My partner and I are in our early 30s and live in an expensive city in the US. Due mostly to luck we make kind of a lot of money at the moment — something like $175K jointly — and our savings are high too (call it $70K). If nothing changes about our financial situation, we'll be financially independent by the time we're 40, but it would be a little silly to expect that nothing will change; Glassdoor tells me that I'm pretty near the upper end of the pay range in my (tech-related) industry, recessions happen, and rent is increasing where we are at an alarming rate. But still, things are good for now.
At the behest of a former colleague, I am interviewing for what seems like a very cool job that, if they wound up hiring me, would involve us picking up and moving to a very nice part of Europe. I'm nowhere near the stage of the application process where they make me an offer, and I'm not arrogant enough to assume that I'll get one, but it's hard not to think about. The job would look great on my résumé and should really help me develop my skills, living in another country for a few years would be a lot of fun, and I'm optimistic about the fit… but it seems unlikely that they would be able to match my current salary, and they might not even be able to come close, just because tech salaries are generally quite a bit lower in Europe.
My partner could surely find a job in this city is in and is interested in trying something new, but might have to look for a while in a country where English is not the official language, so there could easily be a decrease in pay there too.
We're trying to figure out how much of a pay cut we could stand for this kind of opportunity, and how to weigh that against the fact that, if we don't do anything new, someday I am liable to have to take a pay cut anyway. Clearly we could live very comfortably on half of what we currently make, even less, but it seems like we should probably not voluntarily cut our gross savings rate by too much.
I should emphasize that, in my mind, this is ultimately a gross-savings question — I'm pretty comfortable comparing the cost of housing, healthcare, taxes, etc to get a number out at the end, but I don't have a clear picture of how small we can let that number get without seriously compromising future security.
An Outrageously Optimistic person would probably say not to worry about the money and go for the life experience, right? My own lived experience is more that money is hard to come by and you need a lot of it to have any measure of security and dignity in the US. Having this job under my belt should increase my earning potential here in the US, but taking a cut now in hopes that it gets you a gain in the future is a heck of a gamble. Right?
Has anyone else out there ever taken a pay cut for a risky/cool career move? Did it work out financially? Should I hold on for dear life for my high-earning job?