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These are very important points to emphasize for early career philosophers. I endured a series of moves before I got a TT job. It was tough in all the ways you describe. But there are benefits to this that should be noted, at least. You become far less provincial when you move around - you realize that people are different, and philosophy departments are different, from place to place. You also build a network of sorts - you meet people who will change your research, even research interests. You also find you are meeting people from your past - I taught in a Department where one of faculty members was my former Logic teacher from my uindergraduate institution. He did not remember me ... there were over 100 of us (maybe 170) in the clas. But when he heard how I did in the course he was very happy.

Another Mover

I moved four times before securing a TT job. All of this resonates with me. (I would say that I think I was able to spend less money moving than Trevor, though.) In all, I'm relatively happy and I was somehow able to maintain a romantic relationship through all the moves. Each move was rational in the moment. However, looking back, I think I would have been happier during this period if I had dropped out of academia and found stable non-academic employment in the same city as my partner. It remains to be seen whether all the moving around and staying in academia will somehow pay off in the long term.

Greg Stoutenburg

All good points. To point #1, about relocation costing money, there's a second and (I think) even more significant way that relocation for a philosophy career costs money: all of the moving costs for relatively low-wage work (by professional standards) common in non-TT roles puts off the point at which one starts to accrue any income very far into the future compared with our peers who got their careers started in their early twenties. From the view of say, a retiree, this amounts to ten to fifteen years of missing wages. That's a lot of money not in one's 401k /403b, missed savings for a home, etc.

non-tt faculty

Totally agree with 6 on motivation. Teaching staff who spend a significant portion of their time and effort applying for new jobs may deprioritise teaching quality. In order to maintain the flexibility of cutting staff, institutions basically sacrifice teaching quality.

Bound to Travel

I'm on move number four since grad school, in a very good but temporary job. I moved three times as a student and also worked at a completely different university between two degrees, so I probably look like I enjoy moving. I really, really don't! I'm actually the type of person who would be very happy living in the same small region of a country all my life. I dislike travelling, I dislike living outside my home country, and I dislike moving a lot.

All of my jobs have been in different countries (sometimes continents) with different languages, which is also a challenge. It's hard to be motivated to learn much of a language when you are only spending a year or two there. On the other hand, it's useful for some purposes. For example, if you are using autotranslation when buying groceries, that's hard in a country which doesn't use a Latin alphabet.

Also, immigration is never an easy process, since there are ID cards etc. to obtain. The procedure of registration/finding an apartment/being paid varies from country to country.

For me, one way I handle it is to set boundaries. For example, I set the boundary that I would never work to a country where the water tap is highly unsafe. I decided that this current move, in a different countinent from my home country, would be my first and last intercontinental move. My next move, if it's another temporary job in a foreign (for me) country, will be my last time not working in my home country. If I don't have a job in my home country after that, I shall leave philosophy, and say "Good times were had by all, but I can do better in my life."

These boundaries help me, because I know that certain extremely crappy things about my life won't go on indefinitely. In ~5 years' time, I shall be close to my parents, who are likely to be in their last decade or two in that period. In ~10 years' time, I shall be in my home country, one way or the other, and starting a family, buying a house etc. I love writing philosophy more than anything, but not more than everything.

Basically, this is a consequence of treating myself like someone I don't hate: I wouldn't expect a friend to face indefinite struggles and major life disatisfactions, so I won't set such expectations for myself.


I'm on my second one-year-contract VAP, and I agree with all of this. I love my current job and institution (already, in October!) and it's just very bittersweet to have to be dealing with the job market and thinking about some precarious future (and the expenses involved) when I really only just got here.

I can't help but wonder if there's some way to move to more multi-year contracts for VAPs, at least. (Even "one year, possibly renewable" is too immediately precarious, I think). It sure would be nice to have at least one year where my actual work is not fighting with the job market for time and attention.

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