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Job change, pay increase: COMMUTE or MOVE?

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  • Job change, pay increase: COMMUTE or MOVE?

    DINK household—plan to keep it this way!
    Combined income $400k this year.
    I am 4 years out of residency.
    NW went from -$180k at the end of residency to now + ~$700k, savings rate has been 35-45%
    No debt besides mortgage. We have $335K left on our primary home mortgage, home appraised at $500k

    I am a medical director of a clinic making ~340k/year. We currently live in a LCOL suburb 10 mins away from work. I was offered a medical directorship role in a HCOL city that comes with a $140k pay increase. This new job would be a 1hr 20min commute each way from my current home. The interview process has been robust for this particular job (10+ interviews including a day long site visit) leading me to believe that it could be a great fit for me. They have been recruiting me for 4+ months. Professionally, it is a major vertical move.

    Our biggest consideration is that we are currently living in a home <1x annual income. Moving to a new home within a 30 minute commute of the new job, comparable homes cost about 1-1.2mil. This would put us at 2-2.5x my new annual salary. Side note- We are not in complete sticker shock as we were planning to upgrade our current home anyway within the next few years to a neighborhood we know well and love. The dream neighborhood would only reduce the commute to 1hr 10mins (barely a reduction).

    Just some options we are considering:
    1. Commute 1hr. 20mins each way while still maintaining our geo-arbitrage living in our LCOL suburb, accelerating our NW.
    2. Sell our home in the LCOL area and move within 30 mins of the new job (to a HCOL neighborhood we don’t know)
    3. Go ahead and purchase our upgraded home in our favorite neighborhood (a dream home for us) which would put us about 10-15 mins closer to the new job but still a 1+ hour commute each way?

    Of note, the cost of the upgraded home in our favorite neighborhood would cost about $500/sq foot vs the homes w/in 30 mins of the new job would cost about $1,000k/sq foot.


  • #2
    People have different tolerances for a daily commute. My personal tolerance is up to 1 hour each way. Each minute beyond that is exponentially worse. A longer commute would be tolerable if I could work 2-3 days of the week at home.

    I would do 1 then 2 once you are secure in your new job and confirm you like it.

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    • #3
      I would do a lot to avoid a over an hour commute. I would not even like a 30 minute commute. Commuting is about as wasteful of time as it gets. At first it is easy to rationalize they you get "downtime" or can listen to books, music, podcasts, but that gets old real fast. I would keep it under 20 minutes. But IMO the closer the better.

      To your other question as long as you can still save 20% a 2X home is not going to sink you. Especially being DINKs. You can afford to throw a little more at luxury.

      What does your spouse do? Will they be able to do it in the new location? Similar money?

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      • #4
        I would not want that commute. Consider renting a new place and give yourself time to figure out where you want to live.

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        • #5
          I would say 2 all the way, but not if it only saves you half an hour of commuting. If it saves you an hour a day, then absolutely do #2.

          I think you should get granular in your analysis and break down how many hours in the car this is going to save you per month or year, and assign a value to what your time is worth. You don’t mention how many days a week you are commuting, but obviously if you can work from home one or two days a week it makes a massive difference.

          You could also calculate what Uber costs every day and try to negotiate reimbursements for that into your contract. You probably think I’m joking, but I’m not. I heard a doc on some podcast who pulled that off. That makes the commute time a heck of a lot better.

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          • #6
            I have a 50 min commute each way 2-3 times a week. In fellowship I had a 1.5 hr commute each way as well, although that was only for a year. It wasnt bad, there was never any traffic involved. That said, its not something I would advise long term.

            Giving up 3 hrs/day for commuting is significant. Back of the napkin math: 15hrs a week commute ~750hrs/yr for an extra $75kish in your pocket annually. I would move for the shorter commute, trying to keep it 30-40 mins or less (although Id rather drive 50 mins traffic free than 30 mins in high traffic)

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            • #7
              I just know that I wouldn't want to do choice #1.

              You say that a comparable home to the one you're living in would be $1-1.2M but what would a comparable home cost to your dream home that you're talking about buying in the LCOL area? Wouldn't you want to upgrade as soon as you move in since you already want to upgrade now?

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              • #8
                No commute is worth it to me. Although it would mean giving up the "dream" neighborhood, I would much rather live closer to work. Currently my commute is 10-15 minutes max, and my husband is closer to 30-40 minutes. He hates it and I love it.

                With you being DINKs, and with your savings rate, I think you can definitely afford the higher cost home. If you really think this job is worth it, then I would say move closer to the job. If the house/location is more important, keep your current job and move to the "dream" neighborhood.

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                • #9
                  Consider renting small condo in new area that you can stay in for part of week to minimize commutes. Once you know you like job and area then buy in new area. No way in hades would I commute that long unless it was on a train. And even then I'd be miserable.

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                  • #10
                    Another vote to move. If you are Dinks and intend to stay that way you have huge flexibility. The main question would be what is your spouse’s commute like now and what would it be if you are within 30 minutes of your new place? I’d also consider moving closer so your commute is 20 minutes or less

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                    • #11
                      You can't buy more hours in the day. Huge opportunity cost to a lengthy commute....

                      personally, a commute like you're proposing would be a hard no for me.

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                      • #12
                        Even if you think you don’t mind commuting, it wears on you after a while. I would move closer to the job. As close as possible and still have a home you both like. Does your partner want to continue to work/can they easily find a new job/wfh/etc?

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                        • #13
                          I have a new stop sign on the way to work, other than that it is smooth sailing for less than 5 minutes. I could not imagine wasting up to 3 hours a day in a car. You already make $400,000 a year more than most others out there. You are saving money and doing well in life. Enjoy more of it rather than less.

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                          • #14
                            How high is your spouse’s income? How hard would it be for your spouse to find a job with as good or better pay, workplace culture, sense of accomplishment, etc. within 15 or 30 minutes of your new job? If the two of you both can find good jobs in this new location, it makes the commuting issue far easier to solve.

                            How much of your $140K raise would it cost to hire a driver? I like Lithium’s idea to negotiate a driver or daily Uber trips as part of your hiring package. Likewise, if there is admin time or paperwork you can take care of while being driven to and from work, that makes the commute less of a time waste. There’s a big difference between 5.5 or 6 hours in the office plus 2.5 to 3 hours of admin commute time vs. 8-9 hours at the office plus 3 hours driving yourself to and from the office every day.

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                            • #15
                              There is no way you should do number 3 - pay more money and not really reduce the commute. If it were me, I would do 1 to make sure the job sticks, then figure out a new dream house that is in the closer location.

                              You are dinks, how long do you plan on staying dinks? My brother works downtown in a major metro area - for the same $1m he spent on his 1930's house close to work (it's nice, but small closets, small yard, etc.), he could have had a 6,000 square foot mcmansion on an acre in the suburbs, but it would have meant a 1-1.5 hour commute each way much like you describe - he said "my kids went to bed at 7pm until they were 5, I never would have seen them, I would have been in the car when they woke up and when they went to sleep!" That's something you need to consider if there is a possibility for kids.

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