Author Topic: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice  (Read 3605 times)

tarheel2

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Long time lurker, first time post. Thanks in advance everyone.

I am a tenured, mid-career professor at a large state institution (you can probably guess by my username). My DW is a SAHM, and we have three young children: newborn, 2 yo and 4 yo. We are content, but not in love with our location. My sister-in-law lives in town, and we love her but she has her own life and can't provide a ton of help with the kids, and the DW could use some help. I do love my department, which is strong in my research area and I get along well with my colleagues. As you might expect, such an environment has really helped establish my research group and we are doing quite well. The DW job prospects for down the road are also a bit better here.

I recently received an outside offer from a deep pocketed, prestigious private school. The school is somewhat weaker in my research area, and while I think I would get along well with the members of the department, it's always impossible to predict until you get there. We think the location would be at least equally attractive for the family (lifestyle-wise, school-wise), and maybe even a bit more attractive. The big plus is that my parents would be 1 hour away, they are great, and would really help out.

The money on the table is significant as well. The COL is probably about the same between the two locations except the housing costs are significantly higher if we moved. Just to estimate:

Stay in current job - base salary ~$150K (9-month salary), with full summer pay (can basically count on this) ~$200K. House that would work = $575K.
Move - base salary ~$210K (9-month salary), with summer ~$270K. House that would work = $800K.
*Note that both of these options are a big increase over my current base salary which is ~$90K - we are grateful*

We have done all the budget calculations including taxes, mortgages, etc...and if we moved our monthly free, unbudgeted cash flow would be ~$2300 higher after taxes.

I hope that covers the big points. Both I and the DW are completely undecided. No question, this is a great problem to have but we could really use some advice. Thanks everyone!

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2018, 05:24:38 AM »
I have a hard time believing you need a $575,000 house for five people in North Carolina, which makes me suspicious of the other number too.

tarheel2

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2018, 05:39:45 AM »
Chapel Hill is an expensive market. These numbers are for mid-range houses in the 2500-3000 sq. foot range. We are certainly looking for cheaper as well, which would be great if we could find one. But we are budgeting on the high end of the range.

cats

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2018, 05:59:52 AM »
I guess do you really need a house that big? I know smaller is often more expensive per square foot, but the cost over time of a larger house is definitely higher. More space to heat, cool, repair, clean, and fill with crap. Are you sure youíre on the right forum? ;)

Having parents nearby to help out sounds pretty awesome to me, if you get along with them. That would push me pretty hard towards moving.

tarheel2

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2018, 06:09:40 AM »
Might be another child or two on the way at some point....

Case

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2018, 06:19:50 AM »
Long time lurker, first time post. Thanks in advance everyone.

I am a tenured, mid-career professor at a large state institution (you can probably guess by my username). My DW is a SAHM, and we have three young children: newborn, 2 yo and 4 yo. We are content, but not in love with our location. My sister-in-law lives in town, and we love her but she has her own life and can't provide a ton of help with the kids, and the DW could use some help. I do love my department, which is strong in my research area and I get along well with my colleagues. As you might expect, such an environment has really helped establish my research group and we are doing quite well. The DW job prospects for down the road are also a bit better here.

I recently received an outside offer from a deep pocketed, prestigious private school. The school is somewhat weaker in my research area, and while I think I would get along well with the members of the department, it's always impossible to predict until you get there. We think the location would be at least equally attractive for the family (lifestyle-wise, school-wise), and maybe even a bit more attractive. The big plus is that my parents would be 1 hour away, they are great, and would really help out.

The money on the table is significant as well. The COL is probably about the same between the two locations except the housing costs are significantly higher if we moved. Just to estimate:

Stay in current job - base salary ~$150K (9-month salary), with full summer pay (can basically count on this) ~$200K. House that would work = $575K.
Move - base salary ~$210K (9-month salary), with summer ~$270K. House that would work = $800K.
*Note that both of these options are a big increase over my current base salary which is ~$90K - we are grateful*

We have done all the budget calculations including taxes, mortgages, etc...and if we moved our monthly free, unbudgeted cash flow would be ~$2300 higher after taxes.

I hope that covers the big points. Both I and the DW are completely undecided. No question, this is a great problem to have but we could really use some advice. Thanks everyone!

Donít move, becauae ofi the research downgrade.  You will get worse students, and this will affect your research rate and caliber.

A lot of assumptions ive made.  As an academic admitting to being at a good school for their field of researching, i have the impression your work is very important to you, maybe moreso than you think.  Therefore, your happiness wil probably tied to your workplace, which seems to be very good.  Also, as a mid career tenured prof at UNC who seems to be doing well, and is on this particular forum, i am guessing that you probably realize that you dont really need THAT much money to survive well... that combined with the higher housing costs...

