Author Topic: Starting Over/New Career  (Read 10578 times)

smartcookie

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 5
Starting Over/New Career
« on: June 17, 2012, 09:40:32 PM »
Hi All - I am seeking some advice on how to start over with a new career or expand on the one I have.   The reason I am seeking a new career is because I do not make enough money to support myself in my current geographic location (Washington, DC), and my profession is saturated with too many graduates clamoring for too few jobs, so there has been a decrease in compensation, too.  As well, my current job is only available in a few select cities, like NYC, Washington DC, Chicago and LA, and I would like to have more flexibility to live elsewhere and to live for less.

I am currently an attorney making roughly 75K a year, and I have been out of law school for 10 years now.  Note that my salary was 110K (plus full benefits) in 2002, but I took a paycut just to be employed after a layoff in 2003.  Washington, DC, is a very antimustachian place where the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment easily hits 1600 per month, and a single-family home in a decent area starts at 600K.  My current employer does not pay for health insurance nor do they provide a 401K plan.  I am almost finished paying off my student loans of 100K - yeah!!!

If you have any suggestions for a second career for a single professional in their early 40s, I would love to hear them.  Also, I would be interested in anyone's feedback on living a mustachian life in North or South Carolina.

Thanks!

Fuzz

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 331
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2012, 11:39:53 PM »
You've got an interesting situation. I think your options partly depend on what kind of law you practice. If you work in some sort of heavily regulated industry like insurance, finance or oil and gas you could look for a position where your substantive knowledge ties you in.

Are you looking to make a clean break? Like lawyer to scuba instructor? I suppose your hobbies would be a place to start. And lots of people do well by owning and operating "boring" businesses such as a franchise or a distributorship of some sort. Your post is sort of short on details that would feed into good advice. What is it that lawyers say?  But it sounds like you're dipping a toe in the water of the next big adventure. Best of luck.

Arbor33

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 117
  • Age: 32
  • Location: Upstate New York
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2012, 04:56:47 AM »
I agree with the Fuzz, we need more details. It might be easy to tell you a more fulfilling career but without knowing what you "need" financially, we wouldn't be helping that much. Along the same lines, we wouldn't want to recommend you becoming a butcher if you're leading a vegan lifestyle.

Hit us with some details!

GW

  • Guest
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2012, 11:39:05 AM »
I agree with the others: we need more details. I did want to pop in here and say hello because I'm in a similar situation. You're not alone in wanting to be an ex-lawyer!

DaftShadow

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 25
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2012, 01:27:38 PM »
My Advice?  Expand your perspective... 

http://sivers.org/donkey

There's absolutely no reason to lock yourself into a career based on schooling or experience or history.  And there are boatloads of opportunities out there.  Anyone good enough to pay off $100k in student debt and be a fully employed lawyer for 15...  has the stick-to-it-ness to push in a new direction.  But you're going to have to push.  And also accept that you will suck for a while... 

Everything in this economy is changing faster.  It's a good thing sometimes to change with it.  :)

That being said, be smart about it.  Do everything possible to set your new direction properly BEFORE you quit your job.  There are many corporations, with generous hours, that need lawyers, and these corporations are HQ'd everywhere!  (Hawaii? California? Miami? London?  Where do you want to live?).  Heck, I bet if you looked, you could even find a corporation who would employ you to work from home...  how's that for freedom?

Would that sort of freedom make you inclined to keep your career, but in a new way? 

~ DaftShadow

bo_knows

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 814
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Fairfax, VA, USA
    • The Crowdsourced FIRE simulator
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2012, 01:48:01 PM »
I live in the DC metro area, and while I think that it's not the BEST mustchian city, I think that the suburbs are much much more affordable.  While the commute into the city can be an hour, it seems to be worth it (though, I work AND live in the suburbs, which is even better).

I feel like making an entire career switch, when you can try your hand at different types of law, is a bit premature.

