Author Topic: Disillusioned academic facing firing.  (Read 1539 times)

salt cured

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Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« on: March 13, 2019, 06:19:52 PM »
I am an academic who is going to be fired in May 2022, right around my 40th birthday. Until then, I earn about 210k per year and have some nice savings options (8% salary match into a 401a plus a 457b in addition to a 403b). I am also just divorced. My ex-wife and I split our assets and debts down the middle and there are no maintenance payments either way. Iím in a comfortable position for now but know that I canít achieve FI by 2022. Iím targeting $2000k liquid as my FIRE number.

To be honest, I am adrift and not really sure what to do. Iím disillusioned by and bored in my job but am not sure if I need a complete career change. My most sensible next move is a shift to a more teaching-focused university. I could earn between $100k and $150k depending on where I end up. But Iíd also like to move from the US to Canada at some point (dual citizen, raised in Canada). I canít earn these sums at a Canadian university however. I also have dreams of a more nomadic lifestyle, maybe teaching and traveling in South America or SE Asia. Iíve contemplated taking a few years off after my job here ends. I like the idea of shifting to a career that allows me to work with my hands, using my pay to live off of and letting my investments compound for another decade or so. Maybe I can work toward that during my time off.

I think I could have a $900k (+/- $100k) net worth by the time Iím fired. I ballpark having about $200k across Roth contributions ($50k), brokerage investments ($75k), and 457b investments ($75k). Enough to live on for a while, especially in SE Asia or southern or midwestern US. I could also sell my house at that time, but I have visions of renting it out to faculty or grad students.

About me: Single, no kids, mid-30s, based in a high-tax state in the USA.

Assets
$315kHome
$128k403b
$113k401a
$42k457b
$37kRoth IRA
$20kCash
$5kMotorcycle

Debts
$223kHome (4.25%, 20 year note)
$35kEquity buyout to ex-wife (paid off 12/20)

That leaves a current net worth of just over $400k. Investments are about 80/20 Stocks/Fixed Income.


Annual Spending

Iím in a moderate COL area of a high tax coastal state, and what Iíve listed below is probably optimistic. I expect to blow past my Food and Dining budget. Iíll probably go over on Shopping and Personal Care too, but I think I can rein that way in next year after Iíve replaced the things that I lost in the divorce that I want back. My goal is to get my spending down $40k/year in 2020 (from $100k/year while I was married).  I have too much house but apartments are $20k to $24k a year, and I rent my house for graduation weekends earning $3k to $5k a year, so Iím happy to stay put. A roommate is an option, but Iím not hot on the idea.

$21kMortgage and Equity Buyout Interest, Taxes, Insurance
$8.4kShopping and Personal Care
$7.2kFood and Dining
$3.6kUtilities and Insurances
$3kPaycheck deductions
$2.5kTravel
$0.8kAuto
$0.5kFees

$47.6k - Total

Annual Saving
$19k403b
$30k401a
$19k457b
$6kRoth IRA
$6kCash
$25kBrokerage
$7kMortgage Principle
$20kEquity Buyout

$132k - Total

I'm very anxious about my situation, but I really don't know what my specific questions are. I guess I'm worried that I'm being incredibly short sighted by allowing my career to implode and/or by walking away. What reality checks do I need? What problems jump out?

ysette9

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2019, 07:00:59 PM »
Out of curiosity, how do you know your career will implode on such a precise date? Usually the advice for anyone facing a job loss is to save as much as you possibly can, with an emphasis on having a good cash cushion for short-term needs. Whatever happens, the more money you can have saved up the more options you will have.

Have you thought more about what you really want? If you move back to Canada, can you live within $40k/year? There is nothing wrong with taking a lower-paying job, especially if you are close to the point of not needing another job anyway.

Villanelle

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2019, 07:19:40 PM »
So if is fired or laid off or quitting?  You say fired, but then you mention "allowing" your career to implode and "walking away", which doesn't sound at all like getting fired.

If you are laid off, keep in mind that you will likely be entitled to UI, assuming you are a regular employee. 

Run the numbers.  What's a realistic amount to have saved by the time your job ends (assuming that is an unchangeable thing).   (Is that $900k pretty accurate?) How does 4% of that number compare to what you are willing to live on? (Do you think you'd need $47k post-FIRE?  More?  Less?  Keep in mind health insurance, among other changes.  Do you *want* to move to SE Asia?  And if so, permanently or indefinitely?)  If it is somewhat close, consider part time work--adjunct professor, tutoring (online and in person), anything related to the field you talk, substitute teaching, or anything else that might work for you so supplement your withdraws and hopefully allow you to grow the fund a bit more.  So you make $30k/yr and withdraw $20k, giving you $50 to live on and allowing your stache to grow a but more. 

