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IT's Last Hope — a Job In the Boonies? 470

GMGruman writes "Offshoring, cloud computing, automation, 'do more with less' — all of these have been chipping away at US IT workers' ability to have a job. But some companies now dangle a new possibility: Move to rural areas for lower-paying 'onshoring' jobs that can compete with lower overseas salaries. InfoWorld's Bob Violino talked to IT workers who've made the move and discovered that although it's no 'Green Acres meets Big Bang Theory' experience, a move from the big city to the hinterlands appeals mainly to just some IT worker segments, even as it provides new opportunities for others."
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IT's Last Hope — a Job In the Boonies?

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  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday October 14, 2010 @01:42PM (#33897424) Homepage Journal

    Rather than take a crappy on-site job somewhere, I'd rather have an even crappier off-site one... and a lower cost of living. No commute whatsoever is a big feature.

    • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @01:46PM (#33897512) Homepage Journal
      Hmm..possibly cleaner water, healthier foods....and a chick population that hasn't been exposed to as many STD's and city girls???
      • Oops...supposed to be "and a chick population that hasn't been exposed to as many STD's as city girls (have) ???
        • by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @01:57PM (#33897692) Homepage Journal

          Oops...supposed to be "and a chick population that hasn't been exposed to as many STD's as city girls (have) ???

          Either way you say it, you truly must never have visited the heartland... clean water and untainted women are NOT its strong suit.

          • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @02:03PM (#33897784)

            clean water and untainted women are NOT its strong suit.

            Hey man, if you can't taste the chlorine, how do you know it's clean?!?

            (For those of you who have never been to a small town, the local water treatment plant often isn't up to our city slicker standards for taste)

            • by i.r.id10t ( 595143 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @02:12PM (#33897920)

              Because I pump it out of my well, that is tapped into the same aquifer that several water bottling companies use....

              • by saider ( 177166 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @02:31PM (#33898186)

                Hopefully you have the same water filtration scheme as the bottling companies.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Stargoat ( 658863 )

                If you lived in the countryside anywhere near farms, you'd never make that statement. Fertilizers are not healthy for livers and it is remarkable how quickly they can poison a well. Water in aquifers moves quite slowly.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by inanet ( 1033718 )

                Speaking of clean water supplies,

                I watched "Gasland" the other day, I'm sure it is totally one sided, but as far as polluting water goes that is some full on stuff you Americans let big business get away with.

                I mean, flammable gas imbued in your water, is cool for the whole "watch my faucet explode" but aside from that I'd be worried about moving anywhere that has NG shale under it, for it'll be a short time before you are "frac'ed"

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 )

                  You should be much less worried about the NG that is migrating into the aquifers, and more worried about the extremely toxic/carcinogenic cocktail of chemicals extraction companies are using to hydraulically fracture NG wells.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Andy Dodd ( 701 )

            I definately agree on this one. As someone who lives in a semi-rural area, the more rural you get, the more single mothers you tend to find...

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by couchslug ( 175151 )

            "clean water and untainted women are NOT its strong suit."

            AVAILABLE women ARE it's strong suit. If you have a decent job and your own teeth, it's a sexual amusement part.

            Enjoy the rides, but don't buy one to own. :)

        • "and a chick population that hasn't been exposed to as many STD's as city girls (have) ???

          Not sure which small city you're thinking of, but some of the ones I've lived in have suffered from the "abstinence only sex ed." I don't know if city women are generally more or less chaste than country women, but I do know that "small town values" don't really exist, they definitely don't extend to premarital sex (thank God, there's little else to do there), and urban females are more likely to know what a condom is.

          If you do happen to live in a small town where the women don't have sex... I'm sorry.

          • by Hylandr ( 813770 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @02:11PM (#33897912)
            Personally I have noticed smaller towns to be overrun with crack/meth houses and all the sex \ crime / and domestic abuse that you hear about from big cities. It happens on a larger scale "per capita" by a huge scale. The big cities have all the programs and resources to combat that kind of thing. Small town gov bare shows up for work during the week.

            - Dan.
          • "and urban females are more likely to know what a condom is."

            Hmm...maybe that is a point in the country girls' favor....you get to go 'bareback' more often??

            I mean, fucking with a rubber is kind of like eating a fine steak with one on your tongue.

