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rashenup 02-27-04 09:37 PM

Best location for biking/working.
Well I'm a senior in college, so that means that soon i'll be going out on my own. This also means that I'm in the midst of finding a job. And naturally I'm into biking (specifically, mountian biking of the XC variety), and I'd like to find a place where there would be a good job for a software programmer, and at the same time be close to good trails.

So my question is this: Where in the USA would you say is the best for the work/life balance of programming and biking? Obviously there's a lot more to the decision than just having good mtn biking around, but I thought it might help to pick a few brains around here =]

forum*rider 02-27-04 10:52 PM

I don't know much about the trails in other places but I think San Diego might be a place youwant to check out.

There are LOTS of computer programming companies out here. In fact, my dad works at a place called symitar(boring place, you don't want to work there) that makes programs for ATM machines and banks. I don't know if you'd be in "the heart" of silicon valley, but you would be pretty dang close.

Moonshot 02-27-04 11:04 PM

If you want to stay within a few hundred miles of home check out Asheville, NC. It's a college town with hip nightclubs and great mtn biking nearby. Don't know about the industries there though.

55/Rad 02-28-04 10:31 AM

Pacific Northwest - great for tech work and "balance of life". Seattle is better for younger single people and Portland for the more family oriented.

Oh, and the cycling doesn't suck anywhere up here.


nathank 03-02-04 01:38 AM

well, i too am a software developer and mountain biker...

in 1997 i moved from horrible Houston TX (man what a wasted 2 1/2 years of my life!!!) to Portland Oregon which was AWESOME!!!

as to places... yes, it can be a very difficult trade-off between some place that has good riding options AS WELL AS job opportunities, especially now that the job market is not what it was...

and it depends on what kind of place you like (sunny warm/forested/desert, etc)... and if you're a West Coast or East Coast person...

with the Pacific Northwest you cannot go wrong. as for reasonable job opportunities this means Portland Oregon and Seattle Washington. maybe Eugene, Corvalis, Bellingham if you're lucky and like something smaller...

i think Northern California has a lot to offer... mostly the smaller places outside of San Fran (also cool, but unfortunately over-sprawled)

SoCal (San Diego) is probably an option too, but not my style... (LA sucks)

Denver/Boulder Colorado has always been high on my list.

Salt Lake City is another option - strong job market, GREAT biking and snowboarding, cheap... but i'm not sure i could handle the conservative culture... this one keeps coming up on my list, i get all excited about it and then decide "uh uh, no way" ... one of my programmer friends from Portland is a happy skier there now (he's Mormon too)

Arizona is an option (Tucson, Flagstaff over Phoenix)... but... for me a little too little snow soprts, but i could still live there. and Phoenix kind of sucks.

otherwise most of the West is really difficult to find a job (Boise Idaho maybe but you're also VERY isolated)

oh, another option is Reno Nevada... not up to date, but the last few years it as well as Las Vegas have been growing and have lots of hi-tech... and the biking in the area is not bad... but i personally hate the sprawl of these places and they type of "tourist" that they bring (i am not a gambler) - it's kind of anti-environmental in a beautiful place which to me is "painful"

the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic are actually not bad (i lived 10 months in Massachusetts) if you look around. although there are no huge mountains and snow sports suck (maybe that's MY criteria and not yours), the Mountain Biking is actually really cool - New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts offer cool stuff... and then further south in Pennslyvania, Virgina, Carolinas is supposed to be cool stuff too (my sister lives in Philadelphia and i rode lots of trails during my last visit - it's actually not bad for biking!!) on the East Coast you have to find the right local conditions (small hills/mountains - local trails) plus fund some place not TOO sprawled (like Boston is cool but the sprawl is unreal... same with New York or DC... Phili is similar although surprizingly a little better) further south i'm not so knowledgeable, but Carolinas/Virginia have some small mountains so should have lots of trails!

i think the Southeast can offer stuff (like Georgia/Tennesee) but i just can't handle the attitudes in these states... plus i like snow sports.

without some more criteria i can't tell you. MY personal list based on
2) mountain biking, snow sports
3) software job opportunites
4) not TOO big a city
5) progressive/liberal politics (NOT conservative/Republican)
6) college town a plus - more "happening", more "liberal", younger

my list includes the following:
1) Boulder/Denver CO
2) Portland OR
3) Vancouver BC (ok it's not the US, but whatever)
4) other Oregon - Eugene, Bend(good luck finding a job!), Corvalis, Hood River (no job chances!)
5) Bellingham/Seattle WA (Yakima too)
6) northern California (Redlands...)
7) Salt Lake City
8) Boise Idaho
9) Flagstaff/Tucson
10) New Mexico
12) Burlington Vermont
13) Western Mass, Portland Maine

if it has to be a "city":
1) Portland
2) Denver
3) Seattle
4) San Francisco
5) Philadelphia

