Where to move

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    Roland Beinert

    In just three months my apartment lease runs out. I stand very little chance of getting a landscape architecture job in Moscow, ID. I would like to move to a bigger city with more LA firms and other job opportunities. Seattle would be closest. I have an uncle in Portland, who I might be able to stay with for a month or two while I search for a job. My sister just moved to LA, and it would be nice to be closer to family. I like the climate in San Diego. San Francisco has a lot of really cool firms I’d love to work for. I hear Phoenix is having a building boom at the moment. I’d rather stay out west, and would prefer a warmer climate. I realize most of these places would be expensive, but I’ve found it’s a lot harder to find jobs even in small cities like Reno and Boise, and my parents have said they will help me. Anyone have any advice for me? I need to figure out where I’m going by the end of this month, so I can let the property managers know 30 days in advance.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Your next move does not have to be permanent. You might look for where there is growth in the things that you are most qualified and/or experienced in. This is a slow profession as career building is concerned. Patience is everything.


    My understanding is that the area around DC has the most growth. You have to look for areas of growth and weigh whether or not it is viable to go there for a couple of years or not. It will be easier to get hired where you want to be when the economy heats up if you have been working in a related field than if you live in the same city and work at Walmart.


    Harness the energy of something that is already happening. … if you can find something happening.


    If LA jobs are hard to score, hit civil site planning firms, especially smaller local ones. They sometimes feel more comfortable knowing an LA doing civil site plans is not going to open a CE office across the street and you should have more plan drawing experience than a CE student coming out of school. It worked for me.


    Roland Beinert

    Hi Andrew,

    The problem is there isn’t even much in the way of related fields to work in around here. The biggest nursery around here closed. I’ve been to all the places in town that work in related fields and none of them are hiring. I’ve even hung up a few signs advertising myself as a gardener/designer. I’ve spent the last year in Moscow working for an online company called Leapforce. I still have a contract with them, but they have no work for me most of the time. If I stayed in Moscow, I probably would end up working at Walmart. I’ve been waiting patiently in Moscow, applying to every job on the ASLA website, for long enough. It’s time to get out of here.

    You’re right that DC has a lot of growth, but I’d rather not move to the other side of the country. Seattle and Los Angeles also have a lot of construction starts, according to one article I read, and they’d be easier to move to. Of course that article was from 2012. I’m not sure what the latest numbers say.

    Jason T. Radice

    I agree to “move to where the food is” to borrow an old Sam Kinnison punchline.Unfortunately, many firms seem to be in a ‘local only’ hiring mode still. DC isn’t growing all that much job-wise, and is very instable still (I hear of occasional layoffs in the AEC inudstry to this day) and the market here is very, very saturated with many, many, many involuntarily former LAs and fresh regional grads. Living in the DC market myself, I’ve been sending a great deal of resumes to Florida, California, and a number to Texas. On the west coast, LA and around San Diego seem to be where the most postings I have seen are located. It depends what your specialty is and what you want to do, as the residential market is offering many more positions than commercial/institutional, and for those you have to look for on diffferent channels than other than ASLA.

    Roland Beinert

    I’ve heard great things about Austin, and I’ve applied to jobs there. I may even have friends from Shreveport, LA (where I grew up) that moved there. Up till now my rule about places like Austin has been that I’d move there if I got a job there. At this point, though, since no job offer is involved, I think I’d prefer to stay farther west.

    I’ve come to the same conclusion you did about committing to a place. It’s reassuring to hear others say it. I’ve been cautioned before about just moving somewhere without a job, and that’s what’s been keeping me in Moscow until now.  Employers seem more cautious since the recession, so strategies for job seekers may need to change.


    Sounds like your hearts in the West and near family.  Those are the places I would venture too.  Nothing like having a support network to encourage you to get the ball rolling.  I have seen a lot of job postings for LA’s in California, and most of these were not even posted on the ASLA website.  Get to a location and focus on the market, start NETWORKING.  Don’t concentrate so much on what you might find on Monster, CareerBuilder or ASLA.  Those jobs are filled before you even start looking.  Getting lost in the cyber black hole is the most frustrating thing.  If you have a sister in LA, maybe live with her for awhile if she will let you and concentrate your efforts on that market.  Join the local ASLA chapter.  Here in Chicago they have networking events all the time I am sure the same is true in LA.  But don’t just stick with your own kind.  Seek out networking events sponsered by AIA or Civil Engineering.  Maybe just a general networking event just to get to know people.  Getting to know people and making friends will help you learn the area.  Moving in with sis might be good to begin with but maybe you don’t like where she lives.  Don’t be afraid to stretch your wings and find what works for you.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    Did Crossroads close?

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    One of my classmates from the U of I ’97 just got a job in Austin.



