SPUG: Living in Seattle

jerry gay jerry.gay at gmail.com
Tue Aug 9 07:14:08 PDT 2005

On 8/8/05, Jacinta Richardson <jarich at perltraining.com.au> wrote:
> G'day everyone,
> I'm visiting this list in hope to ask you for some advice.
> My husband and I run a very successful business in Australia (Perl Training
> Australia) and have not been looking to work for anyone else.  Our business
> allows us great control over what we do, when we do it and how long we spend
> on it.  Our commute to work is generally short and life is great.
> My husband has just been offered a job (out of the blue) in Seattle which is a
> loooong way away from Melbourne, Australia.  The company is willing to cover
> costs of moving and would provide health insurance as well.  I *presume* that
> they'd be willing to either provide me a job as well or help me find one.  As my
> expertise is similar to my husband's, that shouldn't be too hard.
congrats to your husband on the job offer. 
assuming you can get through the border ;) america is a very nice place.

> Any job offer would have to be extremely compelling for us to give up our
> wonderful business and life-style, but we're open to considering what compelling
> might be.
> So... although we currently are thinking that we'd rather not take it, I was
> hoping for some general advice on what kind of things we should consider?  I
> also have some questions.
moving overseas for work (or any reason) is often a difficult
desision, and i have gone through this process. five years ago i was
working and living in new york, and was offered work in london, so i
understand your position. i decided against the move, and quit my job
to start my own consulting business. i've never looked back, that's
the best business decision i've ever made.

> What are the living costs in Seattle?
housing is expensive in seattle, but many other things are not. my
wife and i moved from philadelphia, where the housing is cheaper, but
taxes are much higher. for example, in seattle there is no state,
county, or local income tax. there is only sales tax (~9%.) in
philadelphia, there is state income tax (~3%), local (1%), and if you
live *or work* in philadelphia, there is a 4% income tax. also,
there's a 7% sales tax there... so it adds up. here, we're blissfully
free of those burdens.

> Is there any public transport?  (neither of us drive at the moment).
the transit system is good, but not excellent. there are plenty of
commuters in seattle who do not drive. many choose to take a bike--my
wife bikes 10k each way to the university where she works. if the
weather is terrible or her bike is unavailable, she'll use the buses.

> What kind of living options are there?  At the moment we have a 3 bedroom house
> with a big back yard, vegie garden and chooks.  Are we likely to find ourselves
> pent up in a shoebox in Seattle?
we moved from a 130yr old 4 bedroom farmhouse with 1/3 acre in the
suburbs, to a 95yr old 4 bedroom craftsman in the city. we do not have
much land, but we do plan to add a veggie garden next year.

> Is Seattle vegetarian friendly?  What are restaurant prices like?
seattle is extremely vegitarian friendly, as is most of the west coast
here. fresh produce is easy to find, and most neighborhoods have
farmers markets weekly throughout the spring, summer, and fall. also,
there are many, many restaurants with a full range of prices.

oh, and if you eat fish (some veggies do, like my sister,) the fish
here is *spectacular*.

> What's crime like?  We rarely have drive-by shootings in Australia, and when
> they do occur it's the talk of the news for weeks!  In fact, any shooting in
> Australia is talked about on the news for weeks.  I know Seattle isn't New York
> and I presume New York isn't as bad as Law & Order makes it out to be.   But how
> friendly is Seattle?
don't worry too much about crime here--seattle isn't an island of
criminals or anything :)
i come from new york ;) (which isn't as bad as law & order portrays,
anyway. the major crime in seattle is car-related (but not drive-bys.)
car radios are stolen, cars are stolen for parts, etc. there are
shootings in america, and in seattle, but i don't know much about that
because i don't watch the news on tv.

> If we were to go over there we'd be doing programming work for a big, well-known
> company.  I suspect that our current 30 hour weeks would go back to being 60
> hours or more.  In Australia a lot of jobs are heavily unionised and workplace
> laws ensure things like minimum holiday leave: 20 days/year etc.  What kind of
> things are granted by law in Seattle?  What would you suggest we make sure gets
> added to our contract?
the usual work week here is 40 hours, and if you're a contractor, many
places will not pay overtime. as an employee, though, the work culture
may demand you sometimes work overtime (usally without pay--this is a
question best asked of those at the company under consideration if

most places in the usa offer three weeks vacation (some only offer
two,) and there's usually some number of sick days & personal days
(two forms of unscheduled vacation.) all total up to somewhere between
20-25 days, depending. vacation time is something that can often be
negociated in a contract, however few people attempt it. you're
probably in a position to do so, and i suggest you take best
advantage, as there are so many wonderful things to see in the pacific
northwest, you'll want to spend a lot of time away from work :)

> What's a fair wage for a highly skilled Perl programmer, who is obviously good
> enough to be brought from overseas?
this is a difficult question to answer without details about the
position. if you want to do your own research, the major job sites in
the usa are http://monster.com, http://hotjobs.com, http://dice.com,
and there's always http://jobs.perl.org

> I've heard that SPUG is very active, so what socialising options are there for
> Perl programmers in Seattle?
i'm usually up for a pint, and my wife and i often go hiking and
exploring. i've found seattle to be a city where it's quite easy to
meet new folks and build a circle of friends. my wife and i moved here
in march 2005, and we feel well settled. spug has a monthly technical
meeting, and occasional other meetings (like a 4hour mod_perl tutorial
last night, because stas bekman was in town.)

> Thankyou for your help.
you're welcome! i'd be happy to provide more detail on any topic you
wish, and i'm sure some other folks here will offer the same. good
luck in your decision making process!

>         Jacinta
> --
>    ("`-''-/").___..--''"`-._          |  Jacinta Richardson         |
>     `6_ 6  )   `-.  (     ).`-.__.`)  |  Perl Training Australia    |
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