Not arguing the money aspect, but there are other priorities as well, and I'm a bit tired of the assumption that money trumps all, always. So go ahead and think your smarter based on where you move, and I'll just keep enjoying where I'm at...
This is about tracking "business formation as well as employment and education in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics"
There was no call to move there, or statement that they are better places. But surely there is something interesting and possibly something to learn about by looking at migrations of people, especially STEM companies and employees.
Personally, as a software engineer in Colorado, I wouldn't trade locations either. But that's because of the things CO has to offer - incredible outdoor recreation, 300 days of sunshine, mild winters, decently competitive salaries, affordable cost of living (on an engineer salary at least), and a culture where people prioritize being well-rounded as individuals instead of allowing work to dominate their lives.
Now, the article's headline "The Smartest Americans Are Heading West" is definitely a generalization, but the migration patterns of people shouldn't be dismissed as simple "money-seeking" - one reason trumping all the others fails to address the complexity innate to big personal decisions like choosing where to live.
What we should be asking is WHY people who fit the "smartness" criteria described in the article are deciding to move West - and then using that information to make informed policy decisions elsewhere.
So in other states, people have to use technologies they dislike, and work with people they dislike? Sounds dreadful.
Boulder County includes almost all of Longmont (a city of ~90k in which I reside) as well as another 100k+ in smaller towns and unincorporated areas; that's all Boulder County, but the majority of that is not considered part of Boulder the city.
- snow/cold (however its the mildest you will find for a place that gets snow). But snow is snow if you don't like it
-if you are from the coasts (say CA) you may not dig the politics - mainly b/c its not a one sided echo chamber like I find CA to be. I found it to be a decent mix of both major parties. Some may not like this, but personally I found it refreshing.
- no oceans - land locked
- fairly isolated... besides Denver there are not a lot of large cities around to easily travel to. But the counterpoint to this is that DIA is a major airport with lots of flight options.
- public transportation is not really great - you will need a car, especially in the winter. But it is better than many major US cities (US public transportation is pretty awful in general anyway). This is one area I really wish CO would do a bit of forward thinking on building this out quickly now before it becomes CA bay area/LA. It is disconcerting considering that it would be fairly easy to accomplish since most of the populous cities in CO are located in a straight line North/South along the mountain range. Ideal for a high speed train with east/west light rail into the city cores. But, I digress... :)
- depending on the city/area you decide to settle in, pay is not quite where it needs to be to support the quickly rising housing costs. I visit probably 1-2x per year and it is amazing the amount of growth and population surge that has occurred in the past few years. Denver is experiencing a huge boom right now and housing is not keeping up. Outside of Denver or Boulder proper I found salaries to be pretty low compared to cost of living. For instance, I lived in one of the cities mentioned in the article (Fort Collins). Although IMO a great city to live, the IT job market is horrible. It may have a high concentration of intelligent people, but many of those are stuck working at coffee shops just to live in FC. But I guess that says a lot about FC and CO , people are willing to do that to live there...
These are just a few negatives that honestly may not really be negatives to many people. Of course there is no perfect place to live - you can spend your whole life searching for that. I'd list out the positives too, but this post would get really unruly :)
I've seen this before, but never quite understood what it means- lack of a 'night life?'
Work seems to go slower here. It seems even the frantic pace of startup life takes a back seat to work life balance.
People aren't usually in a hurry on the sidewalks downtown. It can be infuriating if you have somewhere to go.
But if you are used to high stress and crappy work/life balance (or have adapted to that lifestyle) I can see how it would try your patience.
However the positive is the people in CO are the fittest in the nation due to this love of the outdoors.
So I asked somebody in a store if there was a race or something.
They looked at me funny and, no, it's just Saturday in Boulder.
Other than that, I'm not sure. Everywhere except Colorado Springs is pretty liberal, which not everyone loves. We've also gotten a lot more homeless people since weed was legalized.
- Not much diversity aside from a large Hispanic population
- Sprawl. Endless repetitive suburbs
- I've heard people from large cities complain about it being boring
- Increasingly crowded
- Hard to make long term friends. Most people seem to stay 3-5 years and then go home or elsewhere
- Food is getting better but not great
- I-70 is a shitshow. Don't be surprised when at some point it takes you 8 hours to get back from skiing on a weekend
- Lack of water, closest ocean is 1000 miles away. No big lakes
I-70 Denver to Summit county really needs a freaking train... Ugh
Go up into the mountains 15 minutes away and that is another story...
