Leaving a big city career for a quieter life

So I was looking back at my old posts, and saw I raised this topic as a question over 2 years ago: https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forum/off-topic/h…

Well I have now done it: after over 10 years in London across Big Four, boutique IB and asset management, I left to live back home, a smaller European country. Still work in finance, now on the corporate side, used my big city experience to get a pretty decent job with good prospects for advancement. Basically a big fish in a small pond instead of a cog in a big machine type transition. 

I'm so much happier here: slightly easier hours, spend a fraction of the time I used to on commuting which cuts down on net time spent on work stuff massively, get to be close to my family, do the things I used to only do on vacations regularly, spend much more time in the countryside, and in some small way contribute to the economy of my home country. Housing here, unlike London, is actually affordable, and can get something here that before I'd had to have far more money for. 

Yes my income dropped a fair bit, primarily from my bonus, but living costs adjusted, my base salary puts me a bit better off here than what I was getting living in the big city.  

Has anyone else done something similar? Happy or regretted it?

Based on the most helpful WSO content, it seems that many professionals in high finance have indeed made similar transitions and found happiness in their decisions. For instance, one individual left their high-stress job and proposed to their girlfriend, accepting a new role with better work-life balance, even if it meant a pay cut. They expressed that they were excited for the future for the first time in a long time.

Another professional quit their investment banking job and found that they were happier after doing so. They mentioned knowing others who had also left the industry and pursued different paths, such as entrepreneurship or family businesses, and were content with their decisions.

Yet another individual decided to focus on what felt right for them, identifying the aspects of their career that they loved and tailoring their work to focus on those areas. They ended up in a job they loved and felt happier for it.

However, it's important to note that these transitions are deeply personal and depend on individual circumstances and values. While some people find fulfillment in leaving high-stress, high-paying jobs for a quieter life, others might regret the loss of potential income or the fast-paced environment. It's all about finding what works best for you.

Sources: Want to quit, but have no clue what else to do. Anyone have a similar experience?, Anyone Regret Quitting their Investment Banking Job?, Would appreciate some advice, COVID driving 'high finance' professionals into career 180s?

I'm an AI bot trained on the most helpful WSO content across 17+ years.

That’s cool, glad you are enjoying your new life! It surely is a big bet for many…

I haven’t done but will do in the next 2ish years. Been in London for 6y and can’t stand it anymore. I mean, the London life, because I do enjoy London the city. This rat race seem to worsen, with more costs and taxes taking the little appeal of staying in London, especially as I already gained the experience that I wanted.

I will most likely go to a Southern European country on a reduced tax bracket (e.g. Beckham law in Spain) but, tbf, I am more inclined to start some business and just leave the corporate life…we will see.

Most Helpful

Did this as well, and am definitely happy with the decision. That said, this isnt to do a small town vs big city wank. At the time in life when I wanted to live in a top 3 US city I was interested in things (career advancement and options, proximity to bars/nightlife, hooking up with women) that are less relevant now with a wife and kids (care more about space, pursuing hobbies/interests that I didnt even have at 22, community involvement).

Living in a more rural or small town area does not mean you enter suburban hell life of Olive Garden for dinner, spending all day in a car, living in a McMansion, etc. I actually found there is MORE to do in smaller towns than in bigger cities once you grow out of the alcohol/nightlife phase a bit. Easier to access facilities that are often booked solid like golf course, tennis courts. Better to get out into the country to fish, do cycling, etc. More space at home for working on cars, wood working, etc.

That said, professional growth is definitely different. There are much less employer options so its either work remote or at the mercy a bit of your smaller firm. The projects for whatever company will likely not be as sexy or impactful as working for a larger firm in an A-tier city. The ambitious caliber of people in small towns is a bit lacking as well. Most are content with 9-5 and going home. You can join business groups in the city and can quickly obtain leadership roles (big fish, small pond thing), but will run into the same people and wont have the big dreamers a city has unless you happen to live in an area that happens to be a young person hub. I dont hate this as you can make a direct impact to your community and see the results a lot easier compared to getting lost in the noise. If your goal is starting your own business I think a small town is much easier to navigate. If you want a true start up though, hard to beat a city - if that makes sense

While professional opportunities lack, it evens out with COL difference. In fact, I think with COL differences you come ahead in smaller towns by quite a bit. You can live very very well on a 200k+ HH income for example in many places. I love the change personally, but am glad I experienced both

I've been thinking about doing the same but I am very worried about job prospects back home (currently in the U.S. but originally from western Europe). How has your new income affected your discretionary spending? Even with living costs adjusted, I doubt that I would come close to my current discretionary spending rate which is mostly on traveling. Obviously much easier to travel around Europe, but how often can you travel to other continents?  

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