Took a lot of talking and debating over the weekend, but the final decision was that we are going to head back to Australia once my employment term ends here in Pittsburgh – tentatively on Jan 31 next year, but could easily be late this year if things wind up rapidly at work. The hardest part of the decision was just to get ourselves out of trying to do something/anything to stay in the US even if it wasn’t going to be in our best long-term interests.
Our only serious alternative in the US was to head back to San Jose (where we spent 6 months last year on a temporary work assignment), but the real problem was we’re getting a little past the point in our lives where we want to be making radical changes and starting all over again in a brand new city to settle down and make a new home for ourselves. It’s going to be difficult enough moving, but a move back to Australia will be much more smooth than a move to San Jose simply because we have family and friends everywhere back in Brisbane that are available for the support we’ll need. We want to settle down now (that’s why we bought a house here in Pittsburgh), not spend another few years hunting around in apartments and new places before we can settle.
The second major consideration was the cost of living, particularly the housing market and as a result the inevitable long commutes in San Jose. Trying to find anything even remotely close to a 3 bedroom house on 3 acres of land in Silicon Valley for under $200k is so insanely ridiculous it’s just laughable. We especially don’t want to be living back in a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment again – especially if it’s going to cost us the same as our mortgage over here. Adding everything up, San Jose is around 65% more expensive to live in than Pittsburgh, and a 65% increase in net pay means almost doubling my gross pay (especially with the higher tax rates in California), so again it’s really not worth it.
While this may sound a little like I’m trying to convince myself that moving to Australia is the right move, Tahnia and I really knew in our hearts that it was really the only viable alternative for us once the layoffs were announced at work. We fought (verbally) long and hard with each other over the weekend trying to figure out how we didn’t have to leave our house in Pittsburgh, with lots of really crazy ideas coming up, but the truth is there really isn’t any good way and returning is the only way we can be solidly sure of our future – to settle down again quickly.