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How a higher-paying job offer could be more costly

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Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters/File

(Read caption) An employee works on his computer at the office of CloudFactory, a Canadian startup that based itself in Kathmandu, where it hires teams of Nepalese. A job offer with a higher salary can be great, but there can be some setbacks that make it more costly, like a longer commute.

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You've just been offered a job that will give you a significant boost in salary. It's a given that you should take it, right?

Maybe not.

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That's because sometimes a bigger salary isn't enough to overcome the other negatives that come with a new job: Maybe your commute will be longer. Maybe you'll need to put in longer hours. Maybe the work will be more stressful, ultimately making you less happy.

Here are four key factors to consider before deciding to take that more lucrative position:

1. A Long Commute

Nothing can ruin an otherwise perfect new job like a long commute. Just consider the wasted time. The U.S. Census Bureau found that in 2014, it took workers an average of 25.4 minutes to get to work one way. And, yes, that comes out to more than 50 minutes spent in the car each day for the average U.S. worker.

If you log 50 weeks of work for the year, that comes out to more than 200 hours of your life each year spent commuting to and from work. That's a lot of time to spend in the car.

If your new job requires a longer commute than this average — or significantly longer than the one you're already logging — think carefully before accepting it, even if your salary will jump. You'll grow tired of a long commute quickly, even if your bank account is expanding.

2. It Will Damage Your Health

A long commute can also worsen your health. The data isn't the freshest, but a 2010 study from Gallup found that adults who commute more than 90 minutes one way to work were more likely to suffer from obesity, high cholesterol, back pain, and neck pain.

If your work pays you more but is less interesting, that can have a negative impact on your health, too. A 2012 study from Gallup found that 15.5% of U.S. workers who were "actively disengaged" at work reported that they suffered from high levels of stress and worry and lower levels of happiness.

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And 27.1% of workers who were both uninterested in their work and had a one-way commute of 45 minutes or more reported the same.

The message is clear: Make sure that you are interested in your new job, especially if your commute is a longer one. If you're not, you might not be happy with your working life, even if you are earning a bigger paycheck.

3. Less Family Time

You might think that your family will appreciate your larger paycheck. Maybe it will help you save more for your children's college education. Or maybe you'll be able to buy a bigger home or take fancier vacations.

And here's an interesting factor: A study published in the March 2015 edition of the Journal of Marriage and Family found that the amount of time parents spend with their children has no real relationship to how successful or happy their children turn out to be. What's more important, according to the study, is the amount of money parents have and their social resources. This would seem to suggest that your higher-paying job — because it funnels more money into your family — would actually be more important than spending more time with your children and spouse.

So you don't necessarily have to feel guilty about spending less time with your children. But — and this is a big but — what if you want to spend more time with your children and spouse? A higher-paying job with a long commute might mean that you have fewer hours to spend with your family each week. And if that is making you, your spouse, or your children unhappy, than maybe your newer, higher-paying job isn't the best choice, no matter what the most recent research shows.

4. You Love Your Current Coworkers

What makes people happy at work? The TINYpulse Engagement Survey published in 2014 found that coworkers are the most important factor for workplace happiness.

The survey found that employee happiness is 23.3% more related to connections with coworkers than it is with interactions with direct supervisors. In other words, if you like your cubicle mates, you'll be happier at work.

So if you enjoy taking lunch twice a week with Matt from accounting, you might want to think twice before giving that up to take a new job. Sure, you'll find new co-workers wherever you work. But what if those new co-workers aren't as friendly as Kathy from human resources or Joe from IT? You might find yourself less satisfied while at work.


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