I'm feeling very stagnant in my current position and I'm thinking about making a drastic change. I wanted to bounce this idea around to see if anyone had any advice, and it'd be great to see if anyone has any first hand experience in that city.
I've lived in Seattle for about nine years. I grew up on Long Island and went to college (English major) in upstate New York. Growing up on Long Island is exactly as bad as you think it would be, which is why it was so refreshing to go to school in the middle of the woods upstate. I moved to Seattle after college because I didn't really know what was next. I had some family that lived in Seattle a long time ago, and some friends of friends that spent a lot of time in the city and its surrounding areas. Everyone had nothing but positive things to say, so I took a chance on a cross country move. I got on a plane with a duffle bag, got off the plane and checked into the hostel downtown and looked for an apartment. Once that was sorted it was find a job to pay the bills. The job was manager of a sporting goods store and it was mostly fine.
After two years of mostly fine, I got the bug again. I went to South Korea for a year, teaching English to kids. It was a great year, but Seoul wasn't home. Home was Seattle at this point. I came home after one year away. I worked as an ESL teacher at a few schools around the city for about 18 months before realizing I wasn't really cut out to be an ESL teacher. A friend of mine is a house painter and he said I could work with him until I figured things out. And now I've been a house painter for just over five years.
During those five years I met a great girl. We moved in together. We got engaged. Things didn't work out and she left. I've tried dating but I'm not really interested. I wanted to include all the above history as context.
So now I'm left feeling as though I'm not really moving forward. Seattle is an amazing city, full of amazing things, but it is also amazingly expensive. I actually make decent money, decent enough for a house painter. But I also live by myself, with almost 65% of my income going to rent alone. So I can't really afford to take part in all the amazing things that are happening all around me. And my rent is BELOW the average for comparable apartments (and believe me, its nothing special). Seattle is of course a tech mecha, but this means that non tech people are getting increasingly priced and pushed out of the city, and people with physical, blue collar jobs are looked at with all but open disdain by all the new people working for the tech companies. Also, even if I was making bonkers money (yes, there are those out there in construction that make bonkers money, and my experience is that they are always shady as hell), the fact is that my job is a lower case j job and not a capital C Career. I don't have any medical benefits whatsoever, no sick leave, no vacation. There are no long term prospects, no possibilities. No stability or security. If there are no jobs booked, then I don't work, and then I stay awake at night panicking.
I know I need a change, a job with more stability. The problem is that it would be very difficult for me to make that transition: a new job that I could get wouldn't pay me enough to cover my bills, and my resume is frightfully light in regards to those well paying tech jobs. And I'm not even sure that I'd want a tech job if I could get one. I'm more or less working a job I don't like simply because doing otherwise wouldn't be financially feasible.
It seems clear that a move would do me good, and I have somewhat of a history of just picking up and heading to new places. Why have I stopped the spinning globe with my finger on Tucson? A job that I thought I might be well suited to was Customs and Border Patrol. I have a lot of misgivings about this idea: I'm a wackadoo liberal and this job definitely has the potential to run against that. I have gotten the impression that Border Patrol wants every one to know, under no uncertain terms, that "we aren't ICE, we promise. Seriously, fuck those guys" but I'm still worried. But I like working independently and in the outdoors, and job where I could stare pensively across beautiful vistas sounds like a great fit. And it's a government job, which means benefits, stability, long term prospects. And if I took the initiative and undertook additional training and certification courses I could be making literally twice what I make now in four years. In a state where, depending on location, the cost of living can be more than half what it is here in Seattle. It sounds bizarre, but I feel like there is more potential for me in Tucson than there is for me here in Seattle.
I'm formulating a plan where I could visit Tucson in June to get my feet on the ground. I've made a cursory scan of apartment listings and they are overflowing with nice, affordable options. If I spend that week there and no alarm bells go off, I could try to get an apartment. Make the drive down there with my few belongings when my lease in Seattle is up. Find a job once I'm situated. Live there for a few months and if I'm sure enough, pursue the Border Patrol.
So this is where I ask if anyone can provide any first hand experience with life in Arizona. Have you lived there? Has any of your family lived there? Visited for vacation? Whats the deal with that crazy place? Also, does this harebrained plan make any sense? Am I simply repeating my past behavior: move to a new place, get half way comfortable, stop short of making the real decisions, get antsy, and move again. If anyone has had a similar set of obstacles, I'd love to hear about it and what kinds of things you decided to do (or not do). Sorry for the long post, thanks for any insight you might have!