Higher housing costs = fewer job options.

Higher housing costs = fewer job options.

Our housing choice is likely the biggest financial commitment we’ll make. Yet, so many of us blindly choose the route of buying the greatest home we can, over a commitment-light renting/investing combo. We don’t consider how it can become an anchor in our careers.

We may grasp the “house rich, cash poor” meaning, but we also need to think on the flip side – the pressure it puts on our work life. Most of us spend so much time working, that we really deserve the freedom to be able to take career risks, and shape our work lives to something that makes us happy.

High housing costs can make us feel like we’re stuck in our jobs because we don’t want to jeopardize steady pay, and then default on our mortgage. A need for what we perceive as financial security, means we are less likely to take time off to find what would make us happier. It’s scary to risk shaking things up to improve our current situation, or to contemplate a lesser paying job that would allow us more personal time. If we reduce our consuming level, and housing can be a huge consumption, we are in a better position to improve our work lives.

Here’s the kicker; we may even make more money in the process. If we know we can walk away from a job at any moment, we’ll approach it differently. We’ll get better at setting boundaries, and defining what we will work on, with whom, and by when. We may be freer to speak our mind and express concerns, and take risks that could could lead to greater opportunities.

Even if we are currently working our dream job, over time it can change. So instead of thinking of working smarter so that we can afford a better life, think of living smarter so we can afford a better job, which in turn of course, should lead to a better life.

Take action: Find and interview people who have work lives you admire and see if there’s a connection to their personal financial security. Maybe it’s a freelancer who chooses their clients wisely, and leases a small apartment. Maybe it’s a teacher who rents out their home while travelling for a sabbatical year. Or someone gutsy in the office who’s had several promotions and won’t settle for less than they are worth.

:: Inspired by Alex Avery’s book, The Wealthy Renter.



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