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Should we make a risky move?
March 1, 2009 4:29 PM   Subscribe

In the middle of recenssion that just might become a depression, the sig oth and I both are thinking about asking our bosses if we can move to a new city -- and keep our jobs (ie, start working remotely). Are we nuts?

My partner and I live in City X, which we don't love, and would like to move to City Y, where I grew up, and where my parents still live. The birth of our daughter nine months ago has added fuel to an already existing desire to move: It would be really nice to be near the grandparents, of course. And City Y is a city with more going for it, without a doubt.

My partner already works from home a few days a week (to spare him an hour commute), and has already found out from one boss that there's a decent chance it'll be OK to move away and telecommute full-time (they discussed confidentially -- said boss is cool like that), but there's been no discussion yet with the other bosses who would make the final call. My partner feels they will probably agree to the request. But who knows -- and what if the bosses decide they don't like the situation once we move, and cut my partner loose? After all, there's lots of laid-off talent just waiting to take the position...

As for me, I've said nothing to my bosses about my wishes. But not only would I like to request to move away and telecommute, I might request to go PT, if possible. There's really no good reason why I can't do my job remotely. As it is, I barely see my boss (who's in an office across the hall from mine), and I rarely see my coworkers unless I run into them in the hall. Everything is done by IM and e-mail. Working from home would probably be more of a hassle for me than for anyone else (I'd have to have an office set-up at home, etc.)

Creating a sense of urgency, here, is our desire to buy our first house. We are ready, and want to do it NOW while it's a buyers' market, natch. We can either play it safe, begrudgingly accept living in this town we don't love, and buy here with the thought that we might just sell & move again in a few years' time; or we can try this ballsy move and (assuming it works out) buy in the hometown city in an effort to get a step closer to the life we really want.

[Ultimately, I want to quit my job and go back to a previous (lower-paying) line of work, and/or work PT for a while until my daughter is a bit older. But that's sort of tangential to this query. Except for the fact of the house-buying issue. We sort of want to get a loan (assuming we can, which is of course a big 'if' right now) while we both have our current FT incomes. . .Thus I feel like I need to try to hang on to my job for at least a little while longer.]

Is it far too ballsy/risky to go asking for special work circumstances in a climate where jobs are being lost left and right -- not to mention in an industry (we both work in the same industry, incidentally) that's suffering some of the worst cutbacks and layoffs? I mean, from an employer's point of view, is it ridiculous for an employee to ask to move away and keep his or her job, and maybe even work fewer hours -- just because he/she wants to live somewhere else & change pace -- even if the job can be done from that other place? I might add that our staff is already almost evenly geographically divided, with members in three different cities. Not true for my partner, but his company has had people work remotely before, even people in his same position.

I apologize if this is a messy question. It feels like a messy situation, certainly. I just can't resist finding out what some objective listeners think. Thanks.
posted by maybephd to Work & Money (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
A friend of mine just did this--asked to be moved across the country to a city where she would manage her team remotely. She's fairly important to her company, which is growing ridiculously even in this economy. Her bosses are not happy about it, but rather than lose her they agreed to the move.

My friend didn't have some of the things going for you--she's moving FROM her hometown to a place she's only visited, just because she wants to. She doesn't even intend to stay there forever. Her job is fairly hands-on, but her team is strong and can learn to work without her physical presence.

If you feel that your job is secure enough for you to at least run this idea by your boss, I'd do it.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 4:59 PM on March 1, 2009


Working less hours could be a selling point for you. As could the idea of saving the office space you were inhabiting. Sell it to them as a positive benefit for them, most of all.

A friend of mine went in and renegotiated a shorter work week, with a bit less pay, and they were just fine with it.
posted by Vaike at 5:21 PM on March 1, 2009


When companies are deciding who to lay off, outliers are often higher up the list than they would be if working in the office. Been there, had that.
posted by anadem at 5:59 PM on March 1, 2009


Is it at all possible that, assuming your husband got the OK from the higher ups, that he could support you and your family on his income alone? Even for a short while? Would you be able to qualify for the size mortgage you would like based on his income alone? How secure does he consider his job to be?

I may be wrong and I don't know anything about your work environment. But if I was in this situation, in this economy, I wouldn't go in to my bosses and inquire about working remotely unless I was prepared to leave if they say no. (Not immediately, but you get the idea.) Reason being is that I wouldn't want to give them any indication that I might be looking elsewhere or considering something else; in my experience this will instantly lower the importance of your role in the organization in their eyes. But as peanut_mcgillicuty said, go for it if you know your environment well enough to know it won't be held against you.

