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Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:06 am
by deanmoriarty
Hi

Thanks in advance for considering this long post, hopefully it’ll be a good read!

I’m 33, living in San Francisco and working in tech. I grew up in a Mediterranean European country and immigrated to the US by myself at 23 with exactly $0 to my name and a MS in computer engineering. After 10 years of multiple temporary work visas and long waits with USCIS, I was blessed with the American citizenship, so I am currently a dual citizen. This detail means that, if things went really bad for me, I could move back home and get free access to the national healthcare system over there.

During the past decade I always worked pretty hard and took substantial career risk in tech startups as a software engineer, which compensated me with illiquid equity in addition to salary. One of these equity bets paid off a while ago, and my post-tax net worth is currently about ~$2M, all invested in a three fund portfolio (a slight variation of it, since I also use muni bonds in taxable and tilt towards REITs and small cap value).

In life I am a minimalist: I try to own as little as possible, I happily rent a small apartment and generally get pleasure from experiences rather than material possessions. Thanks to this, my living expenses have been sitting in a narrow band between 40k and 50k for the past decade, even in the Bay Area and with international travel once/twice a year. I am in a relationship with a sweet and humble girlfriend who is also frugal and on my same page: we are not planning to get married and we are not planning to have kids (the decision is mutual and very firm).

But enough with the happy news: I am completely drained by the past decade of work. 50-60 hours a week in a cubicle in front of a screen is no joke, tech is an insanely stressful and never ending rat race, and every company is the same. I need to remove myself from the environment. Looking for a new job is not enough, and even if I wanted to I don't even have the mental strength to go out and interview right now.

I would like to quit (more likely: talk to my boss and see if they can lay me off and give me some severance, they did that with someone else before) and rest for at least a year, possibly traveling around the world (South East Asia specifically) with my girlfriend, but I can't help feeling the massive guilt of walking away from such a "great" career. I grew up deeply resenting lack of financial security and the thought of voluntarily walking away from ~$30k a month (my current total yearly compensation is in the ~350k-400k range, and I don't expect it to go down unless there is a major downturn) is simply crazy!

Any financial advice from fellow bogleheads?

Thanks

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:11 am
by Jack FFR1846
Door #2: Set a limit on your hours. Work 40.00 hours. At the end of 40 hours, don't come back until next week. Don't say you can't do that. I had to do that years ago to avoid being in my office running simulations at 9pm. I set a time and at 5:00, I got up and went home. And you know what? Nobody cared. When you talk about leaving, you are in the position to do this. Set your limits. What are they going to do? Fire you? Who cares, right?

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:14 am
by 123
Why not ask you employer about an unpaid leave of absence of 3 to 6 months?

If you quit without the prospect of returning it may make it more difficult (and slower) to get back into the same technology and salary loop. If you take a leave of absence and return to the same company it doesn't show up on your resume or anywhere else after you return.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:17 am
by Horton
Maybe you should reframe the outcome from “unemployed” to “on sabbatical”? Take some time off and you may find a way to repurpose your skills in a new job that provides meaning and purpose with more flexibility.

Given your financial situation, you don’t need to make much to get by.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:18 am
by SkinnyTestaverde
Why not take a long vacation or ask for a sabbatical first? Edit: Others beat me to the punch You'll have some time to clear your head, look at other opportunities, etc.

Then, when you get back, you can decide what you'd like to do. Have you considered contracting? There are a lot of downsides (I am a contractor myself and am trying to go full time), but for someone with your net worth profile, you would be largely immunized from the lack of job stability, health insurance, etc. The big upside of contracting is the flexibility. You can decide which projects to take, whether to get involved in the office politics, and whether to stay with a company if things go south.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:20 am
by martint
deanmoriarty wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:06 am
Hi

I’m 33, living in San Francisco and working in tech. I grew up in a Mediterranean European country...

I would like to quit (more likely: talk to my boss and see if they can lay me off and give me some severance, they did that with someone else before) and rest for at least a year, possibly traveling around the world (South East Asia specifically) with my girlfriend...

Any financial advice from fellow bogleheads?

Thanks
Some thoughts and questions...

1. If you quit, what would you do to occupy your time after your year of traveling?

2. 2M x 4% is 80k per year. Sounds like you could live on this is your home country. I assume you’re an EU citizen so you could live in any EU country without a visa, would you also be eligible for their health insurance? Or only in your home country?

3. Taxes will be complicated as a US citizen living abroad. Banking can also be a challenge but not impossible. Google FATCA.

4. Instead of quit, could you reduce hours? Could you take a 3 month vacation (or even a 1 month vacation) to see how you feel? You might find you’re bored without the stress of work.

5. Does the company have any international locations? Could you volunteer to move abroad for the company for a couple years to get a change of pace?

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:21 am
by deanmoriarty
123 wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:14 am
Why not ask you employer about an unpaid leave of absence of 3 to 6 months?