    The previous postings are all filled with the kind of sound and supportive advice and guidance I would offer, but why repeat it ?

    Mr. Garulay and Radice are spot on with their suggestions and I would (from recent experience) underscore Texas and principally four main cities in it where if you can re-establish yourself and aggressively form your own network ( I know rolling into any new city and knowing where to plug-in is a little intimidating, but if you make the right contacts someone or many someones will be willing to keep you in mind or refer you onward)  you have a better than decent chance of landing a position….I momentarily digress…..

    HOUSTON,  Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Austin.  The first city is where most of the hiring directly and indirectly related to our fields is and has been going on over the last six months. Yes, there are jobs open in Austin, but that is where everybody else who, if they had to live in Texas, would chose over any other, Try a more civil-oriented firm in any of those cities if conventional LA/Planning firms are not hiring. If you can add AutoCAD Civil 3D to your digital quiver of proficient skills, you will enhance your desirability greatly. Include REVIT and you can name your price.

     As you probably know by now, most of the upper and middle midwest states (Illinois,Michigan and Ohio being the exceptions) have been the least shaken up by the Great Recession. Yeah, I know, who wants to live in Omaha or Fargo, ND……….but there are jobs there and in our fields or ones directly related to it. 

    I would reverse the order of the four cities mentioned above in terms of desirability, culture, academic opportunities, recreation and the music scene. 

    I second the others statements about having to “step out of your comfort zone” and snag your first job that will give you the grounding and “hand-up” to reach the next one, perhaps in a better locale. 

    The overall employment scene in the AEC industries in our country is very spotty right now and there are no real “hotspots” where planning and design jobs abound and are going unfilled. If the so-called “housing recovery” sputters out again (there is a very high likelihood of that happening) and it turns out to be a secondary bubble/bulge that bursts…. all bets are off. 

    I hope this helps. Keeps us posted on your progress. 

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    A couple of observations that I have made about where I am and what makes things work here got me thinking and having lived and landscaped in the town that Roland is in also got me thinking.


    First, Moscow, Idaho is a great place to live and a lousy place to be a landscape architect. It is too small, the demographic does not lend itself to a strong landscape contracting or maintenance market let alone a design market, it is isolated so that you can’t work other communities effectively (except for Pullman WA which is also too small). I had to move in order to do what I wanted to do career wise. … and being two university towns (U Idaho, WSU) there are enough stuck students with LA degrees hanging around to completely kill any value you might otherwise have in that town.


    My current area of Cape Cod has unique circumstances of its own. You have a year ’round population that is largely middle to lower income and ocean front vacation properties of very wealthy people who do not live and work here. That means a lot of benefits for LAs. First, we are not dependent on the local economy or school systems to control the value of real estate on water front homes because they are owned by people in Boston, NY, DC, England, Ohio, …. (the other real estate is dependent on the local economy and is hurting). Some of these distant homeowners can no longer afford their second homes here making new opportunities for other wealthy people to scoop up a waterfront home.

    That means that there are still houses getting purchased for over a million, being razed and replaced with a couple more million being spent. Although the place is geographically small, the market demographic extends far and wide.

    It also means that the property owners are not hands on at all simply because they can’t be here. They need and want people taking control of their project, so they value and depend upon design and project management.


    Those are two key things that can be beneficial that you might want to look for in any community that you consider.

    My list would include:

    1. Is the construction/renovation market limited by the local economy?

    2. Is there inherent reasons for design and/or project magement to be valued?

    3. Is there growth and potential for more growth?

    4. How saturated is the current market for LAs or other people providing similar services?

    5. Is there any opportunity for you as an employee?

    6. Are you capable of making a living or supplementing an income by freelancing?


    Construction/revitalization/renovation can function without landscape architects. Just because there is growth does not mean that we are valued. You have to dig around to determine whether or not there are a lot of indicators that the market values (willingly and wantingly pays for) what you do. You can’t just go on the premise that we should be valued, but whether we actually are valued.


    Where I live, there are a ton of design/build landscape contractors that most local homeowners defer to for design. Fortunately, some value design more than others and some work can be had for an LD or LA. Boston/Cambridge LA firms now work this market pretty hard as well. Local LAs and LDs are either very small or one person offices, so there is not much in the way of employment opportunity (I know, I’ve been trying to get a good LA job here for since ’98).


    The other personal experience that I have had here is that you can’t just hand a shingle and get a web page and expect to get any work. It takes a while to build a network and local knowledge to even sound like you know what you are doing. I have to believe that would be the same no matter where you go.


    The biggest question that I’d have is are you looking for a specific opportunity to settle for a career or a place to advance until those other opportunities come up?


