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Work Dilemma

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15 replies to this topic

#1 of 16 OFFLINE   Carl Miller

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Posted January 12 2006 - 02:11 PM

Hoping for some input here and I'll try to keep this as simple as possible. I'm a management level gov't employee. I make a decent living..good enough that with mine and my wifes salary (also gov't) we can afford a small 3 bedroom cape in a middle class Long Island neighborhood. Very expensive living here, and we have to watch our spending at all times. I've been applying for a higher management level position in the NY Metro area for over a year, but not even getting a shot at an interview.....Now though, the opening has come up again, and I've got some people in my corner who will back me, but ultimately these folks don't make the actual hiring decision. After some initial talks with my wife, I applied for the same higher management level job in Sarasota Florida, was interviewed and was offered the job. It's just easier to get this job outside the NY area due to less competition. Before the offer came, my wife and I felt we would be willing to make the move, uproot the kids, sell the house and so on, in return for a bit better quality of life and cheaper living. Now that I've gotten the offer, we're both having second thoughts and here's why: The Florida job will mean a $7,000 salary decrease for the first year from what I'm making now. After the first year, it will yield a $3,000 increase over my current salary. If I managed to get the job in NY, my annual salary would increase $1,000 in the first year, and then after that year, increase by $10,000 over what I make now. So, we're wondering, and researching, how great a financial benefit it would be to move to Florida under these salary terms? More importantly though: In Florida, short term advancement potential is good but it's limited. In other words, I could likely advance there quickly, but there's only so far I could go before I hit a dead end. In NY, long term advancement potential is good. It takes a long time due to increased competition but you can go further up the government salary scale because jobs that are available in NY are not available in Florida. So, do I take the Florida job with the short term but limited potential? Or do I pass on it, hope I get the job I'm applying for in NY thinking maybe I'll get it and have a better long term future? The risk of course is that I may not get the NY job..maybe not this year, maybe not for several years..And in the meantime, we've hit a salary dead end. Only raises available to me now are annual cost of living increases. My wife can transfer to Florida without a problem, and with about a $3,000 salary decrease. Just feels that no matter what decision we make, we're going to wonder what if. Any thoughts?

#2 of 16 OFFLINE   Christ Reynolds

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Posted January 12 2006 - 02:33 PM

how much more expensive would living in NY be over florida? how soon do you hit the dead end with the job in florida, would it be within a few years, or sooner? how old are your kids, would they be able to handle a move 1500 miles away from their friends? what are the chances you'll get the job in NY? CJ
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#3 of 16 OFFLINE   SethH



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Posted January 12 2006 - 03:27 PM

Using a "cost of living" calculator here, I came up with the following:

If you currently live in Long Island making $100,000 then you will need to make $87,710 to live the same lifestyle in Sarasota.

So, based on that, if your decision were purely financial, it appears as though the Sarasota job would be well worth the move . . . especially after the raise you will receiver following your first year.

#4 of 16 OFFLINE   Bob Graz

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Posted January 12 2006 - 03:29 PM

In reading your situation I'm not seeing a compelling reason for you to take the Florida job based upon salary or opportunity. At this point I would say that more of the decision should be based upon where you'd rather live, NY or FL. or someplace else for that matter.

#5 of 16 OFFLINE   BrianW



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Posted January 12 2006 - 04:02 PM

Are you willing to trade your "bird in the hand" for "two birds in the bush"? Comparing what you have in Florida to what might be in NY may not be the wisest way to consider your options. One possible outcome if you stay in NY is that you won't get that job in NY any time soon, and your situation will not have improved at all. You know your situation best, but if it were me, I wouldn't consider the new, higher-paying job in NY an option until I had an offer letter in my hand.
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#6 of 16 OFFLINE   Carl Miller

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Posted January 12 2006 - 04:51 PM

