how do I even do this?
June 3, 2021 8:34 PM   Subscribe

I have a job. We are moving two hours away. I am job hunting where we are moving. I have to keep this a secret from my current employer because we are buying a house and I need to prove I have income to get the mortgage. I am overwhelmed. Help me before I go down an anxiety spiral.

We are in the process of applying for a mortgage to buy a new home in our new town (offer has been accepted by seller, contracts signed). My partner has a job in our new town. I am still employed in our old town, looking for job in new town. Taking time out for job interviews - even ones over Zoom - is hard to do without tipping my hat that I am job hunting. There are no private spaces at my work place to even do a phone screen, let alone an interview. I had to do a Zoom from my car today parked around the corner from my office.

Last week I had a really good Zoom interview with New Company in New Town on Friday. They wanted me to come meet them in person. I had taken Friday off of work at Current Job in Soon To Be Old Town due to the holiday and New Company asked if I could come drive up and meet them in person the following Wednesday. I said I would make it work - I need a job in New Town, obviously.

So, I already was off work on Friday. Monday was a holiday. Tuesday I went to work, then drove up to New Town and crashed with my partner in his temp corporate housing. Wednesday I did the interview. So I had to call out on Wednesday after a national holiday and after a Friday I had already taken PTO for.

I am terrified that Current Job will fire me for missing too much work and that will jeopardize our mortgage application. New Company is making noises that they may be giving me an offer soon, but nothing is guaranteed. Loan officer says that our mortgage app will be stronger with me having a job in New Town near the house we are purchasing in New Town. Loan officer also says that since my partner's income isn't sufficient to qualify for a mortgage on his own, I have to be employed one way or another in order to get this mortgage.

If you have read prior questions of mine, you know that I have terrible anxiety, especially around stressful work situations. I am having nightmares that if I duck out for another secret Zoom interview Current Job will either think I'm a slacker or will figure out I am leaving and fire me and jeopardize our house deal.

I have no idea how to do this. There are too many moving pieces. There is too much at stake. I can't find a job without taking time off from my current job. If my current job gets fed up about me taking time off I'll lose my current job. I feel like I'm in a giant fucking trap, I'm scared that I'll be fired, I'm scared I will be the one who ruins our house deal, but how the FUCK do I job hunt semi long distance without jeopardizing my current job? I can't sleep I'm so stressed about this I'm convinced that I'm going to walk into work tomorrow and be told that since I was out last Friday for the holiday and this past Wednesday because I had a "family emergency" (my cover for the job interview; I said my brother had to have an emergency appendectomy) that I should pack my shit and leave and then I'll have ruined everything.

Help, please. I'm breathing, I took an anxiety pill, I'm trying to reassure myself that companies don't fire people for having family emergencies even if they fall after a national holiday, but the mortgage factor has raised the stakes really high and I'm just terrified. Tips? Advice? Anything? Help.
posted by nayantara to Work & Money (27 answers total)
Do you have to buy a house in new town right now? Could you rent something for 6 months or a year and buy a house once you are actually settled in new town and have a new job?
posted by jacquilynne at 8:43 PM on June 3, 2021 [11 favorites]

Two unrelated thoughts.

First, unless your current company is terrible, it is extremely unlikely that they'd fire you with no warning at all. Any decent company or manager is, at the very least, going to first have a conversation with you to let you know that they think you're missing too much work (and ideally to try to understand why, and see what they can do to help). My guess is you have a lot more leeway here than you think.

Second, finding a new job, buying a house, and moving are each independently stressful things. Doing all three around the same time just multiplies the stress. If I were in your shoes, I'd be inclined to defer the job hunt at least until the house purchase is done. Then, depending on your situation, you can either not move right away, or just deal with the long commute for a little while. Yes, I'm sure getting a mortgage will be easier if you can show you have a job in the new location. But I don't think two hours away is far enough to be implausible as a commute. I think you'd probably be able to get approved for a mortgage with the current job.

Finally, remember that people deal with this kind of stuff all the time, and it tends to have a way of working out. I know that kind of vague reassurance may not be helpful, but it's good to try to keep perspective on how common this type of thing is.

Good luck!
posted by primethyme at 8:45 PM on June 3, 2021 [17 favorites]

I would wait until after the house closes to look for the new job. I mean, unless you get the one you’ve already interviewed for.

