here. Seems like you have quite a nice community here. Might want to get another cup of coffee, this is going to be a long one.:)

    My question concerns finding gainful employment in rural areas. First some background.

    My wife, son and I currently live in a suburban type area. We have been here for about 18 years or so. We also own about 12 undeveloped acres in another county that we plan to develop and eventually move to. This property is adjacent to my in-laws property. My mother and father in-law live on a 10 acre piece, my two brothers in-law have built on each of their 5 acre pieces, as has my sister in-law. All of these properties are connected by a common road that they put in. This road may or may not extend to our piece (have not researched this yet). If not, I have access off the main road as well to our acreage.

    Fortunately I get along very well with my in-laws. They are truly good people. I realize the above description probably reads like a commune situation, but it really is not. These folks all live their own lives and are fully independent. It's a nice blend of a regular private life, along with supporting family close (very close) by. There is some sharing of resources such as farm equipment - bulldozers, tractors, implements etc. BIL has cows, and we all pitch in for butcher and such, mother in-law's chickens seem to produce enough eggs for the entire county. Two of the four have huge gardens etc.

    There are of course some drawbacks. My mil likes to be a little too nosey into others business, particularly their financial business. But I've pretty well got her trained now. She knows better then to pry into my financial stuff. All in all though, this is a relatively minor problem.

    My wife is of course, extremely excited about the proposition of moving down there. Our "general plan" is to move down there in about 4 years, after my son has graduated from high school up here. We live in an excellent school district. So, I'm starting the planning process for this potential move. I'm a bit anal about having a plan, especially for something like this. I'm getting involved in the county and the community, getting to know the lay of the land down there so to speak.

    We are extremely fortunate in that I believe we can swing complete development of this property including the house, large shop, out buildings etc. and come out the other end without any mortgage. The plan is to do much of the labor ourselves. I have the skill, and most all the tools needed to construct the buildings and such. And most of the heavy equipment is available from the in-laws. In addition, we have the learning's from the in-laws who have developed similar properties. This approach will help save some money.

    I should mention also that we are not moving down there to "homestead" in the strict sense of the word. We have no desire to live off-grid and such. We simply want to live in the country, near family. I'm sure we will have chickens, gardens etc which will help with the costs of living. But I don't want to move down there under the pretense that the cost of living will be "that much" lower then it is in our current place.

    It all sounds pretty good so far eh? Well, the one big nut that I'm very concerned about is finding gainful employment in this area. Our general rule is, one or both of us will have had to secure decent employment before moving down there. While we will be fortunate not to have any consumer debt hanging over our head, there are obviously plenty of other expenses and such that need taking care of. Of utmost importance to us is health care coverage. Neither my wife or I are in super great health.

    My wife and I are in our early 40's. I currently own a small, single person business. A couple years ago I retired from 20 years at the same manufacturing company, where most of my experience was in senior management, and had a very nice salary. In addition I went back to college a couple years ago as well (taking online classes). When I graduated from high-school I did not have the opportunity to go to college. Now that I have the resources and time, I'd like to get my bachelors in business administration. It's something I've always wanted to do. I'm about two years into it, and have about 2 to go. My wife has a pretty good paying job right now (although about half what I was making in the corporate world) with a 5 minute commute (which she loves).

    Employment prospects in this new county are not that great. Somebody told me the other day it had one of the highest unemployment rates in the state. I have just started subscribing to the county paper there, and looking at the business for sale listings in the two nearest major cities (I think they are cities). My current business relies heavily on a customer base that has a large portion of discretionary income. I don't believe this business will transfer well to the new county, as i don't believe the customer base will be there.

    I've been researching and probing the job market down there (such that it is) and have found that my age, my previous high level of responsibility, and consummate salary are proving quite the barrier to entry for some of these jobs. I fully realize and accept that most any job I get down there will be of far less salary. Because we have lived with some semblance of debt control all these years, we have a bit of flexibility when it comes to this type of thing.