If you quit without the prospect of returning it may make it more difficult (and slower) to get back into the same technology and salary loop. If you take a leave of absence and return to the same company it doesn't show up on your resume or anywhere else after you return.
Thanks for your point of view. Everyone is assuming that I just want to get back in relatively soon, and that this is a temporary burnout. From my point of view instead, I think I might be really done with tech. I don't like it anymore, I don't like having to waste my life keeping up with a field that is insanely fast paced, I don't like the office environment, I don't like office politics.

I'm at a point where, when I walk into a grocery store, I'm literally envious of the cashiers and other workers there and how happy and mentally free they look. And I'm not saying this from an entitled position: I've worked plenty of blue collar jobs in the past over the years (mostly during college), and I know what it means working a physically intensive job for slightly-above minimum wage.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:27 am
by SkinnyTestaverde
deanmoriarty wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:21 am
Everyone is assuming that I just want to get back in relatively soon, and that this is a temporary burnout. From my point of view instead, I think I might be really done with tech. I don't like it anymore, I don't like having to waste my life keeping up with a field that is insanely fast paced, I don't like the office environment, I don't like office politics.
It may be permanent, but in my opinion, it's too soon for you to tell. As someone in tech, you understand the power of recursion - and it sounds like you've spiraled into a negative feedback loop when it comes to your career. Your emotions are in the driver's seat right now. But who knows, maybe you take a long break and decide several months hence that you miss the work, the challenge, the pace? A lot can change in a few months.

Don't let the gale of your present emotions blow you off course. I've been there, and it's easier said than done. But take some time off and if you still feel the way you do now, then make the jump.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:34 am
by randomguy
deanmoriarty wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:06 am
Hi



In life I am a minimalist: I try to own as little as possible, I happily rent a small apartment and generally get pleasure from experiences rather than material possessions. Thanks to this, my living expenses have been sitting in a narrow band between 40k and 50k for the past decade, even in the Bay Area and with international travel once/twice a year. I am in a relationship with a sweet and humble girlfriend who is also frugal and on my same page: we are not planning to get married and we are not planning to have kids (the decision is mutual and very firm).
Everyone of my 30 year old heterosexual male friends who was never going to have kids or get married had done one or the other by age 40. :) Obviously I have no clue about your future but one thing that is constant is that life changes. Can your GF really afford to travel around asia for a year without a job? It sounds like a great dream but unless she also has 2 million, you have to consider how this choice affects her.

To me you are right on the edge. Get to 3-4 million, and it is a no brainer. Even if you are wrong and expenses double you have a margin of error. And no I don't think you will find yourself happier working at the grocery store and making 1/10th as much. I get the appeal right now but I think you will find reality is vastly different when you realize you are working 20k hours instead of 2k hours to make the same amount of money.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:34 am
by HomeStretch
deanmoriarty wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:21 am
Everyone is assuming that I just want to get back in relatively soon, and that this is a temporary burnout. From my point of view instead, I think I might be really done with tech.
Even if you think you’re done with tech, a 3-month sabbatical or leave of absence (rather than quitting) is a good way to clear your head, recharge and figure out what you want to do and the finances associated with your new plan. It’s usually not good to make major decisions when burnt out, stressed, emotional, etc.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:55 am
by Watty
A couple of sort of random points;

1) Quitting your job and traveling for a year is a bit extreme. Could you do something like take a two month sabbatical to decompress and then decide what you want to do.

This would also give you some experience with traveling for an extended period with your girlfriend. Being with someone 24/7 is a lot different than your current lifestyle and frankly many relationships will not survive this. I have been married over 30 years but when my wife an I are on an extended trip after about three week the excitement of traveling together gets a bit old and we are are both ready for some "me" time.

2) I agree with the prior post about setting boundaries at work. I retired out of IT and with a job like that there will sometimes be true emergencies and crunches a few times a year but if you are constantly working long hours then part of that is your fault by not saying "no". Some company's culture will not allow that or you might not get as high pay but even if you need to change jobs you should be able to find a lower stress job.

3) Even if you are frugal you may not have enough to fully retire comfortably, at least not in the Bay Area or most developed countries.

4) You have enough saved that you could take a year off and still do OK one way or another. The problem is that your girlfriend may not be able to afford to take a year off and she may be in a job that would be a lot harder to get back into after a gap year. If she does not have similar savings and job prospects then taking a year off could cause her huge financial problems that she might not ever recover from. Not getting married might make sense but it could leave her in a bad situation if you travel for a year then break up.

5) If you do travel for a year then it might make sense to establish residency in a state other than California for that year so you do not need to pay the California taxes. That could be a good time to do Roth conversions. This is more complicated than it sounds so be sure to research the details on how to change your state residency right, California may be aggressive in trying to tax you if you don't do it right.

6) If you feel overwhelmed by the stress then professional counseling would be an option to consider.

7)
deanmoriarty wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:06 am
I grew up deeply resenting lack of financial security and the thought of voluntarily walking away from ~$30k a month (my current total yearly compensation is in the ~350k-400k range, and I don't expect it to go down unless there is a major downturn) is simply crazy!
That is more than many executives at good size companies make.

I don't know the details of what you do but most likely in any other US city would would be making less than half of that.