SimpleCycle

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2019, 07:48:01 PM »
So you're going to run out your tenure clock and then leave academia?  That's the only way I can make sense of such a precise end date.

I think your NW estimate is on target, and that would throw off $36k a year at 4%.  Could you temporarily live on less than $36k a year while your stash continues to grow?  That sounds like a totally reasonable plan - living off a smaller amount than 4% for a few years and seeing what happens stash wise.

With regard to the house, approach it as if it's a rental property you're buying today.  Would it be worth buying as a rental?  If it rents for a positive cash flow, that will add to the stash as well.

expatartist

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2019, 08:01:11 PM »
Hi, I'm a 16-year veteran of living, bumming around, and working in East and SE Asia. Lots of opportunities in the Asia region to keep your income flowing and mind stimulated while letting your stash grow in the US.

While you're still working, visit a few places on holiday: Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur all have regionally reputable universities. Or smaller cities like Chiang Mai have some opportunity and could be more your pace. Meet people in your field or others you find interesting. Taste the many varieties of pollution and street food and experience diverse social dynamics. Escape to the countryside (70% of Hong Kong is country parks, we've 250 islands in the Territory). Imagine what your life would be like.

Teaching English can be intellectually dull and has a low bar to entry. Avoid the sexpats, and try not to get married for at least 5 years, you'll get ridiculous amounts of flattery and attention and it can go to one's head ;)

More specific advice would be dependent on your field and experience.

salt cured

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2019, 08:14:45 PM »
Fired is the most accurate term, I think. Some time next year, my chair and the dean will recommend that I not go up for tenure. I'll agree. I'll be allowed to finish out my contract, but I'll eventually lose my job due to my unsatisfactory performance. I say implode because I've basically checked out on the research side. I could still move to a teaching focused university, but without a heroic effort, I'll never be employable at an R1 and maybe an R2 again. I wouldn't say I'm upset about this.

I do think $900k by 2022 is accurate. I don't have the risk tolerance to attempt to fire on that. I think taking time off is a bad idea unless I have a pretty clear plan to re-enter the work force after a year or two. I really like the idea of teaching and traveling overseas, but worry that I'd regret not staying in academia here in the US, which seems my best bet to achieving my FIRE goal quickly. So I guess the most sensible thing to do, even though it's the least attractive to me from a quality of life stand point, is to finish out my contract with as much dignity as I can muster and try to hang around in academia until I hit my FIRE goal. That could be as soon as 5 years after leaving this job.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2019, 08:22:46 PM by salt cured »

salt cured

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2019, 08:18:49 PM »
Hi, I'm a 16-year veteran of living, bumming around, and working in East and SE Asia. Lots of opportunities in the Asia region to keep your income flowing and mind stimulated while letting your stash grow in the US.

While you're still working, visit a few places on holiday: Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur all have regionally reputable universities. Or smaller cities like Chiang Mai have some opportunity and could be more your pace. Meet people in your field or others you find interesting. Taste the many varieties of pollution and street food and experience diverse social dynamics. Escape to the countryside (70% of Hong Kong is country parks, we've 250 islands in the Territory). Imagine what your life would be like.

Teaching English can be intellectually dull and has a low bar to entry. Avoid the sexpats, and try not to get married for at least 5 years, you'll get ridiculous amounts of flattery and attention and it can go to one's head ;)

More specific advice would be dependent on your field and experience.

This is all very interesting. I recently spent a month in Vietnam and loved it. My field is management (I teach at a business school), but I know very little about academia in Asia. I'm not too interested in teaching English, but I do generally enjoy the teaching part of my job.

K-ice

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2019, 08:40:39 PM »
Is there any chance your University does offer teaching only positions & you could transition into that?

What about going to the Middle East to teach in your area?

Also look at your pension at your current U. You might be surprised how much has accumulated over your few years.

You are pretty close to FIRE. A few more high earning years after this stage  & you will be there.

salt cured

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2019, 08:52:18 PM »
Is there any chance your University does offer teaching only positions & you could transition into that?

What about going to the Middle East to teach in your area?

Also look at your pension at your current U. You might be surprised how much has accumulated over your few years.