    Typically what will happen is the employer will summarily dismiss my resume as being way overqualified for the position. If I do happen to get a discussion with them, and they do get over the age factor. They have a very hard time understanding how I can take a ~60% cut in pay for these jobs. In our all consuming, ever increasingly debt laden world, it just doesn't make sense to them.

    The second thing they are very skeptical of is that I'm only taking this job because it is the only one available right now, and I will leave as soon as I find another one.

    If I tell them the truth - that we have controlled our debt and can indeed take lower paying jobs. They immediately assume I'm one of those semi-retired people that don't really need the job, but just want something to do during the day. So, they are concerned that one day I'll decide I don't like it there and leave.

    I'm also wondering how advantageous a four degree really would be in a county like this. Although that is not my only motivation for getting a degree of course. As I looked through the very slim job listings it struck me that maybe I would be better off getting my CDL, as there were a couple of log truck driving jobs listed. In all those years behind the desk, I've always wanted to drive the big trucks (local, not weeks away from home).

    I did some limited research into this, thinking I could get my license, buy a truck and hit the road. I found that a new guy trying to get insurance on an owner/operator truck, without a couple years of experience was difficult to impossible.

    Maybe I need to re-train to something in the medical field, or try to get my cdl and drive for somebody else. Maybe start another business. One of the things that works well in my current location is flipping houses. Buy a fixer-upper below market value and put the sweat equity into it. Rent it or sell it for a profit. This works ok in this area because housing demand has been nuts for last several years. I suspect this business model may not transfer well to the new county either, as the population is less sparse and the income levels much lower.

    The truth of the matter is my wife may have a far better chance of getting a decent job down there, given her profession. Although some of her line of work is being outsourced overseas these days.

    So it goes. I continue my investigation into this subject of gainful employment in rural areas. The nice thing is we have time to plan this thing out, and don't have to make any rash moves before we get a handle on the employment issue.

    Any input on this subject would be much appreciated.

    Thanks
    Wayne
     
  2. goatlady

    goatlady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If your property is near a small town you can rad the local paper allyou want but the jobs are going/will go to the locals who live there/were born there, went to school there. You will have to find the local coffee spot and hand around there for months to find out the real job situation and figure out "who to know". That's the way in the country most times. Besides one of you needs to stay homw to do all that building, and gardening, and daily stuff necessary for country life. Get your degree for your own self as it will probably only add more negative to your resume. And if you want to start a business at the new location be sure your are not infringing/cuttin in on an already set local business.
     

  3. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

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    Greetings from Montana! That is quite a story for sure! We moved (1997) from Tucson where our income was mid six figures to a rural area of Montana where our income dropped to about 20k per year. People thought we were nuts. Our kids are off on their own, we don't have many bills, built our own home, shop, green house, coops etc and live on top of a mountain. I found, when looking for work here that I was also over qualified for just about everything I wanted to do. They kept wanting me to do managment work and I did not want to do that type of stuff any more. Finally I got a job at the power company as a dispatcher and DH went to work at an auto parts store (gives us good discounts on parts too). I am currently off on long term disability from the power company and attending college (again). By this time next year I will be a lic. addictions counselor of which there is much need our area. So I would suggest you speak with the job service in the county you are thinking of moving to and see what they think would be the most prevalant job opportunities when you move there. Then, with fore knowledge you could prepare yourself for one of those jobs!
     
  4. Bob Mc

    Bob Mc Member

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    I’m a newcomer here (to the board) too, but have lived in my present location (very rural) for 28 years. The best suggestion I can make to someone moving here from the city, is to bring the job with you! Employment here is hard to come by. Almost all jobs go to locals who either grew up and stayed here, or who have lived here for a long time. Many of the younger generation move away soon after graduation from school because there simply isn’t enough work here to support them. Areas like this can be great for retired folks, or people who have some form of established work that they can bring with them. People who depend on finding work after they move here are often disappointed, and soon move back to the cities.
     
