Want to move, feeling trapped
October 12, 2008 7:44 PM   Subscribe

Help, need relationship/life advice... I'm staying at home for the time being to help out my family instead of jetting off to another city to be with my boyfriend. Target move date is in January but we're both getting insanely antsy and we have the same conversation every day about me just going there NAO. My question is about what I should do, cause I really have no idea. Stupid details follow.

I want to move to a different city ($300 away) to be with my boyfriend (both in the US).

I'm 24 and have been living at home this whole time, except for 4 of college years I was 1 1/2 hours away and came home a lot. I want to leave the nest now. The reason I haven't moved yet is because:

1. I'm waiting on a mythical yet substantial Christmas bonus. I say mythical because this is my first Christmas at this job so I have no way of knowing how much I'll get, but it might be somewhere around $1500. That money would be very useful. If I can make it that long.

2. In these tough economic times, steady job, health insurance, blah blah blah. It's a pretty good, decently paying job but my boss is a nightmare and I'm not getting a reference letter. Plus I have NO sick days or vacation days so visits are rare. I see a bunch of jobs on Craigslist every day that I could apply for in my target city (admin/office/receptionist etc), so I feel confident I could get another one.
2a. I have about $3,000 in savings and not that many expenses/very little debt.

3. Living with my dad and brother because dad can't handle the mortgage/other debt even when he was working, and now he's not. We don't want dad to lose the house.

4. Brother feels resentful that I'm about to move because he's older and has been wanting to move for longer/missing out on opportunities and SOMEBODY has to deal with dad. Dad is a terrible alcoholic (but fine the other 10 months of the year).

5. Mom (who also moved out to be with her boyfriend at the disapproval of dad and brother) is supportive but says I need to give everyone time to figure out a plan instead of making brash decisions. They have yet to make a plan and probably won't.

6. My plan is to continue paying the very high rent I'm paying now for the (nice but not up to code) basement apartment, on top of what I wind up needing to pay after I move (which wouldn't be much as long as I'm with boyfriend). Everyone says this plan sucks. I agree it's not a long term solution but that's all I've got, short of saying "So long, suckas!" and not caring about what happens to them after that (I do care). If I keep paying then I won't need to move all my stuff and it'll keep the space open for me in case of emergency. I'm also going to have to leave my cat behind for the time being, who dad and brother aren't fond of, so I kind of feel like I'm paying his keep too.

7. Relationship with boyfriend is very good. We want more out of life than lots of phone calls and draining my savings for plane tickets.

I'm really not sure what I'm supposed to do here. If i didn't have an obligation to my family I would have been there long ago. I feel so impatient. What should I do?
posted by amethysts to Human Relations (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Your father and brother are grown men, they will surprise you with ability to look after themselves once it's clear they have to so I suggest the So Long Suckas! course of action.

If you really feel the need to pay your unemployed, alcoholic father's mortgage (would you do this for any other man in your life? no) then at least get part ownership of the house or something.
posted by fshgrl at 7:55 PM on October 12, 2008

I'm really not sure what I'm supposed to do here.

Find a job in the city where your boyfriend lives? You don't mention that, so I'm just throwing it out there- this is not a great time employment-wise to move somewhere on a whim and a prayer.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:56 PM on October 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

January really is not that far away. That's three months from now, at the most.

It seems like those three months could really help you prepare for the move. Like TPS said, find a job! Get your brother and your dad to face the reality that you're going to move! Find a good place for your cat to go, or make it work for you to take it with you! Get everything ready, for the move to be as easy as possible.
posted by Ms. Saint at 8:05 PM on October 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Bottom line: you are not responsible for enabling your alcoholic father or your codependent brother and mother. You can break this cycle by refusing to take responsibility for them and striking out into the world to live your own life.

What makes you think you're getting a Christmas bonus? If you haven't been told that you're getting one and the amount of it, I wouldn't assume that it's coming. I'd find a job now and move. But definitely do it in that order. Start looking for work now; then move as soon as you have a new job.

And I agree: don't pay rent (e.g., give money towards the mortgage) of a house you don't live in unless you're getting a share of the ownership. Use that money to save for a down payment on a home of your own.

Also, I know you didn't ask about this, but I would recommend not moving in with your boyfriend in the new city. Get a place of your own, even if it's more expensive. I'm sure your relationship is wonderful and he's a great guy, but after taking care of everyone else in your life for so many years, you should take some time to have your own place and take care of no one except yourself. Take this opportunity to be independent and live on your own for a little while, at least until you get settled in the new city and prove to yourself that you can do this. Then you can live happily ever after together.
posted by decathecting at 8:14 PM on October 12, 2008 [6 favorites]

The other issues are too sticky for me to comment on, but I'd say that you shouldn't let the potential bonus influence your decision. You could be very, very disappointed.
posted by grouse at 8:16 PM on October 12, 2008

Start applying for jobs in the target city now. See what you can get. You might get a job with good enough benefits (like paid time off or sick days, which I would consider a very basic part of most benefits packages) to be worth leaving a potential $1500 bonus.