A lot of people would consider the research triangle area to be a pretty good location to live.... your entitled to your own opinion of course, but just want to put that out there.

Cranky

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2018, 07:03:57 AM »
What would your tenure status be if you moved? Would your teaching load change? Do you have money in the state retirement fund? Can you move it? What's the pension set up behind door #2? Why are you not in love with Chapel Hill? What would change if you moved, besides more grandma time? (And how does Grandma feel about that?)

I'll agree that that is an awfully big house for 3 kids.

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2018, 07:32:47 AM »
Greetings Tarheel -
You are where I'd like to be in 7-10 years; currently a postdoc researcher at a small research institution to the north of you.

There are several correlated factors here, so let's unpack this a bit. Feel free to change any of this, I'm going off your OP
Currently:
Job satisfaction: Great
Research Strength: Excellent
Location: Ok
Salary: very good - $150k
Job Potential (DW): good
Family support, kids: low

Potential:
Job satisfaction: Uncertain (+/-)
Research Strength: good (-)
Location: better (+)
Salary: excellent $210k (+)
Job Potential (DW): worse (-)
Family support, kids: better (+)

AS I see it, a move would bring you more money, slightly better child care (parents closer), and a more desireable location.  In exchange you won't be in as strong a research program, your DW's job prospects are less and it's a tossup whether you will like your new work environment as much as you like your current one.

Yup, this is a tough one.  Here's how I'd approach it.
More money is always the great draw, but in your case I don't think you should put a huge emphasis on the increased pay.  At $150k you can give your family a solid upper-middle class lifestyle. Hopefully since you are here you will be even more financially secure than most by avoiding so many of the debt and lifestyle traps.  You mentioned work opportunities for your wife, so I'm assuming she might go back to work, further increasing your household income.  Yes, more money is better, but you are moving deep into the arena of diminishing returns.
To me the more compelling reasons to move is the combination of a better location and more family interaction between your parents and their grandkids.  That's harder to quantify but for me personally those improvements would loom large in my decision making.  How much better will your living conditions and family connections actually be?  A little bit or a lot?

Finally there's the apparent downgrade of your future department, and how happy you will be there.  For the former  - you have already largely cemented your status as a research scientist (tenure at UNC). IME this shouldn't change your ability to get grants, as you will be evaluated on your proposal and strength of your publications. Even bigger than the 'strength' or 'prestige' of the smaller institution is how you would like working for a deep-pocketed private school vs your large public university.  Is the new place of a similar size, or is it a much smaller institution? Can you bargain for a sizeable startup to help your transition (probably yes if they are willing to pay you so much)? Will you be a much bigger fish in this new pond?  Do you want to be the 'best' researcher in your department or do you prefer being surrounded and pushed by other competitive researchers?  Is this new institution actively bulking up their research creds - are they committing lots of money to build up your department?

 There's a lot of questions in there.  If it were me I'd be seriously tempted to move, but more to be closer to family and to have a better location. The money is a nice perk but to me wouldn't be the driving factor.  Mostly it would come down to whether I'd be able to do my research happily in this new location.

To paraphrase what a colleague told me recently about why he moved to a new institution: "I just want to be able to work on the things I am interested in with people I like in an area I enjoy - everything else is just a bonus".


Some important things you left out
benefits between the two jobs?
start up potential and resources/infrastructure to do your kind of research?
is this a lateral-tenure move, or would you have to go through that again?


hope that helps.  Feel free to fill in some details and I'm happy to opine further.

COEE

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2018, 08:07:07 AM »
At those salaries, the house cost seems to not be a burden either way.

If you stay in NC can your wife quit her job?  Does she want to be a SAHM?  If she does want to be SAHM, I'd suggest staying in NC because you are already well established. 

If your wife wants to continue to work I'd think moving is a better idea to get more consistent support; However, it's still not a big deal (or expense) to put your parents on a plane and have them help for a week or two each year when schedules are tight or you need a weekend away with your wife at the beach.

Yin: Financially, with a additional cashflow of $2300 to move, that's only about $30k more for a additional $70k salary.  Seems like you could do a lot with an additional $40k. 
Yang: At your income you should be socking away quite a large chunk of change either way, making FI/RE a foregone conclusion in a few years.

Congrats!

YHD

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2018, 08:49:40 AM »
Didnít you post this dilemma on er.org or bogleheads?