Wildfires in the foothills, but not as points near the west coast.
1) The median household income in Denver CO is $64,000. That's around 77% higher than in Altoona PA. Two locations specifically referenced in the article.
2) The opportunities that pay a lot more than that gap, do not exist to begin with in Altoona. Software, Internet, misc engineer jobs - the locations that people are fleeing from are death zones economically. Denver and Boulder are quasi boom cities; the Altoona's are the exact opposite; that means, over the next ten years your income will very likely expand nicely in those CO locations, whereas you're very unlikely to see meaningful improvement in Altoona.
3) Lifestyle is important for most people and likely that much more so for people willing to move across the country for better opportunities. Boulder and Denver are both incredible by comparison to Altoona PA, when it comes to lifestyle upgrade.
To answer your question, the people desperately fleeing from all those dying economic zones, seeking a vastly superior future, are extremely smart indeed.
> The tradeoff is that quality of life is terrible. The cities are full of petty bug people. And COL makes living standards precarious for all but the wealthy and the extremely poor (government programs). The precariousness also inhibits the formation of stable IRL (as opposed to chat group based) friend groups.
> That said, after half a decade of this I've saved enough money to go back home and use stocks, real estate, and side hustles to put down roots with a decent quality of life.
> Sometimes I feel like Odysseus on Ogygia. It's easy to be trapped in one of these hubs so long that you miss out on the chance to exit young-adulthood gracefully. (Very sad the number of friends I have who decided to start a family too late and couldn't quite make it work out).
Good luck making it to where you want to be!
It's good to remember that different people have widely varying preferences of quality of life - urban/rural, ocean/mountain/plain, wet/dry, tropical/temperate/less-temperate, etc. I'm glad not everybody wants to live in the same place!
Definitely not Longs. I guess you could drive to the top of Evans or Pikes Peak :)
Enjoy being retired in SV 2.0
The tradeoff is that quality of life is terrible. The cities are full of petty bug people. And COL makes living standards precarious for all but the wealthy and the extremely poor (government programs). The precariousness also inhibits the formation of stable IRL (as opposed to chat group based) friend groups.
That said, after half a decade of this I've saved enough money to go back home and use stocks, real estate, and side hustles to put down roots with a decent quality of life.
Sometimes I feel like Odysseus on Ogygia. It's easy to be trapped in one of these hubs so long that you miss out on the chance to exit young-adulthood gracefully. (Very sad the number of friends I have who decided to start a family too late and couldn't quite make it work out).
What does that mean?
Also what does this even mean?
The model in which masses of migrating people are too dumb to consider their own interest is less plausible than one in which a snarky internet dismissal might be failing to consider everything.
Let's say you're living in Topeka, making $75,000, you happen to own an average home with a market value of $150,000. Amazon Seattle offers you a job for $130,000. Is taking the job a better deal when the average home in Seattle is $700,000? Your $1,000 Topeka mortgage payment will quadruple consuming 50%+ of your take home pay.
Also, consider what happens to your asset value when your 150k home in Topeka grows at the normal rate there vs a 700k home growing at the rate home values are in Seattle. You could build a very nice amount of equity in the expensive market, sell it and then buy a gigantic/perfect/<insert your reqs here> house back in Topeka in cash and have no mortgage. These markets (Seattle, SF, Denver, ect.) have their appeal even if you don't care about the city life or mountains or whatever.
You need to save when you are young to take advantage of compounding interest. Don’t get caught up in the rat race.
My ideal is to directly have ownership in businesses with strong cash flow, good real estate value, citizenship and property in another country or two, and most importantly, to have the human capital of knowing the right people in government/medicine/law/etc to be able to lean on the right people when I need them.
I'm lucky enough to have a stable family so that I can afford to take risks to try to make the above happen (some of which I have made significant progress in), but I definitely don't plan on depending on my 401(k) other than as a worst case scenario.
Not to mention, after saving similar (or more) you'll own a home 5x in value.
It's not rocket science.