OK, so I acknowledge this isn't likely the best forum for this question, but I thought I'd ask a random assortment of total strangers anyway.

For the past year my wife had a job that she hated. It paid well, had some nice perks, but she loathed every minute of it. A few weeks ago she was offered a new job. It's what she really wants to do, will be alongside people she truly likes and works well with, is more compatible with our lives... but is a significant pay cut. Possibly 20%. Coupled with the additional $800 a month for infant daycare, and we're going to be hurting.

For the past 6 years I've had a job that I also truly enjoy. I like the people, our work, the challenges. Unfortunately it's public sector and if I were to retire from this job in 30 years I'd probably only be making about 10% more than I am now. There's no room for advancement, no raises, no reclassifications (unless I quit, in which case they'd work up a new description, reclassify it and probably pay 25% more based on the added value I brought to the job).

Maybe I'm being too old fashioned about this, but with one toddler and a second (and final) baby on the way in 2 months, I feel like I need to suck it up, stop being selfish about the whole "but I like my job" thing, and try to find something that pays more, preferably what I'm worth, or at least offers opportunities for advancement and raises. Private sector. *shudder*

We don't want to move obviously. And there should be PLENTY of opportunities in the Austin area, right? I've just been in the public sector for so long I'm not even sure how to start with private sector searches. I've asked my friends for leads. Check. But headhunters? Placement agencies? Do I tell my boss that I'm going to be looking? I have no idea of the best way to proceed here.

Any advice?