            You know there is some kind of really pleasant sensation going on out there, but you're just not feeling it at all...

      • by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @01:57PM (#33897688) Journal

        You might need to re-evaluate your notion of life in the boonies. Everyone I've known who has grown up in Bum Frick Nowhere has the same story... the only thing to do is drink and have sex. By the time people are done with high school, they have pretty much slept with everyone else in town. Although come to think of it, moving to the boonies would have the benefit of fresh meat syndrome. You'd be the one person everyone hadn't yet slept with, so you'd have your pick.

        I don't think that the article is talking about the real boonies though. Any place that is large enough to maintain a good sized IT operation isn't the kind of boonies that I'm talking about.

        • by pnuema ( 523776 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @02:02PM (#33897780)
          You're right; to an 18 year old, the boonies suck. To a 35 year old, the peace and quiet and the lower cost of living are hugely attractive. So what if there is no night life? I've got a four year old. I'm too fucking tired to go out.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by LordNimon ( 85072 )
            I've got a four year old. I'm too fucking tired to go out.

            You'll be sorry in 10 years, when your daughter is the one screwing all the guys because she's bored.
            • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @02:21PM (#33898054) Journal

              I'm pretty sure that the likelihood of his daughter becoming a sleaze is more related to how much time he spends helping her build confidence and esteem, than it is to how far they live from Chucky Cheese and a water park.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                Why can't you have confidence and self esteem AND screw like mad? I know girls like that and they're WONDERFUL!
            • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @02:53PM (#33898518)

              "You'll be sorry in 10 years, when your daughter is the one screwing all the guys because she's bored."

              Go to the safe celibate City, where her purity will be preserved, nay, NOURISHED, by the wholesome and caring young men who abide there.

              • by sorak ( 246725 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @03:16PM (#33898866)

                "You'll be sorry in 10 years, when your daughter is the one screwing all the guys because she's bored."

                Go to the safe celibate City, where her purity will be preserved, nay, NOURISHED, by the wholesome and caring young men who abide there.

                Or to one where safe sex education consists of more than just a video of Brystol Palin screaming "DON'T DO IT!"

                • by pnuema ( 523776 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @03:27PM (#33899040)
                  Or to one where safe sex education consists of more than just a video of Brystol Palin screaming "DON'T DO IT!"

                  Any parent who relies on school provided "sex education" to teach their kids the facts of life deserves what they get. Here is the biggest thing people get wrong - you don't have "THE TALK" about the birds and the bees. You have a conversation. One that starts when they can speak, and lasts the rest of their lives. Never lie to your kids about this. Always tell them more than they can understand, and they will come back and ask questions when they are ready.

                  • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @04:44PM (#33900230) Journal

                    To add to your comment: The other problem is that when it comes to sex, parents have the talk. As in singular. It isn't a part of their regular conversation. We still have issues in the US that make people think it is "wrong" or "dirty" to talk to teenagers about their sexuality, how it is normal to have desires, what the consequences are, that they aren't freaks because they get horny. We are too busy telling them "just abstain", at the point in their lives when their hormones are raging, making them feel like they are doing something wrong by feeling that way. Until we get rid of the idea that sex is dirty, and understand it is a natural thing, we will have these issues.

                    If you let your kids learn about sexual behavior from watching TV, and that is the largest portion of their sexual relations exposure, well yes, they are going to be disadvantaged, they are more likely to get STDs and/or pregnant. Duh.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by pnuema ( 523776 )
              You'll be sorry in 10 years, when your daughter is the one screwing all the guys because she's bored.

              One, I don't have any daughters, and two, I'm not some fundie prude who would have a problem with it if I did. I expect teenagers to have sex. I did. Everyone I know did. You probably did too. It's natural, and there is nothing wrong with it. In fact, I'd prefer said fictional daughter be screwing every guy in town rather than do some of the other stupid shit kids in the boonies get up to (meth comes immedi

          • by dave562 ( 969951 )

            I understand where you are coming from. I live in Southern California and am looking forward to eventually moving to Oregon. (Now before all the Oregonians give me crap, my parents grew up there and I have a lot of family in the area. I'm not one of "those" Californians who is going up there and screwing up all of the property values.)

