I’ll share my experience, for what it was worth. Keep in mind that I work in government these days.
My prior .gov job was one of a lot of conflict and frustration. The shift from private to public is a big one and there’s just no sense in government of trying things. Iteration is especially hard in government and I thrive on fast iteration. Plus, it’s locked down in ways I never imagined. Part of my job was to do social media, the IT group tracks your internet usage, issues reports, so guess who got bopped for excessive internet usage, WHEN IT WAS MY DAMN JOB? And it was a cluster duck in a lot of other ways that I’ll spare you.
So, I took a chance, went to a smaller agency and wound up taking a pretty large pay cut. It’ll roughly cost me $50K if I stay here 5-years, which I hope doesn’t happen.
I was thinking, smaller group, more opportunity to do things, etc. But the IT director is very controlling, it’s every bit as locked down as the other place and actually worse in a lot of ways, because everything, literally, has to go through him. He’s hyper-controlling, lets go of nothing, so it’s ridiculously hard to learn anything or even just function in it because he’s always there. I couldn’t be a worse fit if I tried.
Anyways, if I could hop in the Delorean, I’d go back in time and not leave. As I see it you are taking a risk, for less reward, that the environment will be better than the old one. It might be, but there’s no reward if it isn’t and really not a lot of reward even if it is. And when you take less money, well, guess what the next job wants to base itself off of. And the lower position might mean you chafe against more senior people in the organization who aren’t really senior to you in experience.
I’d keep looking but I can understand doing it under a lot of stress. It was why I did it, I figured what the heck, it can’t be much worse, but it was actually a lot worse and had I stayed I’d have at least had an extra $10K/year in salary and been part of something that mattered.
I wish you luck regardless. When it gets to the point that you are thinking like this, at least for me, there’s a lot pain involved.