Then again, I am currently scheming to change my career in the next few years from IT schmuck to Gym owner.

carolinakaren

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 171
  • Location: Charlotte, NC
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2012, 02:17:25 PM »
I live in Charlotte, NC.  Compared to other large cities it is low-cost.  You could purchase a house here for 1/3 what you would pay in D.C.  Charlotte also is a banking hub....lots of attorneys employed here by Wells Fargo, BofA, etc.  I have no idea what the pay range would be, but you should consider Charlotte for possible relocation.  We just returned from a weekend beach trip...three hours to historic Charleston, SC and several beautiful beaches there.....head west and you're in the mountains in under two hours.  We also have three lakes in the immediate Charlotte area for boating, skiing, etc.  I love this location for warm weather, mild winters, and proximity to desirable vacation destinations.  I spend much less on vacation airfares now that I live so close to the coast!  On the flip side, I don't think you will be impressed by our public transportation.  I lived in D.C. for a temporary job once, and you guys have a wonderful metro.....we're light years from that here in Charlotte!  If you like biking or hiking we have excellent greenways for exploring.  I can't speak for apartment rental rates, as I haven't rented in over fifteen years.

smartcookie

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 5
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2012, 06:10:31 AM »
It dawned on me that unless my income goes up significantly and I am able to keep my expenses constant or reduce them, I will have a hard time ever affording a home purchase in this geographic area.  As well, it would be poor business judgment to stay in a profession/job where the salaries and benefits are declining while the number of qualified individuals for the total number of jobs increases every year.  I also could be happier doing something else and be able to afford what I need/want in life, like a real house with more than three rooms versus a shoebox of a condo where the condo fee only goes up.

Before I get to more facts about my situation, let’s get rid of the lay person’s myth that “you can do anything with a law degree.”  If that were true, I (and many of my colleagues) would have already been hired by various companies for positions that sometimes encounter the law, such as human resources or even operations.  Experienced lawyers and those more recent graduates from law school generally do not have the skills required by most corporations to work in non-attorney positions.  I wish the opposite were true, but it is not.  As well, I also know from personal experience that if one is an attorney and goes to work for a small company in a non-attorney position, that company or its owner or other employees will expect and ask you to do legal work on your non-attorney salary.  So, to answer some of the questions and suggestions raised by those who already responded:

1.  Do I want to remain a lawyer?  No.  The work is boring and way too sedentary.  Plus, there is way too much supply and not enough demand right now and for the foreseeable future.  Salaries and benefits will keep declining until law schools stop producing more attorneys and/or those of us who can leave do so.  Or, in the alternative, there would have to be some huge increase in the demand for attorneys, but that is not predicted.

2.  Have I explored various jobs in law to make sure I am reaching the correct conclusion about the work?  Yes.  I have worked for law firms, the government, a lobbying firm, and temporary agencies.  The day-to-day work of an attorney is almost always the same - reading, writing and analyzing information.  Think about it like accounting, only instead of numbers, it is words.  If I had known this before law school, I would have never gone and spent $150K (tuition, room and board, plus interest in paying back loans) over 3 years during which I did not make a dime only to end up making 75K a year with no benefits 10 years later.  And, to boot, I am in a job where I am not gaining any marketable skills at this time and there is no career ladder or path, so my “career” is stagnating.

3.  Have I explored working for a corporation as an attorney?  Yes.  I do not have the experience, skills or “credentials” required to work as an attorney for a corporation. 

4.  What would I like/love to do?  I would love to own and manage more rental properties.  Or I would like to own and manage an apartment building, self-storage property, bed and breakfast/small inn, marina, or similar.  I grew up in a family that owned and managed investment real estate, so I have experience; but, unfortunately, working with my family is not an option.