            If you are good at what you do in IT, you have some flexibility. I work with AT&T and Dell a lot. Their reps are always working from home. Even my co-workers are oft

          • by snspdaarf ( 1314399 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @02:23PM (#33898080)
            Lower cost of living? Ha! I am in a rural area, gas is 10 cents more per gallon than any place around because the fuel distributors all drink coffee together each morning and decide what the price of gas will be. Food is about 25 percent more locally because there is only one supermarket, and there are umpteen different taxing entities to pay off each year. Insurance is more, everything you really want or need is 40+ miles away, and housing is either a castle or an outhouse. If there is a lower cost of living in a rural area, it is not enough to make it the main reason to take a job there.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        What makes you think that? A friend pointed out that, given the amount of sleeping around in our local scenes, any STD would be rampant. Of course, that's perhaps not the common case.

        Never mind that every time I go to a small town, they're playing country and I HATE country.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Unkyjar ( 1148699 )

          Elwood: What kind of music do you usually have here?
          Claire: Oh, we got both kinds. We got country *and* western.

    • by qoncept ( 599709 )
      Where do you live that you think a commute in a smaller city is even a factor? The average household income here is about $44k. A decent 2000sqft house can be had for $150k. My commute (from outside of town) is about 10 minutes, and a lot of people live closer than that. You can easily find a job making at least $60k. If you can't make it in in the winter sometimes, you can work from home.
    • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @02:18PM (#33898004) Journal

      I live in the Piedmont Triad area of NC, (1.6 million people) [wikipedia.org]. I just moved south to a town of 20k people and commute to work instead, so I drive 1.5 to 2 hours per day total, vs. .75 to 1.0 hour before the move. The cost of homes is about 25% cheaper. Restaurants are 25-35% cheaper, plentiful and less crowded. Most everything is cheaper, enough so to offset the additional gas.

      If I could find a job here that paid somewhat less but I could drive to work in 10-15 minutes, then yes I would consider it in a skippy minute. I wouldn't want to live in a town of 20k people out in the middle of nowhere, but I'm still less than 30 minutes from downtown Winston-Salem (230k) or High Point (105k), less than 45 minutes to most of Greensboro (260k), and 1 hour from the Charlotte area (1.8 million) so every possible convenience is less than an hour away.

      There are significant advantages to moving to a smaller town if you can find decent work, even if it doesn't pay as much. Or commute if it is reasonable. The cost of living is often cheap enough to offset the difference in pay, particularly when you consider the upper end of your tax bracket means that losing $10k in pay doesn't mean losing $10k of bring home pay. Maybe a single 21 year old male wouldn't make the move, but those of us married and over 30 (I'm over 40) see some advantages. Many people also like the idea of raising kids in a more rural setting, and a slower pace of life once you get home. As long as you are relatively close to the other city benefits, it is not as steep of a price as you might think.

  • I give up (Score:4, Interesting)

    by religious freak ( 1005821 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @01:42PM (#33897430)
    I don't know about you guys but after 10+ years of stagnant wages and fierce competition from India that shows no signs of subsiding, I'm finding a new career path...
    • Re:I give up (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Thursday October 14, 2010 @01:57PM (#33897696)

      I actually recommend this choice to people whom I have had to let go. It was pretty clear they didn't possess the wherewithal to continue growing and contributing in this industry.

      One guy went out and started a consulting business. He advises people on drainage plans for their new homes. As a programmer, he stumbled through the code and introduced as many bugs as he fixed. I think we picked him up as a resource sometime in the late 90s when we were hiring like crazy. 10 years of experience, and the only real thing I think we figured out was that he was a pretty mediocre programmer. But now he is doing very well as a drainage consultant.

      You shouldn't stay in a job you suck at. And your manager shouldn't keep you once you've shown no particular aptitude for the work. Go do something you're good at. You'll feel much better about yourself and you won't have the sword of Damocles always hanging above you.

      • Hey, hey now. I didn't say I was good at my job or that I was in fear of losing it. I just think fighting against a stagnant industry takes a lot more energy and yields less results than going into an industry which is growing rapidly.

        I think there's something to be said for hopping on the fastest moving train.
        • by gmack ( 197796 )

          The fastest moving train is often the worst possible one to be on jobs wise since that's where there is a massive crowd all hunting for work.

      • by gmack ( 197796 )

        Ahh yes the 90s when everyone got pushed into computer work. I was still in high school and recall the class full of students who either didn't want to be there or worse yet one poor girl who just didn't have it in her to be a programmer who managed to reduce herself to tears each week because her parents wanted her to be a programmer.

