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Relocating

Are you considering relocating your federal career - either by your choice or by Uncle Sam? There are practical issues and concerns to think about when deciding whether or not to relocate. Others have done it while still others have not. This forum will allow for all to offer their insight, post their questions, and help each other out.

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ProspectFED  
#1 Posted : Thursday, September 02, 2010 8:06:06 AM(UTC)
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I am leaving my job in the private sector for a government job.  The good news, I have options of relocating to either Houston, Texas or St. Louis, Missouri.  I have a family of 4 kids in the 3-15 age range.  I am hoping to find a good neighborhood, good schools, and a house in the 100-120K range. 
 
I welcome your opinion. 
KJ  
#2 Posted : Thursday, September 02, 2010 9:05:49 AM(UTC)
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I spent my high school years in St. Louis and returned there for a few more years after college. 

The weather is awful.  Hot and very muggy in the summer.  Ice storms almost every winter.  Hmm... I seem to recall more than a few tornado warnings, flooding of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers regularly, and not to far from a major fault line which has been inactive since the time of Mark Twain. 

Of course the weather in Houston is probably not much better.

St. Louis is the midwest.  The folks are friendly.  Politics is more conservative than I would like, but there are plenty of liberals too.  St. Louis has neighborhoods- the Italian neighborhood is called The Hill and has wonderful groceries.  Then there is University City, which is a nice old neighborhood with plenty of street life.  The suburbs are old, but so is the city.  The city is separate from the county which causes some money issues.  There is good religious diversity so you should not have a problem finding a house of worship to your liking.  (The St. Louis Cathedral is beautiful and worth a visit no matter what your religious preferences.)

I cannot speak about the current state of the schools, but they were a mixed bag like everywhere else when I lived there.  There are several good universities in St. Louis. 

St. Louis has mass transit and a reasonably good airport.

What I loved most about St. Louis was Forest Park- the remnants of the World's Fair.  There is the Muny, an outdoor theater where you can catch Broadway shows for free.  Of course they are seats way in the back, but it is a lot of fun.  The zoo is in Forest Park and of all the zoos I have seen it remains the very best.  The art museum is in Forest Park too.  Oh, and like the zoo it is free.  The art museum has a great selection of Pre-Columbian and Native American art; like the zoo, the best I have every seen.  There are plenty of opportunities for sports too. 

I don't recall farmer's markets, but there were plenty of good local restaurants.

There are a few choices of day trips.  One of the favorite past-times of my friends was canoe trips, so there are plenty of scenic rivers.  Do a google search on "Johnson's Shut-Ins" and "Elephant Rocks."  Although it is hard to get into either park because they are so popular.  Chicago and Kansas City are not too far away either.  However, one of my biggest complaints (besides weather) was that St. Louis was really far from everything else. 

I learned about music in St. Louis- blues, folk, jazz, and rock.  St. Louis had one of the first public radio stations in the country.  I am sure the music scene is alive and thriving. 

St. Louis is a great place to raise a family.  Your teen's will complain that it is BORING, but that is the nature of being a teen. 

If you have a spouse who is looking for work, St. Louis has a diverse work force and a broad based economy.

Oh, and did I say that it has a great news paper?  The St. Louis Post Dispatch is a great asset.

You should be able to find a decent house at the top of your range, but that is a guess because I have not lived in St. Louis for many years.  But, as you can see, I remember it fondly.

martyb  
#3 Posted : Thursday, September 02, 2010 11:48:37 AM(UTC)
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You might want to take look at the locality pay for the Houston area, if you haven't already.  It's pretty high, one of the highest in the country, and that doesn't mean housing costs are high there.  They're not.  I'm about 100 miles north of Houston.  I like this part of the country, but I'm a little partial, I suppose.  If we knew where you're relocating from, it would be easier to help with making the call.  Just based on having lived in Texas for a total of 16 years, and only having driven through St. Louis a few times, but having lived a little north of there so somewhat familiar with what the winters can be like, I vote for Texas.
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spence  
#4 Posted : Thursday, September 02, 2010 1:11:28 PM(UTC)
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My opinion is that you can't go wrong moving to either city! 