Thanks guys. The biggest issues in cost of living here are the usual. Property, school taxes and utilities are amongst the highest in the nation. We could save on those in Florida, and there's no state income tax there. A move would be hard on the kids, especially our soon to be 16 year old son. Dead end with the job in Florida is that I could potentially advance 2 grades, or about $16,000. Could take 3-5 years if all went according to average, sooner if I got lucky. Chances of getting the NY job are good, but could take 5 years in a worst case scenario assuming I'd get it at all. Retirements and advancement of other people make the job consistantly available. With gov't jobs, if your evaluation is good as mine is, it's usually a matter of when, not if but of course there are no gaurantees. From there, I could potentially advance 4 grade levels, or roughly $44,000 but that could take 10-12 years. This would have a big effect on my pension. Cost of living calculator is interesting Seth, thanks! Bob and Brian...Ultimately, I think the bottom line is that we'd prefer to stay here because of the kids and our families are here. At the same time though, we're worried about staying because the cost of living here is escalating rapidly. 2005 saw our major expenses outpace our salary increases for the first time ever, and financially, I don't know if we can sustain too many years like that. We need a major salary boost that can only be had by advancing. We haven't had one of those in a while and it's catching up with us. Or we need to find a cheaper place to live. I just don't know which would be better both short and long term.

#7 of 16 OFFLINE   Kirk Gunn

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Posted January 12 2006 - 10:36 PM

Very tough decision - how soon do you have to make it ? You are correct this will be tough on the kids.... With your son a year or so away from college, it seems sensible to move where it's cheaper, but socially it could be devastating for him, depending on his ability to adjust. I would hop a Southwest flight to FLA for the whole family, rent a car and let them check it out ASAP. Do you have extended family in NY ? Any family connectoins in FLA ? I know I've been tempted to move where it's cheaper, but my wife is always hesitant because of "the children".... Good Luck.

#8 of 16 OFFLINE   Dennis*G


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Posted January 13 2006 - 12:45 AM

Can you move somewhere cheaper in the NY area? I have no idea if Long Island is considered an afforadable area or not. Just find a location around NY that has less cost of living then you have everything. Kids can still see there friends (maybe not in school, but I'm sure they can meet up after and weekends) you still get to be around family and you should be able to hold out enough for the job promotion. Are there other expenses you can cut for awhile to remian right were you are? You eat out often, or cut the cable bill or carpool or something....

#9 of 16 OFFLINE   SethH



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Posted January 13 2006 - 02:11 AM

With the age of your son, college may be a big financial issue as well. Does he want to go to college in NY? If so, and you all move to FL, you'll suddenly find yourself paying out-of-state tuition, which in some states doubles or triples the cost of tuition. If he's already set on an out-of-state school or is willing to consider a FL school then it's not as much of an issue.

#10 of 16 OFFLINE   Michael Warner

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Posted January 13 2006 - 07:42 AM

Be very careful using those online cost of living calculators. We just moved from southeast Michigan to the Seattle area and every online comparison we looked at was way off base. Fortunately we had the time to fly out and do our own research so we had a good idea what we were in for with the move. Still, we had to spend much more for housing than we wanted and the incidental expenses just about balance out the lower property taxes and lack of state income tax. We're still happy we moved but it wound up being more for quality of life issues than for any financial gain. As for Sarasota I spend a few weeks there every year and it is not a cheap place to live. It may not be up to Long Island levels yet but it's getting there fast. Good luck with whatever you decide.
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#11 of 16 OFFLINE   DaveF



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Posted January 13 2006 - 09:55 AM

Move to Florida, advance there, then move back to NY to continue your career progression. Easy, right? Posted Image

New York is very expensive, and as observed, you'll probably be making more, effectively, due to a lower cost of living in Florida.

However, New York state has the nation's best public schools. The South is not known for its stellar public education. Does this affect your kids?

New York also has the excellent SUNY college system with reasonable in-state tuition, which your oldest son might benefit from. I don't know how they compare to FL colleges and tuition.

Is it worthwhile leaving all of your friends and community for $16k?

Tough choices. And there's no "right" answer. Just gotta make the best choice for you and your family.