        It seems to me that we have managed to come up with a society that pushes people towards trendy jobs and the result is a total overflow of people doing popular jobs poorly w

    • I don't know about you guys but after 10+ years of stagnant wages and fierce competition from India that shows no signs of subsiding, I'm finding a new career path...

      Try working for yourself. Many small business need 'part-time, on-site' IT people who are 'generalists'. If you can handle some networking, server admin, hardware & software trouble shooting, etc, you can do very well for yourself.

      Someone who knows what they are talking about & what they are doing can make a big difference to a small business. Small businesses talk and word of mouth will land you more work. You may end up with 5 - 10 hours a month here, 6 - 8 hours a month there, etc, etc, but it a

      • Re:I give up (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @02:29PM (#33898154) Journal

        I live in a small town (about 13,000 people) and I've found there isn't enough IT expertise. There seems no lack of A+ screw monkeys starting up computer shops, and certainly they can take care of the home market, but there are pretty three guys in town with the ability to maintain VPNs, AD networks, work with *nix systems and so forth, and two of them (myself included) are full time employees, and the third seems to be dropping the ball a lot, judging by the number of calls me and the other guy are getting. I do a bit of work on the side, but my job makes any heavy time investment in actively formulating my own business unfeasible.

        Long story short, there are no lack of guys who can flip out video cards, ghost hard drives and set up home WiFi networks, but when you're actually talking about people with some useful networking knowledge, like how to set up domain controllers or build customized routers, they're a lot rarer in small and medium-sized communities. I was talking to a guy in another even smaller town who is making a decent living in a very rural area where none of the towns are over 5,000 people, in part because big resort chains in the area need a reliable IT contractor who can deal with their particular networks and systems, and in part because even a lot of smaller businesses need a bit more than just some turkey who knows what DDR3 RAM looks like.

        • Even in a bigger city (like the one I live in) there are always FAR more people out there bragging about their A+ certs. and trying to make a go of building or fixing PCs and basic wi-fi networks than there are people who are willing to troubleshoot a corporate VPN or server.

          But when I look at it, *I* was one of "those guys" myself. I spent years working as a "bench tech" for little mom and pop type computer resellers or retailers. Truthfully, they were all dead-end jobs, but at the time, I was convinced

    • Something I put together: "Beyond a Jobless Recovery: A heterodox perspective on 21st century economics"
      http://knol.google.com/k/paul-d-fernhout/beyond-a-jobless-recovery [google.com]

      Essentially, a combination of robotics and other automation, better design, and voluntary social networks (like comment on Slashdot :-) are decreasing the value of most paid human labor, while at the same time demand is limited for a variety of reasons (some classical, like the credit crunch or a concentration of wealth, and some novel like

  • by bhcompy ( 1877290 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @01:45PM (#33897486)
    It's called Smartshoring. And working from home is called Homeshoring. Can I get WinTheLottoShoring?
    • by Nadaka ( 224565 )

      Stennis space center, one of the largest collections of federal project IT in the gulf south is in the middle of no where Mississippi. Most of my old friends work or have worked there. Bearingpoint inc had a global development center in Hattiesburg, MS that I worked at before they went bust. So yes, this is nothing new.

  • Arrrg... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by epiphani ( 254981 ) <epiphani@ d a l . net> on Thursday October 14, 2010 @01:50PM (#33897568)

    Offshoring, cloud computing, automation, 'do more with less' — all of these have been chipping away at US IT workers' ability to have a job.

    The only thing here that is a problem is offshoring. Cloud computing, automation, and doing more with less is our job.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sorak ( 246725 )

      Offshoring, cloud computing, automation, 'do more with less' — all of these have been chipping away at US IT workers' ability to have a job.

      The only thing here that is a problem is offshoring. Cloud computing, automation, and doing more with less is our job.

      And yet the downsized worker is still unemployed. The summary never said "this is a practice that must end". It only stated that the practice can lead to downsizing.

