Where would you go?

Just brainstorming here…

I am a recent graduate (within the last 2 years) with a mechanical engineering degree & job. Currently working a good job, good benefits, and good pay in a very very non-horsey area. Or at least a non-english horsey area. Think 1 boarding barn (every one else I guess has horses at home?) within a 45+ minute radius. Closest events are 3 hours away, and that is only 1 recognized a year. Everything else is 5+ hours away. Currently in the south, grew up even further south. Never have had to deal with real snow, maybe 1 snow storm where I am living currently. But the mud here. Grew up in an area with sandy soil, so could ride even when it was raining. Whereas here if you ride with this mud, you are risking injury to the horses.

I have been looking for a place for me and my 2 horses here without much luck. Now I am trying to consider if I should keep looking here and keep this job or start looking for a different job in a more horsey area instead of buying a place here. If I was to move, it would be easy after finding a job and a place for the horses. Its just me and a dog and 2 horses. Nothing keeping me here.

What would you do? Be keep looking for a place here (not much horses, but cheap and low cost of living with good job) or look for jobs elsewhere? If you where to look for jobs elsewhere, where would you focus your search? I don’t like giant cities, so Atlanta is out for me. (I think my weather here is similar to what Atlanta gets, grew up with more heat and humidity, so I can deal with that unlike some from further north).

I would think that a mechanical engineering degree is reasonably portable. If you want to stay in the south, you could try the Greenville/Spartanburg area. It’s about an hour-ish from Tryon and maybe 2.5 from Aiken, so reasonably close to a lot of eventing activity, although I’m not sure there’s much in the Greenville area itself. It’s a much smaller city than Atlanta, but has a reasonable amount of industry. Depending on the particular area, it is pretty affordable. (I grew up in Greenville, but moved away over 20 years ago). Doesn’t have sandy soil, though.


As an engineer, it’s not the degree. Just because you have a ME it is not necessarily portable based on what your work experience is. The more experience you get, the higher you move up in technical expertise, the more sticky your industry, and thus your places to relocate become.

Of course, if you are a low level, entry type engineer, you can move around. But then you need to think about what and where you want to be in the next 5, 10 years. Will there be enough of an industry to maintain your career? Manufacturing is in a large recession right now with companies laying folks off.

Thus, without knowing what kind of engineer you are, it is hard to tell you. Horsey areas tend to not be hotbeds of technology/engineering so you have to expect some extensive travel to the barn.


I’m thinking a bit further north too. I would think the Ashville, NC area would have more opportunity while still being horse friendly. Sounds like a nice portable degree you have there. Use it to your advantage while you’re still young and not tied down to an area.

I lived in GSP and adored it. It’s not too big, but big enough to be pleasant to live in. I lived/worked in Spartanburg, which had a little less, but also had far less traffic, lower cost of living, etc. There’s a fair amount of industry there because BMW is based there and therefore, a lot of their suppliers as well. I have no idea if that’s pertinent to your degree/experience though. Not only are you close to Tryon, but Aiken, FENCE is local, 3ish hours from Carolina Horse Park. Farmhouse Tack is just up the road in Landrum. It’s where I’m hoping to end up again!

Mechanical engineer here. Agree with others that it very much depends on your area of specialty. I design HVAC so extremely portable, and would have no problem continuing to advance my career. I live in Chester County outside Philadelphia but could go anywhere in the US easily. Everyone needs heat and cooling!

On the other hand my cousin is also a mechanical engineer who specializes in turbines. He lived in Greenville working for GE for several years and recently moved to Florida (Cape Canaveral I think) to work for Space X. His job is way less portable but probably vastly more interesting.

I supplement with a super interesting hobby! :wink:


Point taken that the area of speciality matters for portability. I was kind of assuming that if OP could find a ME job in Tupelo, MS then there are probably a lot of places she could work. Unless her area of specialty is Elvis. :lol:

Haha, not specializing in Elvis. I’m currently a manufacturing engineer at a large automotive manufacturer (you probably can figure out who). So I think it should be pretty portable. Still “entry level” for the most part, but I know I don’t enjoy the ECP field (had internships in that during school and dreaded going to work everyday).