You are pretty close to FIRE. A few more high earning years after this stage  & you will be there.

It could be possible to take a teaching position. I'm a good teacher and handle my department's most burdensome class. I haven't talked about it with my chair or dean, but that could buy me some time here. I like my house, college town, and social circle, so it wouldn't be terrible to stay.

Haven't thought of the Middle East. Should I? I don't have any particular desire to live there, based on what little I know. I opted out of the pension. 

Padonak

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2019, 08:57:04 PM »
Where in Vietnam did you go? I went there as well and didn't really like it, especially Saigon.

If I were you I would look for a part time university professor job in Asia. With your experience, it should be easy to find one. Live on that money and let the investments grow.

salt cured

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2019, 09:09:58 PM »
Where in Vietnam did you go? I went there as well and didn't really like it, especially Saigon.

If I were you I would look for a part time university professor job in Asia. With your experience, it should be easy to find one. Live on that money and let the investments grow.

I drove a motorbike south from Hanoi down to Saigon, a mix of interior and coastal roads. I visited maybe a dozen cities. I didn't love Saigon either, but enjoyed it more when I got out of the tourist quarter. I could live in Hanoi or Da Nang for a year or two.

maizeman

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2019, 09:37:35 PM »
Condolences. I'm assuming your contract runs until one year after you'd normally hear about tenure and that you submit in the fall after you hit five years so assuming I'm counting on my fingers right, you're about 3.5 years into your TT position? If so, a part of me wants to ask if you're really that sure that it is too late to turn things around, but you're obviously in the best position to judge that.

So a couple of questions:
-Do you really like teaching? If so, it sounds like you've got a good fallback plan with advice from folks like K-Ice. However, I've run into a lot of people in academia,* particularly those who have had their nose to the grindstone long enough to go from bachelors to doctorate to tenure track position that jobs outside of the two options of research and teaching just don't feel real anymore on an emotional level, even though they knew intellectually that there are other options.

-If you don't really enjoy teaching, is your degree in a field where there are significant numbers of jobs in industry? From some of the terminology you're using I'm guessing you're biomedical so the answer may well be yes. (Missed that you mentioned you were in management.) Even if you're feeling extremely burned out on research, having more than three years experience managing a team can be really good prep for jumping over into the private sector. The pay would probably be better than a primarily teaching position, although obviously you cannot beat the job security you'd receive from tenure (either switching to a primarily teaching university, or to a primary teaching position at your current institution).

Fired is the most accurate term, I think. Some time next year, my chair and the dean will recommend that I not go up for tenure. I'll agree. I'll be allowed to finish out my contract, but I'll eventually lose my job due to my unsatisfactory performance. I say implode because I've basically checked out on the research side. I could still move to a teaching focused university, but without a heroic effort, I'll never be employable at an R1 and maybe an R2 again.

How confident are you in the bolded bit? I'm at an R1 (lower tier R1, but still R1) and a number of my colleagues are people who were 1/2-2/3rds of the way through their tenure clocks somewhere else, realized they weren't going to have made enough progress to hit the tenure bar, and jumped over here to reset their tenure clocks and get a renewed pot of startup funding. One guy in particular who works right downstairs did just that, logged five years here, and recently got promoted to associate (with tenure).

I realize you probably don't want to share specifics here, but do you have a mentor or friend in the field (ideally not at your current university) who you could ask for a second opinion on whether your research career is really as dead as you think it is? But of course you also mention not being particularly upset at the thought of your research ending so I'm obviously not trying to talk you into sticking with a career that makes you miserable. Academic research makes a lot of people miserable (including me at least 50% of the time).
« Last Edit: March 13, 2019, 10:05:14 PM by maizeman »

Freedomin5

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2019, 10:01:29 PM »
Hi, I'm a 16-year veteran of living, bumming around, and working in East and SE Asia. Lots of opportunities in the Asia region to keep your income flowing and mind stimulated while letting your stash grow in the US.

While you're still working, visit a few places on holiday: Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur all have regionally reputable universities. Or smaller cities like Chiang Mai have some opportunity and could be more your pace. Meet people in your field or others you find interesting. Taste the many varieties of pollution and street food and experience diverse social dynamics. Escape to the countryside (70% of Hong Kong is country parks, we've 250 islands in the Territory). Imagine what your life would be like.

Teaching English can be intellectually dull and has a low bar to entry. Avoid the sexpats, and try not to get married for at least 5 years, you'll get ridiculous amounts of flattery and attention and it can go to one's head ;)

More specific advice would be dependent on your field and experience.