  • The actual article goes into some detail about the tradeoffs, one of which is that moving to the boonies doesn't convey as many cost advantages as some workers expect. I think it's great that more IT folks will be able to work outside the urban centers, but it's certainly no panacea. If you like living in a smaller town, you hate commuting, and you're comfortable being a bit outside the professional mainstream, go for it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by lotaris ( 34307 ) *

      The biggest cost savings is in housing costs. Compare similarly sized places and you'll see a big win. Just don't trade up to a McMansion just because your payments will be similar to what you are doing now. Buy what you can be comfortable in.

      Check on property taxes as they are really high in some states/counties and that could be a shock.

      An advantage of moving to the suburbs of a smaller city in the hinterland is that you will generally have several options for tech employment.

      Some of the small towns with

    • by xgr3gx ( 1068984 )

      I'm actually looking at doing this in a few years. My company is very flexible with working from home. I really don't need to be onsite, most people in my area don't. I already work from home 2 or 3 days a week. So if can work from home so often, what does it matter where home is, provided I have a fast internet connection? I know 2 people who moved across the country and kept their same job, even the same phone number.
      I live in an expensive suburb, and have a 30 mile commute. My wife and I would love

  • Some Sign of Hope (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wdhowellsr ( 530924 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @01:54PM (#33897656)
    I am a programmer / analyst in the Orlando area and am starting to see a slight change in contract as well as full time positions. A large pharmaceutical distributor in Lakeland is hiring dozens of .Net developers who will eventually telecommute. Contract at 45 / hr then 85k to 90k full time. There are areas around Lakeland that would make the boondocks look like New York City.

    The other thing I am finding is that, while you don't have be a salesperson, having some level of social skills and the ability to work with clients makes a big difference. Unfortunately I know a lot of computer programmers who would sooner stick a red hot poker in their ear than have to deal with clients or management.
  • Can be nice (Score:5, Informative)

    by lotaris ( 34307 ) * on Thursday October 14, 2010 @02:00PM (#33897736)

    If you're not tied to the high-density lifestyle, making the change can be nice. I had a 20 year career in Silicon Valley and moved my family to the "boonies". Well, the suburbs of a small city in "flyover territory".

    Housing is much cheaper ( 1/3 the cost), don't have the same crime or traffic. Energy is cheaper, groceries a little less. Much less "foot of government" regulation on our backs here. Taxes are comparable (by %).

    Where we are, people are generally friendly. An hour to river-rafting or snow skiing, depending on the season. (we have actual seasons). Wide open spaces. Good schools. Surprisingly good food of all kinds.

    On second thought, it's horrible here. You wouldn't like it. Trust me. Stay on the coasts.


    • we have actual seasons

      Never saw that as an advantage. Everyone I know from "season" country has winter horror stories. My sister lived in a Chicago suburb for a few years, and has pins in her leg as a souvenir.

      • That's the whole point, to have stories to brag about when it's time to one-up others :).

    • by alen ( 225700 )

      i hear people in NJ and NYC burbs have $400 a month heating bills in the winter. gotta love them seasons

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        That's got a lot to do with really old and poorly insulated houses. I live in Boston, I've had two apartments with oil heat. One came out to $350-$400 a month, one was more like $170 a month. Now I'm on LNG and pay $50/month.

        Our seasons out here do suck, don't get me wrong, but a lot of our homes could be more efficiently insulated.

    • Re:Can be nice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by boristdog ( 133725 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @02:32PM (#33898208)

      On second thought, it's horrible here. You wouldn't like it. Trust me. Stay on the coasts.

      Umm...yeah! What he said. It's AWFUL out here living on a little farm and getting to do whatever the hell you want. Why, you have to travel a couple hours to get to a modest-sized city. You city folk would hate it here. Stay where you are.

    • by Xoltri ( 1052470 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @03:04PM (#33898680)
      "I love seasons. That's why I live in a place that skips the shitty ones". - Daniel Tosh.
    • by antdude ( 79039 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @03:09PM (#33898774) Homepage Journal

      How about hi-tech services like affordable, fast and stable Internet broadband services? Cellphone/Wireless, etc.?

    • Re:Can be nice (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Paul Fernhout ( 109597 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @03:32PM (#33899148) Homepage

      Here is a related book that talks about moving from city to country, including like (for some people) making money on selling a house in the city and then buying cheaper in the country: "Life After the City: A Harrowsmith Guide to Rural Living" by Charles Long. Although it also suggests it may often be a one way trip if city real estate prices keep going up (but the recent bubble has changed those dynamics).