It’s only < 4 weeks until closing, and you won’t have a mortgage payment until 1-2 months after closing anyhow. A few weeks doesn’t seem long to push off a job hunt, especially when you already have the house buying chores/stress going on.
posted by rue72 at 9:20 PM on June 3, 2021

Best answer: Are you still getting your work done? I think management is far more willing to overlook a missed day here or there as long as you're not missing any deadlines and still being responsible about your duties.
posted by Constance Mirabella at 9:22 PM on June 3, 2021 [4 favorites]

That sounds like a lot of stress on you right now. It also sounds like your are handling it really well, giving the circumstances. I don't see much of a problem here, it sounds like you're doing well. It's pretty normal to have a lot of anxiety with moving house and potential job moves. I'd be pretty worried if you didn't have anxiety about all of this stuff.

I think you're right to worry about your current job and the future job. I guess it depends on your skill set and your confidence in your partner. I think you're going to be okay.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 9:24 PM on June 3, 2021

Response by poster: Some clarification:

I am getting my work done. If there are performance concerns my manager has not brought them to my attention.

Today, we got a fantastic offer for the house we are moving out of, and accepted. If all goes well with the inspection etc they will get their mortage approved.

The house we are buying needs some work done before we can move in. My partner will be coordinating this. Our timeline might look fast but that's because the real estate market is absolutely booming in our area/state.

I was not intending to look for jobs this early. I applied to a few in New Town to see how competitive the market was there and got a ton of responses quickly (hence all of the secret Zooms), one of them is now apparently very interested in me. I've kind of done this to myself, which I am angry at myself about. I should have waited. Now that I am so far along in their hiring process (they are asking for references and background check) I feel like I need to see how this plays out. I have ceased all other job hunting in the meantime and won't apply to anything else until late June.

The relo package that my partner's job is offering is so generous that we know we won't use all of it. It's massive. Some of it could go towards finding a temporary place to live if I get this job (partner's corp housing is too small for him, me, dog, and cat).

So those are the circumstances, potential problems, and potential solutions. As I write this out I realize that my biggest fear is getting fired, not getting this other job, jeopardizing our mortgage, and knowing it was completely avoidable had I not tested the job market up there so soon. I have painted myself into this situation that spikes my anxiety.

The company I work for now is, as far as I know, not one that fires people without warning. It's a small company, very family-oriented, not cutthroat. The work is interesting. My manager is good, but his second in command is really unpleasant and I think she doesn't like me. There is also a weirdo in the office who tracked how often I went to to the restroom and lodged a complaint. I have IBS. Never in my working life have I experienced something like that and it was humiliating. My doctor wrote me a note to keep on file so at least I'm covered there, but due to the unpleasant colleague and the bathroom complaint I... don't feel safe here? So that's where my firing fear is coming from.

Hope this context helps.
posted by nayantara at 9:42 PM on June 3, 2021

Best answer: One thing to mention in case your lender or mortgage broker has not already - typically if you are on the mortgage and it’s your primary residence and it’s beyond commute distance to your job, the lender will require a statement from your current employer that you are ok to work remote. Reason being they don’t want you to lose your job that formed the basis of the income that qualified your mortgage. So you should be prepared to either have a job in the new town or have a written statement from current job that you can work remote in order to find the loan. You can get around this by classifying the new home as a second home ont eh paperwork but then you have to show you can pay both the current home mortgage and the ne wine with your income at the same time.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 9:54 PM on June 3, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best answer: With the IBS bathroom weirdness that's already happened with Doctor's note, I feel like old company is more likely to not want to hassle you again in case it's another health thing.
posted by freethefeet at 11:08 PM on June 3, 2021 [8 favorites]

I don't know if it helps you, but for me I try to work through the worst-case scenario and see if it's something I can deal with.

Here, it sounds like the worst case would be you being fired, simultaneously not getting the new job, and being declined for the mortgage as a result.

So where would that leave you?

If I'm reading the question right, it would leave you with a rented apartment partly covered by relocation benefits, in a city with hot job prospects. Disadvantages: not owning a house, probably needing to move at some point. Advantages: no need to handle construction work (including any unforeseen problems) at an already stressful time; a chance to get to know the city and the new jobs better before choosing a more permanent home. Unclear advantage or disadvantage: the state of the housing market, how long this boom is going to last, what a house bought right now would be worth if/when the bubble bursts.

The worst case sounds frustrating in that it would involve more uncertainty, and maybe (learning how to deal with) various feelings about 'what might have been'. But objectively... it doesn't seem bad. It sounds like even if everything goes wrong, you'll still be in really secure shape, even if it's not the shape you've been envisioning. That's pretty awesome ground to be on.

I hope that helps you breathe a little.
posted by trig at 12:00 AM on June 4, 2021 [8 favorites]

Keep the job you have until you close the deal on the new house. Reverse commute from New house to Old job for weeks or months if you have to.

But also take a few breaths and remind yourself that even scouting new jobs in new area proves you are on top of this and you can do it.