    I believe that the longer you stay in one place, the bigger your network grows, and the more solid a foundation you are building to get to do what you want to do as long as that opportunity exists where you are. I’m guessing that Moscow does not have that now and is unlikely to have it in the future. Go to where it is and build your way up to take that opportunity whether it is a direct route or you come in sideways. You are going to need patience and persistence.


    First, if you’re using your real name, you’re not shining a very positive light on yourself for employers to see. You have to realize that we are in a very small profession. There just aren’t a zillion LAs out there, so it’s pretty easy to recognize one another and form impressions. I’m just going to give it to you straight. In this thread you appear whiny and defeated IMO. I understand how you feel because in the last 5 years or so, I’ve felt whiny, defeated and even desperate myself at times. But as the expression goes, “Never let them see you sweat”. You’re a smart guy that has a degree in landscape architecture. During normal times you would have been quickly snatched up by an LA firm, so YOU HAVE VALUE. Don’t project yourself as a charity case because it turns off potential employers. Just because you don’t see who the business owners are on Land8 doesn’t mean that their not tuning in from the shadows.

    Normally I would suggest that you get the job then relocate, but employers are receiving stacks of resumes right now. Probably one of the first things they do to streamline the review process is throw out the candidates who aren’t local.

    I suggest you expand the area in which you are willing to work. Even during the “good times” some of us had to go to some of the more undesirable places to find good work. I even moved to Kansas because I was offered a job as a land planner there at an engineering firm. I made that move because it was good for my career, not because had an affinity for the Great Plains. It’s about remaining a student and continuing to grow as a professional. Even though I soon learned that I sucked as a land planner and didn’t enjoy doing it, I learned skills in Kansas that helped me pass the LARE and to become a real AutoCAD operator. Hell I even recently entertained the thought of relocating to Alberta, Canada because I received a job offer there. The only reason I didn’t accept it is because they weren’t offering enough money to make it worthwhile for me to shut down my business, have my wife quit her job and head for the frozen tundra. In this business sometimes you have to do what you have to do to stay in it.

    That said, if I were a young person trying to get established in the profession, I would be on my way to either to North Dakota or Houston as landplanner suggests. There’s money flowing and most people aren’t attracted to either of those places. Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and San Diego would be last on my list. Seriously what young LA doesn’t want to work in those cities doing waterfront parks, hiking/bike trails, urban plazas and other primo projects? There will be a lot less competition for jobs designing strip malls in ND and McMansions for design/build firm in H-Town. I’d probably take Houston because you can get a nice apartment for little money there. I heard folks are sleeping in their cars while working in the oil fields in northeastern ND because of the housing shortage, but if that’s what it takes…

    Anyway, I wish you nothing but the best. If you land a position at a big name firm in Seattle or SF- that would be great, but if a small design/build firm that does good work in Cleveland, Detroit or Baltimore offers you a job, you’d be smart to take it. 


    I design subdivisions, master planned communities, and town centers in Houston, which is my dream job.  Things are booming down here, far more so than my native Chicagoland.  Houston is the fourth largest city in the county, and likely the third after the recent census.  I will admit we have a very long way to go, and there is still a very obvious lack of open space systems.  Comparing Houston to North Dakota is comparing apples to galoshes.  


    Denver, hands down…it’s a Portland, Oregon on steroids..Golf courses galore, parks for days, bike trails emphasized..Lived here 9 months and there have been over 25 ads for landscape architect specific jobs since September 2012..sunny 9 more months a year than seattle/Portland..thus, people are outdoors all the time and tend to be more apt to appreciate (aka spend money) on the idea of spending money on exterior spaces..I’ve lived in seattle, Portland (grew up there), Spokane, Orlando and boston so I would like to think I have a decent perspective:)…lots of landscape designer positions too but more of the sales commission variety ‘combination’ here..

    Roland Beinert

    I like Denver a lot, although I haven’t been there in several years. I had the Colorado ASLA job openings page bookmarked for a long time. Last year there were tons of jobs listed there. Part of my problem is I like too many of these places, but I have to keep narrowing down my list.

    I just want to make it clear that I’ve spent the last year applying to jobs all over the country, including Dallas, Houston, the Denver area. It’s not that I haven’t seriously considered these places and tried to find jobs in all of them. The reason I’m not including places like Houston and DC on my list has more to do with the distance I would have to move. It’s too far to go without a job lined up. At this point I’ve pretty much settled on a region, anyway. 


    “Comparing Houston to North Dakota is comparing apples to galoshes.”

    Although my intent wasn’t to make a comparison between the two places, the obvious similarities between Northeastern ND and Houston would be cowboy culture, the large numbers of employed people there and the oil industry itself, humidity and skyscrapers not so much. I’m sorry what is your point sir? 

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