Sooner or later there will be a major downturn and then few companies will be hiring so you could be hard pressed to find any job much less one that pays that much. In a big recession one thing that happens is that few employees will risk leaving a decent job so there are a lot fewer job openings to fill positions that someone left.

8)
deanmoriarty wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:06 am
Thanks to this, my living expenses have been sitting in a narrow band between 40k and 50k for the past decade, even in the Bay Area and with international travel once/twice a year.
Your actual expenses are likely a lot higher when you include things your employer is paying for like healthcare, dental, etc. Your taxes are also an expenses, even if you quit your job and travel you will still have some taxes to pay.

One "nice" thing about working lots of hours is that leaves you with a lot less time to spend money. If you quit your job you may find that your spending goes up especially for things like travel.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:57 am
by shess
deanmoriarty wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:06 am
But enough with the happy news: I am completely drained by the past decade of work. 50-60 hours a week in a cubicle in front of a screen is no joke, tech is an insanely stressful and never ending rat race, and every company is the same. I need to remove myself from the environment. Looking for a new job is not enough, and even if I wanted to I don't even have the mental strength to go out and interview right now.

I would like to quit{...}
So, this post could be me, except I grew up in Minnesota, and I have kids and I quit when I was 48. I've been "retired" for a couple years.

My first question is ... are you asking about retiring early, or about taking a break? Reading your post and thinking "retiring" makes me really nervous, but if that's not your thinking then I doubt a wall of text will be helpful.

But WRT taking a break - yes, you absolutely should, and I think that you may be asking the wrong questions, here (more below). I took a couple 3 month leaves of absence at my most-recent employer (a now-large tech company), and they were lovely. I got a lot done, and chilled out, and mostly was able to leave the stress behind for that time. It certainly was a cheap way to experiment with my feelings about work. The first leave was part of a formal program, but they cancelled that program because they found too many people never came back. The second leave was simply unpaid leave, I just needed signoff from a certain level of boss. At most companies it's hard to take more than around 90 days while retaining your position, but you can always ask.

As to the wrong question, what I mean is that instead of asking "Should I quit the rat race?", you should instead be asking "Why do I participate in the rat race?" The fact of the matter is that tech companies keep taking as long as you keep giving, and you need to take explicit action to limit this. I have tons of trouble with this myself, but I have seen colleagues navigate it, and they make me jealous. Basically, if you can pull yourself back to 40 hours by cutting out the crappiest parts of your work, you'll get double benefits, and you most likely will take no hit to your performance, since your working performance probably starts going downhill around 30 hours. That's a powerful position to be in, because if you can shift from burnout to enjoyment, you can keep milking that career.

I'm not going to go into how to accomplish those things, because I had poor luck with it. Getting Things Done resonated with me, but take care that you don't use it to burn yourself out further (set limits). Tim Ferris also resonated with me, not so much the specific suggestions, but the ideas around intentionally picking off the positive contributors in your life while intentionally leaving behind the things that drag you down.

Holy crap, I almost forgot - at 33 and feeling burnout, possibly the best solution is to add some sort of exercise program which takes a lot of time. Road cycling, training for a marathon or triathlon, swimming, golfing, tennis, etc. Something which requires you to steal hours from work periodically. I am not even joking about this, in my late 40's I started cycling seriously, and a friend and I started a regular work ride two days a week, and a LOT of our regular riders were in that early-30's timeframe, perhaps with a young kid or two, and I think they mostly just wanted to get properly "away" for a few hours at a time a few times per week. I'm not suggesting this because I think you require fitness, I'm suggesting it as a kind of defensible personal space which gives you the freedom to just say no to things. That could be anything, but I find in tech that things like cycling and triathlon get a certain level of automatic respect (you say "Sorry, I can't make anything before 10am on Thursday, I have a ride scheduled", and then it turns into an equipment discussion).

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:07 am
by KlangFool
deanmoriarty wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:06 am

I can't help feeling the massive guilt of walking away from such a "great" career.
deanmoriarty,

You only live once. Your only obligation is to live your own life as you see fit. So, where is the problem?

In the end, nobody else cares whether it is you or someone else sitting in front of the computer screen.

KlangFool

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:11 am
by Hazel-Rah
You have lost your motivation. It seems the primary motivation for earning a good living was financial security. Reaching $2M net worth robbed you of that? No spouse or kids to provide for eliminates the other typical substitute motivators. Nobody can give you motivation, it is intrinsic. It enabled you to develop the skills necessary to excel in your field and develop coping strategies to navigate the difficult aspects of the career.

There is no harm in walking away. You hurt nobody but yourself. Traveling is a diversion. Failing to reach your full potential and electing to reset your career makes zero sense to me. You can remember how hard you worked to put yourself in your current position. And you are choosing to walk away for non-sensical (to me) reasons. I’m not saying tech is Utopia but I know I would regret walking away from that income - and then to travel around among folks who would do anything to reach that level of financial success - it is so far from anything I understand.

