Real Estate and Your Career: Why It Matters

The Subtle Ways Housing Costs Influence Career Decisions

San Francisco
" san francisco, city of color - desktop b" ( CC BY-ND 2.0) by  (matt)

One of the important economic stories of the last decade is the housing bubble.

And in the last year, another dramatic increase has emerged in some markets, fueled in part by low interest rates.

But what does the housing market have to do with your career?

For most people, housing costs are the biggest monthly expense they face.  So educating yourself on this topic and thinking carefully about your own spending tolerance can influence your career choices.

Here are four key issues to consider about housing and your career:

  1. Your salary will go farther in markets with low housing costs. This one seems obvious. But to what degree will housing costs impact you? One useful tool for a quick comparison is this cost of living calculator.  It is especially useful because it includes an overall difference in the cost of living in two different markets, but also breaks out the percentage difference related to housing. For example, if you were making $50,000 in Tucson and were considering a move to San Francisco an equivalent salary would need to be more than $86,0000.  And the increase in housing expense is a whopping 260 percent. The calculator is a great tool which you may be able to use when negotiating salary.
  2. Housing prices impact rents, too. Many young people seeking entry-level jobs are not concerned with sales prices of real estate but are focused on local rental prices. Yet when housing prices rise, it often puts pressure on local rental markets as well. So even those not in the market to buy a house in the short term need to pay attention to the real estate market.
  1. Many of the best career opportunities are in the most expensive markets. Regardless of whether your plan is to rent or own, it is worth noting that many opportunities for upward career mobility may be tied to areas where it is expensive to live. League offices for major sports leagues are typically in New York. Opportunities that merge entertainment and sports are often found in Los Angeles. Career options marrying tech with sports often open in the San Francisco or San Jose markets. As luck would have it, these are among the ten most expensive markets, as are sports hubs Boston and Washington, D.C. So as you advance in your career you may need to carefully weigh this cost of living issue, as it may test your tolerance for high-end real estate markets.
  1. It is not what you make, it is what you keep.  Monetary rewards are only one reason to take a job - or decide where you want to live. The financial costs can be trumped by factors like proximity to family, for example. Nonetheless, being aware of how housing costs and other factors (like state and local taxes) impact your financial planning is important. Once, when being recruited to a job, I was given the sage advice that "it's not what you make, it's what you keep". Meaning do not just consider salary, but also costs in making career decisions.

These four topics are certainly not comprehensive in considering the intersection of real estate and career decisions. But they do represent a starting point for pondering this important issue or for evaluating which markets may be most appealing for you to start and grow your career in sports.

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