Getting offered a new job is one of those big moments in life. After all, work is such a big part of our lives, since we spend so much time at it compared to doing other things. But what if the salary you’re offered is actually less than the salary you’re currently on? Should the answer always be no? After all, the offer stage is one of the key opportunities you get when it comes to negotiating a higher salary. Should you ever take a job paying less money to be happy? 

The answer to this question depends on a number of factors. And just as it’s important not to ever accept a job opportunity because of salary alone, it’s also important to make sure you don’t lose a good opportunity for the same reason. 

So, when is it ok to accept an offer of a job paying less money to be happy? 

Here are 7 times when it might be a good decision to accept a job opportunity paying less money than your current job. 

1. You’re making a career change 

If you’ve finally found the career of your dreams and it’s not what you’re doing now then the next step is a career change. Now you may already know that it will take time, perhaps you’ve even committed to taking a course or two. But what about the step between the job you’re doing right now and your dream job. What if there’s a job that will help you move closer towards your dream job? 

When it comes to making a career change a job paying less money might be an option because it will give you some valuable exposure and experience that you really need in order to move forward. Or perhaps you need to do a course that will require a significant time commitment, something your current job just wouldn’t allow for.

Whether your current job means your communing for 4 hours a day, or it’s draining all your mental and emotional energy leaving absolutely nothing in the tank for study, a job paying less money may be able to give you the breathing room you need to make things work. 

2. It’s a very real learning opportunity 

You’ve had numerous discussions with your boss and you’ve put yourself forward for numerous projects, but for whatever reason, you just can’t seem to get the experience that you desperately want and need to advance your career to the next level.

It might be that those opportunities just aren’t available in your current company. Maybe the gap between your role and the next role up is too large to bridge, leaving you stuck. If an opportunity comes along that will give you the learning and the experience you’ve been searching for in order to finally move forward and ultimately up, then this is a time when less money may be worth considering.

Whether it’s in a completely different industry or a smaller company,  if on analysis gaining the skills that this job will offer you will put you in a significantly better financial position long term, then it might be worth considering that dip to your pay, especially when you know the value of the skills you’ll gain is significant when taking the long term view.

3. It’s a lifestyle change 

You’re constantly frazzled and stressed out. You’re working on evenings and weekends and still, there’s always more. but hey, the pay’s great, right? The question is, how long is this sustainable? 

At some point, you might just feel that it’s time you made a lifestyle change and changing your job might be the only way to get it. 

We can’t underestimate the impact of stress ( insert link here) Or the importance of looking after our mental health ( insert link here. And what about what can happen when you ignore all the symptoms and just keep going, what happens when you get burned out ( insert link) 

If this is you right now, then there may come a point when taking a slight pay cut to get your life back seems like the best decision you could ever make. 

Now of course in an ideal world, you can have both, better balance and better pay, and it’s not that this can’t happen, but we all know that things aren’t always ideal. The point is, if everything else checks out about an opportunity, great team, great boss, and amazing balance, this could be a gain overall depending on what you’re current priorities are.

4. There are other incredible benefits that matter to you

When it comes to accepting a job offer, it’s important to consider the whole package. Especially in relation to what’s important to you. Sometimes, some things are just as important or even more important than getting paid more money. Taking a job paying less money to be happy might make good sense depending on what else is on offer. This might be flexible working, being able to work completely remotely, childcare on site, or much more vacation time. Whatever it is that’s on offer, you might find that there’s another benefit that you deem to be far more valuable than the salary alone. 

5. It’s one step that’s part of a bigger plan 

Taking a job paying less money needs to be considered carefully, and you need to make sure you’re not selling yourself short or compromising your worth for nothing. However, when it’s part of a bigger plan then it’s definitely worth it. 

When you have a longer-term plan, taking a job paying less money is a very strategic decision, because you know that it will help you in one way or another to get to where you ultimately want to go. And that’s always a smart move. 

Some instances where you might consider this include:

  • Needing more of your time back to study for a career change 
  • Wanting more time or headspace to work on your growing side hustle
  • When you’re relocating to a different country with a different economy because you want to gain international experience and learn a new language. 

Of course, it’s not the only option where these things are concerned, but it’s certainly one that might make these things more accessible.

Ultimately, whether you decide to take a job closer to home where opportunities are limited, and the pay is less, take a step down to a less demanding role or you decide to change to part-time hours, and reduce your pay that way, whatever the situation, the most important thing is that you’ll be taking a proactive step towards building a life you want. While taking a pay cut might feel like a bitter pill to swallow, or might not make sense to others, what’s important is that the decision fits with what you really want longer-term because if this is the case, the long term rewards will far outweigh the short term decrease in your pay. 


6. It’s better for your mental health 

There are many ways a job can interfere with your mental health. From damaging your confidence to increasing levels of anxiety to having a total breakdown. All of these things can be job-related and it’s not uncommon (insert link) 

When it comes to the list of priorities where any job is concerned, while a great paycheck will always be on the list, if you’re mental health is suffering then there’s no way you’ll enjoy it so you need to make sure your health is in order first and foremost, and if that means taking a job that pays less money because it works better for your mental health, then so-be-it, that’s definitely a good reason to consider taking a job paying less money. The benefits of it will be far-reaching. 

7. You’re getting paid for your results or you’re joining a start-up 

Sometimes depending on the type of company you’re joining, you might prefer to get paid on results. If you know you can deliver on something, why not take less money as a base salary and instead, ask for a significant bonus based on the results you know you know you can deliver. This way you can actually end up getting paid far more in the long run. While this is a standard process with Sales jobs, perhaps there’s an opportunity to request it with other kinds of work too, particularly if you’re joining an SME.  And if you are joining a start-up, make sure you ask for equity as part of the package. A lower salary and higher equity could lead to a significant pay off down the line!

As you can see there are many instances where accepting a job for less money may be a better decision that it appears to be on the surface. 

Ultimately, before you make any decision to accept a job offer, especially where it is for less money, make sure you are absolutely clear on why it makes sense for you and how it fits in with your career and life plan. If accepting a job for less money now means more money, more freedom, and more happiness in the future,  it could be the smartest move you make.