Long story short I am a web developer that currently makes more money than I've ever made in my life to this point. The downside is that my benefits package is sub-par. Very few vacation days, no health insurance (though we do get $ on our checks to go toward costs), fairly bare-bones retirement plan, etc. I also feel kind of aimless at this job. There is no clear path for raises or promotions. It's too small of a company for that.
I got an offer today for a job with a company that a former manager of mine works at (We both left our previous jobs around the same time, so no poaching concerns there). It's an opportunity to change my specialty from backend development (databases, server-side code) to frontend development (HTML, CSS, JS). I've always enjoyed frontend development more than backend. Feel free to giggle about this terminology because it's definitely ridiculous. The job basically resolves all of my benefits issues. Unlimited vacation, pretty good health insurance, and a more robust retirement plan. There are also very clear paths for raises/promotions. In fact one of the first things you do when you get hired is sit down with your manager and department head and plot out a career track for yourself. So in my case I'm aiming for team management or something along those lines in a few years. So they would cater my training and promotions around that. There's a guaranteed yearly raise, plus a nice 5% bonus at end of the year.
So what's the problem? Because the second job seems perfect, right? Well the second job pays nearly 12% less a year. So what's the problem? Because that's an insane drop in pay, so clearly stay where I'm at, right? Well I was told by my former manager (and potentially new department head) that the plan would be to fast-track me into something closer to my current salary once I'm there for a few months and start excelling at my job. And I trust this guy because he fought for me to get raises twice when I worked under him before. It's rare to work under someone who will go to bat for you, and he was always that guy for me and I've no reason to think he wouldn't be again.
Because the way I see it, once I get a raise or promotion under my belt I should be pretty close to where I'm at now, but with substantially better benefits. And in a place with more of a future for me than my current job.
I just really don't know what to do here. I've "made a decision" in my head about a dozen times today, going back and forth between options. I kind of feel like it's worth taking the hit in the short term to be working at a place that will pay off better in the long term. Not just financially, but I'll get to broaden my skill set and actually have a concrete plan for progressing in my career.
Looking for any advice, or opinions, or whatever. I'm completely torn here.
edit -- Just wanted to thank everyone here. I decided to accept the job offer. My wife and I are working on a plan to weather the loss of income. Next step is writing the resignation letter....which always sucks. I hate disappointing people and it's a small company that I'm leaivng so my departure will be felt.