FIFoFum

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2018, 09:09:20 AM »
I think it's a really big risk to take the offer. You can't appreciate what it's like to NOT be in a good research group/working environment when you are in a good set-up. I actually did something like this as a junior faculty person, and it would have been exceedingly hard to "un-do" and get back a position at the better research institution. I was floored by things I took for granted at an R1 place.

As you point out, you don't really know the story at the other college/department until you are there. There could be a toxic administrator or colleague that would make you miserable. So you are gambling a good work environment for an unknown. Now things change all the time anywhere (new dean, dept head, etc.), but at least you know the politics where you are. As you are being recruited, you can't appreciate what you're walking into.

Even assuming the people are fine, there are all sorts of drips and drabs about being in a lesser research environment that it's hard to appreciate from the outside. From assistant/student quality to the letterhead effect on grants to the things your colleagues/dept values - it's not the same, even if your teaching load is unchanged.

I also would caution thinking that being an hour away from family is as much of a day-to-day help as you might think. I made my choice due to a dual spouse situation. We picked a place that was "near" family (realistically, more like 90 minutes away) & discovered that it was hard for retired parents to make that trip (with work, we didn't have time to either). We could make plans on weekends sometimes, but there is no way it was turning into regular support. It wasn't like living in the same neighborhood/town.

So you'd be trading good work situation for unknown dynamics and worse research environment for extra money (some of it may be lost on more housing & lack of work opportunities for spouse), all in the hope that grandparents an hour away would be able to support SAHM with young kids. I wouldn't recommend it.

FIFoFum

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2018, 09:13:39 AM »
Finally there's the apparent downgrade of your future department, and how happy you will be there.  For the former  - you have already largely cemented your status as a research scientist (tenure at UNC). IME this shouldn't change your ability to get grants, as you will be evaluated on your proposal and strength of your publications.
---
To paraphrase what a colleague told me recently about why he moved to a new institution: "I just want to be able to work on the things I am interested in with people I like in an area I enjoy - everything else is just a bonus".

It shouldn't change your ability, but my experience - and that of other friends/peers - is that it does. We like to think it's a meritocracy, because it makes us feel better about turning our hard work into results & gives a bigger sense of control. Reality is that it matters more than it should.

Working on the things you like with people you like is something everyone should strive for! When you have it, it's easy to take for granted.

tarheel2

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2018, 09:54:57 AM »
What would your tenure status be if you moved? Would your teaching load change? Do you have money in the state retirement fund? Can you move it? What's the pension set up behind door #2? Why are you not in love with Chapel Hill? What would change if you moved, besides more grandma time? (And how does Grandma feel about that?)

I'll agree that that is an awfully big house for 3 kids.

Permanent tenure, about same teaching load. We have already saved around 400K for retirement and we're in our late 30s. It could be moved. About the same retirement options behind door #2, no pension.

I would say the summers are what we dislike the most about Chapel Hill. Nearly impossible to do anything outside. If we moved, we'd have year round outdoor possibilities. Grandma really wants us to move, but would understand if we stayed.

tarheel2

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2018, 10:04:33 AM »
Greetings Tarheel -
You are where I'd like to be in 7-10 years; currently a postdoc researcher at a small research institution to the north of you.

There are several correlated factors here, so let's unpack this a bit. Feel free to change any of this, I'm going off your OP
Currently:
Job satisfaction: Great
Research Strength: Excellent
Location: Ok
Salary: very good - $150k
Job Potential (DW): good
Family support, kids: low

Potential:
Job satisfaction: Uncertain (+/-)
Research Strength: good (-)
Location: better (+)
Salary: excellent $210k (+)
Job Potential (DW): worse (-)
Family support, kids: better (+)

AS I see it, a move would bring you more money, slightly better child care (parents closer), and a more desireable location.  In exchange you won't be in as strong a research program, your DW's job prospects are less and it's a tossup whether you will like your new work environment as much as you like your current one.

Yup, this is a tough one.  Here's how I'd approach it.
More money is always the great draw, but in your case I don't think you should put a huge emphasis on the increased pay.  At $150k you can give your family a solid upper-middle class lifestyle. Hopefully since you are here you will be even more financially secure than most by avoiding so many of the debt and lifestyle traps.  You mentioned work opportunities for your wife, so I'm assuming she might go back to work, further increasing your household income.  Yes, more money is better, but you are moving deep into the arena of diminishing returns.
To me the more compelling reasons to move is the combination of a better location and more family interaction between your parents and their grandkids.  That's harder to quantify but for me personally those improvements would loom large in my decision making.  How much better will your living conditions and family connections actually be?  A little bit or a lot?

