Selecting College for Where You Want to Live Post-Graduation

I would love for my kids eventually to settle in a lower cost of living area. The best way I can see for that to happen is for them to select a college somewhere near where they want to end up. Has anyone out there living in a high COL area sent kids to schools in cheaper places with the intention of them settling there? How did that work out? Did they end up coming home eventually anyway? If you tried it, how did you find the sweet spot between where you live now and where they might settle, based on amenities and culture? For example, if I live in Chicago, then Milwaukee and Cleveland are great choices. Can you make similar analogies for cities like New York, San Francisco, Boston, Los Angeles, San Diego, etc? Are you able to live on a middle-class income in places like Seattle, Portland, and the NC research triangle anymore? (Yes, this thread is inspired by @doschicos in the SF thread questioning why people who live in high COL areas don’t just move–it’s really hard to make a move happen once you have a family settled, so I’m thinking to get them out of here while they are young!)

Why do you get to pick where your kids live?

I don’t want to pick where my kids live, but if I can help them avoid being trapped in Illinois, I will do my best to help them find a school they like in a state that is not on the verge of collapse and that seems to plan on raising taxes on and on. No joke, my property taxes have tripled in 18 years, while my house is worth exactly same amount it was worth in 1999. We pay 10k per year on a 250k home. It goes up by 500-1000 nearly every year. I really hope my kids leave the state.

@Eeyore123 I’m not trying to pick where they live. They see how hard it is to live here and want out as well. They agree that it’s a great idea. I’m the one who is skeptical, as I see many kids who go away but gravitate back “home” anyway because the cultural differences and weather are too big of hurdles.

I should add that they are trying to approach this as a creatively different way of selecting a college. Instead of chasing prestige, why not select for quality of life? The main question I have is how realistic it is that people do “end up” near where they went to college, particularly if they grew up in a big, expensive cool city and the place they go to college is a mid-sized city. Also I’m concerned the massive differences in geography and culture will be too big of a leap. Moving from San Diego to Phoenix seems doable, but moving from San Diego to Portland, Maine seems too big of a jump, and they’ll not end up putting down roots there.

I am actually a fan of the opposite strategy. Live in a high cost/wage area when you are young. Then export your wage to a lower cost area in mid life before any kids get too old.

My friends had that same goal for their child…they let their child pick where they wanted to go to college and then moved Sophomore year (they had explained this to their child)…no child hood home to have as a home base so you appear to have more choices in where to go to. After she graduates and gets a job, then the parents will move nearish to her.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking these factors into consideration, but I just advise doing research carefully. I live in Wisconsin and will probably stay here for the rest of my life, but, for example, my property taxes are high, rents are high, real estate prices are high, and the job market is not booming.

Neither of my children lives in the state anymore; neither lives where they went to college, either. Both live in high cost of living areas of the country.

Living in a high COL area for college has turned me off from living in one ever again. I understand that financially I will not have to struggle this much with a full time, high paying job but it’s just not worth it. My friends who went totally rural or experienced great culture shock do not feel the same.

I think that COL is something to take into consideration for some. But, I don’t think many people stick to the places they went to college for life either, especially with the popularity of grad school.

I’m kind of with @Eeyore123. If my oldest (rising college senior) gets a job in Portland or smaller town in the PNW after grad school, there’s no way she’ll ever be able to move back to the Bay Area. If she moves back to the Bay Area for a little while and either lives with us at first or crams in with a few other young people, she can at least do that before she starts a family.

I was going to say Philadelphia instead of New York, but the PASSHE schools are notoriously expensive for the middle-class.

New Jersey only has a few high-tier public schools, yet we have the property taxes in the coI try. There was no public assistance when my family needed it, & an abundance of potholes…I often wonder where our taxes are actually going. For affordability, avoid the northeast all together!

We just moved to IL for a forced job change. I’m still in sticker shock. DD is going to school in IN. She’s hoping to stay in the midwest after graduation, ideally near Indy. While her school has companies from all over come to recruit, they have closer relationships (based on where kids go after graduation) with schools in the region.

I think there are so many factors at play that affect where a child may end up. Undergrad, grad school, and of course whether they meet a significant other and where he/she wants to go.