      We live in the NY Adirondack Park, which is pretty rural, although we live in the wimpy part closer to shopping. :-) Mostly we made the move because my wife grew up in a rural area and liked it. Also, living in an intact forest ecosystem means things like ticks and poison ivy are much less of a problem than in more disturbed areas. I grew up in a suburb that really was more like a town, and there are parts I do miss about that. But cheaper housing costs (especially, at the time, cheaper land costs) were a major factor -- in our case, by living frugally we'd have to work less and have more time for FOSS projects etc.. And while we could have picked lots of rural areas, there were also family reasons we picked this area (to be closer to a sibling).

      Since we moved, we had a kid so that's absorbed much of the time we thought we'd otherwise have for free software (especially as we are choosing to homeschool -- despite it being an OK school district with smallish classes -- for all the reasons people like John Holt and John Taylor Gatto and others talk about). But, it was good we were not on a two income treadmill when we had a kid so we could spend more time together, where otherwise one income mainly goes to pay the higher costs of school taxes and related higher mortgages to be in a "good" school district and so on (so, if both people don't like their work, or your kid does not like or thrive in school, what do you get out of having your family split up during the day for financial reasons?). Related:
          http://motherjones.com/politics/2004/11/two-income-trap [motherjones.com]

      We eventually had to pay the cable company a bunch to extend the cable out to where we live to get high speed internet. Although three years or so later DSL was finally put in. I realized a while back that it probably cost the phone company more just to run two extra phone lines to our house when we moved in for dialup than to put in a DSL hub somewhere so we would not have needed the extra lines at first (but the phone company presumably had to put in the phone lines on request due to regulations but could just decide not put in DSL). Good communications really change the nature of living somewhere (for both good and bad -- visitors like the fact there is little cell phone service around here but residents would prefer to have cell phones in case of accidents etc.).

      In the case of the Adirondack Park, there is a lot of regulation, but it also has its good side (preserving a lot of the wilderness).

      Taxes can also vary a lot by county or town.

      Most people do not want to live where we are as jobs are typically an hour to an hour and a half drive away, and we have ice for a lot of the winter (plus lots of snow), and we have a month of biting blackflies and a month of lots of mosquitoes. But April and September are great months without insects and with clear air. And we can see the Milky Way on clear nights. :-) And there are a lot of great neighbors here. So, you have to take the good with the bad.

      Still, while we don't plan to move, if I were to pick a place again, now that we have a kid, ideally it would be close to someplace with a big college (like Ithaca) or at least just 15 minutes from a 50,000 person town, and so there would be more stuff to do with a kid (including more homeschool meetups) without driving a lot.

  • I did it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Combatso ( 1793216 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @02:05PM (#33897828)
    When i got in to the workforce, I lived in the city, and worked in the city... as my income grew I decided to get out of the city and make the commute. As the years passed, I grew more and more weary of the drive and decided I would seek work closer to where I was. Then since I no longer had to drive 2 hours each way, I decided to get even more rural. I can't imagine it any other way now, a traffic jam to me is being stuck behind a tractor for 5 minutes on my 20 minute commute.

    Being one of a few IT guys in my small town, people are always asking me this or that, and I am able to barter with other local pro's on getting stuff done.

    when I first moved out to nowhere, it seemed I was the one guy in town that didnt have a service to offer, now with the introduction of technology to farming, its become quite the resource. From GPS navigated harvesting to PLC controlled feeders and robotic milking machines.. There is a ton of work / money to be made. Sure its not high-finance, but its an essential service and the stress levels are almost nil. With Canada's population density, there is no shortage of rural areas.

  • WTH does it have to do with anything mentioned in that post?
  • Not a new concept (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LoudMusic ( 199347 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @02:09PM (#33897892)

    "Going rural" isn't really a new concept. For decades now anyone that's been willing to work in an area that few people are willing to work in can usually get the job pretty easily. My wife's medical class talked frequently about who was going to go work in the farming communities and make 'the big bucks' doing what no one else was willing to do. Sure you're fairly isolated from your typical peers, but those people are genuine and attempting to do real work to provide for their families. Supporting their medical, technological, mechanical, whatever, needs has to be more rewarding than supporting the bulk of urbanites who just want to get paid while they surf their favorite forum / news aggregate and wait to slowly die.

