25 May 2007

(Where) Do We Go from Here?

As C gets ready to enter his last year as an indentured servant, we have been doing a lot of research on where we want to move. Given that C teaches (and teaches math and ESL at that!), we know that there will be available jobs all over the country. It’s really a baffling thought: we can move anywhere we want. We just have to narrow it down. I basically ruled out the entire deep south due to climate. We ruled out Seattle, New York, Chicago, and all of California due to high housing costs. We ruled out Alaska and Hawaii due to distance. And we ruled out most of the midwest due to the fact that it’s just too boring there. That still leaves a lot of potential places.

We always thought, “Of course we’ll move; we can’t afford to stay here.” But now we’re not so sure. We’re learning that C’s current school district has some definite plusses.

  • First, the pay. This has to matter. C will make more as a second-year teacher than a lot of teachers in other states will EVER make. This is huge.
  • Second, the work of the union. Being in a liberal state means that C has very strong union representation. His teachers' union has negotiated nearly 5% yearly increases for the next three years, in addition to the usual step increases. So not only is his salary relatively high right now, by school year 2009 (only two years from now), he will be making 130% of his current salary. Amazing.
  • Third, the benefits. Oooh, the benefits. Our (my) previous number one choice for place to live is (was) Fort Collins, Colorado. Their pay isn’t great, but it’s about average and the housing is affordable. However, some research told us that the health insurance through the district costs the employee over $500 a month for the employee and the employee’s family. The costs for a school district in Denver were over $1,000 per month. How do these districts expect employees who are making slightly over $36,000 a year afford insurance at those costs?! Compare that to our current school district: when we have kids, our insurance will be a whopping $80 per month. And that’s for everyone and everything: health, prescription, dental, and vision. Unbelievable.
  • Fourth, next year he’ll have three prep periods. THREE. This mean he’s only teaching four classes per day. Compare this to Utah, who “generously” gave their teachers pay raises in exchange for increasing their teaching load to seven periods a day, with no prep classes. It’s almost embarrassing.

Those of you who know me will definitely know how depressed this makes me. But I just can’t ignore these facts. The only stumbling block to staying here would be the housing market. If things continue as they are, it’s quite possible we would be able to afford something fairly close, even as close as Baltimore. Just something we’re going to have to think about.


Megan said...

It sounds like it will be a hard decision. My mother-in-law says that no matter where you live you end up doing the exact same things on a regular basis, so it doesn't really matter where you live. I realize it would be nice to be closer to family, but the world is growing smaller by the day and you have to think about the financial benefits for your family. Health benefits are always at the top of my list in terms of importance. When Ellie was born she had some complications and a 3 week stay in the NICU. When I got the bill, my jaw dropped. But, because of your benefits, we did not pay a dime of her $173,000 bill. Some how I don't think us having lived closer to family with no benefits would have made up for that.
I'm a bit offended by the "boring" comment, but I will overlook it this time. To be honest I've lived in the east and the west and I LOVE the midwest - and housing is affordable. But that is a personal preference.
Good luck.

emily said...

as i would LOVE you guys here, those are pretty strong reasons to stay. and, hey, it just means that we get to go visit each other's families in "exotic" places. not too bad, i guess????

p.s. why do i always have to do a "word verification" when i want to post a comment???

Deanna said...

Where to settle down is the question that Todd and I are always asked and we have absolutely NO clue where we want that to be. We've lived in many different areas and there are definitely benefits and negatives to all of them. I used to feel like that about the midwest, but now that I am actually living here, I have to totally disagree. We feel like we've had more to do this year than we've had time for, and this particular area is absolutely gorgeous. I know there are lots of other parts that aren't that pretty, but I have also found in my life that you can be happy living anywhere if you have the attitude that you will love it. When it comes down to it, as long as I'm with my family (Todd & kids) I can be happy living anywhere. Being able to buy a house was a HUGE part of why we interviewed in so many places here in the midwest though. That's very important to me right now at this stage of our life.

Good luck!

Niederfam said...

All I have to say is St. Louis heart of the midwest, okay, gateway to the west, but whatever...... ALWAYS will have a special place in my heart....I LOVED it. But as for the benefits of a good teaching gig, you better run with those....TOUGH call, you'll make the right move....pun intended, aren't I clever....:) STOP.

linda said...

I know you have ruled out the south, but seriously, it rocks. Winters are the best, and really the humidity here is no worse than MD. I suggest Austin, TX. Cost of living is amazing, and I hear the pay for teachers is pretty good. Tons of spanish speaking people, and TONS of stuff to do. Can you tell I miss it!? I'd seriously move back there in a heartbeat.

erin said...

linda, thanks for the suggestion. the salaries for the austin school district aren't bad. however, like colorado, the health insurance is sky-high! for employee+family, the employee cost is $1017 per MONTH. again, how do people pay this?!?! i guess we won't be moving to austin any time soon.

linda said...

Bummer. I love Austin. Sounds like you may be stuck in MD. I remember that our health insurance was really expensive when we were there now that you mention it. So sorry. Funny how so many of us end up in places we never would have planned on.