Can’t find a job? Can’t earn more? Want a change? Move!
First I want to say that I recognize that there are millions of Americans, and probably billions across the globe who wish they were in my position, and I feel very blessed and lucky for both my wife and I to have jobs, especially ones that pay relatively well and have good benefits. With that, however, I still want to post about my life because, well, that’s one reason many of you keep reading, right?
Will my streak continue?
Since graduating college over 11 years ago, I have had 6 employers, and with each job change, I increased my salary. Exactly 2 years ago today, I changed to my 6th new job. I wasn’t ready to leave my old job at the university, but the new job was very compelling and completely different than anything I had done before. It wasn’t about money because I only got a small raise from where I was, but I also got the opportunity for a big bonus because it was in sales, sort of. The new position meant I had to know tons of products, solutions, partner offerings, and customer use cases, and the new company heavily promotes education because you can’t do your job if you don’t know the products.
But I told myself I would give this job 2 years and re-evaluate whether I want to stay. Well, it’s been 2 years and sure enough, I want to stay. I’ve had some tempting offers from recruiters during the last two years, but my job is flexible, I work from home 99% of the time, have little travel and have been getting some good bonuses (plus awards and certification bonuses).
So I have a streak of earning more each year than the last, this year included. However, I’m not sure I’ll keep up that trend next year, and some other factors have made me consider doing something drastic…
MOVING OUT OF THE D.C. AREA!
Would we ever move?
The D.C. region (not D.C. itself) has been my home for close to 12 years now (sheesh, time flies!), and it’s only 2.5-3 hours away from our families. There are still tons of jobs, especially if you’re in IT like myself, but there are certainly negatives. Traffic. High cost of living. Noise. Crime.
My wife has to commute from MD to VA and back every day for work, which is about 40 miles round-trip, and the traffic has absolutely been killing her motivation for some time now. It’s getting worse and worse, and all of our Virginia friends keep telling us to move to the other side of the river (Potomac River). However, having lived and worked in VA, and knowing what we can afford and where, I know it wouldn’t be any better there. It would probably be worse because traffic would still suck but we would pay $200k or more than what our house cost to get a decent house. So no, we’re not moving to Northern Virginia anytime soon.
Well then what other options do we have? Glad you should ask! I am fortunate enough in my job that I can at least move anywhere in the Southeast U.S. and not have to switch teams or managers. The farther away I live, the tougher working with federal customers would be. But honestly, I only leave the house for a customer once every other month at most. Everything else is on the phone and internet. My wife isn’t as fortunate as her job is tied to the building she works in, and she has no telecommute option at all.
Therefore, if we were to move, my wife would be the one searching for a new job. However, one challenge is, generally, getting equal pay as we are currently getting in the D.C. region. But on the other hand, and this is a big deal, you don’t have to earn more money to “make” more money. For example, if we were to move to, say, North Carolina, it’s not tremendously far from family or from D.C., and more importantly, the cost of living is much lower, especially with housing. I’m sure we could get at 1.5x the space and 60+ years newer home compared to our current home for either the same price or even $100k less. So even if my wife found a job making $10k less than she is making now, it would even out in the mortgage, and most definitely TIME.
So where are we thinking?
Surprisingly, we’re thinking along the same lines as J Money at BudgetsAreSexy.com and considering either Raleigh/Durham or Charlotte. For me, I only need to be near a relatively large airport, and I prefer to be in a larger city where there are other “fallback” jobs if I were to need or want a change. We have friends in Raleigh, and we’ve been to Charlotte a couple times (although it was only for NASCAR, and we never got to tour the city).
The biggest changes we worry about are:
- Being farther from our families (7-8 hours instead of 2.5-3). However, we’re seeing them more like every 2-3 months versus the monthly visits we would make 10 years ago. Also, and more importantly, we don’t have kids. Why is that important? Well, when we were planning on having or adopting children long ago, we wanted to stay in D.C. to be close to families and jobs. Now that we’re leaning towards no kids, being close to family has less of an impact. However, we would really miss the ability to drive up in just a few hours. Instead, we would spend over half a day in driving, so weekend trips would have to be 3 days minimum.
- Diversity (aka food!). I LOVE the food diversity in D.C. You want food from a certain country, you’re sure to find it here, and perhaps even a half dozen or more restaurants of the same type. Can we find equally good Ethiopian or Indian food in N.C.? I can assure you without even Googling it that the answer would be no.
- Leaving a job-rich area like D.C. In my field, I don’t think I’ll ever lack for a job here as long as I keep my skills current and marketable. One part is because of all the federal money flowing through here, but on the other hand, I hate working federal contracts and with federal customers (not the people, just the bureaucracy). I like working commercial and higher education more, and those two cities I mentioned in N.C. have both, depending on where you go.
- The uncertainty of a different home. After living in our home for 9 years, and even though it’s over 70 years old, we know it pretty well now. However, there may be some heavy costs coming up, such as replastering the pool, certain appliances and some cosmetics to make it much more pleasing and livable.
That’s just listing out the Cons of our thought process, and I highly doubt anything would happen anytime soon (especially with the fiscal cliff concerns!), but it’s nice to know we have options. Now that we’re trending towards no kids, we can predict our finances a bit better and plan accordingly. We can still spoil our nieces and nephews (like taking them to Disney!), but we don’t have the 24/7 concerns and costs of parenting. I always like to think I get to play with the kids while they’re in a happy mood, then give them back to mom and dad when they poo or get cranky. I can’t say kids are definitely not in our future, but we’re no spring chickens, so the likelihood is lessening with each passing year.
So to recap, I have a string of making more money year over year since graduating college, but unless I change jobs (and really negotiate hard) or we have a banner year next year, it might not continue. However, one way of “earning more” is to move away from a high-cost city to a lower-cost one, assuming the costs of selling/buying homes and moving are worth it.
What about you? Have you made a big move away from or to a city for work? How has it worked out and have any advice for our D.C to N.C. move?