This is all very interesting. I recently spent a month in Vietnam and loved it. My field is management (I teach at a business school), but I know very little about academia in Asia. I'm not too interested in teaching English, but I do generally enjoy the teaching part of my job.

Well, in that case, Shanghai has CEIBS, which offers a very reputable MBA program for high-level executives. All taught in English.
 
University of Western Ontario's Richard Ivey School of Business has a campus in Hong Kong that offers an executive MBA program.

New York University and Duke University both have established programs in the Shanghai area as well, if teaching undergrads is more your thing.

If you're tired of academia, would you ever consider moving to consulting?

salt cured

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2019, 10:08:42 PM »
Condolences. I'm assuming your contract runs until one year after you'd normally hear about tenure and that you submit in the fall after you hit five years so assuming I'm counting on my fingers right, you're about 3.5 years into your TT position? If so, a part of me wants to ask if you're really that sure that it is too late to turn things around, but you're obviously in the best position to judge that.

So a couple of questions:
-Do you really like teaching? If so, it sounds like you've got a good fallback plan with advice from folks like K-Ice. However, I've run into a lot of people in academia,* particularly those who have had their nose to the grindstone long enough to go from bachelors to doctorate to tenure track position that jobs outside of the two options of research and teaching just don't feel real anymore on an emotional level, even though they knew intellectually that there are other options.

-If you don't really enjoy teaching, is your degree in a field where there are significant numbers of jobs in industry? From some of the terminology you're using I'm guessing you're biomedical so the answer may well be yes. Even if you're feeling extremely burned out on research, having more than three years experience managing a research group (and managing scientists/trainees) can be really good prep for jumping over into the private sector. The pay would probably be better than a primarily teaching position, although obviously you cannot beat the job security you'd receive from tenure (either switching to a primarily teaching university, or to a primary teaching position at your current institution).

Fired is the most accurate term, I think. Some time next year, my chair and the dean will recommend that I not go up for tenure. I'll agree. I'll be allowed to finish out my contract, but I'll eventually lose my job due to my unsatisfactory performance. I say implode because I've basically checked out on the research side. I could still move to a teaching focused university, but without a heroic effort, I'll never be employable at an R1 and maybe an R2 again.

How confident are you in the bolded bit? I'm at an R1 (lower tier R1, but still R1) and a number of my colleagues are people who were 1/2-2/3rds of the way through their tenure clocks somewhere else, realized they weren't going to have made enough progress to hit the tenure bar, and jumped over here to reset their tenure clocks and get a renewed pot of startup funding. One guy in particular who works right downstairs did just that, logged five years here, and recently got promoted to associate (with tenure).

I realize you probably don't want to share specifics here, but do you have a mentor or friend in the field (ideally not at your current university) who you could ask for a second opinion on whether your research career is really as dead as you think it is? But of course you also mention not being particularly upset at the thought of your research ending so I'm obviously not trying to talk you into sticking with a career that makes you miserable. Academic research makes a lot of people miserable (including me at least 50% of the time).

No condolences necessary! The culture and expectations at my institution (and its peers, from what I understand) are not for me, so I'll be happy to move on. And my job has provided a great income and good fringe benefits, so I'm not complaining. Your estimates on timing are spot on. I could perhaps turn things around (again, with heroic effort), but I view tenure here more as a prison sentence than anything else. I don't envy the workload and stress of my more senior colleagues. And I'm honestly done with attempting to be a serious researcher. It's not for me.

I really do like teaching. I've heard that R2 research expectations are pretty light actually and could maybe move into one of those jobs. I'll have a half-way decent CV by the time I leave my current job. I worry that teaching schools wouldn't take me seriously because of the name brand of my current institution. But, to be honest, I have no good insight into any job markets other than that for top research schools. That's where my social network resides and all that I was prepared to think about in grad school. I could reach out to my advisor, but I'm not sure how helpful he could be, for similar reasons.

My PhD is from a business school (management). I've thought about industry and reached out to some contacts about data science type jobs, but, at the risk of being overly dramatic, a move to industry and a 9-to-5 feels just...impossible. Same for consulting, but I should investigate because I'm not sure exactly what that would entail.

BicycleB

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2019, 10:13:03 PM »
I am also just divorced. 

My condolences.

I'm very anxious about my situation, but I really don't know what my specific questions are. I guess I'm worried that I'm being incredibly short sighted by allowing my career to implode and/or by walking away. What reality checks do I need? What problems jump out?

