General Question

jca's avatar

Choice between being stressed, longer commute but making more money or less stress, less commute and less money.

Asked by jca (36025points) September 17th, 2008

i have the opportunity to take the same job i do now, in another county, for less money (about 20K less). Money is no object – either way i’m fine. My present job: 1 hour commute, busy and stressful, about 65K per year. Job I could take: 15 minute commute, less work/stress, less money, I’d lose my seniority (at present job about 15 years). I am aware that the decision is my own. I am wondering what criteria is important to my fellow Flultherers. I want to know what YOU (and You and You and You) find more important: more money or less stress?

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37 Answers

tinyfaery's avatar

Is the stress having negative effects on you—are you ill, do you have trouble sleeping, are you moody and irritable? If yes, less stress might be good for you. Stress is deadly, to the body and the mind/soul/whatever you believe in. If money truly is no issue, than why not enjoy your life more, instead of destroying it a little bit ever day?

srmorgan's avatar

Just from my perspective, but I think the older I have gotten, the less I want to commute and that would be a strong factor in my decision.
A lot depends on the economics of your own situation. If you are past paying college tuition for the youngster that makes the decision a bit easier, but I could not do that at this point because I still have one child in high school.

About 20 years ago I changed jobs and went from commuting over 45 minutes on the train to driving 12 minutes and there was one result that I did not anticipate: while taking the train I had the opportunity to read the paper, chat with a neighbor, have a scotch, but when I ended up with the short commute, I realized that I missed the time spent “unwinding” on the train. The additional time at home in the morning and evening moer than compensated for the loss of the opportunity for afternoon relaxation but I had to adapt to the change.


scamp's avatar

As long as there was enough pay to get by on, I’d take the less stressful job.

Bri_L's avatar

I would prescribe less stress if money was no object. Your daughter is going to get older and your going to want see more and more of what she is up to.

cyndyh's avatar

I think the point is to assess whether making 20K less a year would also add stress. If you’re in a position where you can take the much shorter commute, I’d do it. I’d make an exception if the job was something I really loved and couldn’t really be done closer to home.

Nimis's avatar

Are there ways to make your commute relaxing?
If not, I’d take the less stressful job!

And a somewhat related anecdote/factoid (via one of my old professors):
In California, this land developer was looking for an ideal location to build his planned community. He was looking for an un-tapped market. Ultimately, the people he decided to target were prison workers. He had decided this would be ideal because 1) the land around prisons is generally undesirable and cheaper to buy and 2) prison workers had well-paying union wages (for which to buy houses).

That reasoning seemed sound enough, until he found out about a little known California law. Apparently in California, it’s mandatory for all prison guards to have a minimum commute. This law was meant to provide time for the guards to come down from the daily stress of their work (and not go home and beat their wives and kids).

marinelife's avatar

I have done this both ways. It is really hard to get back the lost hours of your days through the years plus the stress of a commute. I am now in a no commute situation, and I have vowed never to commute again! I will move near my job rather than commute.

Is that a possibility for you? That way you keep your seniority and your salary.

Snoopy's avatar

I will attempt to take a contrary position….well, just for the sake of doing so…..

Is there a financial goal that you are trying to reach that would make the more money/stress job more logical? At least for the short term?(buying a house, college tuitions, etc.)

Are you gaining any experience/expertise at the more money/stress job that would make you more marketable for an even more desirable job in the future?

Will the less stress/money job provide enough stimulation for you? i.e some people like pressure/stress and would be bored/dissatisfied w/out it….

Now. Back to my personal experience. I downshifted considerably for family reasons. I still make great money for the hours that I work, but I could make much more….Instead I have chosen to stay home (mostly) w/ my two toddlers. I no longer have to take medication for stomach pain (read: anti ulcer medication) and my quality of life has improved significantly.

I hope this gives you some more food for thought. Please share your final decision w/ us. Good luck

emilyrose's avatar

Can you negotiate better pay for the less commute job? I think they understand that no one wants to take a 20K pay cut. That’s HUGE. Also, I don’t understand why your seniority would go down. I would ask them these questions. Tell them you are willing to sacrifice for a job closer to home, but that the 15 years you have devoted to the company/organization is a lot, and that you’d like to negotiate the pay and position.

I personally won’t take a job I can’t ride my bike to. That is how I feel about commuting. I live on a busy street in San Francisco that is the street many people take to get to the freeway on their commute. They look like shit in the morning I can tell you. They look tired, some look asleep, and they are ALONE. They don’t even carpool. They would rather sit in more traffic. I think commuting is hell. aren’t you glad you asked for my opinion?

I think the extra time in your day could end up meaning a lot to you depending on what you do with that time. Even extra sleep could make a world of difference to you. I like to exercise in the time I don’t spend commuting. Makes me happier overall.

I think if you can get them to sweeten the deal a little—pay you in between the two salaries rather than the 20k drop, and see if you can maintain a good level of seniority, that the new job is a great choice.