  5. JanO

    JanO Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My hubby and I have been dealing with a simular situation, so I know how frustrating it is. We bought our land a number of years ago and have dreamed of moving onto it ever since. We also decided that one of us has to have work for the benifits before we could do it. But, he's either too qualified or too old, they can't match his current pay and think it's a joke that he's willing to take a cut, yadda, yadda, yadda. My profession is fairly easy to move, but I'd be looking at 6 mos. at least before I saw a paycheck. Like you, we've been careful about not incurring any debt to speak of and we should be able to get moved and put the house up mortgage free.

    Finally we decided that if he can't find work where we're going that we would make work. We've spent quite a bit of time in the area that we're moving to and found a need for an outfitters supply type store because of the camping, hunting and fishing in the area. There are some large stores in the larger cities, but none in the local area where folks could buy tackle, bait, ammo, weather gear, etc. without having to drive 40 miles one way, and none of the local shops cover everything that we have in mind. Have a location picked, right off the freeway where everybody has to get off to get to the hills, and are in negotiations with the owner to buy the land. There is a building, an old barn, already there that we would refurbish for our needs. It's definatly a gamble, but the worse that can happen is we lose our shirts. As long as we have our home paid for they can't take that from us.

    Since you already have a business, can you carry it with you on line? Just a thought... :eek:
     
  6. Shagbarkmtcatle

    Shagbarkmtcatle Hillybilly cattle slaves

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    If you are moving to an area that has lots of retired people,can you do jobs that they might need done. Like mowing lawns or plowing snow? How about handy man repair jobs. Pressure washing houses or painting houses?

    Laura Lynn
     
  7. Don Armstrong

    Don Armstrong In Remembrance

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    That's about the one thing I think you could be guaranteed a job with, if things shape the same way there as they do in Australia. Nursing, Xray tech, pathology tech, maybe physiotherapy seem to be growth industries with our aging population.

    As I look at that list I realise they are all sub-professionals - not at medical level. That, I guess, is indicative of the fact the responsibility is being pushed downwards to lower levels (and lower-paid levels, which is why it's happening). Those sub-professionals are now doing much of the job that professionals were doing 25 years ago.

    The other strength to that area is that much of it is "hands-on". It's going to take a long time before they can automate it then out-source it overseas.

    Also, I don't know how this translates to your area, but I know some nurses who deliberately court the less popular shifts here. If they take two 12-hour night shifts over the weekend they will earn more than they could for a normal week's day shifts. If they can scrounge up THREE 12-hour weekend night shifts then they've got as much pay as two normal weeks.

    Again, I'm reaching here, and I don't remember your exact terminology, but I know there are levels of nursing here. The full degree-level is a RN (registered nurse). Below that now is an EN (enrolled nurse), who does basically what nurses used to do 25 years ago while doctors were doing what RNs are doing now. It is possible for someone to qualify as an EN, then gain practical experience while they do bridging courses to upgrade them to RN.

    Of course, nurses have good employment prospects because a lot of nurses don't want to stay in the profession. They are getting burnt-out because of the pressue and responsibility when they are understaffed. There may be jobs, but there still aren't ENOUGH jobs to let the nurses do everything they could to give adequate care to their charges. If you don't thing you'd stand up under that pressure maybe one of the regular-working-hour med-tech jobs would be a better bet.

    If this is interesting to you, CHECK IT! In particular, what it might offer you for medical benefits is something I don't know - we do that differently in Australia. What I'm saying is all second-hand. I have lots of relatives and friends in the medical, nursing and med-tech areas; and I believe it's an excellent possibility for rural youth, but how well it would fit your mature needs is something you'd need to decide for yourself after doing your own investigation.
     
  8. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    I'll rousingly second that... many :eek: years ago when I graduated from college I did some work on the stats of people who moved to a rural area and their success there. At the time of 100 people moving to a rural area:

    half would be gone in 2 years (50)
    of the remaining half, half of them would be gone in 5 years (25)
    of the remainder, half of them would be gone in 10 years
    anyone who made it past year 10 had a good chance of having acclimated, found work, or just plain liked it so much they didn't care... and they stayed.