Also, you pay "very high rent" to your dad for a not-up-to-code basement apartment in his house? That doesn't seem very fair. If you're paying, you get to be listed as an owner. That is, unless, you don't want to be responsible if payments get behind.

Your mom shouldn't really be commenting on brash decision-making in this. She must have made some sort of brash decision to move out from your family and in with her boyfriend. I know your dad is an alcoholic, so I'm not demonizing her or anything, but you shouldn't have to start shouldering the burden of your family's house when it's really your time to start your own life at age 24. When couples split up, they often sell the house. It's not the best market right now, but if your dad can't afford the house, and it's just him and your brother, selling the house so they can get more affordable housing might be more doable for them financially.
posted by fructose at 8:34 PM on October 12, 2008

I think you should consider that your home situation might collapse if you leave and withdraw financial support. People on metafilter can give you the green light to go and reassure you that everything will be fine, but they don't have any basis for doing so and will not deal with any of the repercussions if things start to disintegrate at home. Two questions to ask yourself:

1) Are you willing/able to pay rent on that room indefinitely?

2) If not, are you ok with your dad losing the house?

I wouldn't count on an alcoholic father and a brother who is understandably unhappy after carrying the father for years to pull things together, especially if their plan for achieving financial solvency is to find a renter willing to pay exorbitant rent on a basement apartment.

Someone higher up referred to your brother as a codependent. You meet the same criteria for codependency as your brother. This is a broad term loaded with all kinds of negative connotations (manipulation, feeding on the negative energy of the situation, etc...), and I think it fails to give credit to the plight of long-suffering offspring supporting a dysfunctional family out of nothing more than a sense of duty. Your father and brother might pull it together, or you might find out whether your sense of duty is stronger than your desire for personal freedom. In your place, I would leave, but I would do so with a realistic understanding of the possible consequences.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 8:59 PM on October 12, 2008 [4 favorites]

Adults need to be adults and Alcoholics rarely get this stuff together without outside action or events.

That said, if your dad helped you out through college with loans and $, now might be a time to help him.
3 months will come and go very quickly.

During that time I would look for a new job in your new city. If you get one earlier, make the move.

Get a webcam and do video skype or equivalent if you aren't doing so already.

If you can help your dad take control of his finances/alcoholism, now is the time. It's not your job to pay his bills (unless you feel like it is for the short term and he helped you out a lot in college) but if you can help him get lower rates or get things written off, it might be a great gift.

Set a clear time table to move even if you don't get a new job before January.

You dad can rent out the apartment or a room in his house if he needs the money.

Take the cat, I wouldn't leave a pet with people who don't like it.

I don't think many people are getting christmas bonuses this year.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 9:14 PM on October 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

I realize you care deeply about your family, but I think you need to get out now. You will be leaving sooner or later, and they will have to deal then. They don't run your life, and neither does the current economic situation.

You can apply for the jobs you see online (as some people apparently missed you mentioning above), but I don't know how many people are going to hire an admin/receptionist sight unseen, or fly one in for an interview. So you might just have to move there and then start interviewing. Things are grim, but people ARE hiring (you've seen the ads), and life to short to stay in a nightmare situation working for a nightmare boss.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:14 PM on October 12, 2008

Can you and your brother sit down and figure out what to do about your dad? It sounds like, based on your (your brother's and your) past patterns of behavior, your moving out without such a discussion could be, if not unfair to your brother, at least unkind. The two of you should come up with a strategy that allows both of you to move out and move on without feeling like you've abandoned your father. Maybe that means selling or renting out the house and helping your dad find a smaller, cheaper apartment, or maybe it means something else. The point is, I think you could get your brother on your side. Both of you think that your dad can't keep the house on his own, so you're putting your lives on hold and throwing money at a situation that probably needs less cash, more discussion.

If your brother can't or won't have that discussion with you, plan B is to do what others have suggested and plan your departure on your own. The reason I suggest the first step of talking with your brother is that you imply that both of you have similar ambitions of moving out and start living as independent adults (a totally reasonably and worthy ambition). It sounds like you're both stuck, but sharing that problem could be a small gift in that you can work toward a common goal together. Sorry, that sounds more touchy-feely than I mean it. I just mean that your brother's resentment doesn't have to be another burden on you--he could be part of the solution.
posted by Meg_Murry at 9:24 PM on October 12, 2008 [7 favorites]

Good lord (wo)man, move. The alcoholic father is reason enough alone, and with a boss who hates you I wouldn't trust the boss not to stiff you on your bonus some how. Have a frank talk with the brother that the father has to commit himself to getting help, as you can't support your father for the rest of his life.

