Need help planning Big Adult Decisions
August 15, 2016 11:49 PM   Subscribe

I am working on making several big changes in my life, including changing jobs and maybe even careers, moving, and embarking on a new relationship. The logistical planning and timing of all of this is overwhelming.

I'm in my mid-30s and don't have children. After the breakup of my long-term relationship a little over a year ago, I have been regrouping and rethinking what I want my life to look like. I've been in my current job for about the same time period and have always seen it as a comfortable but boring and underpaid stepping stone while I figure out the next step. In the meantime I have been exploring another career path that is related to jobs I've done in the past which I enjoyed, would pay a lot more, and is in high demand, but for which I need to devote significant time and effort acquiring more advanced tech skills. I've been doing online courses but still have probably at least 5 months, at my current rate, before I would be ready to try to get a job using those skills.

In the meantime, I've decided that I also want to move back to LA (my hometown) for various reasons, one of which is that I have started dating an old friend who lives there, but there are plenty of other reasons besides that.

I'm eager to find a new job and to move, but I don't know what the best approach is. I would love to take a few months off from work to focus exclusively on learning and working towards my goals, and I have enough savings that I could do so. I know that reasonable people do this but the idea of just quitting my job without another one lined up seems so irresponsible, even though the prospects are really good. I could also try to get another job in LA that is more like my current job, and keep working on learning on the side to eventually get the job I really want, but that could take a lot of time. Then there are just the logistics of moving and finding a new place to live, and needing to take some time to deal with that.

How do other people approach moving and changing jobs? Do most people look for a new job, then move, or the other way around? Is it crazy to quit a job to spend a few months learning stuff to try to go for a more interesting/rewarding career? Should I just stay put for 4 or 5 more months while I get skilled up, then quit my job and move and look for a new job in LA? If you have personal stories about how you made big changes in your life, and what you would or wouldn't do differently, please share!
posted by Dilemma to Work & Money (6 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
You can learn this entirely online, yes? You don't need in-person classes? Can you stand to be away from your new lover for a bit while you level up?

Move to Mexico or Guatemala for 5 months. Your cost of living will be ridiculously low, and you can do all your online classes there while not depleting your savings. You'll be living so cheaply you will be able to make a few trips to LA to see your new flame without breaking the bank. I lived on Cozumel (an island off the coast of Playa del Carmen) and my monthly spending was $300 a month, and that included a motorcycle I rented, a large furnished apartment, wifi, and food.

I've done this. So have most of my friends. PM me if you want details.

The time I spent focusing on career development paid off big time -- I had plenty of savings to cushion me when I moved on, and had an enviable time working from beaches while honing my craft.
posted by ananci at 1:38 AM on August 16, 2016 [18 favorites]

I quit a job to spend a few months studying something new (well, ~six weeks traveling and hanging out plus two months of boot camp), in large part because I wanted to move home. I was 35 with no kids when I decided. I did study really hard for my last few months at my (boring, underpaid, lots of downtime) job.

Here's why I felt OK about pulling the plug when I did:
1) I had plenty of money in the bank to support myself for a few months/pay for my travel and classes (this part was pretty important!)
2) I had a "soft landing" set up - I knew I could stay with my father for free in the suburbs, and an old roommate offered me her guest room closer to the city for very reasonable rent/no long-term lease. Even if everything went to hell, I knew I had enough goodwill stored up that I could couchsurf friends and relatives for a while.
3) I had committed enough time to studying that I felt like I was ready to really devote myself to the subject full time for a few months
4) My lease was up

Anyway, that worked out great for me. I love ananci's idea too.
posted by mskyle at 6:42 AM on August 16, 2016

I'm a big believer that there is no perfect time or opportunity to make big changes. While I'm generally a cautious person, at some point you just hop out of the plane and hope the chute opens.

So yeah, I think you need to start going for it; however, you don't need to go for ALL of it at one time. Since I'm mostly cautious in nature, my big moves have always had a safety net, usually a job lined up.

In your situation, I'd get a job in my current field,
then move,
then start making professional contacts in LA in your new career path,
then wrap up your training and
then get a new gig.

The thing is we all want to hit the finish line now-Now-NOW - new city, new home, new career, NOW. In large part, that's probably about wanting to avoid the pain, uncertainty and inconvenience of change.

That you have some time to execute the move before finding a new career is a good thing. It gives you time to absorb and stabilize one change (moving) before you start the next (career change). Starting a new career when your life is in complete upheaval (move, boyfriend, training) is a recipe for a rough start to your new gig. Having a job also gives you a cash cushion so you don't need to take any job offered in your new field. You will have the luxury of being a bit picky and the professional network to give you options!

Move, get a job in your current field, train on the side, then take your new career by storm.
posted by 26.2 at 9:24 AM on August 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Do you have enough savings to tide your over in LA?
When you said your studies would take a significant amount of time, I expected you saying you'd have to go back to school for an advanced degree, not five months of online courses. Sure that's hard, but it's not that much?
Can you either stick it out for those five months in your current job or do what above posters suggest and live cheaply before you can look for a new job with your new skills?
posted by LoonyLovegood at 12:36 PM on August 16, 2016

Thanks for all the good answers! Yes, I can do all the learning online, but it's important to be there in person to attend Meetups and network as much as possible, so as tempting as it sounds I don't think moving to an island would be the best approach. (Plus I think living in a tropical paradise would make it really hard to focus and work.) This is why moving to LA and giving myself some time outside of a full time job to learn and network could be useful. I'm finding it difficult to devote the amount of time and focus to learning that I would like, while still working full time.

I have enough savings that I could live comfortably for at least six months and still have a good cushion leftover. I'm just "a cautious person", like 26.2 says, so even though I'm reasonably certain a good job would be obtainable, and I have the money to do so, the thought of just quitting and not working for a few months is scary!
posted by Dilemma at 1:55 PM on August 16, 2016

Preferably speaking, you'd find a job before you move. However, from what I've heard it's very hard to do this unless you are some kind of big shot who's likely to be recruited in a bigger search than a local area. Most jobs would rather you already live in the area (or at the very least, don't need them to help you pay for moving expenses) before they will even consider your resume. So that is a problem.

In your case, if it is your hometown and you have friends/a potential SO living there (I'm assuming), the best plan would be to move, stay with whatever locals you know are willing to take you in for a month or two so you have some time and space to find a place, and then also have a local address to mention during the job hunt, and hope to god you get hired.

Whether or not you can be unemployed for six months or not is up to you. I have known enough people out of work for a year or more to think that trusting that you can get employed again after six months is...who the heck knows. But I don't know anything about what you do now or want to do for work to know how hard that is in LA. Maybe in your special snowflake circumstances, you could swing it.

But if you definitely want to move to LA, you'll probably have to do it without a job first anyway, so that might just happen.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:49 PM on August 16, 2016

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