Tuesday, December 21, 2010


It comes to this: we have to make a choice.

We can stack rank the locations on all sorts of criteria...

1. Irvine
2. Seattle
3. Boston
4. Philly/DC

Finances - this includes compensation, +/- cost of living, cost of moving
1. Seattle
2. Irvine
3. Philly/DC
4. Boston

Big Giant Pain in the Ass, from most desirable (i.e. less pain)
1. Seattle
2. Irvine
3. Boston/Philly/DC

Other criteria could be: interesting areas of the city to explore, or beer community, or dog friendliness, ability to bike commute, quality and convenience of awesome tri training, coffee quality (damn, does this look like a Seattle type list to you too?), location with the best weekend get-aways, proximity to Priest Lake...they start sounding a bit trite - and I realize that all theseplaces have beer and dogs and coffee and quirky areas and cool get-aways. All of them. Even suburbanified Irvine has areas to explore. That is why they even made it to the list of locations we'd consider (sorry, Indianapolis).

In terms of less trite sounding comparisions...it's rather impossible to really compare the job quality aspect since each of the Boy's options are so different, and for me in my current situation, staying here is hands-down the best option. Of course, if you are in the camp that I should move on in my career, then I think they are all even in terms of my job prospects.

This choice is a complex web of finances, careers, real estate, adventure, pain in the ass, ache in the soul, tradeoff after tradeoff, relationships, change and more change. As much as I try to boil it down to a prioritized list, as the Boy said today, "there are so many intangibles I can't put a price on." And it's true. This choice will have to be made in that place we can't put a finger on, the bizarre equations and metric analysis that happens in the 90% of my brain I can't comprehend at all, but pops out with wonderful solutions and ideas when I least expect it.

As I further analyze the choice, there are multiple levels to consider. The first that comes to mind is the simple choice of staying or going. I can assess this independently of any location option. Just simply, should we stay, or go?
It inherently begs the question of where to go - would the place to go be worth leaving here...but I wonder if it's a bit like a relationship where the choice to end it or leave should be based on the merit of the relationship, not the option of others in the world to date, really. One should not leave person A to be with person B, because what if it doesn't work out with person B...the choice to leave person A was not made soundly. This is a bit different though because I am in a wonderful relationship with my city and don't wish to leave.

This was all much easier when we wanted to leave to move to Europe for a few years. That was a true desire to move and go do. I still felt queasy thinking about moving and the inevitable culture shock that would await me in a new country far from home and speaking a different language, career, etc. But we wanted to try that out.

In comparison, we have no huge desire to relocate, though we can see that there would be positives to each location.
I put on my adventure girl hat and remind myself that life is short. I've been here, in this wonderful city, and as my friend Dustin reminds me, there are other wonderful cities - you should go explore them too. Another friend talks about taking a vacation and that she doesn't want to go back to Cabo because she's "been there, done that" and life is too short to miss out on seeing new places to go back to ones she's already experiences. Same concept, right?

We, however, reminisce about places we've been and how wonderful they were, and want to go back. We want to have that dinner again because it was so good. We go back to the same restaurants because we love them. We have to remind ourselves to stake out something new. In this context, the move would be a giant shove into not having any other option than fully immersing ourselves in everything new.

My friend Cathy suggests flipping a coin and deciding to go with that. Any regret, or hesitations at that point indicate the true choice. When we "decide" to stay (as we do for a few days until another offer rolls in, or the situation changes), I have this nagging doubt that I've missed some crazy cool opportunity. It eats on me. It doesn't happen right away. It's like a pop-under ad - I see it when we go to "close the window" of opportunity with one of the other locations, and it stops me in my tracks.

Choosing to leave...the company in Irvine sent an offer that included the relocation package and I started reading through it. First I read through trying to understand all the terminology. I practically have my transparent green visor on and my half glasses as I type numbers into my printing calculator..."tax assisted...does that mean I pay taxes on it or they pay the taxes on the benefit..." Then I realize that no matter what, it's going to be expensive, and making a choice because of a one time cost is probably short sighted and I look up, take off my visor. I'm a human again. We would be leaving. We would be packing up our stuff and moving out, to something completely different. Big tears roll down my cheeks.

Who wins?

I thought it would be an easy financial choice, but it's not. It is true that a huge one time cost could impact our financial future for a long time, but I don't think any of these offers are of that nature. The relocation packages seem to cover most of the big costs, leaving some nebulous tax considerations, a potential loss of equity on our place (I don't think this would be big) and then just the investment of making a new place liveable (more of a choice than anything, how much we invest there). These costs would be offset by having a new income, and varying levels of signing bonuses. So, to make a life choice over a one time impact of $15,000 seems sort of short sighted, when considering the intangible cost of happiness, newness, time with loved ones, career growth, etc. Aside from the signing bonuses, the offers are all within a standard deviation of each other - pretty much the same.

Big tears don't really mean anything either. I had big tears when I moved from Denver. I had even bigger tears when I sold my waterfront condo and moved to this townhouse. All these moves needed to happen. I am happy now. I like where I went, and I like what I have as a result. This potential move would be the same: hard as fuck to do, but once we're settled in the new place and focused on the future...everything will fall in place, including the incredible nostalgia. I think I need to try to eliminate those feelings from the consideration.

So where does this leave me? What if I lived somewhere else...let's pick Minneapolis because each location is more hospitable than Minnesota...which city would I pick? Maybe that's bad - the beaches of Southern California would have an obvious edge. Ok, what about moving from...Houston?

I keep thinking that looking at it from another angle, asking the question a different way, will illuminate the right choice. I kept thinking something would make it easy - one location would have a way better offer, or one job would be the obvious ticket. But life had other plans...this is the classic "all things being equal, which would you choose" question, though less gory than most of the "would you rather" questions (I still think I would rather eat a mouthful of 17 live bees than chew shards of glass, thank you).

In any case, though...

How lucky are we? In this economy, we have multiple amazing offers and opportunities to choose from? Neither of us will suffer from any of the choices; both of us will gain and grow. There isn't a bad choice among them: staying, going; east coast, west coast; big company, small company. This is exactly where we wanted to be.

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