Author Topic: How much of a pay-cut would you take to be closer to family?  (Read 2911 times)


  • Magnum Stache
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Was hoping for some advice on pros and cons for Hawaii vs. Colorado. Right now, we actually do a little bit of both.

I currently teach community college in Hawaii on the island of Kauai. My wife's family lives in Colorado and we spend 3 months of our summer in Colorado. The salary for community college in Colorado is very low for the cost of living. Most jobs pay around 45K-50K and a house costs around 400K. However, I found one job that is slightly better than most based on Colorado standards. The salary is 57K and you can get a house for 300K. Even though it's a good job for Colorado, the pay cut would still be around 20-30% from Hawaii standards depending on the stage of my career. I have an interview next week.

We have a 6 week old baby. My wife will work part-time and we are not going to do daycare. If I got an offer in Colorado, we would be living close to my wife's family full-time and it would be easier to visit my family in Chicago and Florida.

Hawaii Stats
Currently Salary: 67K (with a summer course)
Health Insurance Cost: 200/month
Salary Ceiling: 115K
Expected Pension with 30 years of service: 65K
Housing Cost: 500K or 2600/month mortgage with 20% down.
House would probably have an income suite that generates 1200/month of income.
Wife Work: Substitute Teacher 2-3 days/week for 15K/year ($25/hour)

Colorado Stats
Currently Salary: 59K (with a summer course)
Health Insurance Cost: 600/month
Salary Ceiling: 80K
Expected Pension with 30 years of service: 40K
Housing Cost: 300K or 1500/month mortgage with 20% down.
Wife Work: Retail Store at 3 days/week for 20K/year ($20/hour)

We have two rental houses that generate about 22K/year total after repairs. I feel like I could continue to buy rentals if we lived in Colorado full-time. It would be more difficult to do in Hawaii because rentals do not cash flow on Kauai. For example, I've recently been looking at maybe buying another college rental in a college town just outside of Kansas City.

Within the next 2-3 years, I could probably start trying to do consulting work to bump my income. It would be very difficult to do consulting work from Kauai because I would most likely have to fly to meet with organizations.

I would probably prefer to stay in Hawaii. However, if we moved to Colorado full-time our lives would be much easier. My wife would probably prefer to be close to family full-time, instead of just during the summer.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: How much of a pay-cut would you take to be closer to family?
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2017, 07:28:37 AM »
My DH is also an academic so I know you sort of take what you can get.

DH was offered two jobs and he took the lower paying one to be closer to my family. I also had to take a benefit cut to move. We were 12 hours from our closest family and now are 4 hours away.  That still might sound far, but now we see them once a month instead of twice a year, and with two young kids that actually makes a huge difference.

We were choosing from two fairly equal costs of living places though.

57k honestly sounds like a great salary (especially if you are in the liberal arts). My DH's pay is in the first range that you mentioned and he is at a large state U. 

I will say that if you are anything like other academic couples and your wife has been "trailing" for a while, please try to give extra special consideration to what she wants and if it doesn't harm your career path, let her preferences have some extra weight.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: How much of a pay-cut would you take to be closer to family?
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2017, 10:01:38 AM »
I'm an attorney that lives in Youngstown, Ohio, which is probably one of the most economically depressed regions in the country.  My salary is probably 2/3 (more likely half) of what it could be if I lived in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, or Columbus.

BUT, I am very geographically close to my family.  Both of my brothers live within 3-4 miles.  My dad and his wife are about a mile away and my mom is about 6 miles away.  My wife's parents are about 3-4 miles away and her brother is about 50 miles away.

My older brother just had a baby, and the incredible support system they have is already showing its colors.  They have had a revolving door of grandparents, aunts, and uncles visiting.

My wife and I have basically made the decision to have this support system in exchange for higher wages.  The intangible benefit of having family geographically close speaks for itself,while there is also an enormous economic benefit as well. I'd estimate we will save $10,000 per year on babysitting/childcare per year because we won't need to export that service.  It will also make us both more comfortable to get back to work ASAP, which will be invaluable for our careers. 

These things make up for a lot of the difference in salary if I worked in a bigger market, so it's worth the trade-off to us. Plus, if you've never been to a small city like Youngstown, the life is just so damn laid back and easy as compared to cities where I could almost certainly make more. Cost of real estate and going out also make up for the lower salary. It all breaks even, honestly.

TL;DR: everything in life is a trade-off, and not everything is about salary.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2017, 10:05:28 AM by ReadySetMillionaire »


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: How much of a pay-cut would you take to be closer to family?
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2017, 02:52:44 PM »
Thank you both for the advice. I think you both make some good points that I am going to consider

Yes, I am trying to listen to my wife on this one.

The cost of living is a little higher in the Denver area than Youngstown, Ohio. It would be a pay cut and still living in a HCOL. However, we would be closer to family.

My current college in Hawaii has discounted child care on campus for faculty and staff. However, it's only for 2.5 - 6 years old. The college in Colorado does not have any child care services.

My biggest concern about a lower salary is that it will take more time to FIRE.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2017, 02:55:38 PM by clarkfan1979 »