Your skill is in demand now. You are choosing to not exercise that skill. The only analogy I can think of is a rebellious teenager who sabotages his academic promise because of an attitude problem. At least that’s what I did in middle school. As an adult I accepted a growth mindset and keep aspiring towards more aggressive goals. Maybe you need to re-frame your question into transitioning out of tech and coming up with a real plan instead of day-dreaming about bagging groceries.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:24 am
by jms
100% agree on setting limits. I worked as a software engineer in the SF bay area for 32 years and yes, we are often very well paid but by nearly every other measure are very poorly compensated. To those outside the field: the stresses of all types can become unimaginable. I set hard limits for the last 8 years of my job and things improved immensely... 6 years ago I was able to retire early.

"Enjoy every sandwich" -- Warren Zevon

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:40 am
by deanmoriarty
Hazel-Rah wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:11 am
You have lost your motivation. It seems the primary motivation for earning a good living was financial security. Reaching $2M net worth robbed you of that? No spouse or kids to provide for eliminates the other typical substitute motivators. Nobody can give you motivation, it is intrinsic. It enabled you to develop the skills necessary to excel in your field and develop coping strategies to navigate the difficult aspects of the career.

There is no harm in walking away. You hurt nobody but yourself. Traveling is a diversion. Failing to reach your full potential and electing to reset your career makes zero sense to me. You can remember how hard you worked to put yourself in your current position. And you are choosing to walk away for non-sensical (to me) reasons. I’m not saying tech is Utopia but I know I would regret walking away from that income - and then to travel around among folks who would do anything to reach that level of financial success - it is so far from anything I understand.

Your skill is in demand now. You are choosing to not exercise that skill. The only analogy I can think of is a rebellious teenager who sabotages his academic promise because of an attitude problem. At least that’s what I did in middle school. As an adult I accepted a growth mindset and keep aspiring towards more aggressive goals. Maybe you need to re-frame your question into transitioning out of tech and coming up with a real plan instead of day-dreaming about bagging groceries.
Thanks for your opinion. You are right, I currently lost my motivation. Regarding "reaching full potential", when would it then be less "non-sensical" to "reset one's career", in your opinion? I am absolutely certain that I would never work this job if I had enough money to live on for the rest of my life: I would spend my days travelling, spending perhaps a few months a year visiting my aging parents in my home country, reading, volunteering and perhaps obtaining another degree.

So, imagine I reach a level of net worth that allows me to get to a SWR of 2% (let's say a very generous $3-4M in my case): in your opinion, would it be ok to move away from corporate life and waste my tech skills then, regardless of the age? If not, when then? Just trying to gain some perspective.

Thanks again.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:13 pm
by rich126
Only you can figure out what you want and will make you happy.

Walking away from money can be difficult but all of my friends who have retired (usually in their 50s) don't regret it for a minute. I know another guy who is older than me and ending up getting a severance and retired a bit earlier than he had planned, said it was the best thing that ever happened to him. Now he is having more medical issues and looking back said the early years of retirement were his happiest years.

Maybe I missed it but I'm not sure if you stated where you'd prefer to live long term. Is it in the states? Somewhere else? With your skills you can probably work a number of places or even start a small consulting business down the road.

I know people from other countries have a different perspective on life and needs. I have a close friend from Peru and he often talks about retiring to Europe (his wife is a dual citizen from there). I don't think it will happen any time soon because he has 3 younger kids and has to take care of them.

As you get more money in the bank, it does provide more freedom and perspective on things. I'm not at your age but I keep pondering about retiring now and if my GF had any money I probably would do it. Instead I'm trying to stick it out for ~3 years and it is now becoming a grind. I switched jobs but this one isn't working for me and will try something different after a year.

What does your GF think about you quitting? Some would support it, others would be more dubious.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:23 pm
by doon
Do you hate technology job or technology sector? What I mean is you can put your skills in slower paced industries such as non-profits, state or local govt which will give you a bit more laid back lifestyle while still taking care of monthly bills and living expenses. You don't have to go from 400 k to 0.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:26 pm
by gogleheads.orb
Young childless people who make good money do this sort of thing all the time. Ask for however long of a leave of absence that you need or just quit if you aren't' sure you want to return to the same company. Take the time that you want and come back and find a job when you get bored of travelling or run out of money.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:37 pm
by knowledge
It sounds like you've been thinking about this for some time. Based upon your current net worth, humble spending habits, and the fact that you say you won't have kids, it sounds like you'd have enough to manage it. You should have enough. You can plug away a couple of more years to build in a factor of safety or go for it now.

I'd have the conversation with the boss. Try to get a package out, and take a year off. See how you like it. Even if you found out you didn't, you'll likely have a different perspective and maybe you'll find a completely different road.

Do us a favor and post an update after that year though.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:44 pm
by michaeljc70
Continuing to work at that pace to save money it seems you don't need and will probably not enjoy spending seems silly to me. I would take the break. As others said, if you can take an unpaid leave from your current employer (assuming you'd want to go back there), I would do that.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 12:47 pm
by Beehave
Teach.