    And in many fields you get paid more in remote areas as well, due to the lack of people willing to head out there.

    • My last employer "outsourced" to rural SC and CO for its call center. I've known people who work from home for a large company doing phone support. This isn't news. This is /.
  • Can we get a new category for articles like these; "labor" or "work" for example. This is classified business, money, and IT, which are fine, but it's about a fairly specific aspect that probably matters to a lot of readers, I'd like to be able to search on it.

  • A year ago there were no IT jobs anywhere but the Washington DC metro. Yesterday a recruiter in Boston told me both coasts have recovered, but they're having real trouble finding qualified secure system engineers to fill jobs in the midwest.

  • by The Other White Meat ( 59114 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @02:54PM (#33898528)

    For years the American public has been duped into believing that our manufacturing jobs would be shipped overseas, but we would all be retrained for high tech jobs. Poor overseas workers would become richer, we'd be better trained and better paid, and everything would be a free-market utopia.


    Turns out, you can virtualize all of those servers. Host them physically somewhere like Iceland, with cheap electricity and no cooling costs, and then have them managed by for 10 rupees an hour by a systems engineer in India.

    I would suggest we all go back for more job training, but what's left? We could all become brain surgeons, but big business has half this country acting lobotomized already...

  • by rAiNsT0rm ( 877553 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @02:58PM (#33898610) Homepage

    I work in IT for a company that is located in a rural area. They started their business here and as they have grown over the years, they remain here for their HQ, even though they are global now. It's terrible. Sure the lack of traffic is nice, but that is about all.

    Here are some realities:

    1. They want you to work as if you are in some overseas sweatshop.
    2. They run beyond lean but with global reach that means essentially 12-20 hour days are the norm. No comp time.
    3. They do not attract top talent because of their location, while some want to get away from the city, many do not.
    4. They generally are looking to avoid things like unions and costs like healthcare... I was told by HR to not even use the healthcare and instead use the clinics in Walgreens, etc. (I am expected to work 50+ hours and travel like mad, and accep tthat even if I pay for healthcare I'd be better off at some pharmacy clinic for my health.)
    5. Free parking. That's another plus. FWIW.

    I've been in IT for over 15 years and the writing is on the wall, this industry has become a joke. If you value any semblance of a normal life and family it's almost impossible with 24x7 on-call, travel, running so lean there is nothing but bone, extreme pressure, slashed budgets... I could go on. I value my life and time more than a paycheck, and it's coming close to the point where I make a move out of IT and into something a bit more sane.

  • by buckeyeguy ( 525140 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @02:59PM (#33898614) Homepage Journal
    Seriously guys...

    from 5 years ago... [mnheadhunter.com]

    August 28, 2005 CrossUSA Gets National Attention I have had a few postings on the outsourcing of tech jobs to rural America, a couple of them mentioning CrossUSA. Here is a link to a SlashDot posting sourcing ABC.com. The article is standard information on CrossUSA but the conversation that follows that is very interesting.