5.  [Since the ideas in #3 above are capital-intensive and require a salary like Mr. Mustache had before he retired (and even more so since I am single) and I live in a high cost of living area], what career/job changes have I considered or would I consider?  Commercial property manager for a large company/REIT and commercial leasing representative/agent are two positions that have crossed my mind.  I would love a job where I could be earning six figures again in a couple of years.  I am even willing to go back to school and obtain an MBA (hopefully with a scholarship) at night if I knew it would lead to a six-figure income in a couple of years.  Positions that might suit my (past, aka before law school) interests and personality would be marketing manager, recruiter for large corporation, and product manager, among others.  Of course, I would either need additional schooling, like an MBA, or someone willing to train me on the job so that I could gain the skills necessary to do the work.

6.  Lastly, I am willing to stick it out in my lower-cost rental housing for the duration of my career transition and beyond, even though it is less than desirable as it is tough to entertain friends and new friends.  I am basically living like I am a student, and that is tough.  I’ve been frugal/poor before, and know what it is like to go without cable television, vacations, new clothes/shoes, and evenings out for long stretches of time, but to downsize yet again post-20s - ugh.  My hobbies are mostly low-cost, too, so that helps.

Thanks, again, for any suggestions.  And, if anyone has ever purchased a business or investment real estate using owner financing, I would be interested in hearing your story.

Devils Advocate

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 84
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2012, 06:36:21 AM »
The last thing you need is more college (i.e. debt)


Information is FREE man!  The first thing that most people do who are in careers that don't pan out like they planned they go back to school and pay more OUTRAGEOUS tuition!  The ironic thing here is that this is exactly the reason you are in this predicament in the first damn place.  Many of those recent graduates of poli sci and History programs go out looking for work and find that they can't find a decent job, so what do they do?  LAW SCHOOL!  LOL


Now you are in the same position and what do you think is going to help? An MBA?  WTF?

Research Personal MBA website and get crackin'!

DA





rjack

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 90
  • Age: 59
  • Location: Philadelphia PA
  • I'm retired!
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2012, 06:50:52 AM »
4.  What would I like/love to do?  I would love to own and manage more rental properties.  Or I would like to own and manage an apartment building, self-storage property, bed and breakfast/small inn, marina, or similar.  I grew up in a family that owned and managed investment real estate, so I have experience; but, unfortunately, working with my family is not an option.

5.  [Since the ideas in #3 above are capital-intensive and require a salary like Mr. Mustache had before he retired (and even more so since I am single) and I live in a high cost of living area], what career/job changes have I considered or would I consider?  Commercial property manager for a large company/REIT and commercial leasing representative/agent are two positions that have crossed my mind.

It sounds like you really want to be involved with real estate. I think you should go in a direction that interests you. So why don't you switch to practicing real estate law at a REIT? Or just find a job as a property manager? Or sell real estate? The idea would be that you would eventually gain enough capital and experience to do some real estate investment of your own.

The last thing I would do is go get an MBA. I have an MBA and it is too general for what you want to do. Zero in on knowledge that you need to do exactly what you want.

If you don't mind me asking, why is working with family not an option?

Bank

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 224
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2012, 09:11:47 AM »
The last thing I would do is go get an MBA. I have an MBA and it is too general for what you want to do. Zero in on knowledge that you need to do exactly what you want.

+1.  I also have an MBA, and I would not recommend you get one.

smartcookie

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 5
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2012, 09:37:32 AM »
Hi.  Working with family is not an option because all the positions in the small company are currently filled by other family members.  The company is also in a different geographic location, and I would not really save money by relocating there.

Also, someone suggested that I go work for a REIT in real estate law.  I have no background in real estate law.  Most corporations, and that includes REITs, look for attorneys who've been associates/partners with firms that provided their outside legal work in real estate.  So, I lack the subject area knowledge, and I have not been an associate in years.  Becoming an associate again at a large firm that does real estate law is not a viable option given the poor job market and the fact that I did not go to a top-tier law school.

Lastly, I already worked as a residential property manager and in real estate sales in DC.  Those were two years where I made roughly 40K each year, took a part-time job to supplement my income to get experience, and still ended up drawing on savings to support myself.  So, going back to such low earnings is not really an option unless it leads to greater earnings in the near future.  What I learned during those two years is that it is extremely hard to get ahead in residential property management unless you own the company.  And real estate sales, well, it is all commissions - I would have starved without the part-time job and savings.