    This goes a long way to explaining a few things... like why country people don't warm up to you for 5 long years. Why should they? They suspect you'll be among the vast majority who leave! And why they are loath to offer you a job (same reason).

    But if you can bring your job with you, your chances for success go up dramatically. And today, when nobody knows where your "office" is anyway, you can pretty much set up shop anywhere there is a phone line or satellite access.
     
  9. BCR

    BCR Well-Known Member

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    Bsing self-employed guarantees employment. Go to NASE.org to learn about affordable health insurance from the national association for the self-employed.
     
  10. cast iron

    cast iron Well-Known Member

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    Thanks to all for the responses. I really appreciate you taking the time to do so.

    I don't doubt those stats one bit. I had a feeling this was far more difficult then it appeared on the surface. This particular area is very interesting. It is heavily populated with working farms. My in-laws are long established in the area with family seemingly every where. A curious thing is happening with the "kids" of several of the big families in the area. They are moving back to the country they grew up in.

    As far as my current business being internet only, I'm not sure that's realistic. My ego wants to say yes, but my practical side say's no. My current business is differentiated from the competition by providing quality parts with some personalized service. If I'm living in the country, away from the main customer base, I can't provide that little extra face to face service. And will become just another faceless internet re-seller competing on slim margins with a jillion other people.

    I like the strategy of "bring the job to the country", that makes sense. Figuring out what "that job" or business should be is the trick of course. They say you should do something your passionate about. Given that I'm in the middle of the appeal process for an increase in valuation of this particular piece of property. I'm pretty passionate about ridiculous property values - that lead to ridiculous property taxes. Maybe I should run for county assessor in this county?;)

    One thing I've found difficult is the fact that we live 3 + hours away from this property. This makes it a bit difficult to "run over to the property and "do stuff". Makes it a bit difficult to learn about the area and the business environment when I'm not there. We were thinking of maybe going ahead and putting a road in, electric, septic, and water on the property.

    Then moving our rv down there permanently. This would give me a place to stay down there. On the other hand all those improvements are very expensive. If it turns out we can't obtain employment down there, I end up with an improved property that also has increased taxes. Given the area, I'm not so sure that putting these improvements in will actually make it more sell-able. Vs. if it actually had a house on it, or was simply vacant property.

    Again thanks for the input, please keep it coming.

    Wayne
     
  11. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

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    The only thing I would add to the above posts is the observation that most of my neighbors cobble together a living doing lots of different things. My husband and I are no exception. If you can stay flexible, you'll probably find you can put together enough small jobs to equal a decent income.
     
  12. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    I found I had to re-learn how to apply for jobs. I was used to the big "sell yourself" routine, but that just doesn't work out here, even in the larger city nearby. I had to tone things down...way down.

    Connections are everything. Who you know. This town is used to operating that way. It's not that they don't like newcomers, they just don't know what to think of them. Having established family in the area can help a lot. If they have a good reputation, you will "inherit" that....after a bit of time.

    Most really good jobs here belong to those who will give them up when they die or retire. People don't change jobs much and don't move away. Once they are leave the position, someone from within will usually move into it. The exception seems to be the factories. They are always looking for people for production scheduling, management, etc. They bring folks in from other plants, then they leave again. Of course, this town has a few factories, not all do.

    I just started a business here this year, after being here for 4 years, but married to a local. I think there is more opportunity in this area, as it is under-served in many ways. Most services/companies, etc go to the big city leaving the rural folks with less. I sell meat & poultry that I raise and am doing pretty well at it, but I see the need in many other areas. Day care is scarce here, a good restaurant would do great here. Any type of family entertainment would fly (I had dreams of opening a miniature golf course, but someone beat me to it).

    These businesses may not appeal to you, but look at what the folks there need and what you can provide. Find a niche.

    I do have to say I'm not in the "upper" circles. I am not involved in local politics or stuff like that. I would imagine that it would be extremely tough to break into and very easy to make a bad impression until you understand how the community works. It's good to volunteer and observe, but be very, very slow to start speaking up. The "good ol' boy" network is far and deep and easily disturbed! The consequences of saying the wrong thing to the wrong person can last a long time.

