Author Topic: 1M vs Happiness  (Read 1144 times)

fsohn

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 24
  • Location: Flyover Country
1M vs Happiness
« on: November 09, 2019, 10:27:12 AM »
Edit:  thanks for the advice, folks.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2019, 10:12:04 AM by fsohn »

TempusFugit

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 411
  • Location: In my own head, usually
Re: 1M vs Happiness
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2019, 10:44:51 AM »
Doesn't seem like a good trade to me.  Why be miserable?   You can earn money doing something else someplace else. 

This is your life, right now.  Planning to be happy later is not wise.  Plan to be happy now because now is all we really have.   Trading that happiness for money and the hope that you might be happy later can go wrong in lots of ways.  Being unhappy can lead to lots of bad habits and lasting mental or emotional distress that you might not easily shed.   

Obviously that doesn't mean to live like there is no tomorrow, just to remember that tomorrow isn't promised to anyone so make the best of today.   

Annie101

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 56
Re: 1M vs Happiness
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2019, 10:46:41 AM »
I don’t think unhappiness for years is worth it.  I would look for a new job in the states right away.  Maybe get another high paying job to keep building wealth, but one where you would be happier?

mistymoney

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 575
Re: 1M vs Happiness
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2019, 10:55:07 AM »
how long have you been there?

Could you learn the language?

DHMO

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 30
Re: 1M vs Happiness
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2019, 11:31:49 AM »
I find myself becoming more unhappy with each day -- I can't take the long walks I'm used to, I can't get the cigars I prefer (one of my few non-Mustachian habits), and I am far away from my extended family.

If you prefer having extended family/a support network nearby, I think that's a key thing to consider. That could take the form of learning the language and building a network, or could be moving back to the people you know. I think the finances are irrelevant, and especially so if you plan to become FI and not immediately retire. If this were a poll, my vote would be "Happiness".
You've been there for 6 months. You mentioned doing another 12-14 months as your "happiness" option, and possibly doing 4-5 years to have an extra $1M. Are those the options that feel the most "right" for you, emotionally?

lollylegs

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 84
  • Location: Australia
Re: 1M vs Happiness
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2019, 11:33:10 AM »
it sounds like it just not a good fit for you and if you are prone to depression it would make for a miserable few years. You obviously have good skills or you wouldn't have got the job so chances are you'll still be able to earn a good income back home. To me it would be making a choice to put your health first, I'd start planning to leave in 6 months or so and find something where you're going be happier. No point being wealthy and unhappy.

John Galt incarnate!

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1392
  • Location: On Cloud Nine
Re: 1M vs Happiness
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2019, 11:34:40 AM »
Hello Mustachians:

I'm in a bit of a weird situation, and I'm hoping for some advice.

After wallowing about a bit after law school with seeming insurmountable debt, I finally got a good job in my home city.  I also found MMM about the same time, and promptly began living frugally.  I went from 225K+ in debt (with a slightly less negative net worth due to retirement savings etc) to debt free (and a positive net worth of about 80k) about 4 years later in 2017.  At that point, the stress of the high-paying job was getting to me.  I stuck around for another year or so, still living frugally, maximizing my 401K + HSA, etc.  After I got around 200K net worth, I finally decided to drop out of the rat race, and go into a government job. 

When I got there, I liked the job and the people, and the lower stress that came along with the 2/3rds lower salary.  However, I got headhunted pretty soon thereafter for what seemed like it would be an ideal Mustachian job -- overseas (and therefore low-tax due to the FEIE), high-paying (roughly where I was when I left the law firm life), a 9% 401k match, and extremely low rent+utilities (less than 400 a month with internet and cell, with all other utilities provided).  It also seemed like it would provide a great opportunity for professional development, as I and one other attorney would essentially be starting up a department from scratch.

After dithering for close to a year, I finally did the interviews and got the job, and I've now been here about 6 months.  Financially, I'm spending about 1.5K a month while saving (with 401K and match) about 10X that.  I'll pass 400K NW by the end of the month, and I'll be close to 600K by the end of next year, barring large market swings.  And 600K would be enough to fund my life based on the 4% rule at my old expense level back in the US.

The problem is this -- I have found that I am completely unsuited for life overseas.  While English is the language of business here, it is not the primary language in the community.  I can't quite put my finger on why, but that has led to a sort of locked-in feeling, where I stay on the company compound and do little but eat, sleep, work, workout, and read.  And while I've felt welcomed, it has become clear to me that I am one of the few single men here, and that this is a family-oriented community (read: not a lot of traditional American "fun" without literally leaving the country).  I am depressive by nature, and I find myself becoming more unhappy with each day -- I can't take the long walks I'm used to, I can't get the cigars I prefer (one of my few non-Mustachian habits), and I am far away from my extended family.

So I'm stuck on a Mustachian dilemma.  On the one hand, the financials of the situation are a Mustachian dream.  If I stuck around for 5 years, I'd vest in a pension that would be worth a one-time payment of about 200K (or an equivalent annuity), and be at a NW of over 2M.  On the other hand, I deeply believe that happiness is the only logical pursuit (see https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2016/06/08/happiness-is-the-only-logical-pursuit/), and while I am content here, I am fundamentally unhappy.

So, my thought is this:  stick to this until the end of next year (actually, give notice some time in October of next year, since we have a 60 day notice period), and take the money back home.  I could then either go back to my government job (once a position opens up again), or do freelance work for anywhere from 30-50 per hour (anything better paid then that gets back into the rat-race type work that I am keen to avoid).  At the end of 5 years of that, I'd be at or close to a NW of 1M anyway, which would allow me to do effectively everything I want to do 1.5X per year.  At that point I'd keep working because I enjoy it, but I'd be FI.