Finally there's the apparent downgrade of your future department, and how happy you will be there.  For the former  - you have already largely cemented your status as a research scientist (tenure at UNC). IME this shouldn't change your ability to get grants, as you will be evaluated on your proposal and strength of your publications. Even bigger than the 'strength' or 'prestige' of the smaller institution is how you would like working for a deep-pocketed private school vs your large public university.  Is the new place of a similar size, or is it a much smaller institution? Can you bargain for a sizeable startup to help your transition (probably yes if they are willing to pay you so much)? Will you be a much bigger fish in this new pond?  Do you want to be the 'best' researcher in your department or do you prefer being surrounded and pushed by other competitive researchers?  Is this new institution actively bulking up their research creds - are they committing lots of money to build up your department?

 There's a lot of questions in there.  If it were me I'd be seriously tempted to move, but more to be closer to family and to have a better location. The money is a nice perk but to me wouldn't be the driving factor.  Mostly it would come down to whether I'd be able to do my research happily in this new location.

To paraphrase what a colleague told me recently about why he moved to a new institution: "I just want to be able to work on the things I am interested in with people I like in an area I enjoy - everything else is just a bonus".


Some important things you left out
benefits between the two jobs?
start up potential and resources/infrastructure to do your kind of research?
is this a lateral-tenure move, or would you have to go through that again?


hope that helps.  Feel free to fill in some details and I'm happy to opine further.

First of all thank you so much for taking the time. And best of luck in your future search!

You did a great job distilling down our thoughts. I'll try to answer some of your questions below:

Is the new place of a similar size, or is it a much smaller institution? Much smaller. Like, 1/3 the size. I definitely would prefer the larger environment, more playmates.

Can you bargain for a sizeable startup to help your transition (probably yes if they are willing to pay you so much)? Already got it, it's fair.

Will you be a much bigger fish in this new pond?  Do you want to be the 'best' researcher in your department or do you prefer being surrounded and pushed by other competitive researchers?  I would be a much bigger fish, but small pond. I prefer being surrounded by numerous colleagues that I share interests with.

Is this new institution actively bulking up their research creds - are they committing lots of money to build up your department? I would say no.

Mostly it would come down to whether I'd be able to do my research happily in this new location. Exactly. Hard to predict, definitely some career risk there.

benefits between the two jobs? Wash.

start up potential and resources/infrastructure to do your kind of research? Good enough, not amazing or anything.

is this a lateral-tenure move, or would you have to go through that again? I am a made man, thank you tenure Gods.

tarheel2

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2018, 10:06:15 AM »
Didnít you post this dilemma on er.org or bogleheads?

Yup, posted to bogleheads. Can't get enough helpful advice from these awesome forums.

tarheel2

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #15 on: April 08, 2018, 10:08:19 AM »
I think it's a really big risk to take the offer. You can't appreciate what it's like to NOT be in a good research group/working environment when you are in a good set-up. I actually did something like this as a junior faculty person, and it would have been exceedingly hard to "un-do" and get back a position at the better research institution. I was floored by things I took for granted at an R1 place.

As you point out, you don't really know the story at the other college/department until you are there. There could be a toxic administrator or colleague that would make you miserable. So you are gambling a good work environment for an unknown. Now things change all the time anywhere (new dean, dept head, etc.), but at least you know the politics where you are. As you are being recruited, you can't appreciate what you're walking into.

Even assuming the people are fine, there are all sorts of drips and drabs about being in a lesser research environment that it's hard to appreciate from the outside. From assistant/student quality to the letterhead effect on grants to the things your colleagues/dept values - it's not the same, even if your teaching load is unchanged.

I also would caution thinking that being an hour away from family is as much of a day-to-day help as you might think. I made my choice due to a dual spouse situation. We picked a place that was "near" family (realistically, more like 90 minutes away) & discovered that it was hard for retired parents to make that trip (with work, we didn't have time to either). We could make plans on weekends sometimes, but there is no way it was turning into regular support. It wasn't like living in the same neighborhood/town.

So you'd be trading good work situation for unknown dynamics and worse research environment for extra money (some of it may be lost on more housing & lack of work opportunities for spouse), all in the hope that grandparents an hour away would be able to support SAHM with young kids. I wouldn't recommend it.