The students at a state university or community college or similar can benefit tremendously from your experience. Your stress level wil be way lower. Your expertise will be far greater than any administrator, so they will very very likely listen to you and let you do whatever it is you feel is right. You can keep up with technology without going crazy about it.

Here's an article from a student's perspective. I do not agree with the writer's disdain for theory, but this will give you an idea of why you, with your experience, should be welcomed and valuable:

https://www.newsday.com/opinion/oped/i- ... -1.9172692

You are way too young to retire. And taking the cashier's job, like the old saw about running off with the the proverbial cocktail waitress, will quickly wear thin. Don't give up on your experience and skill, use it in a way that benefits others, can provide income to support your minimalist lifestyle even in a HCOL area, and is good for your soul.

Best wishes.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 1:11 pm
by furikake
You sound like how I was when I was 32. I did walk away from tech, I thought I would miss it but I did not, I was just so done with it. I did keep all the books and stuff for 3-4 more years and then got rid of them all. I could have retired then, but I wasn't ready, so I started a new business in a completely different field that I knew nothing about. :-D

You probably didn't pay attention to the oath you swore to when you became a US citizen, here's the link to the Oath of Allegiance. You've sworn to renounce your prior citizenship already, so you technically do not have dual citizenship.

Anyway, back to your original question, it's ok to walk away, if you think you're done, because I know it's hard to get back in since tech changes so much so fast. I have a friend, in his 70's, he's been making a boat load of money every year from his business, though he doesn't need anymore money anymore, he has a hard time walking away because of the large income that he's unwilling to give up. I don't see him retiring at all until he drops dead.

So this is a question for you, are you ok not being able to get back into tech anymore? Are you ok doing something else or nothing at all? How does your girlfriend feel about it? Life is short, do what feels right to you.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 1:19 pm
by Broken Man 1999
123 wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:14 am
Why not ask you employer about an unpaid leave of absence of 3 to 6 months?

If you quit without the prospect of returning it may make it more difficult (and slower) to get back into the same technology and salary loop. If you take a leave of absence and return to the same company it doesn't show up on your resume or anywhere else after you return.
This. Use the time to decompress and evaluate your options. Nothing lost if you decide to cut your ties after reflecting on options a bit.

Good luck!

Broken Man 1999

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 1:28 pm
by unclescrooge
deanmoriarty wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:21 am
123 wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:14 am
Why not ask you employer about an unpaid leave of absence of 3 to 6 months?

If you quit without the prospect of returning it may make it more difficult (and slower) to get back into the same technology and salary loop. If you take a leave of absence and return to the same company it doesn't show up on your resume or anywhere else after you return.
Thanks for your point of view. Everyone is assuming that I just want to get back in relatively soon, and that this is a temporary burnout. From my point of view instead, I think I might be really done with tech. I don't like it anymore, I don't like having to waste my life keeping up with a field that is insanely fast paced, I don't like the office environment, I don't like office politics.

I'm at a point where, when I walk into a grocery store, I'm literally envious of the cashiers and other workers there and how happy and mentally free they look. And I'm not saying this from an entitled position: I've worked plenty of blue collar jobs in the past over the years (mostly during college), and I know what it means working a physically intensive job for slightly-above minimum wage.
The grass is just greener on the other side. Everyone has stress in their jobs. You are just well paid compared to everyone else and you have an option to quit.

I recommend taking a sabbatical. My friend was burnt out. His company have him a 3 month paid sabbatical. So he took it, and then quit :twisted:

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 1:56 pm
by cdu7
Honestly I don’t suggest giving up on work totally. Unless you have 4 million+ it isn’t safe long term. If you work 5-10 more years you could pull it off.

That said, my wife and I were in a similar situation and I changed careers to become a teacher while she changed to a part time position in her tech field. It had given us tremendous lifestyle benefits and we still pull in lower six figures a year combined. Yeah it’s way less than what we could have made, but we are a million times happier and more fulfilled. And guess what we still are productive happy members of society, still able to save a ton and spend a ton.

Think about careers that might be more rewarding for you, there are lots of options. Or like my wife, reduce your hours or find a position that will let you.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:00 pm
by ThankYouJack
Sounds like it's much more than just burn out. I wouldn't recommend taking a leave of absence and then quitting.

I would recommend quitting and traveling like you want to do. I've quit jobs before and never once regretted it. Now is the time and you have the NW and minimal expenses to do so.

Good for you and best of luck!

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:06 pm
by surfstar
IF
1. You don't enjoy working
AND
2. You don't need to work

THEN

why continue to work?

Do it. Whether it is a sabbatical, much lower hours, or full on early retirement. Do. It.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:18 pm
by random_walker_77
OP, you're burned out . And living in the pressure cooker of the bay area doesn't help. I'd second the suggestion of a sabbatical, or of just silently cutting back to 40 hrs/ week.

There's another world out there, and you can still be making good money. But first, you need to clear your head. Take a sabbatical.