Here in PA I always thought if my child went to a state PASSHE school, they’d probably stick around close to home. The state school draw primarily from the region they are in and I’ve noted that many graduates make close friends and spouses from their undergrad experience so they tend to stay in the same area.

I think more selective colleges draw from all over so there’s a good chance your child may make a best friend or spouse who wants to live in a completely different area.

@surfcity I think you’re right that attending a less selective colleges might mean they stick to their region more. I see that as a potential lifestyle win-win, if you get to choose where you live and go to school and might get merit if you’re a higher stat student.

Typically, there is a tendency for college students to take jobs in the general region of their college, both because of more awareness of jobs in the local area and employer convenience in recruiting new college graduates from local colleges.

OP asked: Are you able to live on a middle class income in places like Seattle ? No, unless your definition of middle income is super regionalized. Seattle housing is in line with San Francisco. 28 year old Amazon & Microsoft employees are getting $400,000 & $500,000 year end bonuses–even though the base salary is in the $160,000 to $170,000 range.

In the early 2000s, the largest growth industry in Seattle was reported by one TV network (I think it was ABC’s 20/20, but I am not sure) to be philanthropy. The Microsoft millionaires now in their mid to late thirties wanted to give away some of their millions responsibly which led to an industry/occupation of counselors who checked out the spending records of charities to make sure most of the money went to the cause & not to the administrators.

OP: Young graduates should go where the jobs are in order to get work experience at an elite firm that provides sophisticated training before taking an in-house or regional position in order to enjoy a better quality of life.

Important as many companies are using remote workers. Easier to do if you have 5 years or so of industry experience & training.

Many IT techies are relocating from Silicon Valley, San Jose & San Francisco to Lincoln, Nebraska for example. Some begin start-ups while others work remotely. I have a relative whose employer is in the San Francisco area, but he works remotely from Georgia. Has to fly frequently to San Francisco & London, but the vast majority of his time is spent in his office at home.

P.S. Tell your kids to cherish their jobs as robotics & artificial intelligence may render them obsolete during their lifetime.

P.P.S. With respect to my post #14 above, those same 28 year olds are accumulating stock options worth very significant amounts of money. In New York City it is the young investment bankers while in Seattle it is the technical folks with CS & engineering degrees who are making huge incomes at a young age.

I think a certain caliber of college, you don’t have to worry about regionality because your college will be regarded elsewhere.

Sometimes affordability is relative. In the northeast, it could be Philly, Providence, Pittsburgh, or Portland (ME) - cities that begin with P I guess :wink: - rather than Boston, NYC, or DC. I wouldn’t call the first list of places cheap but they definitely are relative to the last 3 cities listed.

Instead of Chicago, it could be MSP, Columbus, or Cincinnati.

Lincoln, Nebraska is a place to consider. Nebraska has a severe labor shortage. Nebraska needed lawyers even in the terrible legal market of a few years ago. The problem, however, is getting a place to live. The Economist recently reported that even in small Nebraska towns there is scant housing available for workers so jobs remain unfulfilled. Everyone with available funds seems to be buying up every piece of farmland–for farming use–as soon as it hits the market.

Florida is cheap. As are many locations in South Carolina save for Charleston–which is reasonable.

OP: Might be worth looking into the College of Charleston Honors as well as the University of South Carolina Honors College.

Denver, Colorado has a strong economy. Housing market has been one of the best in the nation, but not at West Coast prices–except for ski resort towns.

I couldn’t agree more. I made it through grad school in LA making about $20-22K a year and have no regrets about living in a high cost city. I wouldn’t like barely having ends meet for the rest of my life, but it was great for my 20s.

Thanks everyone! Interesting to hear so many different perspectives. I’m a fan of mid-sized cities for sure!

@warblersrule When was that?

@Publisher Lincoln is actually on the list of places to check out. As is Minneapolis, Portland, Eugene, and Madison. Kids refuse to consider the South–which would be my choice! Absolutely love NC and SC. I don’t think either of them will end up in high tech–probably some sort of business management for one and perhaps lawyering for the other, though you can’t tell at this age. Not leaning toward computer science at the moment. You never know though.