Life advice - leaving the military
I'm writing this here in the hopes that somebody can help me figure out what I want to do with myself!
So, my situation. I'm 27 and have spent the last 5 years of my life in the Military, after going to college studying Software Development at BTEC level.
I've really enjoyed my time in the military and it has certainly provided me with some amazing experiences.
Just under two years ago, I met my partner, which has seriously made me question my future in the military. My partner lives local to the base that I'm in, in a house with his parents, so we can see each other most evenings which is what I envision a normal life to be like!
I was travelling weekly to some nice (and some not so nice) countries, all expenses paid, for a few days at a time with work whilst in my last job. A few days away frequently isn't a big problem and is very manageable - the problem is, the Navy will at some point require me to go away for week/months (I was away for 9 continuous months 3 years ago) at a time.
I've been lucky enough to extend my draft at this base for another year whilst I figure things out, but this new job isn't so exciting.
I was offered promotion to the next rank, Leading Hand, a corporal equivalent in the Navy. I would have received a 11k pay rise but it would come at a massive cost.
There is a huge manning problem at that rank for people in my specialization - so bad in fact, that I would be guaranteed to be attached to a ship for the next 3/4 years or so. That's a long length of time to tie your life to a ship's program! The money would be good, but I honestly don't think it's good enough for the lack of control that would come with it.
To top that, my branch, although a technical branch, is renown for not giving you the civilian accredited qualifications. Essentially, I'd be getting paid a decent wage but not developing professionally from it - which would leave me even more scared to leave the military than I am now.
In addition, I have seen some not-so worthy people be offered promotion, because of desperation evident within the Navy. This makes me feel as though I am capable of so much more, giving me a very suffocated feeling in terms of what I can reach professionally out of my career.
So now I've pretty much nailed the coffin on my Navy career - I can't be offered promotion again for two years, which isn't a problem because I decided long ago that there isn't a future for me here.
Six months ago, I applied for manning clearance to leave the Navy and join the RAF, as it offers a much more stable platform for family life and better professional development. You still deploy of course, but the deployment timings are much more predicable and the chance of being sent away for months with a weeks notice is much more slim.
Manning clearance was approved, and I have been granted a date next year for when I can be released from the Navy to the RAF (providing my RAF application process goes well).
Things were going good and I thought I had a clear way forward - until my partner talked about moving to Brighton.
He is in a very fortunate position financially and with his parents help, he is purchasing a property in Brighton. We both holiday there frequently and are in love with the place.
Now, unfortunately for me, the closest RAF base to Brighton is 90 minutes away, assuming good traffic on the M25/M23 (which is renown for its jams!)
There is also a very small chance of being based in the North, where over 70% of my new specialization would be based. My family are from the North, so I would get to see them more, but it is hours away from my partner.
So this situation has definitely made me think whether I'd be best off leaving the services entirely or not. Honestly, the only thing I'd miss if I left today would be the opportunities to go to the gym during the working day.
Leaving is such a scary prospect though. I've got some money saved, with the intentions of buying to let a cheaper property up in the North of England. I'm still way off the buy to let deposit though, as they generally require 20-40% deposit compared to a residential mortgage.
My partner has said that he won't charge me rent when I move in with him in Brighton, only that I will contribute to the utility/food bills. This should give me an opportunity to save money, as I do now (I pay a heavily subsidized rent for my military accommodation).
Still, I feel like I will be losing my identity by leaving the military. I've said to my partner, that although it will be his home on paper, I want to be able to call it 'home' and not just 'living with my partner'.
The scary part for me is finding a job which pays 5k more than I'm on now, in order to cover the differences in cost of living between military/civilians. I'm on £21k now - so it shouldn't be too difficult earning that, even with a lack of professional qualifications above a level 3 BTEC.
My gut instinct is telling me to leave and attempt to make it in a normal job, with a life where I can be at home every night and potentially have a much better lifestyle than I do now in terms of family life.
I guess i'm really writing this here because I'd like to hear what other people think of my situation - what would you do?
If you made it this far, thanks for reading - I appreciate it's a long post, but I felt I have to put a lot of info in there for scope!