I have been offered a dream career position. All signs indicate that I will excel at the job, and in a few years I may be in a technical leadership position with amazing potential and significant rewards. However, it will require my wife and I to move across the country, away from family and friends. How do we make such a difficult choice?
posted by RobotNinja to Work & Money (46 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
On preview, this is long and somewhat special-snowflakey. TLDR: How do my wife and I resolve a conflict between a dream career and potential financial windfall, vs. being close to family and completely uprooting our current comfortable life?
I've been offered an engineering position with a major tech company in Silicon Valley. I don't want this question to be even easier to google, so PM me if you feel the details matter. Suffice it to say that the position is a dream career opportunity for me, the technologies are perfectly poised to make a major impact in the 5-10 year time frame, and there could be moderate-to-significant financial incentives.
My wife & I live on the East Coast. I'm not especially close with my family - we mostly get together at the holidays and a couple other times throughout the year. However, she's lived close to hers for almost her entire life, and we see them at least once every 1-2 weeks. Her parents lives are highly focused around family, and they don't like to travel. I am still close with a group of friends that I went to high school and college with, and most of them are back in my home town area now after being scattered for a few years.
I have a good job now. Some days are quite stressful, but some are great. I would definitely do well there for the foreseeable future, but my biggest fear is that I could also plateau. We're fairly bureaucratic; promotions normally come only from seniority, and you often have to wait for someone to retire before new opportunities are available. More than that, there is a heavy feeling of cronyism at the upper levels of the organization, and I don't see an opportunity to make a big impact there. However, I'm certain I could stay there for 30 years, work on a mix of good projects, and retire very comfortably.
At the new position, I would be involved from the start in helping form an amazing, talented team working on Big Impactful Things, and furthermore I know that I would do an Awesome Job; everything in my career has prepared me for this.
We are very comfortable right now. We own a house, which we would have to sell (at almost break-even thanks to the housing crash) or rent, and we fear being lonely without family and friends. At the same time, we spend a lot of time together, and the new area has a lot of things we like - beaches, walkable small cities, wine country, beautiful weather, etc. My wife is inclined towards conservatism and sticking with a good thing, and I'm inclined towards taking calculated risks. We both love a lot about our current life, our house, our friends, etc. I know that if I say no to the new job, I may deeply regret it, especially if the technology does make it big in a few years. But I also know that if we do move, there's a chance my wife may be unhappy and resent our decision. She worries that I'll resent her if she says she wants to stay, and I worry that she might resent me if I say I want us to go. OTOH, we could also love the new life and enjoy every day.
We've discussed doing a 1-year trial, renting our house here and renting an apt out there. There would still be a lot of stress of moving and settling there. The biggest risk would be if a year from now, I love the job and the area, and she is extremely unhappy, and we're faced with this same situation over again.
We're faced with a huge dilemma - keep a life that we enjoy, know a lot about and can predict, or jump into the unknown? We tend to be very deliberate decision-makers that make tons of spreadsheets and pro/con lists to analyze this sort of thing, but that tactic basically results in decision paralysis for us with this kind of big decision. I'd love to hear from others that have faced similar situations and what factors you considered. What did you regret, and what are you happy you've done 5-10 years later?