Author Topic: Would you quit your job if it kept you away from famliy?  (Read 5074 times)

Pedro Gonzales

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Would you quit your job if it kept you away from famliy?
« on: March 11, 2014, 04:20:29 PM »
If you don't want to go through a lot of the detail below, here's my question: If you could afford to FIRE (but don't intend to actually retire), and wanted to move cities, would you first quit a high-paying (but also highly demanding) job and then move where you want to find new employment, or would you quit only after you found that second employment, even if it'll take a lot longer (because of the demands of your existing job). I know that it's a personal decision and everyone's threshold for risk and rewards will drive a different decision, but I want to see how other folks would handle this, and I haven't had a chance to ask a lot of people in the real world (because most of my current friends are also co-workers, clients or competitors and I don't want word to get around especially so close to bonus season). Now, to the details.

I live and work in a high cost North East city and commute to a low cost South West town every weekend where my wife and kids live. My wife and I have done this for over 4 years now only because our jobs happen to be in different cities. We are both immigrants and have no real ties to any part of the US, but back in 2009, in the depth of the recession, we both lost our jobs in NE city and while I received a competitive job offer here, after 6 months of unemployment she only found an acceptable job (one that challenged her enough and paid her the right amount) in SW town. We decided then to become weekend spouses until the job market turned. As it turned out, since we didn't yet have our green cards, the job market for us didn't really turn around for a long time, in which time we developed a healthy appreciation for SW town due to the significantly lower cost of living (the 3,500 sq ft house in SW town that my wife and kids live in costs significantly less than my 900 sq ft condo in NE city) and significantly higher standard of living (much less traffic, better weather, more easily available public resources like parks, libraries, etc) . We decided that I would be the one to make the move, but since our green card was tied to my employment, we would wait until it arrived. That happened 6 months ago, and I have been trying to relocate since then, but haven't found a job in SW town yet. It is proving difficult because what I do isn't done very much there, and finding a job doing something else requires creativity (which I have) and time and energy (which I don't have, given the demands of my current job and the time and energy I spend traveling back and forth across the country).

The obvious answer is to first quit, then move to SW town and then look for something to keep me busy there, but I am very reluctant to do that. The basic fear is that I may not find a job at all in SW town, and the fact that you are considered more employable when you are already employed. Moving on to why having a job is important to me, firstly, I like the idea of having a career, with the structured progression that comes with it. I guess I am ambitious, and like the idea of having an increasing impact on society over time (and less important but still significant, making more money). Secondly, I have a fear of irrelevance. I know this to be at least partially valid because my friends and I hardly ever interact with excolleagues that retired during the downturn (as happy as they may be in their lives). But then this is also partly because I grew up believing in the importance of a steady job in defining a man's contribution to society (as irrational as I know that to be, it's tough to shake off). An article in the WSJ about out-of-work CEOs finding it difficult to adjust to unemployment/early retirement and unable to get back into the game when they've been out of it for 12 months or longer, served to reinforce my reluctance last week. Thirdly, while I am FI, I think I would like to save up some more (my kids' education is not yet accounted for, and whenever I reach my theoretical retirement, I would like to travel constantly). Finally, I have gotten used to certain luxuries related to my work (fancy dinners, traveling business class, generally living a fast paced life), that I would never pay for out of my pocket.

A little background about myself. My wife and I are in our mid 30s. Financially, we have a net worth of about $1.6 million, $1.2 million excluding the equity in our two homes. I have no debt outside of my mortgages (and I've deducted them in calculating the $1.6mm net worth figure). My parents are also well off and frugal and at some point (although a long time from now, I hope), we are likely to see an additional $2 million come our way (50% of their current net worth, I have one sibling). I earn about $300k a year (although if I found a suitable job in SW town, my pay would likely drop to $200k), and my wife earns about $150k a year. Our expenses, including the monthly mortgage payments and property taxes on the SW home would fall to $70k once I eliminate costs related to the NE condo (which I could rent out for at least the monthly payments) and my weekend commute. Before you scream and shout about how I claim to be frugal and would spend this much,I must point out that $18k of that is related to mortgage and property tax payments and $12k relates to day care which will cease in a couple of years, so my real expenses are closer to $40k. In any case, we could live quite happily on just one salary in SW town.

