Author Topic: New consulting job -- But where should I "live"?  (Read 7624 times)

grasshopper

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New consulting job -- But where should I "live"?
« on: May 21, 2015, 09:03:02 AM »
Just received an offer for an IT job as a 3-4-5 consultant which requires me to work in the client's Charlotte, NC office Monday through Thursday.

But here's the thing...I do not have to live in Charlotte; I can live anywhere I want. The consulting company will fly me into Charlotte every Monday morning...and then to fly me "home" every Thursday evening. Also, while I'm working with them M-Th in Charlotte, the company pays for my rental car, hotel, and meals.

This means that I'll essentially only have to pay my own living costs when I'm not in Charlotte; in other words, Thursdays nights through Sunday nights.

As I think about the situation, it doesn't make sense to rent an apartment in another city. After all, why pay rent on a unit that I'd only be sleeping in 4 nights out of each week? And even if I were to rent an apartment in Charlotte itself, I'd still only live there for 4 nights (since the consulting company is paying for me to stay in a hotel Mon, Tues, and Weds).

I'm single with no kids, so I'm wondering...should I just live 100% out of hotels? Also, where is the best place to go on those 4 nights that I'm not in Charlotte? I have the option to change the city that I fly to/from every week, so I could pretty much travel anywhere that's accessible from Charlotte's airport.

Curious to know if any other consultants are on here...and in general, what's the best way to play this situation in order to maximize the free travel benefits while also reducing housing and other expenses.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2015, 09:12:00 AM by grasshopper »

MustacheNY

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Re: New consulting job -- But where should I "live"?
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2015, 09:59:23 AM »
A few years ago a coworker of mine at the time (a young single consultant) was in a similar situation to yours.  Initially, he felt like he needed at least a place to be an anchor, because he was scared of not having any place of his own.  So he found a really really inexpensive shared apartment that happened to be in a decent neighborhood in a major city.  It was a super tiny room, but his rent was almost nothing, especially in relationship to salary.  Over time, he ended up couch surfing all over the place with friends, and friends of friends, hardly ever returning to his actual apartment.  After his lease expired, he moved all of the stuff he had that he never used and moved it into his parent's garage.  Over the following year, he couch surfed all over the country with friends, friends from college, people he met on the internet, and sometimes family.  Sometimes, instead of couch surfing, he would spend weekends camping out and hiking.  Other times, he would go with one of our other coworkers or other friends and they would share a hotel on the super cheap at a nice beach location.  Sometimes he had to get creative to make it work, but with the ability to always just spend a little money on a hotel or fly home to family for a weekend, he made it work.  It was certainly cheaper than rent, and he definitely regaled us with stories of the great experiences he had.  The biggest challenge for all of us as consultants is that the travel every week can take its toll.  It can be fun and exciting, but after a year or so of flying every Monday and Thursday, it can go from being exciting to an absolute drag in a hurry.  Enjoy it while you can!

mikesinWV

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Re: New consulting job -- But where should I "live"?
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2015, 10:55:35 AM »
What a great gig.  I think you can really make the most of it. 

A few thoughts...
-Rather than picking a place to call home, why not live in a city for a month (or a few months) and try it out?  Look at renting something for a month to see what you think of the city. 
-You probably don't want to travel too far away since you'll be making the trip weekly.  Not sure for example I would want to live out west and have to fly into CLT.  And, preferably something with a direct flight just to minimize the travel time and possible delays.


MsSindy

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Re: New consulting job -- But where should I "live"?
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2015, 11:02:21 AM »
Spent my young career years as a Consultant at one of the Big 4 firms.  If I was single, I would def do something like MustacheNY's friend - that sounds awesome!

I'll also agree and say that travel commuting sucks....after about 2 months of it - especially in this post-911 world.  You suck up a lot of time in airports, and flight delays are common - esp in the winter, for which you don't get paid for any of that time.  So consider being close for some time, and then maybe away in another city for some time.  I would say stay as flexible as possible and don't commit to renting anything.... plus, is there a likely-hood that the contract could dry-up at that client...and the answer to that is 'yes!' - that's the nature of contracting.