This is very helpful. Thank you.

mozar

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #16 on: April 08, 2018, 10:24:50 AM »
I had a professor at GWU who had been promised a bunch of things to leave the University of Chicago. GWU is a "prestigious" private institution and the department he taught at was smaller at GWU than U of Chicago. The reason it was small was because they kept cutting it. They decided to cut the entire department. My professor was out of a job. Don't get starry eyed about prestige. It sounds like you've got a good stable situation. And there aren't a lot of places you can move to avoid crummy hot summers unless you go pretty far north like new england. And then you have crummy winters. Unless you're talking about the west coast.

lizzzi

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #17 on: April 08, 2018, 10:46:15 AM »
A grandmother here, just addressing the one issue. My daughter and the three elementary-school-aged grandchildren moved from around the corner from me to one hour away. (Better job, fancy pants town, really top schools.) An hour is too far for any kind of daily involvement or last-minute "need you right now" help. (Especially in bad weather--bad roads, etc.) I used to be available to take a sick child on no notice--to run over to school with dry clothes or a medication--to drop everything and function as the emergency back-up person --rush out of my garage to jump their battery if DD and the kids were stuck with a non-starting car...whatever.

When they moved an hour away, my role became one of occasional, planned get-togethers for holidays or birthdays--pleasant enough, but I simply could not provide the help that I could when they lived around the corner. I'm thinking too, that surely the grandparents in your family have their own lives and commitments--maybe some health issues (if not now, they will later)...I'm concerned that you are over-estimating what you may be expecting them to do for you. And as your children get into all the craziness of school and activities, play dates and birthday parties, etc., etc.--you may not have that much time for visiting back and forth with the grandparents.

lhamo

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #18 on: April 08, 2018, 11:02:34 AM »
If you are good enough for one university to try to lure you away, I would think the chances of another offer from a place that would offer a better research environment is probably in the cards eventually.

My brother and his family were about an hour away from my mom.  We lived across the Pacific.  We ended up spending more time with my mom over the years because we would come back for 2-3 week visits once or twice a year, and stay with my sister who lived next door.  My brother and his kids would drop in for a few hours every few months, and mom would go to their birthday parties, etc. but it wasn't much time in the grand scheme of things.  If your summer salary is not always guaranteed/needed, you could consider taking some summers off and renting an Air BnB near your parents to get that concentrated family bonding time.  Or your DW could take the kids up for the whole summer, and you could visit for a few weeks as your research allows.

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2018, 08:08:57 PM »
If you like your department and your work is well supported, Iíd stay put. Given how long we work with our colleagues, a good department of folks is no small thing.As you know, there are plenty of miserable folks at prestige institutions. Perhaps you could hire some help for your DW? Also, now that you are tenured, you may also be able to give a hand more extensively than you did before. That said, as a mid career professional myself, I know how challenging it can be to make the mental shift of slowing down a bit. Good prep for FI if thatís a goal.

tarheel2

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #20 on: April 09, 2018, 04:36:29 AM »
If you like your department and your work is well supported, Iíd stay put. Given how long we work with our colleagues, a good department of folks is no small thing.As you know, there are plenty of miserable folks at prestige institutions. Perhaps you could hire some help for your DW? Also, now that you are tenured, you may also be able to give a hand more extensively than you did before. That said, as a mid career professional myself, I know how challenging it can be to make the mental shift of slowing down a bit. Good prep for FI if thatís a goal.

Thanks badassprof. I certainly do value my department and colleagues. What we're struggling with is the money. There is a significant amount more on the table to move (more than $50K/year extra, and we only have one salary in the family). I'm under no illusions about how expensive raising 3 children (maybe 4) will be. If we stayed we'd be ok, but would have to watch the budget a bit. If we moved, we'd have many more options financially (lifestyle, college savings, retirement savings).

I also am not 100% sure of course, but I think I could be happy in the new department. I get along well with my potential future colleagues. But you never know.

For a little more context, my current institution is "ranked" around #15-20 in the country in my discipline (which is good, but not at the top). The school I'm considering is ranked around #60-65 in my discipline.

nereo

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #21 on: April 09, 2018, 05:00:42 AM »

Thanks badassprof. I certainly do value my department and colleagues. What we're struggling with is the money. There is a significant amount more on the table to move (more than $50K/year extra, and we only have one salary in the family). I'm under no illusions about how expensive raising 3 children (maybe 4) will be. If we stayed we'd be ok, but would have to watch the budget a bit. If we moved, we'd have many more options financially (lifestyle, college savings, retirement savings).
...

Tarheel2 - these are the MMM forums. According to your OP you can basically count on earning $200k/yr if you stay at your current institution.