Looking at the numbers on screen, the rational thing from a purely economic perspective, is for my wife and kids to move to NE city and join me here. Adding in other factors like quality of life, stability of employment (my wife's job is relatively more stable than mine, etc) the rational decision is for me to join them in SW town. But while the head can see that, the heart hesitates (except for Sunday and Monday when it misses my kids incredibly). So, now back to my question, if you were me, what would you do? Would you quit first and look for a job later, or just call it quits?

My apologies, for the length of this post but through this exercise, I'm hoping to both give you information and simultaneously gather my thoughts.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2014, 04:55:57 PM by Pedro Gonzales »

mollyjade

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Re: Would you quit your job if it kept you away from famliy?
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2014, 04:40:26 PM »
I did quit a job to move to the same city as my soon-to-be husband and had a very hard time finding a job. (I'd been searching 6 months before I moved long distance, and that wasn't any better.) I would do it over again, even though being out of work so long was (psychologically) hard. And I have very low risk tolerance. It was both very hard and very worth it. I imagine it's much harder to be away with children involved.

It sounds like you're understandably dreading both choices. Uncertainty is hard. Would it help to set a deadline for finding a new job from your current location? That way you'd have 1) a firm decision, 2) a set period of time you'll be separated from your family, and 3) big motivation to get your resume out there. If you hit the deadline without finding a job, you quit your current job anyway and get to see your family.

Cassie

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Re: Would you quit your job if it kept you away from famliy?
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2014, 04:43:08 PM »
I would go but you need to think about if you will regret this decision if you can't find a job. Or you could decide to start your own business-maybe consulting or something that will not take a lot of upfront $.

Ellen

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Re: Would you quit your job if it kept you away from famliy?
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2014, 07:04:17 PM »
To answer your question: Yes, I would, if it wasn't a question of feeding them or keeping a roof over their heads.

Four years is a long time to be a long distance commuting parent. You made the best choice you could at the time, but you easily have the assets ($1.6 million!) to leave your job without another one lined up. Your wife makes PLENTY of $ for an area with a low COL--plus you like that place better! Give yourself 6 months to find a job, but if you don't find one by September, sell the NE condo and MOVE ALREADY.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Would you quit your job if it kept you away from famliy?
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2014, 06:06:02 AM »
I could handle a long distance relationship without kids, but with kids, NO WAY.

From what you say, the SW town is where you're happier and it's cheaper in the long run. Quit yesterday and move there. Figure out what level of expenses you're happy with because you've got a ton of net worth. (For example, I've got three kids, and with your net worth, I could already FIRE and then some.)

oldtoyota

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Re: Would you quit your job if it kept you away from famliy?
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2014, 08:39:14 AM »
With your NW, I'd be FIRE.

Family is more important than money to me, so I would quit to be with family. Is there any chance your current employer would allow you to telecommute?




Mister Fancypants

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Re: Would you quit your job if it kept you away from famliy?
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2014, 11:55:20 AM »
Roll the dice and make the move... you can afford it, family first.

You will find work if not start a business. I could not be away from my kids like that, you did what you had to for as long as you needed to, you have the green card. Hand in your notice; I will come to you going away party :)

-Mister FancyPants

ch12

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Re: Would you quit your job if it kept you away from famliy?
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2014, 05:12:49 PM »
With your NW, I'd be FIRE.

Family is more important than money to me, so I would quit to be with family. Is there any chance your current employer would allow you to telecommute?

I could handle a long distance relationship without kids, but with kids, NO WAY.

From what you say, the SW town is where you're happier and it's cheaper in the long run. Quit yesterday and move there. Figure out what level of expenses you're happy with because you've got a ton of net worth. (For example, I've got three kids, and with your net worth, I could already FIRE and then some.)

Yep.