Also, by always working out of town, your relationships (or lack thereof) will suffer.  It's hard enough to establish relationships when you're in one place, almost impossible when you're not around much.  If you have a wide network of friends around the nation, then this may not be too bad for you and you'd have an opportunity to visit them.

Good luck, it sounds like you have a fun opportunity ahead of you - milk it for all you can!

ch12

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Re: New consulting job -- But where should I "live"?
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2015, 11:43:14 AM »
Quote
After his lease expired, he moved all of the stuff he had that he never used and moved it into his parent's garage.  Over the following year, he couch surfed all over the country with friends, friends from college, people he met on the internet, and sometimes family.  Sometimes, instead of couch surfing, he would spend weekends camping out and hiking.  Other times, he would go with one of our other coworkers or other friends and they would share a hotel on the super cheap at a nice beach location.  Sometimes he had to get creative to make it work, but with the ability to always just spend a little money on a hotel or fly home to family for a weekend, he made it work.  It was certainly cheaper than rent, and he definitely regaled us with stories of the great experiences he had.  The biggest challenge for all of us as consultants is that the travel every week can take its toll.  It can be fun and exciting, but after a year or so of flying every Monday and Thursday, it can go from being exciting to an absolute drag in a hurry.

Traveling from city to city sounds amazing. I may also be a 3-4-5 consultant starting next August. Not sure yet. They'll only fly me in and out of my home address, though, so I have settled in one spot. I'm worried about burnout and getting tired of traveling, so I'm still not sure if I'm going to pick up consulting. I'll think about it once I have written job offers in hand.

Setting up a bank account and voter registration (and other 'contacts') in a no-state-income state seems wise. There are a few: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2014/04/26/these-states-have-no-income-tax/8116161/

I live in one of them. You have the ability to go wherever the wind takes you and couchsurf your way through a LOT of cities, so that's really cool. Maybe make a list of places you want to go and go from there?

NathanP

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Re: New consulting job -- But where should I "live"?
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2015, 11:56:25 AM »
If you are not opposed to living in Charlotte I would try to negotiate some flexibility in the housing and car costs. Maybe the company would be willing to pay your monthly rent, or worst case, pay for a weekly extended stay hotel if the costs were roughly the same. You are going to be saving them at least $1000 a month in flights, so they should be willing to work with you. If this is government related contracting...maybe not.

Also see if they would be willing to give cash instead of a rental car for 4 days a week. You could then use your own cheap vehicle and pocket the difference. Worse case, take the rental car and do any essential car based shopping during the 4 days in which you have a car. Use a bike on your days off.

The meals benefit is a keeper. I assume that you can buy groceries or restaurant meals up to a certain amount per day. This should more than cover your weekly food purchases.

In addition to any payment flexibility you can negotiate, you will benefit from the lack of stress related to travel.


JLee

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Re: New consulting job -- But where should I "live"?
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2015, 02:29:41 PM »
Uhm...

...are you hiring?

I would explore so many places! Free travel!
« Last Edit: May 21, 2015, 02:34:42 PM by JLee »

Norrie

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Re: New consulting job -- But where should I "live"?
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2015, 03:02:53 PM »
I think that it depends on your personality, but agree that hotel and airport life can wear you down after a while. I would focus on the cities that have direct flights to Charlotte. I live in a similar-sized town, and we don't have a lot of options for direct flights. Having to deal with connecting flights can be such a bummer and sucks up so much time. I'd also try to keep the direct flight times under two hours each way, but that's my personal preference.

I'd probably look into the Raleigh or Tri-Cities area.

Good luck! It sounds like a great opportunity and like there's plenty of room for adventure.

CheapskateWife

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Re: New consulting job -- But where should I "live"?
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2015, 03:10:21 PM »
+1 on the vote to give Charlotte a try and have the company consider converting the travel stipend to cash.  There is just so much to do in that area, hiking, biking, the arts.  Its a great town.  Highly recommend giving it a shot.