There is no level of income where you will not have to watch your budget. At the same time, $200k is more than enough to raise 3 kids with an upper-middle class income, particularly with a SAHP. You also have $400k in retirement savings, and you are in your mid 30s. Chapel Hill is not Manhattan or downtown SF. Thankfully, if you want tips on how to maximize a large income, live an awesome lifestyle and still quickly gain FI - you are in the place place on the internet.

The extra $50k+/year is a siren's call. We are programed from a very young age to prioritize money above other things. I really, really, really don't think you should do that here.  Your salary is 'enough', even with 3 young children. At their age there's ample time to fully-fund their college funds if you so choose (we are doing this at a fraction of your budget).

My larger concerns is that you like your department, you like the large university size and you like the academic rigor which comes with having a bunch of other academics around with whom you share interests. From what you've said this new place isn't nearly as good a fit.  I also agree with lhamo, where if you are good enough to be headhunted by this other place, there's a decent chance you'll get another shot somewhere else that might fit even better.

just my reflection after reading your responses to your questions.
g'luck.

Cranky

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #22 on: April 09, 2018, 05:00:58 AM »
If you love research, I think you'll notice the difference. If you love teaching, you might prefer a different set up.

Speaking from personal experience, 3 kids is an enormous family for academics, and they are a darned expensive hobby - but you've already got a very respectable income.

tarheel2

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #23 on: April 09, 2018, 05:18:12 AM »

Thanks badassprof. I certainly do value my department and colleagues. What we're struggling with is the money. There is a significant amount more on the table to move (more than $50K/year extra, and we only have one salary in the family). I'm under no illusions about how expensive raising 3 children (maybe 4) will be. If we stayed we'd be ok, but would have to watch the budget a bit. If we moved, we'd have many more options financially (lifestyle, college savings, retirement savings).
...

Tarheel2 - these are the MMM forums. According to your OP you can basically count on earning $200k/yr if you stay at your current institution.

There is no level of income where you will not have to watch your budget. At the same time, $200k is more than enough to raise 3 kids with an upper-middle class income, particularly with a SAHP. You also have $400k in retirement savings, and you are in your mid 30s. Chapel Hill is not Manhattan or downtown SF. Thankfully, if you want tips on how to maximize a large income, live an awesome lifestyle and still quickly gain FI - you are in the place place on the internet.

The extra $50k+/year is a siren's call. We are programed from a very young age to prioritize money above other things. I really, really, really don't think you should do that here.  Your salary is 'enough', even with 3 young children. At their age there's ample time to fully-fund their college funds if you so choose (we are doing this at a fraction of your budget).

My larger concerns is that you like your department, you like the large university size and you like the academic rigor which comes with having a bunch of other academics around with whom you share interests. From what you've said this new place isn't nearly as good a fit.  I also agree with lhamo, where if you are good enough to be headhunted by this other place, there's a decent chance you'll get another shot somewhere else that might fit even better.

just my reflection after reading your responses to your questions.
g'luck.

Extremely helpful, thank you. Cheers!

LadyStache in Baja

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #24 on: April 09, 2018, 07:03:16 AM »
I'd say no. If the salary were the same would you take it? You are discounting your wife's future earnings, so I'm the money front it's either the same or worse.

And then there's your wife's career satisfaction and personal fulfillment.

But you'll be closer to your parents and farther from your SIL. A win for you and loss for your wife.



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slappy

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #25 on: April 09, 2018, 07:50:03 AM »
A grandmother here, just addressing the one issue. My daughter and the three elementary-school-aged grandchildren moved from around the corner from me to one hour away. (Better job, fancy pants town, really top schools.) An hour is too far for any kind of daily involvement or last-minute "need you right now" help. (Especially in bad weather--bad roads, etc.) I used to be available to take a sick child on no notice--to run over to school with dry clothes or a medication--to drop everything and function as the emergency back-up person --rush out of my garage to jump their battery if DD and the kids were stuck with a non-starting car...whatever.

When they moved an hour away, my role became one of occasional, planned get-togethers for holidays or birthdays--pleasant enough, but I simply could not provide the help that I could when they lived around the corner. I'm thinking too, that surely the grandparents in your family have their own lives and commitments--maybe some health issues (if not now, they will later)...I'm concerned that you are over-estimating what you may be expecting them to do for you. And as your children get into all the craziness of school and activities, play dates and birthday parties, etc., etc.--you may not have that much time for visiting back and forth with the grandparents.

I think this is worth noting. I have two young children, one on the way, and grandparents that are 45 minutes to an hour away. They are definitely not available on any type of regular basis. Plus it's a PITA to pack up two/three kids to drive an hour and then an hour back. It's easier for them to come to us, but it's still a two hour round trip.  Winter weather is always a concern too. I don't necessarily want my 70 year old parents driving in bad weather to come help us out.