I lived in St. Louis one summer, and fell in love with the sense of strong neighborhoods there despite some parts of the city (north St. Louis) being in decline, with abandoned houses.   There's a real sense of community and neighborliness in St. Louis.  Watching July 4th fireworks under the Arch with thousands of other people is amazing!  Echo all the praise for Forest Park as well.  I have relatives in Houston who I visit every year so I also love Houston! 

Houston is a big city, a much bigger city than St. Louis (but Houston is not built up like an East Coast big city, it's sprawled out), and very international and multiracial.  St. Louis is less international, predominantly African-American and white.  Both have lots of museums and cultural things.  Houston has a huge mall called the Galleria.  You can probably find good schools in either place, although housing would probably be more expensive that you want in neighborhoods that would feed into those good schools.   A good high school I have heard of in Houston that family went to is Bellaire High School, which is a magnet school so it's not solely based on residence.   Rice University and UH being in Houston, are like Washington University and SLU being in St. Louis, so there are "college vibe" areas in both cities too.  Politically, Houston and St. Louis are similar -- solidly Democratic in most of the city proper, more conservative in the suburbs.  Texas doesn't have a state income tax, I don't know about Missouri.  However, Texas homeowner insurance and property tax tends to be more expensive.

Tough choice, but again, I don't think you can go wrong!
spence2010-09-02 21:36:38
hoskjo  
#5 Posted : Thursday, September 02, 2010 1:34:31 PM(UTC)
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Houston (28.28%) has a higher locality pay that St. Louis (falls under rest of U.S. category at 13.86%) and there are some nice neighborhoods in the surrounding areas.  Katy and Cypress are nice areas with excellent schools.  The cost of living in the Houston area is fairly cheap.  You can get a very nice house in the 120's and there is no state tax, vehicle tags are fairly inexpensive.  The weather is hot and humid and there is the occassional hurricane..but if you live far enough north it isn't a huge issue.  Like Spence said there is Rice University as well as University of Houston, University of Texas Medical and a couple hours up the road are University of Texas, Texas A&M and Baylor Univesity.  Has a lot to offer.

Knight  
#6 Posted : Thursday, September 02, 2010 8:28:43 PM(UTC)
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According to the cost of living website I use
 
 
St Louis is a bit cheaper then Houston but that is why there is a locality pay difference.
 
According to the website.

Housing is the biggest factor in the cost of living difference.

Housing is 27% cheaper in St. Louis.

 
jhxetc  
#7 Posted : Friday, September 03, 2010 12:58:16 AM(UTC)
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I've never been to St. Louis and I've only visited Texas, but I absolutely LOVE Texas. I took a job overseas, but if I hadn't I'd have my sights on Texas. 
Emplate  
#8 Posted : Friday, September 03, 2010 2:11:06 AM(UTC)
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I lived in St Louis for 4 years during high school.  It is far from the boring place people think about when a state like Missouri comes up.  Commuting into the city from the suburbs is easy and areas like West County have great schools and plenty to do.  As was mentioned before University City is also very nice if you want to be closer to downtown.  The zoo and science center are free and there are many events that take place at the Arch.  
Knight  
#9 Posted : Friday, September 03, 2010 4:17:17 AM(UTC)
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Does STL still allow vets into the games for free?
cloudnine  
#10 Posted : Friday, September 03, 2010 4:25:22 AM(UTC)
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Go to Texas. No snow, higher pay, better colleges for in-state tution.
TER  
#11 Posted : Friday, September 03, 2010 9:47:27 AM(UTC)
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Come to Texas.  Fire ants, hurricanes, and way too many illegal aliens.
Coolas70degrees  
#12 Posted : Friday, September 17, 2010 12:33:35 AM(UTC)
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I was stationed and lived in Texas for a few years, I now live in St. Louis.  I can say this the past summer was so humid, I've never experienced anything like it.
 
I would imagine the 100-120k would go further in Missouri than in Houston.  St. Louis' crime rate is through the roof, we were recently rated as the 2nd worst city in the country in terms of crime. Something to keep in mind.
KJ  
#13 Posted : Friday, September 17, 2010 4:08:09 AM(UTC)
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Coolas70degrees wrote:
...I now live in St. Louis.  I can say this the past summer was so humid, I've never experienced anything like it...


Yep, sounds just like St. Louis.  Did you believe you could swim through the air?  Winter is no better with regular ice storms.  The weather is terrible. 

On the other hand, the people are nice, the cost of living is bearable, and there is plenty to see and do. 

