Location Efficiency


When I was looking for a new job, the main criteria was to live in a city that aligned better with my lifestyle choices and personality. I had a good job in Michigan, but I wasn’t thrilled about where I lived. I really just wanted to try something new because I was in a rut, but decided if I were going to make a big move, I’d have to be very deliberate about it because I tend to make decisions with my heart and that usually ends up biting me in the ass.

I was as analytical as possible when I finally decided where I was going to focus my energies in terms of locations where I wanted to apply for jobs. Location was the single most important decision for me when deciding on a job. 

First, I put together a spreadsheet of all the things I wanted out of a place. Job prospects, transit, live music, plenty of outdoor activities, weather, you name it. Whatever I valued, I included. I went to all kinds of lengths to find websites that ranked cities and regions by their various characteristics, and then I assigned my own point values. After that, I added up all the points for each place and ranked the cities. Then I applied to jobs in my top 5 places.

I landed in Portland just about 2 years ago and I feel like my analytical decision-making paid off. I have a decent job, I met my amazing fiancé Shar, and I bought a house. I’m lucky to have the ability to spend most of my free time doing things I love, such as going on hikes and spending time outdoors, exploring Portland and the pacific northwest, working on my fixer upper of a home, and seeing live music. But now my life season is changing again, and it’s time to recalibrate because I'm not just making decisions for myself anymore.

I bought a house while I was dating Shar and I made the decision based solely on my own lifestyle and what I valued. I wanted to be less reliant on my automobile, so I bought a house on the MAX light rail line dead center between my job and Portland. I didn’t want to have a long commute to work because that can be miserable, time-consuming, and expensive.

But now that I’m planning on spending my life with someone else and starting a family, my decisions don’t just impact me. My commute is a breeze, but I’m not married to my current work. However, it provides the majority of our income. Shar loves her job but she is about an hour away from her work, both ways in bad traffic. She also drives as part of her job, which doesn’t help things. She comes home satisfied with her work but exhausted because of the drive.

Therein lies the predicament. I’m big on living close to my work, but she wants to be closer to hers. Our current jobs don’t allow either of us to be close to work at the same time, so that means we have three choices. Maintain the current living arrangement, one of us get a new job, or move again. 

We haven’t decided what we will do or what values are most important to us in the long run. Right now, there isn’t a win-win situation, and we both are making sacrifices.

Is having a more fulfilling but lower paying job more important than location? For Shar, the answer is yes, and for me the answer is no. At least for now, but maybe not forever.

As time goes on, we’ll have to make some tough choices and continue to work on aligning our lifestyle with our life goals. How do you and your partner make decisions on where you work and where you live? What has been most valuable to you?