You sound very definite and precise about some things, not others. FIREd on 500k here, so to me it seems you could choose any of your employment/ unemployment options and live a life, probably a very good life. In other words, to me it seems that the problem that jumps out is that you are too focused on the way you think things are. There are more options in life than you seem to be open to.

If you wish to focus on the $2M instead of 500k or 900k as FIRE numbers, for career choices I will defer to my esteemed FIRE colleague @maizeman. That said, the thought process offered makes me imagine someone who's used to receiving lots of money for doing very well in defined paths. It's perfectly reasonable to wonder if the golden ticket you've received up to now can be replicated. I agree, it might not be, so if you really want $2M instead of some $1M-like amount, and you can get there by doing SOMETHING that's already in your wheelhouse, do the 7 years.

In general, I think life will be open to you wherever you open your eyes and, of course, closed wherever you do not. Explore the paths offered! One question I'm curious about: If you were FIRE right now and you quit your boring job, what would interest you?

Anyway, kudos to you for envisioning a lifestyle closer to the typical Mustache than the one many people would do on your salary. The less you need, the freer you are.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2019, 10:17:11 PM by BicycleB »

maizeman

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #15 on: March 13, 2019, 10:50:36 PM »
I really do like teaching. I've heard that R2 research expectations are pretty light actually and could maybe move into one of those jobs. I'll have a half-way decent CV by the time I leave my current job. I worry that teaching schools wouldn't take me seriously because of the name brand of my current institution. But, to be honest, I have no good insight into any job markets other than that for top research schools. That's where my social network resides and all that I was prepared to think about in grad school. I could reach out to my advisor, but I'm not sure how helpful he could be, for similar reasons.

So there are R2 schools and primarily teaching schools. You're right that going to a primarily teaching institution might be hard because they are looking for people whose CVs show they've been interested in teaching a lot all along, not doing it as a fallback after research didn't work out. However R2 schools are a different ballgame. These are schools that don't have the resources or facilities to attract people with the shiniest CVs, but in many cases their administrators and department heads still dream of building the school up into an R1, so it is much more likely your CV is going to be attractive at a school like that than a teaching focused school. I cannot speak for how much more or less stressful they'd be than your current position, but the amount of research output required to meet or exceed expectations would definitely be lower.

R2 <-- Illinois State, TCU, University of Maine, etc
Teaching focused schools <-- Middlebury, Carleton College, Evergreen, etc

Quote
My PhD is from a business school (management). I've thought about industry and reached out to some contacts about data science type jobs, but, at the risk of being overly dramatic, a move to industry and a 9-to-5 feels just...impossible. Same for consulting, but I should investigate because I'm not sure exactly what that would entail.

Do you mean you've gotten negative feedback from your contacts about career prospects in industry? Or literally that it feels impossible on an emotional level? I can talk a little bit about data science as my own field borders on that a little, but I know very little about the best career options for someone with a business school/management background.

However, just to put it out there, you do realize several of your posts show several classic markers for depression, don't you? Would be a completely normal thing to feel having gone through a divorce and also through realizing that the career you've presumably been working towards for the past 15 years or so isn't how you want to spend the rest of your life after all. The problem with depression is that it self reinforces by telling you that you're just tired and need time alone without activity to recover, but the more you withdraw from the world the stronger the depression gets. But there is help out there if you are feeling like making any options for major changes are either impossible or would just take heroic amounts of energy you fear you aren't able to muster and you just want to walk away from it all. Anyway 'nuff said on that topic, and I could certainly be wrong, wouldn't be the first time by a long shot.

If you had the $2M today, what would you like to do? Emotional well being aside, tenure track tends to eat up all ones other hopes and dreams. I'm just slowly starting to work at rediscovering what, if anything, I do for fun when I don't have to work every night and weekend. So I realize it can be a really slow process. You've got approximately 3 years of guaranteed job security, so my advice would be to use some of that freedom and free time to explore both different types of work and unfamiliar ways to spending your day.

Often you can do some consulting while still a prof, for example my school let's be spend up to two days a month on it, I know others where the limit is 4 days a month. Maybe you'll hate it. If you like it, starting with a little consulting now lets you get a running start as most data science/stats consultants I know seem to get business primarily by word of mouth from prior clients.