I definitely feel you on not having any support. We don't have any either, and it can be frustrating. But having grandparents an hour away is not the answer to that issue.

I can't really help on any of the other academia issues.

Laura33

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #26 on: April 09, 2018, 08:00:18 AM »
Based on everything posted so far, stay put.  Personally, I would never take that big of a leap down the reputation chain.  I am not a professor, but I am in a very specialized field, and I can tell you from personal experience that the difference in knowledge and resources at a place where your work is a lower priority makes all the difference in enjoyability. 

I also think you are massively overweighting the "help" your parents can realistically provide, and you are likely underweighting the additional costs in the new area.  Generally, higher housing prices also come along with higher RE taxes, higher energy prices, higher food prices, higher childcare prices (if/when you decide to pay for some childcare when your parents can't help out, and/or when your DW returns to work), and everything else.

If you are currently making $200K, doing something you love, and living somewhere other than NYC or SF, you have already won the game of life.  At this point, you can affect your and your kids' future financial stability much more significantly by focusing on your real needs and avoiding lifestyle inflation than you can by earning another few grand a year after-tax. 

historienne

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #27 on: April 09, 2018, 08:13:55 AM »
This is tough.  At one point in my career, I had a job offer from your current institution, and instead took an offer from a place that sounds a lot like the place you are considering moving.  The difference is that, in my case, while my current school is smaller, it is equally strong in my area of research, and it has way more financial resources to support my research. 

In your shoes, I wouldn't factor in the money heavily.  I'm assuming that you like your work and want to keep doing it, and your current salary is plenty to support a nice lifestyle (especially with summer funds).  The family help would weigh on me more.  I have two kids, and I really wish my parents were in our city.  Honestly, that would help my research agenda more than most grants.  My partner also works full time, though, which is a different situation.  My parents are also the type who would drop everything and drive to our house and watch our kids if we needed it. I know this because they sometimes drop everything and get on a flight for this reason - but they would do it much more regularly if they were within an easy drive.

What does your wife want to do?

dcozad999

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #28 on: April 09, 2018, 08:16:46 AM »
I would assume (perhaps incorrectly) that UNC provides discounted or free tuition to the children of professors/employees. Does this new private institution have this benefit as well?

Dee18

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #29 on: April 09, 2018, 08:29:55 AM »
Another prof chiming in here. I think departments in academic institutions have dramatically different personalities and it is hard to determine what each will be like from the outside.  If you are at one you like, stay there.  As far as your wife needing help, hire some.  I am sure there are many great guys and girls in the area looking for part time work. The kids will get less needy in just a few years.   What is most puzzling to me though, is your assertion that you can't do anything outside in the summer. I (having moved for the academic job) live in a hotter, muggier, buggier place than Chapel Hill.  In the summer I bike more than hike (which I actually enjoyed with a young child...especially with a trail a bike) and get out early in the day (especially on Sunday mornings when everyone else is in church and there is no traffic). When my daughter was young we spent a lot of evenings at the local public pool, often with a picnic dinner.  For the last decade I've had a gig up north for July (I realize in science it might be hard for you to be away a full month).  I also found that keeping the house a little warmer and making sure some time was spent outside each day made the summer more enjoyable. We seemed to acclimate to the heat/ humidity.  I also chose an older neighborhood with houses close together and lots of trees, where kids run from house to house.  In the suburbs here they clear the land to make subdivisions, have big lots, and people tend to stay in their refrigerated houses more.

lhamo

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #30 on: April 09, 2018, 08:39:18 AM »
With the significant differential in housing costs, the 50k in additional salary is more or less a wash -- you might even end up WORSE off economically because as someone noted above other costs also tend to rise in HCOL areas, and a bigger hunk of that extra 50k will be going toward taxes.  Also, the property tax hit is likely to be large.

As others have pointed out, being in a happy, productive department is kind of the unicorn farm every academic is looking for.  Don't throw that away lightly.

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #31 on: April 09, 2018, 10:50:03 AM »
Another prof chiming in here. I...   What is most puzzling to me though, is your assertion that you can't do anything outside in the summer. I (having moved for the academic job) live in a hotter, muggier, buggier place than Chapel Hill.  In the summer I bike more than hike (which I actually enjoyed with a young child...especially with a trail a bike) and get out early in the day (especially on Sunday mornings when everyone else is in church and there is no traffic). When my daughter was young we spent a lot of evenings at the local public pool, often with a picnic dinner.  ...
Yeah, this puzzled me as well, as someone who grew up in Virginia & spent most of the summers in places like Raleigh and Athens. We lived our lives outdoors all summer long.
I'm guessing the OP isn't from NC...? There are certainly strategies which will help, and IME extensive use of air conditioning makes things worse, not better, as it prevents you from every truly acclimating.