TimmyTightWad

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Re: New consulting job -- But where should I "live"?
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2015, 03:16:05 PM »
I had a similar job coming out of school but stayed local. Maybe look into the tax implications. What city/state is most friendly to traveling workers? Off the top of my head I would look into an area like Wilmington DE. Low cost of living, low rent, low taxes and it's close enough to Philly/DC/NYC that you could "live" there for the mentioned reasons while really staying in one of those major cities during the weekend.

Josiecat

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Re: New consulting job -- But where should I "live"?
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2015, 03:25:30 PM »
Live wherever you want to live.  You cannot make your life dependent on a 'client'.  It may not work out with that specific client.  If it doesn't, you will most likely be moved to a different client located elsewhere.  Also, usually projects on client site are not forever, but the length of a contract.

So, I would just pick a location you love and fly out from your 'home base'.

Axecleaver

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Re: New consulting job -- But where should I "live"?
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2015, 06:19:31 PM »
I've spent 4 of the last 5 years as a 3-4-5 consultant, and recently engineered an exit to a long term, local gig. It's a fun lifestyle when you're young and single, but it's not so much fun as a young parent or half of a married couple. But there are lots of exit strategies when you get burned out, so congrats on your new gig!

I recommend locating yourself near a major airport (no more than 15-20 minutes) and ideally in a no-income-tax state, because these are usually high paying jobs. They have to be for the abuse you're about to endure. You will be getting up at 4am to board your Monday flight most weeks, and coming home around midnight on Thursday, so an hour drive at the ends of your flights is no fun. By major airport, I'm talking about a hub like Atlanta or Detroit. Baltimore, maybe.

Many 3-4-5's go to Florida because the weather is nice, and that's not far from Charlotte. Your Charlotte gig could be short lived, so don't plan too extensively around just this first client. Find a location that would work whether you're flying to Charlotte or Bismarck, ND.

Big Four consulting is a tough industry, and it's a colossal pyramid scheme. It's set up to reward a few lucky people at the very top, on the backs of smart consultants working 80+ hour weeks. Don't believe the lies about making partner - almost no one does, and when you do, you take a huge pay cut to "buy in" to the partnership, with aggressive sales goals and tons of extra work that doesn't reward you for the time you spend. As long as you know that going in (or figure it out within a couple of years) you'll be fine.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2015, 06:29:21 AM by Axecleaver »

bacchi

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Re: New consulting job -- But where should I "live"?
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2015, 06:47:57 PM »
Yeah, you need to live near a hub else your 3-4-5 will turn into a 4-4-5, as the link suggested. Flying out of my mid-tier city meant leaving Sunday night because there are no early arrival flights on Monday morning. The company gave me a "weekend" bonus but it wasn't worth it.

Mustachianette

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Re: New consulting job -- But where should I "live"?
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2015, 03:44:08 PM »
I’m in a similar job.  I second ch12 / Axecleaver’s comment on the benefits of setting yourself in a low tax state – ones I see most commonly are TX and FL.  And definitely live near a major airport.  Also I know some people arrange corporate apartments on their client site – usually cheaper than 3 hotel nights per week for the employer / client, and you’d get *free* rent.  AND this doesn’t impact your ability to jump around on the weekends for free!  BTW, also make sure you get TSA pre-check if you’re qualified (not sure if you have to be a citizen?  Or just a green card holder?  But it’ll make the travel so much less painful).  Questions for you to consider:
  • Where is your personal life based now?  Do you make new friends really easily, or do you have a few established friendships that are your core?
  • How much do you care about hotel points?  If not that much – then the corporate apartment could be a huge money saver
  • Where is your co-worker network going to be based?  You want to definitely be around them some (doesn’t need to be every week) to build relationships, as relationships can be a huge part of staffing.
  • How long can you expect to be on that client assignment (based on what your partners have told you)?  If it’s 3 months, then it probably doesn’t make sense to set up life there.  1 year+ might be a different story.
  • Assuming you’re likely to be there for a while, would you lose out on anything by just basing yourself in Charlotte & jumping around on the weekends?  And if / when you get sick of that, then set up a separate place?