If you can work remote, pitch that to your current job! We were able to buy our house partially based on a deal like that.
posted by vrakatar at 12:35 AM on June 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: So the only job you’re applying for right now is the one you’re currently in process with, and you went to see them Wednesday? And you’ve halted all other job hunting? So surely that means you won’t be taking any more time off? If you didn’t get sacked yesterday, it sounds like you’re fine, unless I’m missing something about the chronology?
posted by penguin pie at 1:53 AM on June 4, 2021

Sometimes, you have to realize that you've done all you can and the rest is up to... whoever deity you believe in.

Or as the old adage: Que sera, sera. (Whatever will be, will be)

And if you can't do anything about it, why worry about it?

I'd also start looking at both the positive and negative outcomes. Yes, it's fine planning for a worst case scenario, but don't let it "consume" you. Human mind can be fixated on the weirdest things, such as coming up with doomsday scenarios that require alignment of 9 planets and a couple stars.

Keep your head down at work, and keep going. Maybe work a little harder and give an extra 15-30 minutes of work every few days to look extra helpful. That sort of thing. After all, you probably won't be there "much" longer. Never hurts to leave on a good note, right?
posted by kschang at 2:27 AM on June 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for your advice everyone. Last thing to clarify: my current job does NOT allow me to WFH. They don't allow anyone to WFH. So that option is not really an option, and based on TestamenttoGrace's answer, that could potentially become a problem for us with the mortgage application. We can't list the new home as a second home since we just got an offer to sell our current home. There's no way we could afford two mortgages. My partner is in the process of disentangling himself from a house he xo-owns with his ex-wife, which adds an extra knot in our application - he has more debt than I do.

So I think I'm just going to keep pursuing the job that seems to want to hire me in hope that it works out (it's a very good, stable company with great benefits). Apply to more jobs at the end of this month. See how it plays out. And if I have to start a new job earlier than anticipated we'll figure out the living logistics when we get there.
posted by nayantara at 4:41 AM on June 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

1. It's the summer, and a lot of things just opened up. Lots of people are missing work here and there.
2. There's a national labor shortage. It'd be wildly foolhardy to chase people off.
3. This is how the interview/hiring process works when you get a new job in a new town. New Job knows you already have a job now, and that you're a little ways away. So, you talk to them at lunch, or in your car somewhere, or on a Monday/Friday with a couple of weeks advance notice so you can take time off, or whatever; this is a normal thing and they should be willing to work with you.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:54 AM on June 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Doing a zoom in your car is a pretty smart way of navigating this stuff! Any potential employer who isn’t understanding about scheduling interviews around your schedule and during this time isn’t going to be worth it.

My only tip to you is that “my brother had an emergency appendectomy” is a really unnecesarily elaborate lie and I’d keep things way simpler in the future. Schedule interviews early in the morning or late in the workday and say you have to duck out for a doctor appointment.
posted by cakelite at 6:28 AM on June 4, 2021 [10 favorites]

If I were in your shoes, I'd be inclined to defer the job hunt at least until the house purchase is done. Then, depending on your situation, you can either not move right away, or just deal with the long commute for a little while.

This was my first thought as well, but it sounds from the responses like you are already doing this, aside from the current job application. If the mortgage company asks about your current job being in the other town, you could also tell them that you will be getting a studio apartment (or staying with a friend, or whatever), if the commute looked too unrealistic. But they don't always ask -- we bought our last house while showing incomes in two different states and it never came up as a question.

Personally I have found the process of looking for a new job in secret while still at the current job to be terribly stressful and difficult. It's sometimes unavoidable, but all the stress you are describing sounds normal to me with that process. Sneaking out for calls, worries about what would happen in a place decided to cold call your current employer (this happened to me) -- it feels like walking on eggshells. My point is, you aren't doing anything wrong and it really does sound like you are handling things well. (However, I do agree with the point above that the elaborate excuses don't work as well as generic doctor/dentist appointments, or taking some sick days.)
posted by Dip Flash at 7:13 AM on June 4, 2021

Someone above suggested just renting in the new town and I think that makes sense and takes a big pile of stress off the table. If you rent for a few months you'll have a better idea of where you want to live. I don't know how big new town is but if it's big you want to make sure that neither of you has a long commute. Since you do not know where you will be working in new town it makes a whole lot of sense to hold off on buying anything now.
posted by mareli at 7:18 AM on June 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Echoing cakelite to say if you need to call out again, keep your reasons vague and true. This will give you less to keep track of. I’ve used “I have business to take care of” and no one asks what business. If they did, I’d say “I’m sorry to have to miss work, but it’s something that can’t wait.” It feels uncomfortable at first, but you’re allowed to have privacy.
posted by erloteiel at 7:26 AM on June 4, 2021 [4 favorites]