#12 of 16 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted January 14 2006 - 12:02 AM

EDIT: Just realised I largely repeated what was said above.

#13 of 16 OFFLINE   Matt Stryker

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Posted January 14 2006 - 04:34 AM

So your pension reflects your salary at the time of retirement, or at least an average of the last x number of years of employment? That would be the only thing swaying me from making the move. But depending on your age to retirement, you could easily move to FL and capitalize on the short term, and then once you've hit a wall either attempt to relocate to a higher job somewhere else, or go into consulting - which can be very lucrative for former govt employees. I feel like relocating the kids can actually be a great thing for them, although the initial transition could be bumpy. Like Buzz, I was relocated 3 times during my first 18 years, and it really helped me in later life to be able to adjust and make new friends quickly. The Tampa area is really changing a lot, and is a lot more young and hip than it was even 10 years ago, so your kids might really enjoy it.

#14 of 16 OFFLINE   Bill Cowmeadow

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Posted January 14 2006 - 07:22 AM

I have no idea what you do in the Govt. but if you are in a Pay banding situation, and you are near the top of the band, you need to find a new job ASAP. Living in NY at your current level of pay with little or no chance for step/annual increases, you'll soon be in trouble financially. If you are at the middle or lower of your band, you can relax and keep trying for new positions as your increases will continue for a number of years. We moved from the Midwest to California due to a similar situation of yours. Going on four years now, no regrets. Good luck.

#15 of 16 OFFLINE   Carl Miller

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Posted January 14 2006 - 10:07 AM

Want to say thanks to all who offered their input..it's very helpful actually! To answer a couple of questions asked:

Kirk, the job starts in mid-April. I accepted it, because in gov't, they demand an answer within 48 hours of getting the job offer. I can back out, though that would burn the bridge to ever working in that area again. My wife, and I are both a bit concerned about leaving our families. Parents getting up there in age is a concern though all are relatively healthy at the moment.

Dennis, our whole area is extremely expensive and there really is nowhere to move within the metro area that would be much cheaper. We're already living small...not much to cut down on.

Buzz, we could sell our home easily, and clear a $70k gain at least. I always get the pension plan names confused, but I'm the newer, less favorable one. It is important. Our TSP's are nice and plump (probably the only positive in our financial picture right now) and we've never touched those. With Soc. Sec. in some doubt 25 years from now, those last 3 years prior to retiring are crucial. Ideally, we'd take our high 3 from NY based salaries for retirement and

then move to Florida.Posted Image

Wherever the kids go to college, if they do, it'll have to be a state school. No choice on that one.

Dave, what you said is actually something that crossed my mind..move, and come back. But it would be too much for my daughter.

Matt, I don't know if we can leave the gov't at this point with so much time vested for each of us. The pay isn't good, but it's stable in my field of work.

Bill, I'm in the middle of the pay band. My wife maxed out on grade already, and mid way thru the steps so she's really hit a dead end. Staying in NY provides greater future movement up the pay band.

I've been researching housing costs pretty much all day today in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Prices are better than where I live, but clearly the Sarasota area isn't cheap either. Seems the cost of housing in the area is rising quickly there as well.

I'm gonna crunch some numbers, talk some more with my wife and hopefully make a decision within the next few days.

I'm not sleeping well the past week with all this hanging over me.

Thanks again!

#16 of 16 OFFLINE   Carl Miller

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Posted January 15 2006 - 02:25 PM

Yep, FERS...that's the one. Pretty crappy pension isn't it?

We've done well with the TSP. 8% each currently, and have never touched it or borrowed against it over the years. I've got a minimum 11 years for early retirement but I don't see myself being able to take it.

Been an interesting few years with the unfriendly position toward fed employees by the current administration. RIFs, privatization, proposed attacks on the pension to offset Katrina recovery costs.

I hope we make it Buzz, but sometimes I wonder.

I've always meant to ask you Buzz...what kind of dog is Suque? One of the coolest looking dogs I've ever seen!Posted Image

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