anyhow, hope that helps and good luck. just to let you know. i did a "search" for like a year collecting info before my move and then picked 4 cities that i was willing to move to and just decided to go wherever i got a job first. my list in 1997 was:
1) Denver/Boulder CO
2) Portland OR
3) San Francisco
4) Munich Germany

i had friends in Denver and thought i would move there and would have, but i got a great offer in Portland and took it! and it was the best decision/move of my life. after 3 years there i (sadly) left to go back to grad school (also very "place-dependent" with options in Washington, Colorado, Arizona and ended up in Mass)... then in 2000 decided to "break" and my choices were 1) Boluder/Denver CO, 2) Portland, 3) Munich... and i decided "no or never"... and have been here almost 3 years now!!! my list of potential places to live now also includes the above plus southern Germany, western Austria, eastern Switzerland and western Canada and New Zealand (in my opinion the quality of life in the US has dramatically decreased in the last few years -one word: REPUBLICANS! and Canada/Europe currently offer a higher OVERALL quality of life - of course individual results may vary... i currently work 40hrs/week and mountain bike and snowboard/ski/climb with 30 DAYS paid vacation per year...)

(geez, can you tell i'm an engineer from my post?)

rashenup 03-02-04 10:44 AM

Yikes! with midterms for me this week, i nearly forgot about this post =\

I've been mostly looking at the seattle area thus far. Since i have a friend that's going to be moving out there, and of course the mountians being right there are nice for all the mtn biking cravings =]

First off i gotta say that's an impressive post there, the engineer certainly comes through on that one =] It seems that our critera line up really close. I don't think i'm as big into the snow sports as you (although i do love to ski), but your list is awesome, and it's a great place for me to start. There are some places that i hadn't really thought about, like out east. I suppose i had just been focusing on the pacific nw.

I guess now it's time to scour the local newspaper in those places to see what kind of jobs they have there, and see what turns up.

thanks again for your advice!

rashenup 03-02-04 03:42 PM


wouldn't seattle be too rainy?
Not from what i've heard. My freind did an intership out there last summer and he said it was beautiful almost all the time. His aunt and uncle (who live out there) said that the winters are rainier, but not what the reputation would lead you to belive. Maybe if you're comming from souther california, it would seem really rainy and dreary, but as I've lived in ohio all my life, I'm used to there being nothing but clouds all winter long. And I'd take rain all winter over the snow all winter any time. But that's just me. I'm sure not everyone likes the rain as i do, especially around here where it starts to interfere with the biking =|

nathank 03-02-04 04:08 PM


wouldn't seattle be too rainy?
the Pacfic NW is "too rainy" in that it can get kind of depressing - especially in the spring when summer just will never come...

but for outdoors and active sports, ESPECIALLY mountain biking, it is awesome. in the Pacific NW you NEVER get the kind of torrential downpour you get in other parts of the country... this means the trails are rideable virtually EVERY day all year round (not those at high elevations where it snows) --- the total rainfall in Portland is a little over 30 inches per year which is less than mayn other places like Houston TX or Boston... it is just that a little bit falls almost every day from October through May...

you get used to riding in the wet, prepare for it... and the trails are built for wet...

and then the summers...ahhh! nothing more beautiful than a Pacific NW summer!!!


Originally Posted by rashenup
My freind did an intership out there last summer and he said it was beautiful almost all the time.

well, do keep in mind that mid-June through September it hardly ever rains - i forgot the stat, but i think less than 5% of the annual rain falls in these 3 months. and the rest of the year is... well, think overcast, cloudy with on-and-off drissle

my personal opinion: the West is cooler than the Northeast... but the Northeast can be good too. South, Midwest, Southeast are way behind.
... not just from the mountains and mountain biking, but also because of attitude - the West is more relaxed, less work-oriented and more sports/outdoors/free time oriented (Germany likewise!)

ngateguy 03-02-04 05:12 PM

Yes it rains here in Seattle it is dark and gloomy for about 3 months of the year which can be hard to take. But it is by far the best place (next to Portland) in the country to live. The MTB opportunities out here are awesome. Not only do we have the mountains but east of the Cascades is Alpine country and desert there are tons of canyons and what not to explore. Here in the City of Seattle there are tons of places to ride and we have a for active cycling community. However jobs are tight we are still reeling from the tech crash and Boeing just got finished laying of 20+K employees. That doesn't mean there are not jobs to be had, just expect a lot of competition.

On the other hand I here San Diego's marker is good and they also have a very active cycling community down there. It is my home away from home. And it is usually sunny and 70.

Good luck on your job search.