When you return, you should consider downshifting. Go to a different company w/ more reasonable hours. It helps to move out of the bay area -- the cultural norms for work/life balance are different elsewhere. See if you can talk your SO into trying out a different part of the country for a while:
Boston/Austin/Portland/Seattle/San Diego/Research Triangle etc

Or downshift and take your skills into another industry altogether (or nonprofit, for that matter).

You state "tech is an insanely stressful and never ending rat race, and every company is the same. I need to remove myself from the environment"

I disagree with the first part, but think you're onto something w/ the 2nd. Even at the same company, the culture and norms at remote offices outside of the bay area can be surprisingly different (in a good way). The bay area is a bit of a pressure cooker. Not all companies there are like it, but it's easy to get into that mental zone where you think that you and everyone around you works at a sweatshop.

Decompress first, and then decide. Now that you don't need to be making 400+K, you've got options. Potentially, one of those options is to downshift and clear 300+K in a different part of the country.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:20 pm
by theplayer11
life is too short to be stressed and hate your job. Fortunately, you have enough where you don't have to work or can work much less. Ignore posts about wasting your talent, ect. Who said we were put on this Earth to work 40-50 hours at a job we don't like? Most people do it because they have to..if you don't have to...don't.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:40 pm
by retired recently
I did this but was a bit older and had more but two kids...

Short version is I retired at 40 with $4.5 million but two kids, 5 and 10. I was making a bit more than a million/year and would have made about that probably going up slightly to $1.5million/year. I was burned out, did not like where I was living, the job, the clients or the majority of the people I worked with. As others mentioned, life is too short and I wanted to be more involved in my childs life.

Looking back, so far all has worked out pretty well and it was the right choice for me in my situation. Good luck!!

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 4:25 pm
by Regattamom
How will your girlfriend get by while you are traveling the world? Does she have her own $2 million saved up or will you pay for her expenses? How will this affect her job situation?

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 4:40 pm
by Elsebet
Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:11 am
Door #2: Set a limit on your hours. Work 40.00 hours. At the end of 40 hours, don't come back until next week. Don't say you can't do that. I had to do that years ago to avoid being in my office running simulations at 9pm. I set a time and at 5:00, I got up and went home. And you know what? Nobody cared. When you talk about leaving, you are in the position to do this. Set your limits. What are they going to do? Fire you? Who cares, right?
I second this. I have nowhere near OP's liquid assets and I still do this. My employer even limits overtime because they pay even salaried employees for it. I usually have to put in 1-5 extra hours over 40 per week for deployments/prod issues but it's rare that goes over 45 per week. However I don't work in FAANG type companies so it might be a different culture there, but with 2 million in assets I don't think you need to care.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 4:43 pm
by ClevrChico
Your thinking is right on track.

I don't consider 50-60 hours sustainable at all in tech. Even 40 isn't sustainable if you're nose to the grindstone.

You need time off ASAP. Engineer a severance, leave of absence, etc. You have $2M and can easily take a long break. I guarantee you'll emerge a happier and more productive person. (Been there, done that, just without $2M. :-) )

My financial advice would be to make sure you have health insurance covered if you're staying in the US. Accidents happen.

Other than that, give yourself a pat on the back.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 5:12 pm
by MikeG62
deanmoriarty wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:21 am
123 wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:14 am
Why not ask you employer about an unpaid leave of absence of 3 to 6 months?

If you quit without the prospect of returning it may make it more difficult (and slower) to get back into the same technology and salary loop. If you take a leave of absence and return to the same company it doesn't show up on your resume or anywhere else after you return.
Thanks for your point of view. Everyone is assuming that I just want to get back in relatively soon, and that this is a temporary burnout. From my point of view instead, I think I might be really done with tech. I don't like it anymore, I don't like having to waste my life keeping up with a field that is insanely fast paced, I don't like the office environment, I don't like office politics.

I'm at a point where, when I walk into a grocery store, I'm literally envious of the cashiers and other workers there and how happy and mentally free they look. And I'm not saying this from an entitled position: I've worked plenty of blue collar jobs in the past over the years (mostly during college), and I know what it means working a physically intensive job for slightly-above minimum wage.
I'd suggest the 3-6 month of unpaid leave. What do you have to lose? Once it is over you can decide to return to work or not. If you choose not to you will be in the same position you would be in if you follow you current plan (to quit now). Yes I get you want some severance and would be forgoing that. On the flip side, maybe that time off allows you to recharge your batteries and/or come back with a renewed sense of enthusiasm for your job, in which case you put in another maybe 5 years and then retire altogether.

Believe me I get where you are coming from. I semi-retired at 44 because the stress of my job was awful. I too was burnt out. Same feelings you have. However, instead of accepting my attempt at retirement my CEO asked me if I'd be willing to stay on part-time instead (in a newly created role - transitioned my old responsibilities to my second in command). I choose to do that and stayed on for nine more years. Fully retired at 53. Best decision I ever made.