Also—do you have a gut feeling about it? My friend and fellow flutherer told me that when posed with a job offer she imagines walking into that and tries to understand what it would feel like. What would it really mean to you? Can you make an informed guess? I think you should go for it.

cyndyh's avatar

@emilyrose: If you’re working for a new company you don’t get the seniority from the old job. That’s what I took that to mean. The asker would be sort of starting all over at the new job.

girlofscience's avatar

Stressed, longer commute, and more money!

But that’s mostly because of the stress element. If the question were, “If you could choose between a job in which you were stressed and a job in which you were not stressed, all other things equal, which would you choose?” I’d choose the ob in which I was stressed. It gives me a rush!

deaddolly's avatar

less stress, always. there’s enough stress in life w/o more. life is way too short and tho money is important; your health is more important. stress really messes up your health.
if your young…enjoy your time off; if your old…reduce the stress an stick around a bit longer!

jca's avatar

cyndih is exactly right. you can’t negotiate seniority, you can only earn it through the years of being there.

for the curious, both jobs are exactly the same, and so i can negotiate a little (maybe 5K) with the new job, based upon that i’m already trained in the field.

keep the answers coming. they’re very interesting and insightful. thanks to all -

PupnTaco's avatar

Less stress is always better.

I made a similar decision a few years ago, to quit my full-time job (2 hour commute each way) to freelance full-time. It hasn’t been easy and the stress of always having to drum up enough work may be equal to the stress of commuting to a dead-end job…. but as it happens, I’m making equal to what I was making before, plus I’m doing my own thing and my possibilities are increased.

srmorgan's avatar

an old bromide:

Nobody ever died wishing they spent more time at the office.

For what it’s worth.


Bri_L's avatar

SRM: excellent point. very very true!

Mugsie's avatar

To me ~ money isn’t everything, stress-free is!

allengreen's avatar

I would do it, the experience of living in another country cannot be quantified in $

marinelife's avatar

allengreen? Did you just make a funny? :)

allengreen's avatar

did I miss something?

marinelife's avatar

County, different county, not different country.

allengreen's avatar

i’m a bone head, sorry, don’t mind me

augustlan's avatar

For me this is a no-brainer. If you can afford the pay cut, take the closer job with less stress and don’t look back. As for the seniority issue, there are some things that come with seniority that can be negotiated, such as number of vacation weeks, benefits, etc. Companies have complete freedom to go against their own guidelines for those types of things, and will do so in order to hire someone they really want.

emilyrose's avatar

OH——for some reason I read it as transferring within the company but to a different location. Where did I come up with that? ? SORRY!

qashqai's avatar

More money.
Stress is not quantifiable.

jca's avatar

augustlan: the only thing i beg to differ with you on is that it’s the government (my p.s. post) and so there’s no negotiating vacation, etc. that said, however, since it’s the government, there are definitely more than adequate weeks of vacation and good benefits (government = union).

i advise everyone to get themselves a nice government job, good for times of crisis, like now. you’ll never be too rich, but you’ll not worry about getting laid off during hard times. and all government jobs are pretty much 35 hours per week, overtime is always paid or compensated.

emilyrose's avatar

I used to work for the government and I agree. It was sweet.

cwilbur's avatar

I wouldn’t put up with an hour commute, period. I did so for a year and a half, and no amount of money would make up for what it did to my health and my stress levels. And it was an “easy” commute – mostly highway, very little traffic.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t have to think. Least long commute. Saves time (and we are so busy anyway), saves energy, and lets me ride my bike, which gives me exercise I wouldn’t get otherwise, and of course saves gasoline. Commuting is the worst, and I don’t care how many books on tape you get.

Jeruba's avatar

And…there’s a real cost in fuel, vehicle wear and tear, etc., to a long commute. That’s a real consideration these days. And when things get crazy, I want to know I can get home fast, and to know I can make it on my own even if I have to walk.

When I have looked for jobs, I have defined my range of commute first and not even looked outside it.

So I would jump at the chance you have to make a switch to the closer location. Fifteen years’ seniority is a lot to give up, and even more than that is the loss of all that workplace knowledge, the informal network, knowing who’s who in every department and who to talk to to really get things done, having your repurtation established, all that. All that is worth plenty. But the time of your life, the hours you live, are worth more. The road is no place to spend them.

augustlan's avatar

What did you end up doing, jca? Are you happy with your decision?

jca's avatar

I just took the civil service test on Wednesday and got a 90. that will put me very near the top of the list and will probably get called for an interview in the next few monthsor sooner. at that time i’ll get to see the new county’s offices, people, find out about them and then make the decision. so the decision has not been made yet!! will let you know!!

augustlan's avatar

Congrats on that test score…that makes you nearly a god in the government’s eyes!

jca's avatar

Thanks, LAN. I was pleasantly surprised myself, but on the other hand, i feel like to not get a good score would not reflect well on my training and job performance in my present job (since i do that job now but for another county).

kevinhardy's avatar

less commute, money, stress

Lisbeth's avatar

I would take a pay cut for less stress and a shorter commute. Have you done a cost of living comparison. I am currently in the process of moving from a very expensive city to a less expensive city. So while my income will go down my quality of life will improve in other ways.
Best of luck to you

augustlan's avatar

@Lisbeth Welcome to Fluther! Best of luck to you, too. :)

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