If you're on a 9 month appointment, now that you don't need to work even when you're not getting paid to keep that annual research output up, you could do more in depth explorations of both other kinds of work and living in other parts of the country/world each summer.

maizeman

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #16 on: March 13, 2019, 10:54:22 PM »
Edit to add, I'd also suggest going and reading any 3-5 random entries in @BicycleB s journal. Reading about his life always reminds be just how liberating and relaxing FIRE can actually be on a day to day basis. And I agree with his point that your life holds a lot more possibilities and a lot fewer closed doors than it sounds like you perceive at the moment.

K-ice

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #17 on: March 13, 2019, 11:23:38 PM »
Haven't thought of the Middle East. Should I? I don't have any particular desire to live there, based on what little I know. I opted out of the pension.

I do know of a few men who have had success for a few years.

One went to Dubai for sabbatical & never came back.

I have no personal experience & itís challenging for families but from what I understand itís a quick way to make serious cash.

salt cured

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2019, 07:57:56 AM »
My PhD is from a business school (management). I've thought about industry and reached out to some contacts about data science type jobs, but, at the risk of being overly dramatic, a move to industry and a 9-to-5 feels just...impossible. Same for consulting, but I should investigate because I'm not sure exactly what that would entail.

Do you mean you've gotten negative feedback from your contacts about career prospects in industry? Or literally that it feels impossible on an emotional level? I can talk a little bit about data science as my own field borders on that a little, but I know very little about the best career options for someone with a business school/management background.

I don't think emotionally is the right word, but it's much closer to the truth than some issue with qualifications. I just mean that I'm quite spoiled with my current schedule, flexibility, freedom, etc and that the idea of a 9-to-5, a commute, a cubicle, a questionable company mission, etc is very unappealing. I'd sooner take a lower paying, lower skilled but ultimately fulfilling job than help some bloated tech company squeeze ever more efficiency out of its employees.

Also, thanks for your concern about depression. I'd say I'm actually pretty optimistic about things: I'm happily single, wealthy, healthy, and have infinite options ahead of me. You're picking up on my hyperbolic language, I think, but my assessment of my tenure chances at my current job or another "elite" school is accurate. I'm also frustrated with academia. I was a naive and idealistic grad student who was disappointed with the broader politics in my field. I may not have realized it at the time, but I checked out emotionally pretty quickly. I'm also feeling overwhelmed with all the life options I have. It's almost too much choice. Plus, I'm naturally pretty risk adverse, so that part of my brain is telling to stay in my career and take the easy path to FIRE. But the rest of me wants change, challenge, and adventure.

If I had $2MM, I'd do some more travel, maybe a month or two at a time. I'd like to apprentice in a kitchen or, ideally, with a butcher in Spain. I'd hang out at home--reading, tending to my garden, my cooking projects, my video games, etc. I'd like to work with a farmer at some point to learn a little more about agriculture and husbandry. At some point, I see myself having a little more land and raising a small number of meat animals.

More generally, thanks to everyone who has commented so far! It's all been really helpful for me to start to organize my thoughts and emotions about my situation. I think I'm the type of person whose thinking benefits from exchanges and from being poked and prodded, so please don't hesitate to chime in!

StarBright

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2019, 09:13:56 AM »
Re: R2s - my spouse just took a job at a comfortable-to-be-an-R2 vs a striving-really-hard-to-be-R1 and one of the factors was how very clear (and somewhat easier) the tenure expectations were (a rubric vs. "contribute significantly" to his field). He has to have x amount of articles or a book; they counted a few years towards tenure in which he had already published enough to meet their expectations. He is now in a great, relatively low stress position. If he wants to publish a bunch more he can, but if he burns out, he can slow down.

Don't underestimate your value on the market for R2s. My DH was in a VAP position for three years and the R2 schools were totally into him on the job market this year.  He had published some articles, had amazing teaching experience and was just really confident in himself in what he wanted from a job.  My impression was that they appreciated how he was sort of a known quantity - he had a CV that made them comfortable. He ended up with three job offers and had to cancel two interviews, and was on the skype round of a sixth school. He had exactly one bite in 2015.

If you tailor your materials correctly then moving from an R1 to an R2 or teaching might not be the obstacle you think it is.

Also - I'm sure you are familiar, but make sure to read The Professor Is In, she regularly posts about Alt-Ac stuff.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2019, 07:38:51 AM by StarBright »

lhamo

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #20 on: March 14, 2019, 05:28:50 PM »
You might find Hong Kong or Taiwan to your liking. 