No place is perfect and every place has its beauty.
ryee925  
#14 Posted : Friday, September 17, 2010 12:13:30 PM(UTC)
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Htown. Suburbs are great. Cost of living is low compared to alot of other big cities. Really depends where you're working because traffic can be pretty bad at times (but nothing like other cities).

Houston really has alot to offer and  has alot to do.

Victorious1  
#15 Posted : Sunday, September 19, 2010 11:00:09 PM(UTC)
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I'm a midwestern gal, so i say STL!  I'm not sure if you're used to cold climates, so if not, that might be a deciding factor.  the cost of living in the STL area is pretty cheap, and I think your dollars may stretch farther in STL.  Keep us posted on where you decide to live, and best wishes to you and four family!  moving can be exciting, and stressful at the same time :)
martyb  
#16 Posted : Monday, September 20, 2010 2:22:34 AM(UTC)
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Victorious1 wrote:
I'm a midwestern gal, so i say STL!  I'm not sure if you're used to cold climates, so if not, that might be a deciding factor.  the cost of living in the STL area is pretty cheap, and I think your dollars may stretch farther in STL.  Keep us posted on where you decide to live, and best wishes to you and four family!  moving can be exciting, and stressful at the same time :)
 
 
Does St. Louis have a city income tax?  I know that Kansas City used to have one, not sure if they still do.  With all the other taxes we're hit with, I'd sure hate to add yet another one, just to live in a certain city.  I've never paid a city income tax before, but a friend who move to TX from KC years ago told me about it.
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troy12n  
#17 Posted : Monday, September 20, 2010 2:33:26 AM(UTC)
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Texas has one other thing going for it: No state income tax.

I dont like Texas and would never live there outside of  maybe Austin or College Station, but only if I had to. The climate is oppressive in the summer and while it dont snow a lot, it does in some parts of the state, not sure about Houston.

Coolas70degrees  
#18 Posted : Wednesday, September 22, 2010 9:47:46 PM(UTC)
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KJ wrote:
Coolas70degrees wrote:
...I now live in St. Louis.  I can say this the past summer was so humid, I've never experienced anything like it...


Yep, sounds just like St. Louis.  Did you believe you could swim through the air?  Winter is no better with regular ice storms.  The weather is terrible. 

 
I leave at 5 am to catch the Metro into work and when I leave my house, it feels like I'm walking into a sauna. At 5 AM!!!!!
 
The weather is going to take some time to adjust to.
Coolas70degrees2010-09-24 05:11:13
martyb  
#19 Posted : Wednesday, September 22, 2010 11:16:34 PM(UTC)
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troy12n wrote:
Texas has one other thing going for it: No state income tax.

I dont like Texas and would never live there outside of  maybe Austin or College Station, but only if I had to. The climate is oppressive in the summer and while it dont snow a lot, it does in some parts of the state, not sure about Houston.
 
I lived in & around Austin for 15 yrs.  It used to be nice, but it's grown way too much for me.  Some of the smaller towns outside Austin are good.  Never lived in Houston, but I currently live & work 100 miles north of Houston.  Houston & that area are in the nicely wooded east TX area, and are also of course not far from the Gulf Of Mexico, which has great fishing & other beach/ocean related activities (yes, including occaisional hurricanes).   There area also is has many lakes & other outdoor recreational outlets.   Just like with Austin, you can find some nice towns & communities outside of Houston.  You don't have to live inside the city if you don't want to...I wouldn't want to because I HATE traffic.  As far as the weather...I'd say "oppressive" is a personal thing.  To me, Florida weather is oppressively humid, more so than any I've encountered in Texas, and also the mosquitoes & little flies that bite you are everywhere.  I've never been anyplace, besides possibly some parts of Alaska, where the mosquitos were so numerous.  I remember well trying to fish in the bays in NW Florida and being eaten up by little black flies.  They were terrible.  Everyplace has something about it that you might not like.... Personally, I'm an outdoors type person, who loves the water, so being near the ocean, and having fantastic freshwater fishing all around me too, is a huge plus.  It just depends on what you're looking for.  Again...my vote would be Houston.  As stated above, TX has no income tax, the same as several other states.  Dont' forget though, that when a state has no income tax, they must raise revenues some other way, such as through property taxes, gas taxes, higher sales taxes etc.  It all works out in the long run.
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