Young people leaving NH, Maine

Smuttynose

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High rents, few jobs, driving young professionals out of N.H., Maine

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Jennifer White's salary didn't change much when she moved to Florida about two years ago, but her housing options did.

In New Hampshire, White, 28, and her young son shared a house in Goffstown with her grandparents. Today, they live in an apartment near the beach.

"Part of my decision to move to Florida is that it's more affordable and the jobs are more in line with the cost of housing," said White, who works in medical billing.

She isn't the only young adult fleeing New Hampshire. An estimated 12,000 25- to 34-year-olds have left the state in the last five years, and since 1990, New Hampshire's population in that age group has dropped by 27 percent, a rate that's only beat by Maine, Connecticut and Alaska, according to the U.S. Census bureau.

While some of these young adults simply aged into their late 30s, White and many of her peers say other factors are driving them out of state. New Hampshire may be a great place to grow up or grow old, but high housing costs, a lack of good-paying entry level jobs and sleepy social scene make it a difficult place to build a life, young professionals say.

Christopher Wilson, 28, grew up in Nashua, but moved to Georgia to study bioengineering. He considered Dartmouth College, but it doesn't conduct the kind of research he wants to pursue.

"I had no choice but to move out of state," he said in an e-mail to the Concord Monitor. "I'd like to at least return to New England. New Hampshire still doesn't have enough biotech or academic opportunities."

Colleen Hass, 28, an interior designer, gave similar reasons for leaving New Hampshire. The Concord High School graduate lives in New York City, where she works for an international architecture firm. Her line of work simply doesn't exist on a similar scale in New Hampshire, but she thinks the state could do a lot to make itself more attractive to young people in other professions.

"There was no exposure to anything there," she said. "Everything is very suburban. There's nothing to do when you're young. There's nowhere to go, no interesting food to eat."

New Hampshire's older, wealthier population means the state is one of the richest in the country. But economists worry the negative side of that situation is an increasing difficulty in recruiting young workers. Some worry that eventually, that shortage could drive some businesses out of New Hampshire, too.

"The graying of New Hampshire is going to be a much more difficult situation unless we can keep our young people here," said Richard Brothers, commissioner of the Department of Employment Security. Keeping in-state college tuition low may be an enticement to keep young people in New Hampshire, he said, noting that teens who leave the state for school have a tendency to stay away.

There are some exceptions - Census figures show most young people are clustered around Portsmouth and Manchester, or live along the border with Massachusetts. But that's still not enough, said Dick Gsottschneider, president of RKG Associates in Durham. Gsottschneider, whose firm tracks economic and real estate trends in New England, is aware of the problem in theory and practice. The kind of worker he's looking for - 26 to 32 years old, with a master's degree and a few years of experience - can typically earn a similar salary in the South or Midwest, and find housing at half the cost there compared to New Hampshire.

"We can't even recruit people," he said. "They can't afford to live here."

And in the North Country, where real estate is cheaper, jobs are fewer.

"We just don't enough opportunities for that fresh individual who's looking for his first good job," said Ray Gosney, vice chairman of the Grafton County Economic Development Council. "That doesn't reflect well on us that we don't have that balance of job opportunities."

**I wish the politicians had an appreciacion for what a big problem this is. Around here all the rage is 62+ developments, b/c the thinking is they don't have kids that will attend the schools and send property taxes up. Well that's just great, but once all the companies close up b/c there are no younger workers left, well that will hurt property taxes a lot more than a couple kids here and there.
 
well, there was one quote in which the article said comparable salaries are offered elsewhere, but the housing is cheaper. if the 'economists' in this article knew anything about supply and demand, they could tell you that housing is cheaper because demand is low, meaning, in other words, no one wants to live there compared to NH, a place where "everyone" wants to live, b/c of the high standard of living, and proximity to boston. so go ahead and leave, but you will be living in a slum down south or in the mid west. i have noticed the exodus of young people here in maine, though, and it DOES suck. went out to the bars and stuff in the old port the other night and only saw one or two "clubs" with people my own age (early twenties) and every other spot was filled with 30-40 year olds. talk about a damper on the el-moodo.
 
Watch that "30's" talk there, sonny. I'll hit you with my cane.
 
30's are not old if you are 30-something, but if you are 22, you would like to socialize with people your own age, nah mean bra? it would be like me showing up to a high school dance with all my friends and taking over the refreshment stand. the 30 + crowd doesnt bother me at all, it is the lack of early 20's scene that gets on my nerves a bit.
 
Smuttynose wrote:
"I wish the politicians had an appreciation for what a big problem this is. Around here all the rage is 62+ developments, b/c the thinking is they don't have kids that will attend the schools and send property taxes up. Well that's just great, but once all the companies close up b/c there are no younger workers left, well that will hurt property taxes a lot more than a couple kids here and there."

Smuttynose has just hit the nail right on the head! Local governments in New England are trying to purposely make it unaffordable for middle class young adults with kids. Its especially noticeable here in Scarborough where the town has been only allowing the construction of these huge 4 to 5 bedroom mansions. Not are they unaffordable to buy but it costs an arm and a leg and maybe even a torso to heat the damn things! But, rich retired out of staters can easily afford them and if a development with modest and somewhat affordable housing is proposed that will be "in their backyard" they will convince the town government to reject the project and their wish will be granted. Summer playground for the rich all right!
 

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