If at all possible, see what you can get done on his income alone. If you find it difficult to get loan approvals, then apply jointly if it will help... just be sure that whatever you sign up for in the end, you can still keep yourself afloat if your current employer is not amicable to your offer, even if it means you'll have to cashier at the local grocery or deliver pizzas or something until you find something you really desire. Your mention of wanting to qualify using your current FT income, and subsequently stating you want to find something PT, is a little alarming. There's a reason why they ask your income; because they don't want to approve you for something you can't afford. Just be sure you don't find yourself being stretched too far from the get go.

Beyond that, by all means ask your employer. Vaike's advice is good... present this to them in a way that shows how your proposal will benefit them, as well as you.

Side note... as a first time home buyer, there will apparently be several very beneficial things that will help you out in a few months, based on this article. Up to $8000 tax credit for purchasing, but you have to stay in the home 3 years. If you buy now where you are, you have to pay that credit back if you don't stay the full 3 years. Just one more thing to consider.
posted by SquidLips at 6:09 PM on March 1, 2009


If at all possible, see what you can get done on his income alone. If you find it difficult to get loan approvals, then apply jointly if it will help... just be sure that whatever you sign up for in the end, you can still keep yourself afloat if your current employer is not amicable to your offer, even if it means you'll have to cashier at the local grocery or deliver pizzas or something until you find something you really desire. Your mention of wanting to qualify using your current FT income, and subsequently stating you want to find something PT, is a little alarming. There's a reason why they ask your income; because they don't want to approve you for something you can't afford. Just be sure you don't find yourself being stretched too far from the get go.

We could come close to getting the loan we need on my partner's income alone, I think. That seems to be true based on a little research I did online. And this summer I spoke with a mortgage broker who gave me a ballpark figure of what we could qualify for with our current incomes, and it was insanely high, imo. WAY more than we want to spend per month (or could spend!), or currently spend on rent. I was shocked. Don't know if we'd hear that same story now, so I'm just hoping to make our odds of getting the loan we need as good as possible. I'd rather qualify for a lot more than we actually end up needing. But maybe that's silly. This is all new to me. We're pretty cautious folk when it comes to money, though; I'm not worried about us getting in over our head with a mortgage, barring really unfortunate, unforeseen circumstances...like, um, job losses for both of us at the same time.
posted by maybephd at 7:29 PM on March 1, 2009


I think the real issue is the one anadem brought up. From your description it certainly sounds like you could do the work from home. That may work out fine but if they start looking for people you'll be a lot easier to let go because you aren't there. The same goes for your partner. Are you indispensable in your positions or redundant or easily replaceable?
posted by 6550 at 8:11 PM on March 1, 2009


The question is hard to answer. I want to say "yes, you can totally pull this off." But it all comes down to negotiations with your boss. I can say "obviously no generalization ['people working from home get fired first'] always holds true." But the information that would help us suggest how you might try to sell it and how likely they are to go for it and whether it would destabilize your usefulness to them and lead to you being let go over time is not there (which maybe means you didn't want speculation or suggestions like that anyway).

But yeah, bottom line, it sounds like you're planning to quit in less than a year anyway, so the long-term destabilization shouldn't really matter. So if you can get them to agree to it, why not? Then it's up to you to prove that you can still be a really important staff member and to still make yourself part of the group (or to find that other job and quit).
posted by salvia at 2:36 AM on March 2, 2009


Are you indispensable in your positions or redundant or easily replaceable?

Yes, that is the question (for both of us), isn't it. Sigh. Neither of us are redundant, but I worry that I'm easily replaceable, especially now that there are so many talented people laid off in my field. The sig oth may be a bit more indispensable than I am in my position.
posted by maybephd at 7:31 AM on March 2, 2009


I didn't mean to sound too pessimistic or anything. And generally I'd say you need to do what will make you and your family happy, and it sounds like that's going to be moving to City Y at some point. But given the current economic situation prudence is warranted so, even if your bosses will okay telecommuting, carefully consider the potential risks. Maybe keep the situation as it stands and revisit it in another six months or a year. It's not like you need to move today.
posted by 6550 at 8:51 AM on March 2, 2009


The bosses at my company agreed to let a couple of long-term and very talented employees work remotely from across the states last fall. At the time of agreement, both parties seemed happy with the arrangement. However, when the recession came in full force and we experienced lay-offs, they were the first to go. If you are prepared for such a situation, I say take the risk and go for it. With one foot out the door, however, you will definitely be viewed as more dispensable than when working in the office.

side note. While it may seem like your job can be done remotely, make sure that you are checking in regularly with your colleagues. Unreliable internet, a personal phone # for client calls, and other similar factors can end up causing more headaches for those left behind than you would think.
posted by shrimpsmalls at 6:27 PM on March 2, 2009


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