I just want to add reassurance too, that even though job hunting sucks, the fact that you got a ton of interest after your first round of applications means you must be a well qualified experienced candidate for the type of jobs you are applying for. It means that even if you have to keep your Old Job in Old Town past your move-in date in New Town, and you have to then find temporary residence in Old Town to continue working at Old Job, that the chances of you finding a job relatively quickly in New Town are pretty high.
posted by molasses at 7:28 AM on June 4, 2021

Reading your post and follow-ups, I don’t understand why you need to buy a house right now (especially one that needs work — talk about unnecessary additional stress!). And furthermore, financing the house purchase right now seems like the one thing — really the only thing — that makes this situation approach go anything close to a dilemma. Use the huge bucket of money from the sale of your home and your partner’s relocation allowance to rent a nice apt for a few months in New Town (that’s what that money is for), keep commuting to your old job, and keep looking for a new job. Even if your old job fires you for taking time off (which seems unlikely), you can find a new job in new city (which has a hot job market) without worrying about jeopardizing the financing for a new house during the (hopefully short) period when you are between jobs.
posted by hhc5 at 8:35 AM on June 4, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Does your current job know that you're buying a house? Because that seems like a pretty good all-purpose excuse for needing to be out of the office - "have to take care of something for the house"
posted by Ragged Richard at 8:43 AM on June 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

I don’t understand why you need to buy a house right now

This. Partner is still disentangling their own finances. You're still disentangling your job situation. Neither of you can afford this house on your own. Why buy a house preemptively?

I need a job in New Town, obviously.
From the outside this is not at all obvious. You don't necessarily have to cohabitate right away. You have a job right now. Partner has a job right now. There are plenty of ways to make this work without getting into massive debt just to "own" something.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:49 AM on June 4, 2021 [4 favorites]

If they are upset, consequences of taking time off are likely to be in the form of an letter of warning or a Performance Improvement Plan, not an outright firing.

Moving and job hunting are hella stressful, so try to go into Hunker Down/ Self-Care mode. Take a multivitamin. Eat health tasty food even if takeout is expensive. Get extra sleep if you can. Take long baths with a used book that can get damp. Listen to music. One step at a time is the way to proceed. Good luck.
posted by theora55 at 7:56 PM on June 4, 2021

I have been in exactly this position, and it is not impossible to commute 2 hours each way for a while, if that is the thing that is blocking you. I did it 5 days a week for 6 months. I still do it a couple of days a week and have done for 18 years. It just means you have to go to bed early for a bit, not desirable, because you miss out on relaxation time, but not a huge impost either.
In your case, It seems like it will be unnecessary, as you will get a mortgage approved, close on the house then need to address job seeking in a new location.
posted by bystander at 5:37 AM on June 5, 2021

Response by poster: New Company made me a job offer yesterday. Fantastic offer. Fantastic company. (Amazing Glassdoor reviews, the HR recruiter has been so kind and helpful, the company has been very flexible regarding our relo timeline, the woman I am reporting to hasba very similar career history to mine, has worked for New Company for over a decade, says it is her best job ever by far and loves it.) After some negotiation, I accepted it today. Start date in two weeks. Giving notice at Current Job today, we'll see how it goes. I will live with my partner in his corp housing until the house purchase is finalized (inspection was yesterday and went well). Loan officer is very pleased that I have a local job lined up as it makes her life easier.

We are buying now because 1) we found a house we loved 2) partner's temp housing is only through August 1 and we want to avoid allocation of any relo money towards another temp apartment and essentially move twice 3) partner's company is willing to let us use some relo money towards cosmetic house repairs (as they consider that part of the relo process for whatever reason, we ain't complaining) 4) partner's ex-wife is insane and scary (I wrote in a question ages ago related to her harassment of me a while back) and we are eager to get far away from her, in a place we both own (partner is not listed on my current mortgage, it's my house) 5) We have had a couple of offers on my house and expect to accept one this weekend.

Things are looking up, I am no longer stressed, looking forward to a new chapter and a fresh start. This whole situation has served to make my relationship with my partner even stronger and we are both very happy and excited for what is to come.

Thank you all for your advice!
posted by nayantara at 8:59 AM on June 11, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Congratulations nayantara, that’s brilliant news - nice work! *applauds*
posted by penguin pie at 10:48 AM on June 11, 2021

Response by poster: Last update: I gave notice at my job, they got mad, told me to leave immediately. 2 week vacay before new job! Yay!
posted by nayantara at 6:55 AM on June 12, 2021 [3 favorites]

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