Any other suggestions for high-earning positions that an attorney can transition to without additional schooling, knowledge of a specific subject area, or skills like sales?  Or a position where an employer is willing to train an attorney in a non-attorney position?

GW

  • Guest
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2012, 09:56:45 AM »

Any other suggestions for high-earning positions that an attorney can transition to without additional schooling, knowledge of a specific subject area, or skills like sales?  Or a position where an employer is willing to train an attorney in a non-attorney position?

I'm afraid "high-earning" is the limiting factor right there. How much money do you need to live on?

Also, IMO, a career change means you'll have to start back at the bottom because, as you correctly noted, you don't have knowledge in the specific subject area yet. Without that knowledge or transferable skills, what do you have to offer to an employer?

Arbor33

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 117
  • Age: 32
  • Location: Upstate New York
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2012, 10:06:04 AM »
I can see the allure in real estate. I'm starting to get into rental properties myself. The problem is, it's almost impossible to do that alone at first.

You need some savings.
Then you get some debt in the form of your property that hopefully pays for itself.
Then more savings + equity in previous property gets you even more property.
Wash, rinse, repeat...

Compounding on the saving for properties issue is the fact that you need to be able to keep all of your properties in acceptable condition. It's not until you own "X" amount of doors that you'll be able to do so without a day job and even then it may not be a comfortable feeling.

I say the most reachable of your goals would be to shoot for the B&B. You could obviously live there which shouldn't hurt your profit all too much and it shouldn't be any harder than purchasing a home with a bunch of rooms. Better yet, buy a home with some decent waterfront and you can make it a marina as well. Of course that's easier said than done assuming the EPA would likely give you a hard time. However, that's not to say it can't be done. A friend of a friend bought about 10 acres on the St. Lawrence and has 10 dwellings (11 counting his own) and about 30 boat slips and he is happily living off of just that seasonal income.

I got on a tangent... Sorry. To summarize, find ways to save for some sort of down-payment regardless of intended location. That sounds like it could be your ticket out of your high-cost, low reward situation.

Jamesqf

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4047
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2012, 12:57:54 PM »
As well, I also know from personal experience that if one is an attorney and goes to work for a small company in a non-attorney position, that company or its owner or other employees will expect and ask you to do legal work on your non-attorney salary.

May I ask what is fundamentally wrong with that?  Unless of course you're so burned out on legal work that you just can't stand the thought of doing it any more, that would seem to be an advantage in a smaller business.  You may get hired to do X for the company, and spend most of your time doing it, but also can do legal work as it comes along.

Same would apply if you do something like a B&B.  Why shouldn't you also do a bit of legal work on the side?  It's always a good idea to have more than one actual or potential income stream.

Shipp0

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 2
  • Location: Portland, OR
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2012, 04:07:38 PM »
One career field that offers the flexibility of location as well as can play off your legal experience would be field sales - particularly focusing on eDiscovery and Information Management. Most industries have a need for eDiscovery (FOIA in Federal/State/Local, Compliance Search/Litigation Hold in commercial.)

Field Sales can be financially lucrative (can definitely meet the six-figure desire,) positions are available nationwide, and your ability to communicate with the proper lingo to the corporate attorneys purchasing the product would be a great advantage.

If sales isn't your thing you may want to entertain Product Management and/or Product Marketing as well (product evangelizing.)

Stacey

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 104
  • Age: 41
  • Location: Maine
    • Bottling Moonlight
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2012, 04:09:48 PM »
Since one of the jobs you mention that might suit your personality and interests is a recruiter for a corporation, what about shifting gears to be a recruiter for a law firm?  Although those positions are not typically held by lawyers, being an attorney would be a plus, and I know offhand of several folks in recruiting at large DC firms who were once lawyers.  Being a lawyer will give you an edge and hopefully enable you to not have to start at square one. 

