Author Topic: Dream job in rural area, think i'm better off commuting?  (Read 3039 times)

Moose13

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Dream job in rural area, think i'm better off commuting?
« on: February 27, 2015, 09:19:54 AM »
I landed a dream job at NASA working at the Wallops Flight Facility. It's just over the Virginia line on the Delmarva (delaware/maryland/virginia) peninsula and in a very rural area. I'll be living about 1 hour away at my grandparent's beach house for a few months while getting started, but am trying to determine where would be best to find a place to rent and in a year or two one to buy, along with what's best for our cars.

Wife is a teacher and Maryland schools pay a lot more and they are significantly better to teach at than the schools in VA. We could try to find a house only a mile or two from Wallops, but she'd be guaranteed a 30-60 minute commute and would have few Maryland schools within a reasonable driving distance.

Key things we're considering:
Commute distance
Cost of homes
Broadband internet availability
Distance to my parents in Berlin, MD (dogsitting, future babysitting)


Areas considered:

Next to Wallops - minimal commute for me, long for her, 1 hour from parents, no broadband internet, few amenities, homes 150-200k.

Chincoteague Island - commute isn't safe to bike (7 miles on road and a causeway without shoulder, high speed), longer commute for her, hour+ from parents, no broadband, few amenities, homes 150-250k but most are in the floodplain (I've worked with FEMA, this is a big no no)

Snow Hill, MD - 30 minutes for me, 20+ miles to bike is too far, 30 minutes from parents, broadband available, 20-45 minute commute for her, most amenitiies 20-30 min away, homes only 150-200k.

Southern Berlin, MD - 45 min commute for me, 20-45 for her, parents 10 minutes away, near most amenities, homes 200k+, broadband available. Biking distance to the beach!


Cars:

my 2007 CR-V - ~28-30mpg on the flat roads there, 126k miles, paid off, KBB says worth ~8k

her 2009 Forester - ~26mpg, 95k miles, 2k left @2%, KBB says worth ~8-10k but was in an accident and repaired

I'm considering getting a Honda Fit, the 2015 fits have a huge bump in mpg over the older ones, but my CR-V gets pretty reasonable mpg as is. I'm ok driving the CR-V until it dies if it's the best way to go. I'm extremely into hiking/camping and going on less than ideal roads, plus there's a ton of deer along the route I commute. Not sure the savings by switching cars is worth it along with sitting in a much lower car if I hit a deer.

Ideally i'd bike commute to Wallops, she could just stay home, maybe run an in home daycare for Wallops employees, and only need to own 1 dirt cheap car. Her big hobby is theater though, which means she is gone 3-6 nights/week for the months when she's involved in shows, so car sharing could definitely be an issue and there isn't exactly a Zip Car or anything around to quickly rent. The problem is my new job is 55k, which is good for the area, equal to about 65k where we currently live near DC, but once she finishes her master's (Maryland teachers are required to earn it) she'll be making about 50k working in Maryland. Even with commuting, we'd get a sizeable increase in income with both of us working and be able to save 20% for a house much faster. Plus it's not like living next to Wallops is a big city with all kinds of stuff to do, it's surrounded by farms, it's a lot less exciting than a city in Colorado.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2015, 09:33:13 AM by Moose13 »

SeniorLibertarian

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Re: Dream job in rural area, think i'm better off commuting?
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2015, 09:58:37 AM »
Congratulations on your job. Living near a rocket test facility sounds pretty exciting to me.

Have you considered the relative tax burdens of MD and VA? According to the Tax Foundation, MD has the 7th highest state/local tax burden in the country (VA: 30th), although the state's new GOP governor may try to change that. So while your wife may be paid more to teach in MD, some of that delta is going to be offset by higher income taxes.

Ideally, your wife would teach in VA and you would live near your work, thereby lowering your tax burden and related costs -- but it doesn't sound like you/she want to do that. I'm assuming that her job is more flexible than yours, location-wise, but I could be wrong on that. I have no idea how the teaching profession works.

If her hobby is evening theater, isn't she going to have to be near a reasonably large urban area, too?

All in, it sounds like you are going to have to work around her situation -- both teaching and hobby -- and cope with likely unpleasant commuting options on your end.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2015, 10:01:47 AM by SeniorLibertarian »

Moose13

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Re: Dream job in rural area, think i'm better off commuting?
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2015, 10:55:13 AM »
That's true, the differences in taxes would offset some of it, though i'd need to crunch numbers to see how big of a difference it is. VA has maybe 3 elementary schools within a reasonable driving distance whereas Maryland has around 6-8 within a reasonable distance. There are even more if we both had to make crappy hour long commutes for the first year or two until she found a school closer to my job.

Her job may be more flexible, but there are only so many elementary schools in rural areas and even then, only so many teachers leave/retire after each year.

I've checked local theater groups, there's a few in Maryland, 20-30 minutes from all the Maryland places listed. Not much of anything near Wallops because it's mostly farms.

We do have one idea that could fix commuting. Once we save up enough money after she teachers 1-3 years, she quits teaching, we buy a house right near Wallops, only need 1 car, she opens an in house daycare program for Wallops employees (almost none exist near Wallops) and she earns income, stays home, and can watch our kids we plan on having in a few years. But we don't have the capital to buy a house or launch a business right now.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Dream job in rural area, think i'm better off commuting?
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2015, 10:58:57 AM »
If your job is right over the line and she wants to teach in MD, why doesn't she teach in MD close to your job? Too sparsely populated to find a job there?

Moose13

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Re: Dream job in rural area, think i'm better off commuting?
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2015, 11:06:30 AM »
Yes, there are not many elementary schools because it's so rural. Nearest MD school is 20 minutes away. Might only be 1-2 teachers per grade, she's certified to teach pre-k through 3, so you're talking 5-10 teachers and if none of them quit/retire, there is no need for her to be hired. The next schools are going to be 30 minutes out, then like 45 minutes. Things are spread out.

Here's the area:
https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Pocomoke+City,+MD/Atlantic+Rd,+Wallops+Island,+VA+23337,+USA/@38.1118125,-75.5371834,11z/data=!4m13!4m12!1m5!1m1!1s0x89b972b3260b80a1:0xa01435fc02fa6cc4!2m2!1d-75.5679805!2d38.0756773!1m5!1m1!1s0x89b96f750fcab251:0x46265d88e046d7bb!2m2!1d-75.4790797!2d37.934077