During school I worked with specialized materials that is used more in the aerospace industry, so I think between automotive and aerospace, there are quite a few options. So just trying to figure out where I should base my search for something. Other option is staying here and working towards a graduate degree (currently only a bachelors) but the masters degree would lead to a more specialty type of degree; and having current company pay for it. If I decide to do that, I will probably buy a place here, because then I will be here for at least a couple if not 5 more years to finish the degree and do the required years with the company to not have to pay back the degree. But then the question comes if I should do a MBA or a Masters of engineering…

I just don’t know what I want to do with life currently and therefore indecisive on what to do.

I haven’t even looked at the areas suggested, so I’ll start investigating those areas. Reasons why I asked, to get more leads on what maybe perfect. Thanks! More suggestions always welcome.

If you enjoy working for an automotive industry, consider Lexington KY - Toyota has a huge plant in Georgetown KY (20 mins north) and there’s plenty of horsey things to do. The soil is not sandy, but it’s rideable the vast majority of the year.


My sister lives there because she doesn’t like the cold up here in New England, but I think half the reason she stopped riding is because it’s too hot in the summer and too cold and wet in the winter. Even if she had access to an indoor it would still be hotter 'n Hades all summer, although probably pretty nice in the winter.

All my degrees are AeroE. I am now a research scientist at a school of medicine who oversees MechE and BioE (formerly MatE and Metallurgy) graduates students. My recent work is advanced materials for orthopedic medicine/explosives as well as overseeing students who do metallurgy/materials for everything from nuclear fuels to automotive. I can tell you that the MS in engineering will push you in a very specialized direction. So, you need to be sure that is what you want to do. There is nothing worse than a student who is not really sure they want a graduate engineering degree.

A graduate degree narrows your field of growth in industry because you become more specialized and move into R&D and most companies do not have their R&D in every location. So you end up going where their R&D is (most of the time it is at their headquarters). And, if the company pays for it, it will lock you to the company and that area for probably longer than you think. It will close other doors open now.

MBAs are a dime a dozen. Their value is questionable, depending on what you want to do. It gets you to the management side, but it definitely doesn’t help you to be an engineer.

If you stay in the automotive world, then you will likely end up in Michigan for R&D engineeringwise. Most of my automotive materials graduate students ended up there. For aerospace, it is likely California, Texas, Illinois, Colorado, Washington as places where the materials folks go. These are the major centers for the aerospace corporations.

This is where you need to choose between horses and career. They are not exclusive but one MUST become the priority. You will need to realize that whatever you choose, the other will become something that is not as high a level as you might wish. Later on, once you establish yourself, you might pick up the other. But the reality, if you choose to live life based on the horses, be ready to be an average, midlevel engineer. That is ok. Plenty of folks do very well there.


Maybe you’re already on this track, but I’d probably start making lists. A list of ideal areas for your horse goals. Lists of ideal areas for each of your potential career tracks. Then cross reference, check against your preferred population density and climate, and hopefully you end up with just a couple of potential areas to focus on.

I agree that it’s not worth it to pursue an advanced degree unless you’re actually sure you want it. Committing to a degree you’re not sure of with a company in a place you’re not sure you like based on the rest of your lifestyle doesn’t make more sense (to me) than relocating at this point in your career.

Regarding the small town preference, don’t rule out the exurbs of large metropolitan areas. If you get far enough out, they are functionally small towns but likely benefit from proximity to a much larger economy and many more options for barns/trainers.


Considering you want to do AeroE/MechE/Materials, here are some thoughts and suggestions for horsey + industry areas (I am a MechE working in aerospace and I ride dressage, but used to event):
-Huntsville, AL - NASA and some other major businesses
-Cincinnati, OH - jet engines, not far from Kentucky Horse Park, but has some colder weather in the Winter
-Indianapolis - jet engines, still not terribly far from KYHP
-Philadelphia, PA - there is a big Boeing test facility off I-95, but commuting from there to the amazing horse country is… challenging (I am from this area)
-Annapolis, MD - aerospace contractors abound, not to bad to get to Morven Park and Fair Hill
-Already mentioned, but Greenville, SC - turbomachinery, but I’ve heard traffic can be a challenge

Best of luck! Feel free to PM me if you want more thoughts or suggestions!

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I don’t know where you lived before Tupelo, but if you have spent your life in that general geographic area, you may be in for a considerable sticker shock at the cost of horsekeeping in many other parts of the country.

Since your horses are obviously the center of your life (or else you wouldn’t even be considering such a move), make sure you thoroughly dive into not just board cost, but farrier, feed & vet costs, entry fees, everything you normally spend on, before committing. If extras such as equine chiro are important to you, check on that as well, because the cost could double or more in certain areas.

