Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Happiness? Location? Money?

Middlebrow and I have been having our annual go-round about whether we can just choose to be happy, if where we live is more important than our salaries, and if we need more money. Oh yeah, and how our house is too small. We always agree on that.
Right now at our CC we are having the annual discussion about how we are woefully underpaid. It's stunning, however, to see exactly how underpaid we are, compared to CCs in other parts of the country. I could be making about $30,000 more a year if I lived in, say, California. Aye, as they say, there's the rub. We don't want to live in California. We do, however, want to make $30,000 more a year. I know, housing would cost more. But that much more per year?
In my mind, it's all about long-term benefits, meaning retirement, and earnings over the course of my career.
Of course, I have to remind myself that we love Son's school, and that, having lived here for almost nine years, we have an actual community, something we both value highly. But, are we allowing ourselves to be exploited?
Obviously I didn't go into teaching for the money. But it's apalling how little we are being paid for the same work (in some cases more work!) than teachers in other parts of the country!
So how do we decide what's more important? Lately I've been leaning towards being happy. But with the new information I've been receiving, I feel like maybe I'm selling myself short. I know the legislature in our fair state is not going to wake up and raise our salaries (at least not in my lifetime). I do love where we live, though I don't always love the politics or the liquor laws. I love our proximity to outdoor recreation. Did I mention that our house is too small?
Today I looked at job listings in other states. It looks like I could start for at least $10,000 more almost anywhere else.
Tell me, what's a girl to do?


Scorpion's Tail said...

hmmm. money matters. I know (having none of my own).
Reality: You ARE underpaid and overworked. It's all part of the plot to dumb down the world (not sure whose plot...but there seems to be one)
We need to think of business ventures, something where we hang a sign, put those PhDs after our names and charge big bucks for (what??? still working on that), continue living in Utah and still have money for the remodel.
And, just remember, right now you aren't living in a place where you sidestep trash, dog poop and vomit EVERY morning as you walk your child to school

theorris said...

Oy tell me about it. Right now on my salary SLC is starting to become unlivable.

Nik said...

I almost applied for the SLCC job. SLC is better than most places. Way better than here. And you would pay that much more in California for housing. There was a job in Santa Cruz! that paid $52,000 a year. That's more than I make here but not a ton more. It would be poverty level there. Still, it sucks how ridiculously low the salaries are for the humanities professor. I remember JP saying that K. S*tockton made $42,000 a year with tenure! Ugh. The numbers. The insult. I agree with Scorp. Venture Capital!

middlebrow said...

Better yet Nik, a pyramid scheme. With our humanities educations, we're ideally suited to construct a pyramid scheme. We'll call it The Western Canon. Oh shit, wait. I've already been a victim of that scheme.

ErinAlice said...

I agree-you don't want to live in CA having been a teacher there though they do pay them pretty well. but then again you have to live in CA. You do live in a great place but you and Jason are so smart and have so much to offer. Are there no good schools anywhere else? small houses only get smaller with the presence of children. Money isn't everything but it is nice to be recognized for your effort, and brain. How about Flagstaff? You would love it. I don't know about pay but it is close to me-and after all it is all about me.

Lisa B. said...

Uh, luckily for you, I have an answer for your question "what's a girl to do?" Stay here, of course. Stay! Stay and make a pyramid scheme. Stay and start a lucrative home industry. Or, maybe put it this way: Don't Leave. Yes, let's put it that way.

susansinclair said...

You *could* move to Central/Western NY, where housing prices are so depressed you can live in luxury! Oh...you *like* having that beautiful huge library nearby...sorry, can't help you...

Limon de Campo said...

Hmm, with required overload, I make almost $20,000 more per year than I used to make. Is it worth it? Some days it really is. But I also work a lot more hours than I used to (and I worked a lot of hours before!)--I have many more responsibilities to juggle, and I do a lot of things that I don't really enjoy doing. Also, I am in two different departments (neither of which is my PhD area). This all sort of blows sometimes. But sometimes it doesn't.

(You should stay: I think you are loved. You would be loved elsewhere, but you are SUPER loved where you are.)

(On the other hand, you should be paid what you are worth.)

(So, in sum, I don't know.)

Anonymous said...

cost of living makes a huge difference. My husband (a software engineer) could be much better paid if we lived in California, but the cost of living is so much greater there, I doubt we'd even be able to afford a house without him commuting an hour or more to work each day. Comparing numbers straight across doesn't make any sense.