So I guess the question comes down to this:  is an extra NW of 1MM worth 4 years of doing a job I don't like, and being fundamentally unhappy?  I'm probably doing little more than thinking out loud here, but I welcome any input.

Since you are "content"  I  think you should  accept 4 years of being "fundamentally unhappy" in exchange for an extra $1 million increase in net worth.

If I were in your shoes I certainly would.

If you choose to do so you may  alleviate  periodic unhappiness via a pleasant reverie  in which you visualize your life 4 years hence when your  overseas-induced unhappiness  ceases.


FatFI2025

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 335
  • Location: California
Re: 1M vs Happiness
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2019, 11:40:26 AM »
It kinda sounds like you're in KSA -- as an expat you go there to make a ton of money knowing it's gonna suck. You need to find other single expats to hang with, complain about how bad it is, and go on trips together. They will probably be more spendy. If you need to lower your $15K/mo savings rate to hang with them and enjoy life a little, it would be worth it.

oldtoyota

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3171
Re: 1M vs Happiness
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2019, 11:49:11 AM »
What stands out to me is that you said you are living in a family-oriented culture now. If that is the case, it sounds like it is hard to be 100% welcomed since your family is not there...and you do not have spouse/children.

The reason I point out the above is bc I lived in a similar family-oriented culture in the US. We were never 100% welcomed. On the surface, yes. But not a true and deep one. We had to leave for happiness.

I'm not seeing how you will become happier in that situation. The question is whether to keep being unhappy for the sake of making money.

For me, the answer would be no. Any of us could die tomorrow, so we may as well enjoy the moments we have now (within reason and not getting too wild and crazy, etc).


MonkeyJenga

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8854
  • Location: the woods
Re: 1M vs Happiness
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2019, 11:57:41 AM »
Happiness.

Padonak

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 663
Re: 1M vs Happiness
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2019, 12:02:16 PM »
Since you mentioned living in a compound and not being able to take long walks, I'm guessing it's Saudi Arabia or something similar. If I were you I would stay there for awhile, not necessarily 4 years but at least another year or two. I would try to have as much fun as possible while traveling on vacation. If you're in the Middle East, you are pretty close to South East Asia and not too far from Europe. I would try to take some unpaid leave/sabbatical or negotiate a longer vacation if the current paid time off is not enough. I would also make friends with other single expat guys and see if you can travel together.

What's good about your situation is that you don't have to decide right now. At any point if it becomes unbearable you can just give your 60 days notice and leave.

kei te pai

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 420
Re: 1M vs Happiness
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2019, 12:21:06 PM »
Leave next year or sooner if your unhappiness increases. You could try getting out of the country as often as possible for short breaks and do some hiking, maybe in adjacent countries, in the mean time.
The environment you are in does not promote your overall wellbeing. Sometimes that leads to impulsive  compensatory spending. Better to be in a healthier situation, and take a little longer to reach financial goals.

MrThatsDifferent

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1912
Re: 1M vs Happiness
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2019, 12:37:17 PM »
Since you mentioned living in a compound and not being able to take long walks, I'm guessing it's Saudi Arabia or something similar. If I were you I would stay there for awhile, not necessarily 4 years but at least another year or two. I would try to have as much fun as possible while traveling on vacation. If you're in the Middle East, you are pretty close to South East Asia and not too far from Europe. I would try to take some unpaid leave/sabbatical or negotiate a longer vacation if the current paid time off is not enough. I would also make friends with other single expat guys and see if you can travel together.

What's good about your situation is that you don't have to decide right now. At any point if it becomes unbearable you can just give your 60 days notice and leave.

I was thinking something similar, you’d have to be in the Middle East to feel so isolated. These jobs are a bit tough, financial goldmines but the personal life can struggle immensely, although those compounds have everything except tons of other singles. I guess reading your post and making a quick judgement, I’m seeing unhappiness following you around and your solution is to change things up, but you still stay fundamentally unhappy. I’d like to see you challenge yourself to make it through these 5 years. First, find a counselor or therapist and start working on your sense of happiness, self and depressive thoughts. This work will come in handy throughout the rest of your life. Second, turn this into what it is, a once in a lifetime adventure. You’ve got the money, live a bit. Take holidays, travel to other parts, learn new languages.  Can you have any pets? You’d be surprised what a cat or dog will do for your peace of mind. Cats are actually great cause they can look after themselves. In the meantime, connect with family and friends, call or FaceTime them more often. Have them come and visit you. Try fun stuff, things you’d never thought you’d do. Again, this all might mean releasing a little bit of money, but you can do that safely. Now, if you try all of that and still hire in an unshakeable funk, then sure, move again but be aware of your patterns repeating them selves in the new environment. I think though if you challenge yourself now, you’ll have tools and resources that will help you wherever you go, whenever you’re ready for the next adventure.

Freedomin5

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2997
  • Location: China
Re: 1M vs Happiness
« Reply #13 on: November 09, 2019, 04:03:44 PM »
According to research, you’re supposed to be hitting the low point in the expat adjustment circle right about now. It usually hits at around six months, when the excitement of moving overseas wears off, and the daily grind and differentness of daily life abroad hits you. It usually gets better by the 12th to 18th month. Most expats start to feel settled after around 2 years. Look up “expatriate adjustment cycle” if you want to learn more about what to expect the first couple years you move overseas.

So most expats (speaking from lots of experience here, since we are expats and know tons of expats) experience what you’re experiencing at the six month mark. I would say work on building a life worth living/designing a life that works for you, in your expat country for at least another 6-12 months. If life still sucks after you’ve searched out all the opportunities and made all the adjustments you can think of to make life better, then return to your home country.