Hopefully if you go to a higher cost-of-living area, the salaries will also be commensurately higher. Be aware that a salary that looks like a good bump from whatever you are making currently could be more than absorbed by the cost of living in that new location.

Being single does make it less complicated to look around, though. Good luck! :slight_smile:

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And while we’re at it, I’ll throw this in … there are lots of good engineering jobs in Texas, a state that is undergoing explosive population and economic growth. But seriously as a multi-generational native here, in my opinion you do not want to be south of DFW with horses for climate reasons. It isn’t just that horses as a species do much better in colder climates than they do in steaming temperatures like those in Houston. It’s you as well, riding just isn’t as fun. The heat and humidity govern everything to do outdoors.

Again IMO, don’t even think about pursuing a serious riding career in Houston or south of that. There are plenty of riders who do, of course, but really the humidity is just too intense to be fair to the horses, and science confirms that opinion. It’s uncomfortable for 9 to 10 months out of the year every year. Right now in mid-February we are hitting 70+ more days than not, and it’s constantly foggy and damp. And this is the cold season.

Austin is ok, though, it’s farther from the coast. If you event I would not go south of Austin, and would definitely try to stay closer to I-20 or north of that. Somehow I-20 seems to be a weather division line for a more mid-America plains climate.

There is a lot of horse activity in the greater DFW area and along I-20 from there. Statistically there are more horses per capita west and north of Fort Worth than there are anywhere else on this continent. There is a lot of h/j/e, eventing, dressage, etc. You’ll stay busy. :slight_smile:

I lived in Jackson Mississippi for 2 years and the climate was pleasant compared with Houston. Singapore was better, too. :slight_smile:

Aeris mentioned Annapolis. I live 30 minutes away from Annapolis, but on the eastern shore which is the other side of the Chesapeake Bay. The eastern shore is much more affordable than the western shore and VERY rural.

Having grown up in Chester County, PA, then living in VA, Nashville, TN, and Austin, TX as an adult, I think MD is a fabulous area for eventing. But, all those years in the south thinned my blood. We kind of have the worst of both in terms of weather. Oppressive humidity in the summer and a cold enough winter to be miserable. It’s not that bad compared to somewhere like New England; we get very little snow (none this year) and handle it well. But it’s still cold and damp and gray with enough time below freezing to make me reconsider why I moved back north. :lol: The horse scene makes it worth it, though. It’s oh so easy to keep and compete horses compared to other places I’ve lived in adulthood.

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Just for the record- no, I didn’t. I only discussed the larger population centers in Texas where the jobs tend to coalesce.

I lived near MD in Northern Virginia for most of the 90’s and enjoyed countryside excursions during that time. But I did not keep horses or ride then and can’t comment on it re horsekeeping.

My bad. Tagged the wrong user. Sorry about that, I will fix.

I wouldn’t skip over looking at Louisville… UPS’s airline division is based here, as is GE Appliance and a Ford plant. Raytheon also has a small division here. Easy access to KHP, River Glen, and Hoosier horse park. Locally, we have flying cross and a plethora of schooling shows. Hot in the summers and cold in the winters, but it’s rarely too hot or too cold to ride for any length of time. (Even if you are a weenie like me and choose not to ride when it’s in the 20s or below).

My advice would be to find some horsey areas in a climate that works for you and go on indeed and look at the jobs that are available there.

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I live in Huntsville. It’s actually not a bad place for eventers. There are several barns in the area that cater to eventers (including Debi Crowley’s place, she owns Vandiver with Doug Payne), we are two hours from Nashville (Percy Warner Park has a recognized plus a couple unrecognized, and Walnut Trace does lots of unrecognized), I think three ish hours from Poplar, there are some more unrecognized shows down towards Bham. And if you want to do just dressage or just jumpers for practice, we are pretty central to a lot of recognized shows for those as well (and lots of unrecognized). And of course it’s amazing for engineers, and is getting even better (more companies moving here, places opening up, it’s growing a lot). I’m Aerospace, but my job is technically mechanical engineering. And there are SO MANY places to work, I know a ton of people that hop around a bit to try different things. Cost of living isn’t too bad either.

Feel free to PM me if you want more info on the area! I’ve lived here almost my entire life, moved away a few times but always came back.