When Friend 1 heard that Friend 2 is moving far away and buying a big house cheaply, he was a little bit jealous but also inspired to negotiate more days of work from home, less days in the office and ended up moving away a little further where rent is cheaper but still fully within commuting distance. This way, Friend 1 was not only able to do his work, most of which could be done from a home office, but he was also able to do career-building work. He was able to come into the office for emergencies that could not be handled remotely and, while they were not strictly within the scope of his job description, you can bet that his managers were glad and the CEO found out about it. In addition, Friend 1 was close enough to regularly attend company luncheons, dinners, team building events and more. Finally, Friend 1 was in the office often enough for his managers to evaluate whether his personal growth alongside his professional growth and development- a key component in deciding who to groom for management and beyond. This fully materialized earlier this year as he was promised a management position as early in 2021 as possible, depending on how the entire situation evolves. The company he works for has bounced back much faster than its competitors in the same sector here in Canada, so that promise he got will likely materialize sooner than previously expected. He still does not own a home compared to Friend 2, but with company matched RRSP contributions he will likely be fine in terms of retirement savings, and retirement savings is part of the reason why people buy real estate in the first place. Finally, he is still not completely out of the game in terms of buying real estate closer to work.
Friend 2 was overjoyed with the new big home that cost less than most newer condos in Toronto, and his Toronto area salary goes a long way in a small town hours and hours away from Toronto. Then, the honeymoon period ended. The town he bought into is small and far away from the nearest city. For any decent shopping, entertainment, dining out and anything else truly fun, you have to make it a day trip on the weekends (though forget about it whenever the snow hits). So, the small town isolation and eventual loneliness proved to be a pressure that refused to let up- not everyone is built to handle it. Next, the reality of small town real estate hit and it hit hard. In Toronto area, the market is hot. You have properties that went up by hundreds of thousands of dollars within a period of 4-6 years. Looking from an investment perspective, which one ostensibly has to do even when buying a home to live in, the return on investment is truly amazing. Now, do you think this kind of gain is something you can expect in a small backwater town? Probably not. So in the end, by the time he retires, Friend 2 will not have nearly as much equity in his big house in a small town versus Friend 1 if he manages to get even a small townhouse or a condo in Toronto area. Next, Friend 2 cannot be counted on for emergencies that require coming to the office. Also, he cannot show up for most company dinners, luncheons and team building events. Finally, he cannot be sized up in person by managers and groomed for promotions at this particular company. A year after Friend 2 moved away, a position became open that required coming to the office on most work days. Friend 2 was qualified for it and it would have been almost like a promotion to him. However, due to his decision to move away, he could not apply for that position and get the advantage of being an internal candidate. Now, does this matter if you have enough money? Why yes, of course it does. Jobs are just about the money and nothing else because let us face it, most jobs suck. Careers are about progression, and taking yourself out of progression eventually turns your career into a job, and we just agreed that most jobs suck :)
In conclusion, Friend 1 made a decision that will allow his career to progress while he still has a chance to score a property in Toronto area and is completely willing to take that chance and roll the dice. There is lots of excitement, justified hope for growth, and burnout is not on the horizon. Friend 2 made a decision that made him stuck, will result in less retirement money and will turn his career into a job which in turn will cause him to burn out and have to leave the company. What happens then? Will another company take him and let him work remotely? Will this limit his career options? Will he have to move back to the city, selling his small town property for little to no profit? I leave that for you to think about. Do you know of any similar recent stories that had the same outcome or a completely different one? Feel free to share if you want. :)