Ricky

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Re: New consulting job -- But where should I "live"?
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2015, 08:54:23 AM »
Rent a place and sub it out on Airbnb when you aren't there. You'll end up paying for your rent and probably make money. Otherwise, do what MustacheNY said. I'd want to be as close to work as possible even for the flight. That extra 30 min to an hour of flying will add up. You can get much more done on a plane than you can on a bus though so it may not be an issue.

Just choose any happening town in the US right now and go with it. Nashville or Austin would be great choices with close proximity to Charlotte.

ch12

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Re: New consulting job -- But where should I "live"?
« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2015, 07:38:11 PM »
Quote
BTW, also make sure you get TSA pre-check if you’re qualified (not sure if you have to be a citizen?  Or just a green card holder?  But it’ll make the travel so much less painful).

Agree on TSA pre-check. Clear is pretty cool, too, but they record biometric data and they aren't at every airport. TSA, on the other hand, will be. 100% worth the price to walk to security and be processed in 5 minutes. No taking off your shoes, no removing your liquids, no getting out your laptop. Just a quick scan, which is really great.

bb11

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Re: New consulting job -- But where should I "live"?
« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2018, 11:39:12 PM »
I realize this is an old topic, but I also got a 3-4-5 consulting job and have the same question to a large degree. Can someone explain to me the benefit of living in a low tax jurisdiction? I've chosen NYC for my office location (obviously high tax), though my understanding is you file non-resident returns for the states you work in during engagements. Given 4 out of 5 days I'll be on the road, 80% of my state income tax should be out of my control and not depend on where I live.

Am I missing something here? While I may not be able to work in a different office in the short term, I could live in NJ if need be and avoid NYC city tax. It's just my impression that your home base doesn't matter too much for tax purposes in consulting.

SHARP_00

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Re: New consulting job -- But where should I "live"?
« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2018, 07:31:52 AM »
Not a consultant, but I work remote out of a no income tax state (FL). My company has a system to track days spent on travel, and uses that to allocate income to each state work was performed in. I pay state income tax whenever I travel to the home office for work. So as long as you don't work in your home state, you wouldn't owe tax there. That said, for a consulting job you will almost certainly be working on your weekends, even checking emails counts. If you're being honest and tracking accurately, you would have income tax liability in the your home location.

bb11

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Re: New consulting job -- But where should I "live"?
« Reply #18 on: January 30, 2018, 07:53:17 AM »
Not a consultant, but I work remote out of a no income tax state (FL). My company has a system to track days spent on travel, and uses that to allocate income to each state work was performed in. I pay state income tax whenever I travel to the home office for work. So as long as you don't work in your home state, you wouldn't owe tax there. That said, for a consulting job you will almost certainly be working on your weekends, even checking emails counts. If you're being honest and tracking accurately, you would have income tax liability in the your home location.
Yes, I figure there would be some liability in my home state/city. However, if it's around 20% of my income rather than 100% that gets taxed at home state rates, this is maybe a $1-2k per year cost (IOW, I should live where I want and not worry about local taxes). If all my income is taxed at the home state rate, then it's a $7-8k year difference and I definitely need to think long and hard about it.

McStache

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Re: New consulting job -- But where should I "live"?
« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2018, 01:28:52 PM »
Not sure about how NY taxes work, but I've been doing this based in MA for a while and even though I pay taxes to other states, if I pay less than I would have to MA, I owe them the difference.  Also, I've found that even though I work away 80% of the time, it's not quite a clear split on income earned in the host state vs the home state - not sure why.

NYC is a good home base in terms of number of direct flights, but my experience is that NYC ALWAYS gets delayed way worse than anywhere else in the region.  There's a cloud in the sky - LGA starts slipping.  (http://www.fly.faa.gov/flyfaa/usmap.jsp)

Another consideration is that the company may ensure you only pay taxes as you would have if you lived and worked in your home location via true up.  So if you were based in TX, but your client is in NYC, your company may pay you a true up to make up for the taxes you payed to NYC as you would have paid $0 on that income in TX.  Not sure if all companies do this, but it is a benefit that exists.