Stay For The Career Or Move For Affordability?

Martha is a professor on a tenure track for a very narrow specialty. They don't make enough to live comfortably in Los Angeles. Dave sees two options at this point.

QUESTION: Martha in Los Angeles and her husband have been married six years. They’re there because of her job. She’s a professor on a tenure track for a very narrow specialty. They don’t make enough to live comfortably there. Dave sees two options at this point.

ANSWER: I hear two options. There are always more than two, but some variation on these two are your other options. One is you’re going to live there and struggle as you’re presenting it to me in order to stay in your narrow field, or you’re going to accept a position in philosophy, which is generally around your field but not in the dead center of your Ph.D. work obviously, and live in an area that is more affordable. Then you’re able to prosper financially.

You’re going to struggle in Los Angeles is what you’re telling me, or you’re going to live there and have a longer commute or you’re going to do something . You can make it in Los Angeles making $135,000 a year. You can do that. You may choose a different neighborhood. Some lifestyle issues are going to be there, but that’s in order to live your dream of working and doing what you’re doing. The juxtaposition is you’re either going to do that or you’re going to let your education manifest itself in some other methodology to make money. How else can you make a living and be in an area that’s more affordable? Those are your two options. You have painted yourself into that corner.

The offshoot possibilities are that you just live in a different area and do a longer commute where you can make it in L.A. on $135,000. Lots of people do. You’re just going to make some different choices that aren’t quite as comfortable to suit you in L.A. in order to be able to live out that dream. I think that’s probably my choice. You’re going to rent for a while longer than you wanted to. You’re not going to own a home as quickly as you wanted to. When you do own one, it’s not going to be in the neighborhood you wanted. Those really aren’t bad tradeoffs to get to live the other things you wanted to do as far as I’m concerned. I personally am probably going to stay and lower my expectations of lifestyle to make the fit.