HK is much higher cost, but expat packages are often excellent and include housing or a substantial housing allowance at least for the first few years.  Initial contracts are for 2-3 years, typically, and renewable pretty perpetually as long as you are meeting initial expectations.  HK recently expanded its undergraduate programs region wide -- going from a 3 year British-type system to a more US-influenced 4 year liberal arts mode -- so there has been quite a bit of hiring.  The big expansion may be over for the most part but there will be people who didn't work out, decide to move on, etc.  English is the primary teaching language in almost all tertiary institutions, and HK is very easy to navigate with English only.

Taiwan is a bit more challenging linguistically and culturally, but much cheaper and perhaps even more interesting.  Many of the higher ed institutions have been expanding their English medium programs, especially at the graduate level.  GREAT food culture.  A bit harder to navigate due to the language barriers, but easier than mainland china by far.

Singapore might also be worth looking at.

You might not wish to stay in any of these places long-term, but they would provide a way to continue getting a decent income while you live relatively cheaply and build up the stash/plan for next steps.



ysette9

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #21 on: March 14, 2019, 08:30:42 PM »
Oh, the food in Taiwan...... so tasty

salt cured

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #22 on: March 15, 2019, 06:05:44 PM »
You might find Hong Kong or Taiwan to your liking. 

HK is much higher cost, but expat packages are often excellent and include housing or a substantial housing allowance at least for the first few years.  Initial contracts are for 2-3 years, typically, and renewable pretty perpetually as long as you are meeting initial expectations.  HK recently expanded its undergraduate programs region wide -- going from a 3 year British-type system to a more US-influenced 4 year liberal arts mode -- so there has been quite a bit of hiring.  The big expansion may be over for the most part but there will be people who didn't work out, decide to move on, etc.  English is the primary teaching language in almost all tertiary institutions, and HK is very easy to navigate with English only.

Taiwan is a bit more challenging linguistically and culturally, but much cheaper and perhaps even more interesting.  Many of the higher ed institutions have been expanding their English medium programs, especially at the graduate level.  GREAT food culture.  A bit harder to navigate due to the language barriers, but easier than mainland china by far.

Singapore might also be worth looking at.

You might not wish to stay in any of these places long-term, but they would provide a way to continue getting a decent income while you live relatively cheaply and build up the stash/plan for next steps.

Thanks, these seem like good avenues to explore!

salt cured

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #23 on: Today at 01:58:55 PM »
I think your NW estimate is on target, and that would throw off $36k a year at 4%.  Could you temporarily live on less than $36k a year while your stash continues to grow?  That sounds like a totally reasonable plan - living off a smaller amount than 4% for a few years and seeing what happens stash wise.

You sound very definite and precise about some things, not others. FIREd on 500k here, so to me it seems you could choose any of your employment/ unemployment options and live a life, probably a very good life. In other words, to me it seems that the problem that jumps out is that you are too focused on the way you think things are. There are more options in life than you seem to be open to.

These comments weren't ignored, I've just a little slower to think about them! I've done some preliminary research into Montreal's cost of living and like what I see a lot. From case studies on this forum and from a few other blogs, I estimate that I could live a comfortable life in Montreal on $18k to $25k USD per year. That range should be between a 2% to 3% withdrawal rate. I'm not sure about working in Montreal as my French is pretty basic (reading is fine, speaking is tough), but if I could find work, I could allow my stash to really grow for a few years, allowing me to up my spending over time. This is pretty attractive!

I'll need to dig into tax and other financial issues. If I leave academia, I was hoping to execute some tax minimization moves that could become tricky in Canada (not sure I could do a Roth conversion, for example). I also wonder if I'd be forced to close savings and brokerage accounts when no longer a resident of the US. I'll have to reread the Go Curry Cracker blog as I'm sure they dealt with similar issues. But overall, I'm liking this avenue a lot.

RWD

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #24 on: Today at 02:31:29 PM »
$21kMortgage and Equity Buyout Interest, Taxes, Insurance
$8.4kShopping and Personal Care
$7.2kFood and Dining
$3.6kUtilities and Insurances
$3kPaycheck deductions
$2.5kTravel
$0.8kAuto
$0.5kFees

$47.6k - Total

Keep in mind that for whatever SWR you choose that it doesn't need to cover your mortgage payments perpetually. Eventually the mortgage is paid off and that expense goes way down (leaving just taxes and insurance). The typical rule of thumb is that an extra chunk of invested assets equal to the size of your mortgage balance is more than sufficient.