    I don't see that you are ambitious in the political arena, but understand that small town truly do operate differently. It takes TIME to fully understand that. Take the time to learn BEFORE opening your mouth, even if it's just to voice an opinion at a city council meeting! Does that make sense?

    I got to run.

    Jena
     
  13. JanaKaye

    JanaKaye Active Member

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    Hi Wayne, You've had lots of great responses here from people who know far more than me. I can offer a few more ideas to go along with theirs.

    You don't mention what your wife's line of work is, but if she is good at clerical work, or if you are, then one of you might want to give some thought to what I have decided to do.

    I am currently training to be a medical transcriptionist. I have recently moved to the country at age 46, leaving behind a position as Director of Career Services at a college near Dallas TX. Medical transcriptionists can work from home, either as a full or part time employee of a national company, or as an independent contractor. Hours can be fairly flexible. (You can also choose to work at a local hospital or clinic, if that's more to your liking.) I have done a good bit of research into this and it seems there is sufficient demand for GOOD transcriptionists. Typing and spelling have always been strongpoints for me, so its a good fit. If typing is not something you or your wife like to do (and you must enjoy it to transcribe so much dictation!) then you could also look into medical billing. This field is continually growing, and is something you can do from home also. Isn't technology great! If either of you have good clerical skills, you should certainly look into these fields. The added benefit is NO COMMUTE and you get to be at home in the country, which is why you want out of the city in the first place!

    I am in my first month of training in an online course, and expect to be finished in about 5-6 months. I have done extensive research into training programs, and the one I've joined is a highly reputable company. Both transcription and billing can be learned online, or you can also train for both of these fields at a nearby community college, if that's more convenient. You could probably take part time classes and be done in less than a year.

    Let me know if any of this interests you and I will be happy to email you with more information.

    Best wishes and happy trails :)
     
  14. cast iron

    cast iron Well-Known Member

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    Hi JanaKaye,

    My wife is a payroll person. Certified payroll professional is the "official" title I think. She works for a company that does the payroll, benefits etc for other large companies. Before that she spent 14 years working for the county as a secretary for the local fire department.

    Funny that I should be posting about jobs this week. My wife was informed yesterday that the client that her team does payroll for will not be renewing their contract. If she can't find another position within the company she will be out of a job come July 2005. While this is bad news, we are very thankful that she got some notice. After the thanksgiving Holiday she will be blowing the dust off her resume and hitting the job hunting trail.

    We would be very interested in any information you would be willing to share on the medical transcriptionist jobs.

    Thanks
    Wayne
    wrace@softhome.net
     
  15. cast iron

    cast iron Well-Known Member

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    Jena,
    I understand your point about the political issues in small, tight knit towns. Quite frankly, this is an area where I need to be careful. My wife likes to describe me as being "very assertive with my opinions". "very direct and forthright", "loves to argue about local and national politics". She's described me as some other things at times, but I won't post those here.;) So, I need to tread carefully as I work my way into the community.

    Jen H,
    That's an excellent point about being flexible, and possibly multiple small jobs vs one big one. This is another perfect example of how this true rural lifestyle is so different from my life experience. Both my wife and I are used to going into the office everyday, or traveling to business meetings etc. Sometimes working 10-12 hour days in the same office building, with the same people. Very predictable.

    On the flip side, I do have a pretty strong work ethic, and am very self-disciplined and organized. I've found these attributes have served me well, both in the corporate world, and most especially in my own business. I would think these type of things would be good in country work life as well.

    Thanks
    Wayne
     
  16. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    I guess not having an education helped me because I didn't have all of this to think about. I've relocated to rural areas twice, both times to towns in states where I didn't have a relative or knew a soul.
    You say you are in business, business is business no matter where you are you just have to adapt. Buying a business or investing money in a business that you can't afford to lose is not a wise thing in a rural area. I believe much of the money in the economic base of rural areas comes from small business investments that fail.