I have a possible job opportunity (and similar ones in the future, if I don't take this one) at a prestigious institution in my field that would allow me to live a comfortable middle-class life, pay my debts, and raise a family or own a house someday. I love my current job, relationship, home, and community, but I'm stuck at a pay level that's barely adequate to cover my bills each month and that's unlikely to increase much over the course of my career. How do I proceed?
posted by magdalemon to Work & Money (35 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've been going over pro/con lists in my head for a while now, but these are mostly unquantifiable quality-of-life concerns and I could use either a) a reality check, b) straight-up advice, or c) situations that are/were similar and how things turned out.
New opportunity/ies: in academia, involve a fairly large promotion, a pay raise of $10-15K, an additional three weeks of PTO, tuition breaks for myself and for dependents, tons of other benefits. The work itself seems very appealing. I'd be living and working close to my family of origin, old friends, and former colleagues I keep in touch with. It would be fun! But I'd have to move 3.5 hours away. My partner can't move with me. The workspace is in a cubicle inside a warehouse-like facility. The community is known for high crime rates; most people I know who live there experience break-ins more than once.
Currently: My job is a great fit for me and I've been able to tailor it to suit my skills/interests over the last few years. The daily tasks of my job are, for the most part, extremely enjoyable. My office is in a large room with a wonderful view. There are only a few of us in my department and my coworkers are all fairly tight-knit; we socialize outside of work and there's a strong feeling that we're operating as a team. My company has invested in my professional development and allows me almost full autonomy in my projects.
The area where I currently live is nearly ideal for me. I love the house where I live. And there is my boyfriend, who is so excellent. Our relationship is the best one I've known. He has children, who I consider part of the package--they're great, and I feel sad when I consider being apart from them. We have plans to have children of our own, and if I stay here we will probably get married. But his income isn't enough to cover both of us, and my income is barely enough to cover myself. I'm in my early 30s and still get help from my parents here and there. I have loads of debt that, over time, will be less of a problem--but I'm barely able to make a dent in it right now. There is also very little paid time off. I have so few vacation days that I have to decide whether to take a summer vacation (if I could afford it) or go home for the holidays, or stay home during bad weather or if I get sick. I can't imagine being happy with the current arrangement if I had a child.
My skill set is fairly specialized, and it's not realistic that I could find a similar or better position in the community/region where I live. My partner and I have discussed this at length. One possibility we think we could live with: if I get this job or another one there, I could move, we could go long-distance for a few years while I bank the extra salary money, then return to my current area when I get pregnant and stay home for a few years, then regroup when it's time to re-enter the workforce. It's unlikely that I could return to my current job.
TL;DR: The status quo is bearable, but not sustainable for the long-term and for what else I want in life (a family, a dog, a washing machine, actual vacations, haircuts when I need them, occasional meals in restaurants, childcare, time to spend with my child/ren) Should I stay in a life that I love but constantly feel pinched for time and money? Or should I move to a place where I'd have ample time and money but would be far away from my partner and? How much is appropriate to sacrifice for a relationship? Or for a career?