JJ

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 117
  • Location: On the road, Australia
    • A Philosopher and A Businessman
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2012, 06:29:49 PM »
Here's a few random thoughts, some of which may be useful...

1) Lawyer in small country town - costs are low, income will be low but workload also likely to be low.  Not likely to be so much competition (depending on the town).  May be a good start to recover from burnout and give yourself some contemplation time to figure out next steps.  With the free time you have you could get started on a fixer-upper - low cost entry into the real estate market.  The big downer is you would leave a lot of your city friends behind.

2) Have a look at who has made "proper" money outside a salary and look at the education track record they have had.  Sure, you can make high six figure salaries in some specialties but the millions generally go to entrepreneurs, business owners and investors. I agree with some of the posters that going back to school doesn't make sense.  There are plenty of simple, small business opportunities out there (e.g. online sales of niche products) where you can do quite well but you do have to have passion and the right psychological setup to work through it as running a business can be overwhelmingly disheartening sometimes (speaking from experience).  Again, if you have a subsistence level income from part-time law in a low cost geography you would have time to set up a simple niche business.

3) If you are after a higher salary (as opposed to business or investment income) then you need a specialisation.  Some of the higher value specialisations don't come from going to school, but spending 6-12 months educating yourself in a niche.  I work in the world of software and I can tell you that there are no school courses for some of the hottest areas - try looking for a course in social media software development or enterprise software sales.  From what I have seen you can be competent in many niches in less than a year, particularly if you work on the sales side.

4) Outrageous idea - could you do a bunch of pro-bono work?  You will get to meet and interact with a completely different cross-section of society which may open you up to new opportunities.  The mindset will be totally different too - it seems counter-intuitive but giving time or money away with no thought of anything directly in return changes the way you see the world and often opens up new opportunities you would never have seen.  If you are no longer doing something just for yourself your energy levels change too and it is easier to get through the daily-grind.  I would think, for example, small business startups would love some help with commercial contracts and I'm sure there are plenty of families doing it tough who could use some help keeping their houses.  Where there is no profit motive your best work comes naturally and people notice.  The MMM blog is a prime example of this and now makes quite a lot of money.  Steve Pavlina is another online example.  Here's a related idea - maybe you could start a blog or education website which explains to laymen how they can keep themselves out of trouble with some area of the law (e.g. insurance) that you are competent in.  Make it free and really useful - don't hold back on trade secrets.  See what happens.  You could even self-educate on real estate law and share your learning online as you learn - sooner or later a real estate group (e.g. small-medium property developer) will snap your services as a clear expert in the domain.

In any case, from what I can see (and don't take this the wrong way as I am basing it on very limited information) you are in a bit of a rut and need to step well outside your comfort zone to move forward again.  Do your due diligence on your next step, but don't overanalyse - if you have been in the same area for a few years you just won't have the background to make perfect decisions in a new area so take a step, learn more, course correct.  If you go into RE, investment or business you are going to have one or more 5 or 6 figure mistakes at some point (hopefully not 7!) so be prepared for that - college education is expensive, but real world experience can be too!  The difference is you are making money as you go in the real world.

Sorry to ramble on - I hope there is something of use in there for you.  It's great that you a looking to change the status quo and I hope it all turns out.


arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 27911
  • Age: -999
  • Location: Traveling the World
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #18 on: June 19, 2012, 06:45:54 PM »
I see a lot of complainypants here that needs a punch in the face.

I'm gonna snip out some stuff and leave a few words intact.

...is not an option..I would not...I have no...I lack...I have not...is not a viable option...I did not...I already...is not really an option ...it is extremely hard...I would have starved...

That's a LOT of negativity.  In that one post.  There is more in the others as well.

You are in a position where you have a law degree in one of the richest countries in the world.  You, as a single person, make almost DOUBLE the median income for a whole household in that country (your 75k to the median 40ishk).

You have plenty of opportunity and chances, and can do whatever the hell you want.

Get over the negativity and go for what you want.  Instead of thinking about what you lack and how you cannot do X, Y, and Z... go *ing do it, if that's what you want.

