I have been on the postdoc treadmill for 5 years now. My current employer has been clear from the start that unless I meet certain metrics with publications, I would not be able to stay past my current contract, which expires this year.
An ex-co-author of mine, who works at another institution, recently won a grant for a five year research project that is right on my field of expertise. She has struggled to recruit a candidate that meets the job requirements and on the second round of advertisement for a postdoc position, she encouraged me to apply for the job. My current employer strongly supported my application for this position. When I received an offer to join as a postdoc on the 5 year project of my colleague, my current employer made a surprise offer, for a 5 year contract extension and with an immediate 24% salary increase (despite still not meeting the publication requirements mentioned by my employer).
I have known my co-author for ten years. She was my undergraduate and graduate teacher and advised me heavily during my PhD. We have worked together in other research projects. I brought up the surprise offer from my current employer and she said that I should pick the offer that is best for my career and family. However, she also said that if she failed to hire a postdoc, that she would run into problems with the organization funding the project.
I am torn. I dont know how to tell my colleague that I will be declining the postdoc offer. I dont even know if I should decline it. The project I am currently working on is great and I have a good relationship with my research team. The PI is relatively younger and less well known than my colleague offering me a postdoc. The project that my colleague will be working on is also right on my field of expertise. So both projects are interesting, last about the same time but have a very large difference in terms of salary. The postdoc at my colleague's institution would also require me to move to another state.
What should I do? Do you have any advice?