Relocating: San Antonio vs. Chicago vs. DFW

wtrwlkrwtrwlkr Posts: 138Member
Hey guys,
So i'm currently overseas as a contractor and i'm trying to decide where I want to go once I get done out here. Right now I have CCENT and Sec +, and I plan on knocking out CCNA and perhaps CCNA Security before I get out.
I'm from northwest Florida and I want to go somewhere that has a better job market. I did 11 years in the military, and 2 years working various gov't contracts. I'm looking at getting away from the contract side for better job security and because i'm getting tired of the government beaucracy.
I think i've narrowed down my choices between Chicago, San Antonio and the DFW area. I was wondering if anyone on the ground in those locations can tell me anything about the job market there, companies to try to get with, pros/cons between the cities, etc. I'm looking specifically to get in on the network admin/engineer side of things. I've done alittle research myself but nothing beats the experience of people who actually live in those locations. Thanks everyone!


  • alias454alias454 Posts: 648Member
    Unless you like high crime, high taxes, cold winters, and want to live in a state that is going broke, stay away from Chicago. From my point of view, Texas has a few things going for it. No personal income tax and relaxed gun laws are two of my favorite reasons, I cannot speak to the job market in either San Antonio or DFW but I have heard Dallas was a hot bed for jobs as recently as a few months ago. San Antonio is growing pretty fast so that may be something to consider too.

    Good Luck
    “I do not seek answers, but rather to understand the question.”
  • ChitownjediChitownjedi Chasing down my dreams. Posts: 572Member ■■■■■□□□□□
    I honestly don't know what information people have out there that makes them still consider Chicago a good place to move to but its bad info.

    Most of the people i know who like it here are the type that like to live in the city, pay 2200.00$ for a 800 sf apartment so they can live next to bars and night life.... Once you care anything about stuff that affects family and your stability Chicago is one of the worse places to consider... And the weather sucks.... Die hards will act like its a walk in the park and its not that bad.... Ive been here 32 years... Its horrible weather 6 months out of the year....

    I would strongly consider Texas for cost of living
  • cyberguyprcyberguypr Senior Member Posts: 6,597Mod Mod
    It's all about personal preference. I moved from the Caribbean to Chicago (lived in the city for two years, live in the Indiana burbs now, still work at Downtown Chicago) and absolutely love it. It all depends on your lifestyle and priorities.
  • chappys4lifechappys4life Posts: 114Member
    cyberguypr wrote: »
    It's all about personal preference. I moved from the Caribbean to Chicago (lived in the city for two years, live in the Indiana burbs now, still work at Downtown Chicago) and absolutely love it. It all depends on your lifestyle and priorities.

    I agree I moved to Chicago in Jan from Orlando. I work in the loop and live about 15 minutes from my job in a nice area. I pay 1k for a studio in a nice area with all utilities. If I wanted a house I would have to move out to the burbs but I have lived in Virginia, Florida, and Chicago and am loving Chicago.

    I know it is not for everyone but I think its all about preferences.
  • jvrlopezjvrlopez Posts: 910Member
    I was raised in San Antonio and outside of 4 years in the military, have spent 23 years here. It is a nice city despite what some people would say. I grew up on the supposedly ghetto and dangerous south side and turned out just fine. The city is rapidly growing and there is a lot to do on your down time. The cost of living is hilariously cheap.

    However, most of the IT jobs I am aware of are in the government, DoD, and contracting sector. You mentioned in your post that you are looking to move away from this field. If that is the case, and if you are to take what others have said about Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth is an area in which I've heard that there are many private and commercial IT opportunities. I will say that every time I have visited Dallas, I am impressed by how modern and clean it is.
    And so you touch this limit, something happens and you suddenly can go a little bit further. With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high. ~Ayrton Senna
  • BlackBeretBlackBeret Posts: 684Member ■■■■■□□□□□
    I'll second what J-Lo said. San Antonio is a great city and the job market is growing, but mostly in the contractor/GS job realm with a focus on security. If you want to continue the DoD route I can't say enough about the San Antonio area. The only big name commercial company that I see growing is Rackspace. I've also heard good things about the Dallas area, hopefully someone from there will chime in soon.

    Also, if you want to get in on the security side in the DoD market I'd highly suggest getting the CEH in addition to the sec+ you should be good to go. For the network admin/engineer side they're looking for CCNA, Linux, and MCTS/MCSA certs.
  • RockinRobinRockinRobin Posts: 165Member
    And the weather sucks.... Die hards will act like its a walk in the park and its not that bad.... Ive been here 32 years... Its horrible weather 6 months out of the year....

