Should I stay or should I go?


In the last few months my job has gotten incredibly boring for me, so I’ve been looking around for a new position. I am a software engineer with a fair bit of experience who specializes in control systems and automation, am married with one two year-old son. I live in Hyattsville, MD, an inner suburb of DC surrounded by a traffic-clogged Prince George’s County. Most recently, I’ve also been doing some contracting work for an old boss and that has helped to ease the boredom and has also been lucrative.

Well, finally an interesting job opportunity that looks up my alley has presented itself – in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. I should see the offer letter in hand on Wednesday or Thursday of this week. Last month, while in the middle of the interview process, I looked around the area and found a couple of nice houses with some property for reasonable prices. There’s a strong home-schooling community out there, which suits us, and if the job doesn’t work out I could always commute to northern Virginia, which has the bulk of the jobs in this region’s IT industry anyway.

Problem is, now I have to decide whether or not to move out there (which, if course, isn’t that far “out thereâ€). Cons are, as I see it, we have to derail our son’s preschool and jump right into a full, home-schooling regime, we have to pack up the homestead and move, we have to sell the current place (of course), and what with interest rates already climbing now would be the best time to do this for some years to come. We have to move away from the friends we’ve made over the last five years in this neighborhood, and there are some things I don’t like about small companies I already see in the new employer.

Pros are, no mosquitoes, better riding, interesting work (plus, I could probably keep contracting on the side), raising our children somewhere quieter with less traffic, and maybe getting some land and some elbow room. The last two items, more generally, are things we’ve always set out as life goals but sort of thought were some distance in the future. Of course, we’re in our low thirties now, and things aren’t going downhill from here. FWIW, my father and mother ran out to the country (southern Virginia) in the late sixties and pretty much found the quiet and space they were looking for.

Oh – and, no mosquitoes, and better riding in West Virginia. Though, I’m not sure I could take bolting a West Virginia plate on my ‘Busa…

I need input – advice – ideas – anything I’ve missed in my analysis that will support my decision making process. I’m not looking to be told what to do, of course. Thanks!
Looks as though you given this alot of thought! Home schooling can be a bit of a challenge for the parent who stays home. But, it is very rewarding (I have several friends who home schooled here.) Moving can be expensive depending on how much you take on yourself. Capital gain from the sale of your previous resisdence sometimes comes into play. Just how far out will you be, is it close to a supermarket, doctor's office/hospital, and kids the same age as yours? Just somethings I'm sure you've already thought about. As far as everything else goes I think you'll be fine so long as its what Both husband and wife want........ Just my .02
How far is this new place from a large metropolitan environment you are used to? If the drive to good shopping, entertainment, and the like isn't too far, then it might well be worth considering. Just to be away from the heavy congestion on a daily basis can be a welcomed change. I mean, you can always drive to it when you want to, but to have the option of avoiding it altogether is a freedom all its own. Although, living too far from the things you love to do with your family can mean a lot of wasted time on the road.

On the real estate side of things. I'd recommend looking into the economic growth of the area you are considering moving to. Are there more houses being built than those being moved away from? Values going up faster than inflation or headed down? Of those already in the area, what is their level of affluence. You mentioned home-schooling, but from a property value standpoint, how good are the local schools -- well funded, falling apart, expanding? How diversified is the local economy -- are there opportunities for employment at a number of different levels or are the locals mostly employed in the same industry -- and how stable is that industry? In short would a house there be a sound investment?

As to the job itself. Enjoying what you do and being challenged by it are important. We spend a lot of time at work and those hours need to be spent in something approximating a sense of satisfaction. Ultimately, you have to balance those considerations. But my off the cuff advice there is to go for it. Especially if you can continue working on the side. That kind of thing can turn into a business all its own and working for yourself does have advantages I believe in.
Wow. I just mapped out where Berkeley Springs is located, you will definitely be out in the sticks. I used to live in Batimore and near Waldorf for about eight years, so I know the area. Since you now live in Hyattsville, it would be a huge adjustment to live in a small town that is at least 40 miles to the next small city. I had co-workers who lived in Winchester whom I visted out in that direction. Nice, clean community but there was nothing to do out there. No shopping malls or big chain stores and only one source for anything you want to buy.

Quite a few people live outside the metro area and from what I recall, it was a two-hour commute to Columbia, MD. Berkeley Springs is 92 miles from Bethesda which will clock out to about a three hour commute each way to DC if you decide to work back in the metro area. That's six hours a day.

You probably won't have any double-digit increases in home values out there, but you probably won't lose money either. I love Cali, I cleared $180k on my house after three years.

If you like small towns I think it would work out for you. but I don't think your plan "B" in commuting back to the beltway is do-able in the long-term.

And remember, "Only two things come from West Virginia, ..."

Always close enough to a city. Even 2 hours or so. My boys grew up in the country but I took them to NYC and Boston for culture. Sounds like a good move.
We're NOT going. After much thought, we realized that although we're not satisfied with the quality of life in Prince George's County, MD, jumping to WV on a lark isn't the answer to our particular issues -- at least not while I still have a satisfactory (paying) job here (plus, the delivery asian food is without a doubt the best around).

So, I'm just going to buckle down, save my ill-gotten contracting gains, and keep looking for more interesting opportunities in this area and maybe areas more directly appealing to us, such as the Pacific Northwest. The decision process was very instructive, however, and we know now (in detail) what's involved if we want to jump again.

Thanks to everyone for your advice and encouragement. If I have any other hare-brained schemes, I'll be sure to check them out here before I proceed.
That may a good move to stay put. I'm thinking about a move to the NW myself in about a year. Maybe Seattle.

Hope things go well for you in P.G. County.