/hoping you get slightly offended, but not defensive, and actually consider that what I quoted were your exact words, and see how bad they sound
//good luck
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

johnnylighthouse

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 52
  • Location: Philadelphia
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2012, 07:23:30 PM »
Sol may be the official face puncher, but surely arebelspy is the kindest face puncher.

*edited for sentence completion.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2012, 10:14:41 PM by johnnylighthouse »

arebelspy

  • Administrator
  • Senior Mustachian
  • *****
  • Posts: 27911
  • Age: -999
  • Location: Traveling the World
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #20 on: June 19, 2012, 08:11:05 PM »
Sol may be the official face-puncher, but surely arebelspy is the kindest.

Heh, yeah, I'm not too good with the face punching.

Mine is more like a slightly annoying tickle.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, and now travel the world full time with two kids.
If you want to know more about me, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

iwannaretire

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 43
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #21 on: June 19, 2012, 10:02:01 PM »
I can understand your situation as I would like to be an ex-lawyer too.  But you have an advantage in that you have identified a field that you have an interest in.  That's half the battle.  I would recommend doing a lot of research into how you can get into the real estate field.  Regardless of what credentials they claim to need, just try to get the job you want and see what happens.  The worst that can happen is they say no.  And, if they say no, ask what you need to do to get in the door and be persistent.
 
I think one of the problems with being an attorney is that we are surrounded by very conservative, typically unimaginative co-workers and we tend to get into ruts.  Attorneys seem to always believe no jpb out there is any better.  If you can get away from people with this mentality and start hanging around real people, and in particular, entrepreneurs, you may start seeing opportunities that you don't see now.

rjack

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 90
  • Age: 59
  • Location: Philadelphia PA
  • I'm retired!
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #22 on: June 20, 2012, 05:57:43 AM »
Sol may be the official face-puncher, but surely arebelspy is the kindest.

Heh, yeah, I'm not too good with the face punching.

Mine is more like a slightly annoying tickle.

More like a love tap. :)

smartcookie

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 5
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #23 on: June 20, 2012, 10:51:40 AM »
Hi - thanks to everyone who has written in with constructive ideas and encouragement.  This is actually a response to Arebelspy.  Sorry I could not figure out how to respond to you directly!

My posts were actually meant to be negative.  Sometimes that gets people thinking a little differently and maybe a little bit more realistically or in practical terms about options versus all the pollyanna stuff.  Plus, sugarcoating would only serve to continue the delusion that a law degree or any kind of degree for that matter is an automatic ticket to riches or financial independence or even a paying job. 

While it is true that I make almost double the median income for a whole household in this country, I also happen to live in a major city where my expenses are likely double what they would be in a smaller city or town or rural area, and I get less for those doubled expenses - an apartment versus a nice house.  And some of my expenses (law school loans, bar dues, and health insurance) are fixed at a certain amount regardless of where I live.  Perhaps, too, you missed the statement that my current type of work is only available in major metropolitan areas, like NYC, LA and DC.  If I could make the same amount of money I do now in my same line of work and move to a less expensive city or town, like one of the beach towns in Delaware, without incurring more investment (like having to take another bar exam), I would be on my way out of town in an instant. 

Regarding whether I have plenty of opportunity and chances, and that I "can do whatever the hell want," I agree and disagree.  I truly believe there are opportunities and chances for me to work in a different career or to operate a business, if I have the natural skills or abilities that match what the job/career/business requires.  Heck, I want to play the piano; but, I am nearly tone deaf and I lack rhythm.  My parents rightly sold the piano when I went off to college.  But, I do get your point!

In any event, I think the most important take-away from all the messages is for everyone to think about their options and to act on the best ones.  Anyone can have the "greatest" idea in the world, but it only works if it is executed and sometimes executed well.

