Burnt out despite great job. Travel? Remote work?
Senior dev, competitive pay
Great company, excellent team
Flexible hours, 6 weeks vacation
I love doing development, and I really can't ask for much more in this market except maybe a modest raise. And yet, I'm reaching that point where I'm getting burnt out and bored with work and stressed about long-term savings. Biggest expenses are eating out and high cost rent. I know I could save some more by eating out less or moving to a less desirable area, but that just seems like lowering my quality of life -- for what? I'm at the point where I could also likely transition into a lead position at any number of companies in the area, but while the extra income would be nice, the idea of asking for a raise here or getting a new job just seems like additional stress due to more responsibility and needing to work harder.
The idea of taking an indefinite vacation with no responsibility and no stress seems very freeing, yet leaving a great job seems irrational and irresponsible, and the dev team is small enough that I'm not sure I could take any significant leave of absence without them having to replace me. My lease is also up in two months, which means I could potentially travel indefinitely without any major bills here if I were to leave. I could cut both my food and rent budget in half and still really enjoy life in most other countries. I'm not even sure what other expenses I'd have besides a phone and internet bill. And if I were to find a good remote position while abroad, I could likely save an additional $40k per year without compromising on an active lifestyle.
Realistically, 2-3 months abroad would probably do wonders for my stress, my weight, and my motivation at work, but I'm not sure packing up my life and leaving my job or majorly inconveniencing my employer for just 2-3 months abroad makes sense. I love photography, and the idea of having more time to develop that skill and maybe take some classes or become conversational in a new language is appealing.
My other options are to keep my apartment and job and try to take 4-6 weeks unpaid leave. While inconvenient, they would probably work with me, but I'm not sure if that's enough time to feel fully refreshed, and I probably wouldn't have time to really learn anything new. This would be a quick and easy hack, but I'm not sure it's a long term fix.
My last option would be to leave indefinitely, take a couple months off to unwind, and then find a remote position where I could continue to travel and learn new things, both technical and non-technical. It seems like there are a surprising number of good remote opportunities for senior level developers. (Are there also good part-time remote positions?) I was also surprised to learn that the first $102k of income is exempt from federal income taxes if you spend 330+ days abroad during a 12-month period, which means even taking a slight pay hit combined with a lower cost of living might result in considerably higher net savings. If I hated it after a year, I could come back and pick up at a new position roughly where I left off, likely with a fair bit of savings from my time abroad. This makes perfect sense on paper and seems like the obvious choice, so I'm not sure why I'm uneasy about it.
Thoughts? Is this type of burnout normal around this point in a tech career? Is taking a few months off reasonable and smart, even if it means having to leave a great job, or does it make more sense to commit to a full year working remotely abroad (for tax purposes) if I'm going to do it? If I were unemployed, I pretty sure I'd be off traveling the world for at least a few months in a heartbeat. It's hard to make the same decision when you're otherwise very happy with your current job.