Monday, August 31, 2009

Not just "any job"

I had a brief conversation with my grandmother the other day when I stopped over to pick up my sister that got me thinking and had me a little irritated. Somehow the topic of jobs came up and my grandma asked if I had heard about jobs in Las Vegas. Of course I said yes because EVERY teacher knows that there are teaching jobs available in Las Vegas. There always seems to be a teaching shortage there as they are opening several new schools every year. The problem is first, I have no desire to live in the desert, especially a city that gets as hot as Vegas. On top of that, the cost of living in Nevada is much higher than here in Ohio and teacher pay is not higher, so moving there would set me back as much as it would move me ahead. The same is true with Utah, which also came up. Apparently, my grandparents' across the street neighbors, who are also members of my local LDS ward (congregation), told her that the cost of living in Utah is significantly lower than here in Ohio, so despite the fact that Utah ranks 45th in average teacher pay, that is allegedly offset by the "low cost of living." I disputed that because when I lived in Idaho and was in Utah frequently, I didn't notice much of anything being significantly cheaper there than it was in Ohio. Things like gasoline were usually more expensive (though that can vary greatly) and groceries tended to be more expensive because of Utah's regressive sales tax on food (Ohio does not have a sales tax on food). All in all, I found the cost of living there was roughly the same as Ohio; it certainly wasn't lower.

The thing my grandma said that got me was "I'd think in this economy you'd want any job." While it's true I want a job and I need a steady job, how would moving across the country be financially sensible for some crap job in Utah or Vegas? I'd have to sink myself further into debt for a job that could barely keep me afloat. How would that be smart? As it stands now, it looks like I'll be subbing for this school year. While that's less than ideal, it is much better than doing nothing. On top of that my Derby grandparents are OK with me staying here as long as I need. Why rush "in this economy" to get my own apartment if I don't absolutely need to? Believe me, I want to get my own place ASAP, but I also understand the situation. I would much rather take it carefully and well-planned than moving far away and hope for the best. That said, as much as I wouldn't mind staying in this area, I am not opposed to moving anywhere for the right job. But that's just it; I won't move for "any job" unless that job is worth the time, effort, and money it will cost to relocate.

I, of course, did a little digging on cost of living and teacher pay too. Earlier this month I found a study that ranked the states for teachers where cost of living and teacher pay were factored together to make a "teacher comfort score." This is a much better indicator than just comparing how each state ranks in average teacher pay since cost of living can vary, particularly on the east and west coasts. So, while Ohio ranks 13th in average teacher salary and 19th in starting teacher salary, it ranks 6th in "comfort" when cost of living is factored in. California, on the other hand, which ranks 1st in average salary and 9th in starting salary ranks 44th on the comfort index because the cost of living is so high. The same was true for a lot of the higher paying states; they ranked high on starting and average salary but low on comfort because of high cost of living. Utah, on the other hand, didn't fare so well in ANY ranking. It ranks 45th in average starting salary, 45th in average teacher salary, and 39th in comfort index. So much for the low cost of living! The best state was Illinois: it ranked first in comfort, 4th in starting salary, and 3rd in average salary. The worst was Hawaii which ranked 50th in comfort, despite being ranked 9th in starting salary and 15th in average salary. Oh, and wonderful booming Nevada? They ranked 45th in comfort , 25th in average salary, and 38th in starting salary, so not much better than Utah. Again, why would I want to go into that? Sounds like I should look in the Land of Lincoln!!
As for cost of living, I found an interesting study. It doesn't rank the states, but does do a comparative chart index using numbers from 2006 and 2008 as well as the housing numbers for the same time. The average for the US is 100, so the index tells how close each state was above or below the national average. I first looked at Ohio, which was at 95.4 in 2006 and 93.4 by 2008, so just below the national average. Housing was a different story. Ohio was at 84.3 in 2006, but fell to 74.9 by 2008. Not really any surprises there. How about Utah and their "low cost of living" according to my fellow ward members? Not true: Utah was at 96.1 in 2006 and 95.0 in 2008. Housing was at 95.2 in '06 and 92.1 in '08. So yes, Utah is below the national average in COL and housing, but it is not less than Ohio; it's right about the same though slightly higher, which I always suspected. Tennessee was very low: 90.8 in 2006 and 88.3 in 2008. Housing was even better: 79.3 in '06 and down to 75.8 in '08. Not bad even with a high sales tax! Nevada wasn't too great: 107.4 in '06 and it went up to 109.2 by '08. Housing was even worse: 119.8 in '06 and up to 126.4 in '08. Yikes. The worst states for cost of living and housing were the coastal states on both coasts (Hawaii is the worst in all categories: COL of 162.8 in '08 and housing index of 252.5 in '08 followed in both categories by California. Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Alaska also were very high in all categories), though even the mountain west and southwestern states didn't do so hot either. The best are the south followed by the midwest.


Unknown said...

So, how about you look in the southern midwest? Oh, like Tennessee maybe. I obviously am biased since I chose to move here knowing I'd love the weather and the cost of living. Now, if we could just do away with this oppressive state sales tax life would be much cheaper. Good luck with the continued job hunt.

Heather Ridinger

Unknown said...

Don't overanalyze... :) Often times if you wait for the "perfect time or perfect job" miss out on great opportunities. Good luck in your job search and remember to pray about each step. You will be guided, I have no doubt.

The Mathews said...

GO ILLINOIS! haha... My music teacher at my high school was earning 6 figures when I left school (granted- he has been there since the late 80s and it's a VERY wealthy community with HIGH HIGH HIGH property taxes)- and he lives in a pretty average area. Here in Indiana, it's an awesome low cost of living (probably a lot like Ohio). And as someone who LIVED in Utah... NO- it is expensive, too much traffic, too many people/mormons, and not very good pay. We love the midwest :)

Anonymous said...

Hey man half of yo links gone broke.

Jon said...

Apparently the website has gone down. Not sure if it's temporary or permanent. It's the nature of the web. Here is the Cached version of it as of Sept. 12:

Jon said...

You can also find it by Googling "Teacher Comfort Index" Thanks for the heads up on the dead links.