    Yea, Chicago's a great 6-month city. I lived my first 32 years there, and The weather Oct. through Mar. SUCKS! LOL!
  • wtrwlkrwtrwlkr Posts: 138Member
    Thanks for the responses everyone. Actually, the main guys i'd try to get with if I went to San Antonio would be USAA. I've been a customer of theirs for 11 years and i'd love to work with them. Chicago is probably at the bottom of my list right now. I looked up the housing prices and was pretty floored. For those living in Chicago, is it that much cheaper to live in a suburb in IN or IL and commute? The thing that attracted me to chicago was looking at jobs on Some of the salary ranges I saw were pretty nice. Plenty $100K and over. I'm not at the level they're looking for yet, but in a couple of years i plan on being there. Black Beret, you mentioned CEH, which i'm looking at getting. I was also looking at going after CCNA - Security. How valuable would you say that cert is in the security realm?
  • BlackBeretBlackBeret Posts: 684Member ■■■■■□□□□□
    CEH is mostly a check the box thing for DoD's 8570 requirements. Most of the security positions I've worked in fell under the CND realm, and CEH checks all of those blocks at once. CCNA comes up for the engineering type positions, but I haven't seen CCNA - Security come up with anyone I've worked with.
  • joelsfoodjoelsfood Posts: 1,025Member
    Neighbor has their 2br/2ba townhouse up for rent right now at 1550, and we have four train stations within 3 miles (2 different train lines, so good flexibility). That's about an hour commute though.
  • beadsbeads Posts: 1,403Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    For the most part taxes are killing Chicago and Illinois in general. Yeah, Chicago is fun when your young and have lots of money to party but its also a very corrupt, dirty city populated with some of the nastiest people I've ever run across. Though I should speak so hastily about my neighbors, should I? Downtown is picking up a bit as far as salary goes but if you look around its mainly underpaid young people with the 35+ crowd likely driving by. Its been noticed in the local press that downtown appears very young with fewer opportunities for older workers.

    Suburbs generally pay 10-40k more a year with better amenities and lifestyle, save the reverse commute (there is no such thing) from the city out. The Downer's Grove/Naperville/Southwest area is booming a considered one of the bright spots in Illinois which continues to rapidly loose census year over year.

    Why stay? Year 23 of a 25 year mortgage and an establish reputation as a security rainmaker. Outside of that I am sooooo ready to move on and out.

    - b/eads
  • Hammer80Hammer80 Posts: 207Member
    San Antonio has a lot of jobs in your field but they will all have something to do with the government or military. The only exceptions are AT&T, Rackspace, and USAA. Those companies have a major presence there. By the way USAA has a reputation for being an awesome employer and you will not find a private company anywhere that can match their 401k matching which is 8%.
  • coreyb80coreyb80 Posts: 621Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    I live in Chicago currently and I'm definitely looking in to relocating around this time next year. Dallas would definitely be at the top of my list of places to go.
    WGU BS - Network Operations and Security
    Estimated completion: November 2021
  • scaredoftestsscaredoftests Senior Member behind youPosts: 2,590Mod Mod
    Never let your fear decide your fate....
  • kurosaki00kurosaki00 Posts: 973Member
    Pick one...

    On the serious note.. depends on what lifestyle you like.
    You need to pay attention at cost food, rent, insurance, taxes and more stuff.
  • kohr-ahkohr-ah Posts: 1,277Member
    Another one for Chicago here.

    Job market here is great but if you wanna live downtown the costs are high. Better off going out a little bit to the burbs and do a 20 minute train ride and you can save a lot of money.

    I'd consider Texas if we were ever to move.
  • wtrwlkrwtrwlkr Posts: 138Member
    Thanks again for everyone's responses. For the Chicago guys, how common is it for companies to provide a transportation allowance or somehow subsidize the expense of using the trains?

    Back Beret,

    I looked intently into CEH. It looks like a great Cert, but I can't justify paying the associated costs. My Sec+ is expiring in December, and I don't just want to retake the Sec+ exam. I'm fairly decided on going for the SSCP, which will renew my Sec+, and set me on the path for CEH and eventually CISSP.

