The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

April 25, 2011

The Luxury of Time

Filed under: Random Stuff — Brian Lutz @ 1:16 am

Image credit: Flickr user Jamiesrabbits

First of all, I should probably apologize to anyone out there who thinks I’ve been blathering on about all this cruise stuff for just a bit too long.  I think I probably have one or two more posts I’d like to do from the cruise, and maybe one from the day spent ashore in Fort Lauderdale and Miami after disembarking prior to flying out, but in the meantime I should probably try to get back to some of the usual stuff as well.  I’ve been meaning to do a post on some of the signs of Spring we’ve got popping up here in Downtown Bellevue (I will say that the weather certainly doesn’t seem to qualify for this one) and will probably get that out in the next week or two.  To be honest, aside from an occasional bout of globetrotting or two, I’ve actually been kind of boring lately. 

Anyway, for those of you who many have been reading this Blog for a while, you might recall some of the drama that occurred back around last November when I found myself having to make a choice between a two very good job offers on very short notice.  If you happened to miss the original post, you can find it here, but to make a long story short, the choice was between a job in Downtown Bellevue with good pay, good benefits and  the ability to easily walk to work each day, or a job with significantly higher pay and a rather significant signing bonus (two words that, given my work history, I never thought I’d ever hear outside of an ESPN article,) but less paid time off annually, and a commute to Seattle that would amount to at least an hour and a half spent on a bus each day.  Both of these were very good opportunities (in fact, far better than anything I had ever been offered before,) and I’m sure that I could have been happy with either of the two job offers but the circumstances under which this occurred gave me roughly 24 hours to make a choice between the two.  As you might know, I ultimately made the choice to take the job in Downtown Bellevue, and in the process left a great deal of money on the table. 

In the end, the factor that perhaps contributed most to my decision to take the decidedly non-intuitive route in this case was the extra time I would be able gain by taking the closer job.  By not having to commute across the lake twice a day, I gained at least an hour and a half that I would otherwise be spending sitting on a bus.  But while all that extra time is certainly nice to have, ultimately it comes at a rather steep price, at least in terms of opportunity cost.  The pay difference between the job I took and the one I passed up was rather large (so much so, in fact, that I imagine that very few people would have made the same decision that I made if they were placed in the same situation that I was.)  But really, in the end it doesn’t matter what I did and didn’t do, it’s all theoretical until I actually act upon something.  Try as I might, I can’t help but occasionally find myself pondering the inevitable what-if scenario that something like this brings, and thinking about how things would have been different if I had gone in the other direction.  If I had to guess, most likely it wouldn’t be too much different from the way things are now, except for the fact that I’d have a lovely little low-mileage Porsche sitting down in the parking garage that I’d be too busy to ever use.  Well OK, maybe a Porsche would be pushing it (but not so much that I don’t have one somewhere near the top of my unwritten “Potentially attainable delusions of grandeur” list in the even that I ever get to the point where I can afford a mid-life crisis) but I could probably go for at least an Audi.   Well, actually I’m pretty sure I’d just be sticking with the car I already have (but I’d have it paid off, something I’m getting really close to doing anyway,) but we’re talking hypothetical scenarios anyway, so I might as well go for the gusto, right?  But really, when I think about it, I’m just not sure that the extra money would really change anything.  I’d be living in the same place, I’d probably have all the same stuff, and I’d probably be doing a lot of the same things, albeit maybe not as much of them due to the smaller amount of free time.

And even if you don’t take all the what-ifs and could-have-beens into consideration, there’s also the fact that even now, I’m finding that convenience comes at a rather steep price.  Downtown Bellevue is far from a cheap place to live, and apartment rents (some of the highest you’re going to find around here, rivaled perhaps only by some of the fancier places in Downtown Seattle)  seem to be headed upward even in spite of the recession.  Granted, the market for condos is still pretty crummy around here (The Bravern has just given up on selling condos now in favor of leasing, and Bellevue Towers has already seen ownership revert back to the financing bank as a result of poor sales) but even with that in mind, prices are still high, and I am far from being able to afford to buy anything bigger than a broom closet in the Downtown area.  That said, I do quite like the place I’m living now, and in spite of somewhat high utility costs (well, water gas and sewer anyway, I’ve actually been quite surprised at how cheap the electrical bills over the Winter months have been here) it’s still about as good a deal as I’m going to find around here.  And when all is said and done, I do also drive my car only about half as much as I used to when I was commuting daily, into Downtown Seattle,  which does offset (in part at least) some of the extra costs, and also get an extra $30 a month from my employer for not driving to work.  I was taking the bus when I was working at Teleca, but I was also driving from Redmond to the Eastgate Park and Ride because the quick ride across on the 212 bus was a lot quicker than the shambling pile of misery that was the 545, and I was also typically just driving in once or twice a week as well.  But even with those cost offsets, I’m paying quite a bit more to live where I do than I would to live somewhere nearby, but requiring daily commuting by car. 

So when it all boils down, the biggest luxury that I find myself paying for these days is that of time.  And at least for the time being, it certainly doesn’t come cheap.

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