  • by bl8n8r ( 649187 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @03:06PM (#33898734)
    You won't find a lot of democrats. Many people have, or still do, eat squirrel and don't be surprised if things close down early for the Deer season. Employee pot-lucks are common and usually the older of the female office staff have a hand in organizing things as well as cooking most of the stuff. It will be rare that you encounter co-workers with any sort of a degree. Most have gotten where they are by moving through the ranks. There are a lot of family owned businesses run in peculiar ways. Everyone knows someone who used to own a farm and had to sell it to some Corn King out of California because they couldn't compete. People are generally friendly and pretty easy-going and christmas bonuses are generally in the form of Walmart or local store-owner gift certificates. I wouldn't want to go back to it unless I had to. It's too monoculture-y for me.
  • by Stregano ( 1285764 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @03:26PM (#33899024)
    I think that the views here for some people maybe out of experience, but I figured that I would shed light on my personal experience. I went from a decent sized metro (about 400,000-500,000 population) to a huge city. In the city I used to live in, I worked for a major corporation as a programmer. I then moved to a huge city, but for a much smaller IT firm.
    I have learned from my experiences doing this (since it seems to be an almost 180 of what you guys are all talking about). I found out that in big corporations, you are only a number. Nobody cares about you except for possibly a few people you know personally in your department. It is all about the bottom line. If you can improve the bottom line, there is a good chance you will get paid more or get a promotion. Don't expect massive raises, but they will happen. Since I came from a "right to work" state, I was fired without a reason (not laid off, fired, as I am guessing it is cheaper to not offer severance or anything). In a bigger corporation, even good programmers can be fired if it helps the bottom line. A good friend of mine was a programmer in the most elite team in a major insurance company, but it was cheaper to let them all go than to pay their salaries so that they could deliver gold (I met some of the other guys on the team, they truly were insanely good).
    A smaller company is much easier to work for. You will get raises based on your performance. If you perform well, you get a nice, hefty raise. Well, that is in the one I work for. From what I have been informed, is that many smaller corporations do not really give raises. Just negotiate what you are willing to make for about 5 years and go with that. With the smaller companies (and part of this is because I have a friend that also works for a smaller company as well) there is not that huge fear of getting fired to make the bottom line.Many of these places do not really have a set time for you to show up. Come in and put in about 8 hours and then go home. Unless something you did is seriously broke, extremely little overtime (you are salary anyway, so it doesn't matter), well, unless you are a networking or systems admin guy. I am coming from a programmer background, so I am informing about that aspect. Show up when you want, leave when you want, and just do what you enjoy. I love programming, and am in a job where I truly feel like there is no stress here. I am here to program, and I love doing it.
    My friend who also works for a small company has told me countless times he is the same way.
    The only big downers of small companies is the pay. You can negotiate pay if you want, but do not expect a big raise or promotion anytime soon. In smaller companies, unless somebody leaves the company, don't expect a promotion anytime soon. It is a small place, so there is little to no room for advancement. Honestly, I guess I come from the mindset where if you are worried about advancement, maybe you picked the wrong profession. Being a programmer is an art form. It is something you need to be passionate about. If you are doing it for the money, than you missed the boat by about 5-10 years. Be a business major instead if you just want money. I am being honest. If you truly enjoy being a programmer, enjoy it.
    I would not say find a small town, find a small business. I have an incredibly night life where I live (and for a single 28 year old, it is great). There are lots of bigger cities with a lower cost of living. You are on /., so I will let you google yourself to find the results, but the city where I live in, I pay about $900 a month for rent and all utilities (also counting high speed internet) and live in a 822 square foot, one bedroom apartment. For an apartment that size, $900 is not bad for everything. I also live near the south and near the west coast, so I am not going to get gouged for heating bills. My electricity bill is probably not the best, but I am nerd and have alot of electronics plugged in, so that cost would be close to the same anywhere.
    A small business is the way to go if you love being a programmer. I say this from personal experience
  • by Sedated2000 ( 1716470 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @03:37PM (#33899252)
    If you were raised in a large city, chances are you will prefer to stay there and will think of all sorts of terrible things about the rural areas. Same situation if you were raised in a rural place. It's purely a matter of preference. Some people like to be in densely populated areas, walking everywhere. They prefer no yard to keep up, the many different cultures around (although I might argue that to see most of those cultures you have to go to the part of the city that they live in, I.E. Chicago's Little Italy, Little Mexico, Little Korea, the "black" part of town). In the rural areas, you get lots of space cheaply, lower crime, traffic, when you drive where you choose there is always easy and free parking. This is just how it is. People almost always prefer what they were raised on, and getting them to change is nigh on impossible.
  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Thursday October 14, 2010 @04:11PM (#33899754)
    I've been to the Hinterlands and boy is it boring. My level 80 Warrior rusted his armor crying in lonliness.
  • by funwithBSD ( 245349 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @05:37PM (#33900932)

    out in the boonies.

    Dubuque comes to mind. I spent a week out there.

    Quite frankly, it was kinda nice. Downtown had a decent coffeshop or two (no Starbucks!), and there was 2 bars visible from almost any street corner, and 3 bowling alleys. Food options were a bit limited, but everywhere I went was quite good, especially the steaks.

    Heck, I don't think 3 are left in Sacramento now that Crestview closed!

    One other interesting note: the local Holiday Inn where I stayed rolled out the well drinks cart, plus free beer and "wine", and let us have at every evening. Now THAT was proof I was not in Cali anymore.

    I could have moved and got a promotion and a raise... but I turned it down. My wife would not move. A native San Diego girl, frozen water belongs in glasses and paper cones, not piled man high in streets.

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it is too dark to read.