So I feel your pain. Thankfully you have lots of options. Think it through. Good luck.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 5:32 pm
by 22twain
random_walker_77 wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 2:18 pm
Now that you don't need to be making 400+K, you've got options. Potentially, one of those options is to downshift and clear 300+K in a different part of the country.
Even 100-150K is a lot of money relative to living expenses in 90% of the US, especially if you've already got $2M.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 5:35 pm
by One Ping
Elsebet wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 4:40 pm
Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:11 am
Door #2: Set a limit on your hours. Work 40.00 hours. At the end of 40 hours, don't come back until next week. Don't say you can't do that. I had to do that years ago to avoid being in my office running simulations at 9pm. I set a time and at 5:00, I got up and went home. And you know what? Nobody cared. When you talk about leaving, you are in the position to do this. Set your limits. What are they going to do? Fire you? Who cares, right?
I second this. I have nowhere near OP's liquid assets and I still do this. My employer even limits overtime because they pay even salaried employees for it. I usually have to put in 1-5 extra hours over 40 per week for deployments/prod issues but it's rare that goes over 45 per week. However I don't work in FAANG type companies so it might be a different culture there, but with 2 million in assets I don't think you need to care.
^^ THIS!

It sounds like you are essentially in a Financially Independent position, if you wanted to be. When I reached FI while working, my attitude changed. Not my conscientiousness or dedication to getting the job done, but my desire to kill myself for the j-o-b. I just cared more about me than the job at that point. Stress melted away. I could quit at anytime if I felt like it. For a variety of reasons, none related to my personal financial circumstances, I ended up working 18 months longer than I really needed to. Taking control of my working vs. non-working hours during that time made a BIG difference. Gave me a feeling of control, the lack of which is what I believe causes most people's problems with work stress.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Tue Oct 01, 2019 11:23 pm
by deanmoriarty
Just wanted to thank everybody who took time out of their busy schedule to give their perspective. I won’t be able to reply to all of you but rest assured I read each individual post, and internalized it. I keep being grateful for this community.

I am set to start the conversation with my boss about sabbatical and/or layoff, and I am fully ready to give my notice on the spot if the conversation turns south.

I will update the thread when I have news.

Thanks again.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Wed Oct 02, 2019 1:29 am
by novemberrain
deanmoriarty wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:06 am
Hi

Thanks in advance for considering this long post, hopefully it’ll be a good read!

I’m 33, living in San Francisco and working in tech. I grew up in a Mediterranean European country and immigrated to the US by myself at 23 with exactly $0 to my name and a MS in computer engineering. After 10 years of multiple temporary work visas and long waits with USCIS, I was blessed with the American citizenship, so I am currently a dual citizen. This detail means that, if things went really bad for me, I could move back home and get free access to the national healthcare system over there.

During the past decade I always worked pretty hard and took substantial career risk in tech startups as a software engineer, which compensated me with illiquid equity in addition to salary. One of these equity bets paid off a while ago, and my post-tax net worth is currently about ~$2M, all invested in a three fund portfolio (a slight variation of it, since I also use muni bonds in taxable and tilt towards REITs and small cap value).

In life I am a minimalist: I try to own as little as possible, I happily rent a small apartment and generally get pleasure from experiences rather than material possessions. Thanks to this, my living expenses have been sitting in a narrow band between 40k and 50k for the past decade, even in the Bay Area and with international travel once/twice a year. I am in a relationship with a sweet and humble girlfriend who is also frugal and on my same page: we are not planning to get married and we are not planning to have kids (the decision is mutual and very firm).

But enough with the happy news: I am completely drained by the past decade of work. 50-60 hours a week in a cubicle in front of a screen is no joke, tech is an insanely stressful and never ending rat race, and every company is the same. I need to remove myself from the environment. Looking for a new job is not enough, and even if I wanted to I don't even have the mental strength to go out and interview right now.

I would like to quit (more likely: talk to my boss and see if they can lay me off and give me some severance, they did that with someone else before) and rest for at least a year, possibly traveling around the world (South East Asia specifically) with my girlfriend, but I can't help feeling the massive guilt of walking away from such a "great" career. I grew up deeply resenting lack of financial security and the thought of voluntarily walking away from ~$30k a month (my current total yearly compensation is in the ~350k-400k range, and I don't expect it to go down unless there is a major downturn) is simply crazy!

Any financial advice from fellow bogleheads?

Thanks
Get busy and pop out two kids. $2M will be kind of just enough to get them from 0 till 18 years.
That should provide all the motivation you need , lol.

Jokes aside, I agree with other posters that maybe you can experiment with slowing down instead of quitting altogether.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Wed Oct 02, 2019 1:48 am
by smectym
I got into law right around the dot.com boom. There were a lot of young lawyers pulling down six figures—even with crooked numbers in the first digit. The attitude gradually grew that we were sort of the golden entitled ones and there would always be some cushy job waiting for us. This or that golden lass or lad would occasionally announce: “ quitting the job to trek around Europe for a year, then I’ll come back of course...” And then, “of course,” came the dot.com hangover and those jobs weren’t there any more.