ErinH

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #24 on: June 21, 2012, 05:10:51 PM »
Hi Smartcookie,

This is a bit of a pedestrian suggestion compared to the others, but I would recommend having a look at The Caretaker Gazette, a bi monthly newsletter about various opportunities, mainly house sitting and caretaking as well as people looking for help with their B&Bs, inns, multi million dollar estates (and more outlandish alternative hippie stuff as well).  (www.caretaker.org) [[MOD EDIT: Fixed Link from caretakergazette . org which didn't resolve to caretaker.org]]. I always find it entertaining if not inspiring.
Best of luck to you.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2012, 05:19:52 PM by arebelspy »

twinge

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 326
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #25 on: June 22, 2012, 11:38:19 AM »
Quote
My posts were actually meant to be negative.  Sometimes that gets people thinking a little differently and maybe a little bit more realistically or in practical terms about options versus all the pollyanna stuff. 

I'm not convinced, though, that your negative account is any less distorted than a sugar-coated account (and believe me, I am often skeptical about some of what I see as irrational optimism here too).  Your account of the cost of living didn't strike me as terribly realistic in "real" terms--rather than just looking at median/means.  For instance, I'm living in the DC area too (for my first two years I was in the city, the 3rd within the beltway, and then bought a house about a half an hour train ride out).  We  moved here with me fresh out of grad school about 5 years ago with little else than my degree.  (I only had about 10K in student loans since I had fellowships and worked through grad school--so that's an advantage on my part).  My family of three, though, lived on an income of about 65-75K for the first 2 years here, more around 85K the third year, and when we added another baby to our family then we managed to scrape together enough for a  down payment on a house that is a 30-35 min train commute to DC and is in a good school district etc.  While for the past year our income is more around 120K, that's to support 4 people including daycare costs.   Our net worth has steadily been growing over this time, we added substantially to retirement accounts and saved for a downpayment even when we were living on 65-85K.  I, of course, don't know the details of your circumstances, just mentioning that people do manage to live a fairly cushy, albeit strategically frugal, middle class life roughly  at your income level in DC.  I'd love to have our income level elsewhere too, but we've managed here.

To be honest, I hear echoes of your post in most of my friends who are working in law (in DC and elsewhere incl. lower COL cities like Pittsburgh).  I think law feels like a failed promise to many of the people who work in it.   They are making enough to "get by" fairly well,  but not the life they thought a lawyer would lead.  And they often liked law school a lot more than they like the day to day work they do. So the costs are too high.  One wonder I have is whether you might be presenting a totally negative view of your options in DC as a way to convince yourself current position in law as REALLY untenable so that taking a risk to do something you prefer is a better option.  Whatever works for you, but be aware that from an outside, limited knowledge, perspective, your negative representation looks a little like you are wearing blinders.  And it's hard to let yourself know which options are going to work best for you if you're distorting some of the benefits you're going to leave behind.  Like, I can't tell if opening a B&B would be a realistic option for you or an idealistic pipe dream...
« Last Edit: June 22, 2012, 11:46:11 AM by twinge »

Ben

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 123
  • Location: SC
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #26 on: June 22, 2012, 01:20:43 PM »
DC is more expensive, sure, but there are cheaper areas as well- you can get reasonably priced homes and apartments in most of PG county. You are a single guy so you don't need to worry about schools, and its the wealthiest majority-african-american county in the country. Because all of the other counties in the DC metro area are even MORE wealthy, you get the price break to live in the 'least wealthy' county.

smartcookie

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 5
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #27 on: June 22, 2012, 06:26:02 PM »
Hi.  Just to clarify, I am actually female.  Living in Prince Georges County is not an option -  I just would not feel or be safe.

Ben

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 123
  • Location: SC
Re: Starting Over/New Career
« Reply #28 on: June 23, 2012, 07:54:29 AM »
Ha, I was thrown off by Devil's Advocate's "Information is FREE man!" and attached an (incorrect) gender to the OP. Apologies. But the schools statement still stands, and there are many single women that live in our PG apartment complex. But I've heard that response fairly often, and if you want to live in the 'right' lawyer neighborhoods, a house will be much more expensive in the DC area.