Hello–a brief background on myself: I am 27 years old, university graduate, and have worked as a CPA/financial auditor for the past three years. Having worked at AA and YV prior to my corporate career, I have always had a strong passion and interest in the industry. My head is always turned up toward the sky as an aircraft flies overhead. I took an exploratory flight a couple years back and loved it–now exploring to make the dream into a reality.
From the research I’ve done and information sessions I’ve attended, the theme of a costly flight training is certainly a common one. It’s a significant investment. My questions are for those pilots who have gone through a civilian flight school training and either paid for the entire program out of pocket or via financing.
At the point you completed your training and perhaps working for a regional carrier, how did you manage your long-time financial planning and life events such as:
Retirement–seems tricky to put away at least the recommended 12% of take-home pay and still have enough to pay for rent/food? Aside from 401-K matching that airlines typically (hopefully) offer, did you feel like you were able to contribute adequately to your retirement plan from day 1 in your career? Or was this placed on the backburner for a couple years?
Housing–how did you feel about your prospects of home ownership? Presuming a significant amount of debt to be paid along with other expenses, how did you feel about your timeline of realistically owning a home?
Cost of living–do airlines (either regional or mainline) compensate flight crew for cost of living adjustments (ie: a pilot based in costly SFO versus more affordable DFW?). Generally speaking, are bases in cities with lower cost of living more competitive domiciles for pilots to be based in? (can’t even imagine how junior CX pilots afford to live in HKG)
What were some of the toughest parts of budgeting your life for the first 4-6 years in your carrier? What were your struggles like?
Any other life goals (financial or non-financial) that had to be put aside as you embarked on the first 4-6 years of your career? At what point were you able to pick them up again and why?
Also curious to hear answers to the above as your career progressed transitioning after 4-6 years with a regional carrier to a mainline one. The current compensation in my profession is already in the range of a mainline pilot–I acknowledge I’d be taking a massive pay cut. I’m trying to get a feel for the scope and extent of “dues” needed to be paid until able to earn a more reasonable wage. It is definitely a passion-driven industry and one that excites me to no end, but best to have upfront knowledge of the costs of entering the profession.
Thanks in advance.