I live in a different state than my parents and sister, so I understand being separated from my family. I'd never be able to let my kids go off to the SW while I was stuck in the NE. Long distance romantic relationships can work for a short time, when there are no alternatives, but with kids in the mix, there's zero chance. It sounds like the SW is a much better fit for your family.

With $1.2 in non-house net worth and a wife making $150k/year, you've definitely got the financial resources to take the leap. Just her salary will cover all of your expenses with room to spare. I agree with the advice to start your own business; you obviously have a valuable skill set.

I went to estimate your income taxes. I don't know which state you are in, and the calculator doesn't take into account that $150k is in another state. Taxes are actually an additional expense, and they impact your budget. With a progressive tax system, diminishing your income by $300k gross won't diminish your take home as much. There's an extra .9% tax on couples making $250k+ per year, and with just your wife's income, you'll dodge it.

http://www.tax-rates.org/income-tax-calculator/?action=preload&ref=embed_refer_taxbrackets

Finally, I have gotten used to certain luxuries related to my work (fancy dinners, traveling business class, generally living a fast paced life), that I would never pay for out of my pocket.

A little background about myself. My wife and I are in our mid 30s. Financially, we have a net worth of about $1.6 million, $1.2 million excluding the equity in our two homes.

Are fancy dinners and sitting in a business class seat worth more than spending time your family?

It's a choice, and it's honestly up to you.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2014, 05:14:55 PM by ch12 »

engineerjourney

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Re: Would you quit your job if it kept you away from famliy?
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2014, 05:41:31 PM »
I would move and take care of my kids (and eliminate the daycare expense) until I found another job.  I would take the chance to explore other career options, like maybe something that didn't pay as much but benefited more people?  As other posters have said, you guys should be able to easily live off just your wife's salary without touching your savings if you sell the apartment.

I see that you have a lot of your identity tied into your job though, try to figure out why you feel that way, is it feeling useful?  Knowing that others look up to you?  Making a difference? (not sure what you do).  Good luck!

Spork

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Re: Would you quit your job if it kept you away from famliy?
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2014, 05:50:34 PM »

Would I?  Yep.  I did it in 2006.  ...and I did it to be close to extended family (parents, siblings, in-laws).  I could live apart from my wife for a little bit (if I knew there was an end in sight).  I wouldn't do it for 4 years.  It took me 3 years to find another job... and it was possibly the best time in my life. 

I had planned for an extended job search... I knew they'd be thin.  Looking back, it was absolutely the right decision.  I (and my wife) got lots of time with my father in law (who passed away a few years later) and we got lots of time with my mom (that is now in a state of dementia and unable to recognize us).  Those years were awesome.

homehandymum

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Re: Would you quit your job if it kept you away from famliy?
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2014, 08:15:13 PM »
We did it.  Moved to a new city without a job lined up. Lived on our savings until DH got a job.

If you can afford to FIRE, then you're only working because you enjoy it.

Would you enjoy living with your family more?  Or living by yourself and working?

Pedro Gonzales

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Re: Would you quit your job if it kept you away from famliy?
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2016, 12:23:27 PM »
Coming back here to post on how this turned out for me.

I kept looking for jobs in the SW town for another 6 months, but when that wasn't successful, my wife and I sat down and discussed our options. We decided that since I liked my job more and I made more money, she would quit and we would move back to NE town. She handed in her notice, was requested by her boss to hang on another 6 months (which she did), and we all moved to the NE last summer. Even better, a week before her last day, her boss managed to get her approval to telecommute, so she's still earning her salary too. 

We are in contract to move into a house in a good school district, and between the downpayment for that and the oil price dip, my liquid net worth has taken a bit of a hit. I am no longer FIRE in this place, what with property taxes being what they are here.

Otherwise life is great. Great to come home to my kids every day. Not as much of an uproarious welcome as I used to get on Fridays but I get the slightly less excited welcome 5 x a week instead of just once. Three or four more years and I should be FIRE again even with the new house.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2016, 12:27:45 PM by Pedro Gonzales »

Cassie

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Re: Would you quit your job if it kept you away from famliy?
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2016, 04:53:05 PM »
Glad it turned out so well!!