BY my guestimate over half the world lives in climates that get hotter than Chapel Hill - many are hotter and just as humid.

tarheel2

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #32 on: April 09, 2018, 12:11:39 PM »
This is tough.  At one point in my career, I had a job offer from your current institution, and instead took an offer from a place that sounds a lot like the place you are considering moving.  The difference is that, in my case, while my current school is smaller, it is equally strong in my area of research, and it has way more financial resources to support my research. 

In your shoes, I wouldn't factor in the money heavily.  I'm assuming that you like your work and want to keep doing it, and your current salary is plenty to support a nice lifestyle (especially with summer funds).  The family help would weigh on me more.  I have two kids, and I really wish my parents were in our city.  Honestly, that would help my research agenda more than most grants.  My partner also works full time, though, which is a different situation.  My parents are also the type who would drop everything and drive to our house and watch our kids if we needed it. I know this because they sometimes drop everything and get on a flight for this reason - but they would do it much more regularly if they were within an easy drive.

What does your wife want to do?

Thanks for the insight. My wife is completely torn as well! As an additional point of information, my mom is a former NICU nurse (she's in her mid-late 60s), and is absolutely amazing with the kids. I would put her in the same category as your wonderful parents - always ready and willing to help.

tarheel2

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #33 on: April 09, 2018, 12:13:02 PM »
I would assume (perhaps incorrectly) that UNC provides discounted or free tuition to the children of professors/employees. Does this new private institution have this benefit as well?

Neither place offers any assistance. That would have factored in for sure. NC has much better in-state colleges though and that does factor in to our thinking.

tarheel2

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #34 on: April 09, 2018, 12:16:07 PM »
Another prof chiming in here. I think departments in academic institutions have dramatically different personalities and it is hard to determine what each will be like from the outside.  If you are at one you like, stay there.  As far as your wife needing help, hire some.  I am sure there are many great guys and girls in the area looking for part time work. The kids will get less needy in just a few years.   What is most puzzling to me though, is your assertion that you can't do anything outside in the summer. I (having moved for the academic job) live in a hotter, muggier, buggier place than Chapel Hill.  In the summer I bike more than hike (which I actually enjoyed with a young child...especially with a trail a bike) and get out early in the day (especially on Sunday mornings when everyone else is in church and there is no traffic). When my daughter was young we spent a lot of evenings at the local public pool, often with a picnic dinner.  For the last decade I've had a gig up north for July (I realize in science it might be hard for you to be away a full month).  I also found that keeping the house a little warmer and making sure some time was spent outside each day made the summer more enjoyable. We seemed to acclimate to the heat/ humidity.  I also chose an older neighborhood with houses close together and lots of trees, where kids run from house to house.  In the suburbs here they clear the land to make subdivisions, have big lots, and people tend to stay in their refrigerated houses more.

Fair enough. I think when I say we "can't do anything outside in the summer" we mean in the context of infants and toddlers. Honestly, this is more of a complaint from the DW than I, and she was fairly pregnant last summer so it was understandably extra tough on her. That said, I agree with you that as the kids get older this will be less and less of a "problem". Thanks.

tarheel2

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Re: Difficult moving decision - we're 50/50 and would love some advice
« Reply #35 on: April 09, 2018, 12:19:51 PM »
With the significant differential in housing costs, the 50k in additional salary is more or less a wash -- you might even end up WORSE off economically because as someone noted above other costs also tend to rise in HCOL areas, and a bigger hunk of that extra 50k will be going toward taxes.  Also, the property tax hit is likely to be large.

As others have pointed out, being in a happy, productive department is kind of the unicorn farm every academic is looking for.  Don't throw that away lightly.

We've budgeted in significant detail, and we think there is little chance we'll be worse off. The offer is from an institution in a state with no state income tax, and the property taxes would be a bit higher but not too bad. The housing situation is far and away the biggest increased cost.

I completely concur about how luck I am to have such a great department, but my DW and kids don't work with me. I am only a fraction of this decision. I do think that my career happiness will be a positive for the family (DW reminds of this all the time), but I think I'll be able to make it work no matter what we finally decide. I'll deal.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2018, 12:22:55 PM by tarheel2 »