So in your case, let's assume taxes and insurance works out to $4.6k per year then your total annual expenses are $27k (you won't have paycheck deductions in retirement either). You'll need $675k (4% rule) to cover that plus $223k for your mortgage balance. So a total invested balance of $898k should be sufficient. If you want to do the never-failed 3% SWR then the number is still only $1,123k. And that's before considering the possibility of reducing your expenses, as you mentioned. As a single person $27k/year in non-mortgage expenses is quite lavish. For example, your food and dining expense is roughly double what my wife and I spend combined. Somehow I doubt you are eating four times as much food as me.

salt cured

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #25 on: Today at 02:46:20 PM »
$21kMortgage and Equity Buyout Interest, Taxes, Insurance
$8.4kShopping and Personal Care
$7.2kFood and Dining
$3.6kUtilities and Insurances
$3kPaycheck deductions
$2.5kTravel
$0.8kAuto
$0.5kFees

$47.6k - Total

Keep in mind that for whatever SWR you choose that it doesn't need to cover your mortgage payments perpetually. Eventually the mortgage is paid off and that expense goes way down (leaving just taxes and insurance). The typical rule of thumb is that an extra chunk of invested assets equal to the size of your mortgage balance is more than sufficient.

So in your case, let's assume taxes and insurance works out to $4.6k per year then your total annual expenses are $27k (you won't have paycheck deductions in retirement either). You'll need $675k (4% rule) to cover that plus $223k for your mortgage balance. So a total invested balance of $898k should be sufficient. If you want to do the never-failed 3% SWR then the number is still only $1,123k. And that's before considering the possibility of reducing your expenses, as you mentioned. As a single person $27k/year in non-mortgage expenses is quite lavish. For example, your food and dining expense is roughly double what my wife and I spend combined. Somehow I doubt you are eating four times as much food as me.

These are good points, but I don't think it's that simple. First, your tax and insurance estimates are unfortunately low. It's closer to $12k and will, of course, continue to increase. Pay check deductions would go away, but I'd need to buy health insurance, which could be cheaper, about the same, or more. If I was going to step away from work completely and target ~$30k of spending, I'd want a sub 3% withdrawal rate so that my stash could continue to grow and allow me to spend more in the future.

I agree that my expenses are generally lavish. And while I'd like to decrease my shopping/personal care costs (and should be able to), I actually wouldn't mind increasing my food spending over time...

But I appreciate you pointing these things out. If I end up staying in my current state of residence (unlikely), these will be good things to consider.
« Last Edit: Today at 02:48:12 PM by salt cured »

ysette9

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #26 on: Today at 03:49:42 PM »
Your comment about a “sub-3% withdrawal rate so my stash can grow” to me indicates that you need to do more reading on the safety factors baked into the 4% withdrawal rule of thumb. In most cases 4% leaves you with more money than you ever started with.

I really liked the Mad Fientist’s interview with Michael Kitces on the 4% rule safety and risk. https://www.madfientist.com/michael-kitces-interview/

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/investor-alley/stop-worrying-about-the-4-rule/

For me it was very illuminating to put that risk of running out of money into context. https://engaging-data.com/will-money-last-retire-early/
Each year you save extra is good for reducing the probability of running out of money, but at some point the bigger risk becomes you dying before that ever has a chance to happen. Please keep the big picture in mind.

K-ice

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Re: Disillusioned academic facing firing.
« Reply #27 on: Today at 04:25:07 PM »
I've done some preliminary research into Montreal's cost of living and like what I see a lot. ....I'm not sure about working in Montreal as my French is pretty basic (reading is fine, speaking is tough), but if I could find work, I could allow my stash to really grow for a few years, allowing me to up my spending over time. This is pretty attractive!

Montreal is a great city and, for the size and multiculturalism, it is incredibly inexpensive. Great transit system and well set up to live a Mustacian life. Not to mention they have great protection for renters. No security deposit and rent controlled to the point that if you sign a lease and realize the tenant before you paid less you can go to the courts to get their rate if the landlord lied. There is also this "pass me your lease" campaign where you are encouraged to mail a copy of your old lease to the new tenants so they know what you paid before. I haven't checked in years, but landlords can only legally raise the rent a super small amount like $4 per month for every $1000 in renovation. 

As for finding work in academia, I am not sure of your area but the CEGEP system may be a great teaching option, and some are specifically English. (CEGEP is basically a mandatory college transition between highschool and University as well as offering many diploma programs)