Save us all from regional ignorance

Recently, Bonnie posted a link to an article on the rather unsettling fact that only about 60% of employable Californians are working.  Yes, that doesn't necessarily mean they're looking for work – but it's a lower percentage than previously (the peak was 65% of the population working, which doesn't sound very excting either).  What I find most intriguing as this news rockets around the internet is that a lot of posters commenting on it don't really seem to know what they're talking about – which is a valuable lesson for relocation.

As I am a person that moved to California a few years ago, I quickly became aware that California is best understood as a country because of its level of complexity.  I also became painfully aware that, when it comes to California, most people don't know what they're talking about – this is a state with a huge constitution, complex politics, interesting issues in raising taxes on the state level (think it can be done with a simple majority vote?  Wrong, it takes 2/3), a prominent place in the US and world economy, and more.  Some Californians seemed clueless, but they were nothing compared to people I'd encounter in other states who assumed that, somehow, they were experts on where I'd relocated to.

And this is why all my past advice on using your fandom contacts and good research to understand targets of relocation is important.  California is on the high end of Incredibly Complex States, but it's not the only one.

And when you assess relocation, there's often a lot of misinformation.

When it comes to discussing economics of states and cities, especially ones that are prominent, important in the economy, cultural centers, etc. I find that people are more likely to stand forth and proudly proclaim things that are clearly not true, half-true, or not validated (let alone just arguably insane).  No one argues much about, say Idaho – but boy do they have opinions on California, Texas, New York, Florida, etc.

And boy, are these opinions often wrong.

Frankly, I blame politics.  On the individual level, too many people seek out validation of their opinions and are glad to try and shoehorn reality into their preconceptions.  On a larger level, blatant stereotypes and simplistic explanations are far too tempting for news figures, commentators, and politicians.  I'm amazed how many people I encounter who are glad to hold forth on the economic issues of states they don't live in and have never visited.

This is why if you're relocating it's imperative to do research on your target states and cities – to get through the BS that you'll find all too prominent, especially in a troubled time as this.  Look at the numbers, read up on things, talk to people you know, check the statistics.  Talk to friends who live there, take the chance during a convention to visit businesses and prominent locations.  Do your research.

Also remember that states often vary wildly by region, city, employment opportunities, and more.  What is good for one person's career is not good for another's.  One city may be ideal for you – one may be horrible- yet said cities are in the same state.

This is going to be even more important until we get out of this recession (with a possible double-dip that could be five years) because I expect the BS to keep flying.

So you need to keep researching.

– Steven Savage