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I'm at my present job as a programmer since 2007, in Northern NJ. I have 3 weeks of vacation, work from home when I have/want to, a good rapport with my manager/team and name recognition across our office, very short commute etc.

Neither I nor my wife have any particular connection to this region like own house or kids at school or family etc, other than some friends by living here. The hospitals are great so is the food.

Compensation hasn't grown much over the years- less than 1% a year since I started. I have a very high premium and deductible for health insurance; no 401K company match/contribution; no training or learning opportunities in newer technologies/concepts. I've been doing the same stuff over the last few years. I feel like a knife that's gotten blunt.

Now I found a position, interviewed for it and got an job offer from the IT department of a well known and well liked retail company HQed in the Seattle Metro area. The bump in base salary is 7% (above wchich they will not negotiate), and it is in a state with no income tax. This company has 401K match, and an annual contribution and very low premium for health insurance. They're famous for having one of the lowest employee turnovers in the industry.

However, by joining this company, I will have only 2 weeks of vacation for the first 4 years; even that is subject to blackout periods during Christmas/Thanksgiving seasons; not as flexible with work from home policy, and above all, a coast to coast move across the country though the company is willing to reimburse the relocation expenses. Rent seems similar between these two regions.

I've been called a few times by them asking me to accept their offer. If I accept, it will be my first move to somewhere outside the Boston-NYC-NJ-Washington DC area since I moved to the United States 15+ years ago.

My concern is, is it worth trading the comfort and advantages of the present job for this new one? Everyone keeps saying what I already know - that only I know what is right. While true, it is an answer that doesn't help much.

How much in % would be the savings in state income tax if I were to move to Washington state? What are some other factors that need to be considered? What has been your experience?

closed as off-topic by yochannah, Justin Cave, Joe Strazzere, Philip Kendall, Carson63000 May 3 '15 at 1:25

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    It rains a lot in Seattle. The Seattle Metro area is relatively small, so if you end up in the job market there, the competition might tough since the University of Washington State graduates some top notch CS people and s an important source of recruitment for Microsoft, Amazon and probably, Google. – Vietnhi Phuvan May 2 '15 at 10:25
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    Are you sure they won't negotiate on salary. Did you name your salary requirement yet? For example, if you work out the numbers and decide you need x+3% to account for differences, I don't see the downside to telling them "I will take the offer if it is x+3%". After all, if they don't adjust up to that, but you've already calculated that you need that extra 3% (or however much it is) to account for differences in costs, then it seems the rational thing to do is to turn down the offer. – Brandin May 2 '15 at 10:29
  • What is the possibility of you getting a similar offer in your area? Is that offfer in Seattle the only chance you've got? – Vietnhi Phuvan May 2 '15 at 11:19
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    When I am faced with such situations, I follow the advice my close friend (yeah, I too have friends! :P) gave me a few years ago. "First decide your priorities. You will know what you have to do." I think you too could give it a try. – Masked Man May 2 '15 at 13:17
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You aren't alone; your situation is common for people that have worked for a while and it's always tough to leave a place where things are comfortable.

Cost Considerations

As to your other questions, someone else already discussed the tax difference and you seem to have done your homework on the cost of rent in the regions. If you haven't yet, consider these:

  • Insurance
  • Property values and property tax (for if you ever buy a house; also, I was pleasantly surprised when I moved from California to Houston that in Texas vehicle registration is just a registration fee while in California it is effectively a form of luxury tax)
  • Sales tax
  • Transportation (does traffic bother you, do you like public transportation, do you prefer to bike or drive?)

Professional Considerations

From your posting the first thing I thought of was the vacation policy. The prospective employer might be firm on salary, but would they negotiate vacation time?

Professionally, there's no one else who can tell you if it's worth making the change but you. It's disappointing, but it's common for people to have to leave a company to get anything higher than a cost of living raise.

I was so scared of leaving my first company, but each move has yielded new skills and better compensation; in the rare cases they didn't, I just continued searching. You didn't mention what your long term goals are, but when he was making a move an acquaintance of mine once said something interesting: "I'm currently a big fish in a small pond, and I'm going to be a small fish in a big pond." Note that that can be a good thing or a bad thing.

Are you confident in the new company's culture and have you had a chance to correspond with any of your prospective team members? When I think about what makes my day good or bad, the one constant positive even when the work is not great is that if you are around good and competent people, you have a chance to enjoy your job and a chance to learn.

It's up to you

A couple other things to think about:

  • Weather and your sensitivity to any differences
  • Culture (If you were moving from San Francisco to Texas, you might prefer Austin to Dallas)

For me the biggest thing was leaving behind family and friends, but today with things like social media it seems quite easy to keep in touch. And when I was once struggling with a similar decision, a friend told me, "I've learned that where I lived only played a small part in my total happiness." Note that he probably meant "where I lived (in the US)" because I think living in Seattle would be dramatically different than living in Sierra Leone or Afghanistan.

Ultimately, I liked the comment Masked Man left you in the comments where he noted thinking about your priorities. That is very good advice that will help you decide.

Good luck to you. If you do go, no matter what happens, enjoy the adventure of it.

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    Remember to check cost of living. Each dollar of income may buy you more or less in the new location. Before my last move I checked this and found that cost if housing was likely to be a bit higher but cost of groceries and some other things would be a bit lower. This may affect you more than the tax differences do. – keshlam May 3 '15 at 2:39
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The savings in state taxes is easy to calculate. Look at your pay stubs. That amount will not be subtracted from your gross pay each pay period. Of course if you are itemizing on your Federal taxes, then that will change the amount on your schedule A. So your Federal income taxes will go up.

You need to sit down with a spreadsheet and see how much each pay check will change. Keep in mind that your question also mentions:

  • insurance premiums. They are pre-tax, so they will also impact your tax per check and on the 1040
  • 401K matching : you might want to up your contribution to maximize the match. This amount is also generally pre-tax but could also be post-tax in a Roth 401K.

You could then also use last years tax numbers and adjust them in turbo tax or other tax software to see what the changes would do to your tax situation.

Of course there are other taxes besides state income tax. The amount of property tax will need to be compared. As will sales taxes and other local taxes.

As to determining if it is worth it? no idea.

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    Good answer, I was going to add that property/sales tax likely makes up for no income tax. – enderland May 2 '15 at 13:28
  • I'm not sure what the fuss is about no state income tax. It's obvious that other state taxes will be higher to compensate. – Eric May 2 '15 at 14:48
  • @Eric neither do I. I've seen people in states without a sales tax do the same thing; but for some reason I don't ever recall someone saying "my state is awesome, it doesn't collect property tax". That's always struck me as backwards. The amount you pay in sales/income taxes are linked to your ability to pay; the amount you pay in property taxes won't go down if you retire or otherwise have a reduction in income, and can soar massively while your income stays the same if something else triggers a surge in migration to the area and drives up prices. – Dan Neely May 2 '15 at 17:54

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