    Unfortunately, my current company is stingy with training funds, so i'll either have to use my GI bill benefits or pay out of pocket. I can stomach the $250 for SSCP much better than I can the (I believe) $850 for CEH + $100 nonrefundable application fee.
  • zxbanezxbane Posts: 739Member
    $850 for CEH? That's nuts..
  • wtrwlkrwtrwlkr Posts: 138Member
    Whoops, I misspoke. The exam fee itself is $500. You can take CEH if you self study, but you have to meet their educational and experience conditions, plus pay a $100 non refundable application fee. The other option is to take their classes, which range from $2900 on-site to $1900 online, or buy their self-study courseware, which is $870 that's where I got my original figure from. The on site option includes a test voucher, for what it's worth.
  • joelsfoodjoelsfood Posts: 1,025Member
    wtrwlkr, no allowance here, but they do allow you to buy your train tickets and pay the train station parking with pre tax money, so saves you a good 20-30%, depending on your tax bracket.
  • alias454alias454 Posts: 648Member
    What is a park in ride is it 200-300 per month?
    “I do not seek answers, but rather to understand the question.”
  • joelsfoodjoelsfood Posts: 1,025Member
    Depends on the stations. CTA is flat rate(think subway/L), Metra(commuter lines out to the suburbs) is more the further out you get. Highest monthly pass on line I normally ride is to J fare zone, and runs 249.50. I normally go from an I station, so monthly is 235.25.

    Of course, that all being said, I'm 100% WFH and only go into the city by choice now. IE, take daughter to see the symphony in February, and probably going to head down and visit the Taste of Chicago this week.
  • jdancerjdancer Posts: 475Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    For comparative subjective rankings of cities and what part of town to live in, go to

    I've lived in Texas during my undergraduate days. Can't beat the cost of living. If you love humidity, you'll love Houston.

    It's true Chicago has jobs but if you want a house, you'll need to commute either by car or train. I used to commute to downtown by train but it's gets old fast. So, got a job closer to where I live in the western suburbs.

    If I didn't have family here, I'll leave for Texas again.
  • kohr-ahkohr-ah Posts: 1,277Member
    alias454 wrote: »
    What is a park in ride is it 200-300 per month?

    I live in zone H of the Western burbs.
    I pay $213 a month for my train pass and 1.75 a day for parking.
  • ChitownjediChitownjedi Chasing down my dreams. Posts: 572Member ■■■■■□□□□□
    As a contractor working Downtown I am paying about 480$ a month in parking if I can get the early bird special.. if you work somewhere down town and your employer can give a discount that's great.. if you can't get discount or early bird you are talking around 600-700.00

    Trains. I live in Skokie, I did take the Yellow line to Purple line until yet again, the Yellow line goes down, as it does like every year and has been down for almost a month and will be down for about 2 more. Chicago L lines are very old and are constantly need in repair, so there will often be situations where you have to find a alternative way into the city like driving if you aren't lucky to get the way more stable Metra.

    My drive in is about 30 minutes when I leave at 6:00am, about 45 minutes if I leave at 6:30am or later... on the way home It's about the same, but anything after 3:45pm going out and you got at least an hour ride, trains hold the same time frame but you may miss a few if they are overly pact.

    I say this about Chicago, it's very sharp/cut-throat, tons of competition and shady business. Is it a great big jumbo city with pretty buildings and plenty of attractions.. yes... but there is a lot of old money here, nepotism, corruption, extortion, back room dealing and politics. Not to say that that stuff isn't anywhere, but I believe that defines Chicago a lot more then it does in other places. Sure you will be able to find a okay company here and there.

    If you want a fast past, very competitive high risk high reward place that will keep you on your toes then consider it... I've been sharpened enough... and look to slow down a bit. So taxes, crime, school, economy, city debt, state debt, and politics matter a lot more to me then when I was in my 20's. Oh, did I say taxes.. they will be going up up up

    Day's like today though 73 degrees and sunny, no clouds... some of the best days ever... too bad it seems like there are only 5-6 of them a year lol
  • odysseyeliteodysseyelite Posts: 500Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    I can actually say Dallas as I live here. I moved here from Tampa a few years ago. 40-50% bump in pay. Average tech jobs for MS and VMware guys are 95-110k. Dallas is booming right now, there are more jobs than good engineers. I have a friend who got hired over the phone to work with Verizon and is moving here this week.

    Living expenses are on par. I paid 1060 for a 2/2 townhouse. Homes will run between 1200 - 1800 a month based on location. Rent and home prices are going up because of all the new jobs being created. State Farm, Toyota and Liberty Mutual are all moving their headquarters to Plano. Kubota is moving their headquarters to Grapevine near the DFW airport. That is about 12,000 new jobs in 2016.
    Currently reading: Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
  • coreyb80coreyb80 Posts: 621Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Chitownjedi hit the name on the head about Chicago. Which is probably while I'll be looking to move to the south next year. I just wanted to get some good enterprise experience under my belt before I left. The wife hates Chicago now and it's just time to move on to new things.
    WGU BS - Network Operations and Security
    Estimated completion: November 2021
  • zdxzdx Posts: 40Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    Living in Chicago is bad. But working there is another thing. If you don't mind commutes stay in the suburbs.
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