Our local MTB Club:

rashenup 03-02-04 05:48 PM

nathank- I guess i hadn't realized how drastic the difference between summer and winter are. I was in Vancouver a few years ago and i remeber hearing that they were technically classified as a rainforest. I don't remember if it applied to the whole region or not, but in any case, that's a lot of rain.

ngateguy- So it rains a lot in the Seattle area... But does it really every snow much? I always think of rain and never snow but never had any info to back that up. I'll certainly enjoy checking out your local MTB club's website =] I love reading about what's actually going on in places, and i can always use a break from studying.

hrmmm... maybe i'll just move out ot seattle even if i don't get a job. I'll have lots of time to bike then. Fun, but maybe not so smart =]

now i just have to finish up midterms here, then i can start taking a good look at nathank's list of places.

Maelstrom 03-02-04 06:21 PM


Originally Posted by rashenup
nathank- I guess i hadn't realized how drastic the difference between summer and winter are. I was in Vancouver a few years ago and i remeber hearing that they were technically classified as a rainforest. I don't remember if it applied to the whole region or not, but in any case, that's a lot of rain.

Most of the area around vancouver and vancouver island are rainforest. We get lots of mist. Instead of raining hard once and a while it just mists constantly. Kind of irratating really. Whistler is a totally different type of forest again though :)

Jakey 03-02-04 07:48 PM

Dunno about tech jobs, but the mt biking around Eugene Oregon, couldn't get any better.

ngateguy 03-02-04 08:24 PM


Originally Posted by rashenup
ngateguy- So it rains a lot in the Seattle area... But does it really every snow much? I always think of rain and never snow but never had any info to back that up. I'll certainly enjoy checking out your local MTB club's website =] I love reading about what's actually going on in places, and i can always use a break from studying.

No it doesn't snow much here, as a veteran of the NE Ohio area (Cleveland '68-'77) it is nothing like out there.The city will shut down with just 1" and depending where you are at it rarely drops below 30F. We've had about 5 days of snow this winter and that is considered heavy. I used to always say when I first moved out here to all my friends out there "Yeah it rains a lot here, but at least I don't have to shovel it off the driveway :D.

Snow is only a drive away though it does accumulate in the surrounding areas and of course in the mountains .

Don't let me scare you away because of what I said about jobs, the market is tight but there are jobs to be had for those in the tech industry, You just have to work hard to find them.

Good luck on your mid terms

55/Rad 03-03-04 09:16 AM

I lived in Seattle for 8 years and Portland now for 3. The weather in Portland, although only 200 miles away, is demonstrably better than in Seattle. Less misty and gloomy days and higher temps in the summer (90's vs 80's). Seattle is prettier on a sunny day but I prefer Portland overall.


skiahh 03-03-04 06:41 PM

Having been grown up in Maine and being stationed in WA (Whidbey Island) for almost 15 years, northern New England or the Pacific NW are the only two places I really WANT to retire (from the military) to. I miss the winter, so New England (ME, NH, VT) have a slight edge at the moment.

But, living in Anacortes, WA, with the Anacortes Comminity Forest Lands (~50 of pristine singletrack) literally right out my front door has certainly spoiled me and with lift tickets going for upwards of $50/day, and living in TX at the moment (basically, Hell!), my passion for skiing has dropped considerably and good mt biking is probably above it right now (never thought I'd hear myself say that - maybe I need to change my handle to bikahh, huh?) on the factor for places to live.

The weather in WA is hugely different from place to place. Seattle averages about 40" per year and Anacortes/Oak Harbor about half that. Sequim is around 15. And the ground and trail building allow riding year round.

I tell ya - it's a damn close choice, but I've got a few years left before I have to decide.

Swiss Hoser 03-04-04 02:07 PM

Best location for biking/working.
I know you asked about biking/working in the US, but I'm a Canadian who moved his family to Switzerland 3 years ago. I used to think Canada was the place to be, but man this is it! Haven't looked back or been homesick since the day I got here. I ride 15 km to work each way, over a mountain and through a forrest. The Swiss cycling scene has reached a maturity far beyond that in North America. Tensions between bikers, dogs, cars & hikers are do not exist here like they do back home.
I went back to Ottawa last summer and brought my bike. Well didn't I get chased by dogs, cut off by cars and smacked on the ass by rednecks in a half-ton. Couldn't wait to get back to Switzerland, where cyclists enjoy respect and a certain admiration by the general populace.

montlake_mtbkr 03-04-04 06:00 PM

If you don't mind grey skies and drizzling rain for 9 months of the year Seattel is a great place. There is year round riding however many popular trails are seasonally closed for the winter. And for good reason, if anyone had been out on the Tiger Mt. trails during the windstorms in janurary they would most certainly have been crushed by all the blow downs. That aside I actually prefer biking in the winter because there are so few people on the trails. In fact my favorite day last january was a ride in fresh snow in the forest all alone. froze my nads but it was an almost spiritual experience.
Just get used to cleaning mud off your bike after literally every ride until summer starts, usually around mid-july.

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