We can quit our high-paying job or we can keep it: but never treat it casually, as if we can toss it aside, but it’ll always be there for us should we have a change of mood or circumstance.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Wed Oct 02, 2019 1:54 am
by smectym
Addendum: when the jobs came back the firms were looking to the next crop of law school stars, not those with the 1-year gap in the CV

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Wed Oct 02, 2019 5:20 am
by JoeRetire
deanmoriarty wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:06 am
Looking for a new job is not enough, and even if I wanted to I don't even have the mental strength to go out and interview right now.
If you don't have the "mental strength" to go on interviews, you should be working with a mental health professional, not taking vacations.

Once you are healthy again, you can objectively decide what you want out of life and find a job that is compatible with your new goals.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Wed Oct 02, 2019 5:42 am
by visualguy
JoeRetire wrote:
Wed Oct 02, 2019 5:20 am
deanmoriarty wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:06 am
Looking for a new job is not enough, and even if I wanted to I don't even have the mental strength to go out and interview right now.
If you don't have the "mental strength" to go on interviews, you should be working with a mental health professional, not taking vacations.

Once you are healthy again, you can objectively decide what you want out of life and find a job that is compatible with your new goals.
I don't think that's what "mental health professionals" do... Lack of mental strength to go to tech interviews can't be found in the DSM-5, so I think OP would be kicked out of the office of such professionals pretty quickly. :wink:

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Wed Oct 02, 2019 7:57 am
by Kenkat
Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Tue Oct 01, 2019 10:11 am
Door #2: Set a limit on your hours. Work 40.00 hours. At the end of 40 hours, don't come back until next week. Don't say you can't do that. I had to do that years ago to avoid being in my office running simulations at 9pm. I set a time and at 5:00, I got up and went home. And you know what? Nobody cared. When you talk about leaving, you are in the position to do this. Set your limits. What are they going to do? Fire you? Who cares, right?
This would be my advice as well. Companies are happy to let you work as much as you want. Sometimes, it’s crunch time and you have to work late, I get that. But not every day for months or years. Try scaling back and see what happens. If they ask, just tell them “I am trying to have a better work/life balance”. If they want to keep you, they will accommodate you. If not, well then what have you lost by not giving it a try.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Wed Oct 02, 2019 8:13 am
by lostdog
Get to 3% SWR since you'll be done quite early.

I walked away from technology early and never regretted it.

While working on getting to your 3% SWR, work on finding ways to not feel guilty about walking away. Right now it's conditioned in your psyche. Since you're into minimalism, you could expand into mindfulness. It will take some time to get the "I must work hard to be successful to satisfy my ego and look successful to others", conditioning out of your psyche when you hit your FI goal.

When I first walked away I was worried about what other people would think. The reality is, nobody really cared. Your real close friends will be happy for you. Your unreal friends will disappear from your life due to resentment.

If you miss tech after awhile, you could consult part time.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Wed Oct 02, 2019 8:20 am
by Shackleton
Best of luck in the convo with the boss! I'm really curious to hear the outcome. I recently went from stressful, high tech to much lower stress in a non-profit and am loving the change!

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Wed Oct 02, 2019 8:30 am
by KyleAAA
I'd start with a sabbatical and see how it goes. You don't have to go back. Also, you should know that all tech companies are NOT the same as the SV startup world you've been living in. There are many companies out there that are slow paced and you can be a top performer working less than 40 hours a week, especially outside of SV. The SV startup scene is a pressure cooker but is not representative of the broader industry. You could be a big fish in a small pond at a company in, say, Nashville and enjoyed unparalleled WLB. Alternatively, you could go to Google or Microsoft and rest & vest for a few years.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Wed Oct 02, 2019 9:01 am
by JGoneRiding
You have no children and no plans for them so do whatever you want.

Though you might find with less stress children become more appealing.

It's not like you can't take a year off and go back to a great job. Might not be crazy high but 100k is still a good job.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Wed Oct 02, 2019 9:15 am
by EnjoyIt
I saw two posts telling you to make $4 million. That is insane. $4 million spending $50k/yr will last 80+ years just invested in TIPS. Plenty of people living very comfortable and happy lives on much less than that. Plus, I have a feeling you have another $250k+ in a 401k. You can easily retire today. But, like many of the comments above have said, you are so burned out that you can't think straight. Do everything possible to take 3-6 months unpaid leave of absence. Clear your mind and then make a decision. You may find returning to work with set limits of 40 hours a week is what you need. Maybe you can work part time at 32 hours a week taking Friday or Monday off. You can also work at Starbucks if you desire.

I'm sure you are aware, if you retire, at your spending level and almost everything is in taxable, you will likely be paying $0 in taxes, get free ACA healthcare, and be able to convert all of your 410k into a Roth tax free. Also, with over $2 million in assets and you spending $50k-60k per year (more free time likely = more spending,) your net worth has a very high chance of growing significantly even in retirement.

Re: Willingly going from lucrative job to unemployed?

Posted: Wed Oct 02, 2019 9:19 am
by Olemiss540
AMAZING that you were able to save what you did starting from 0 in a foreign country. You are an inspiration and good luck on your next steps.

Perhaps Victoria will weigh in on "designing your life" so you move on to something that invigorates you for the coming decades ahead. You are sure to be successful regardless.