Even if boyfriend and you broke up, I'd be telling you to move ASAP.
posted by Phalene at 11:31 PM on October 12, 2008

1) You are paying rent somewhere you don't want to live. The usual solution to this is to move to where you want to live.

2) You are serving as emotional support and caregiver for your roommates/landlord. You are being charged money for this privilege. Most people need to pay for this service, not the other way around.

3) Unless you have a job or some means of supporting yourself (with no lapse in healthcare) while you look for one, it is not a good idea to move to a new city. A boyfriend is not a means of supporting yourself. $3000 might last a job hunt if you're not paying rent. Then again, with this new economy we have now, it might not.

4) You dislike your boss and won't count on a reference from him, but you are expecting a princely amount of money. Assume it won't come, that way if it does you'll have a nice surprise.

5) You need to figure out a plan. You do not need to wait for others to figure out their plan to implement yours.

In summary: There is no reason you should be putting your future in hock to make up for his financial mistakes - and make no mistake about it, that is what he and your brother are asking you to do, while he sits at home, unemployed and drinking alcohol all day. You don't need to put any more of your good money and good energy into this bad situation. Get out to go live with your boyfriend, but put your plan in place first. Try to put some more money away. Welch on a couple months rent from your dad and put it into a private savings account, one no one else knows about.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:23 AM on October 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

Your #4 is telling. Your brother, who is older than you (older than 24), has been wanting to move out, but has stayed because he feels he needs to help with the mortgage. Now, compare this with your question from a year and a half ago. You've been wanting to move for a long time, and you still haven't. Years from now, you'll still want to move, and you will resent not moving (just as your brother does now).

I know you care about your dad. I know it's hard to care, and yet not shoulder all the responsibilities to keep him afloat. But, his money problems (probably stemming from his drinking problems) are not new, and are not going away.

Here's the thing to remember: You didn't cause this problem. You are not responsible for the problem. And, you can't fix the problem.

How would you live your life if your dad was not an alcoholic, needing his grown children to help pay the bills? Love your dad, but live that life.
posted by Houstonian at 3:34 AM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I strongly recommend Al-Anon if you are not already doing something similar, and second the comment about not moving in with your boyfriend in NewCity right away. People who grow up in alcoholic households often have a distorted view of acceptable behavior in a family setting; while this is commonly called "codependency," that term has gotten pretty broad and useless over the past 20 years. It does mean that we can have trouble with boundaries and a desperate need to make other people's emotional "stuff" better at the expense of our own.

Obviously we don't know much about your family except what you have told us, and I am not your therapist, but I'd encourage you to keep to your original plan of moving in 3 months, saving up as much as you can, finding a solution for your cat that does not involve leaving it with your brother and father, and figuring out what you, amethysts, really want (apart from what family and boyfriend encourage you to want).

Plus, a job in the hand is worth twelve on Craigslist. Even if you don't get a bonus (and unless you have "will get bonus" in writing, I wouldn't expect it - many companies will probably not give even cost-of-living raises this year, let alone bonuses).
posted by catlet at 6:50 AM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

They have until January to make a plan. I don't see how it's necessarily brash. Your mom probably feels a little guilty and it's to her advantage to have you stay and take care of things. Did she give everyone time to plan before she bailed?

If your boss won't give you a reference letter, I don't know that I would count on a bonus.

Agreeing that you should talk to your brother. You're not responsible for the choices of your brother, but you can help him try to come up with a plan of his own.

Your dad and your brother have made their own choices, and they have to take responsibility for those choices. If your dad can't afford the house, then I am very, very sad to hear that, but it's not up to his 24 year old daughter or her older brother to take care of it for him. Ship his ass to rehab and when he gets out in January he can get a job and pay for his own house.

I wouldn't leave your cat with people who don't like your cat. At best they'll be indifferent to it.

Get your own apartment in the new city. Get one close to your boyfriend, that's fine. You will be able to see him plenty. Don't keep paying your rent here (see above) - use that money for a place of your very own. Maybe you and your boyfriend will move in together, but establish a place of your own first - what if in 6 months or a year it's that you can't leave your boyfriend? I know it seems like that will never happen and it might not, but I would be extra cautious.

Get a job in the new city, or have enough living expense savings built up to give you 3 months to find yourself one.

If you're ready to move, then take a deep breath and do it. Leaving your stuff and cat here is doing it halfway - your dad and brother are not your safe place, and you can't have it both ways.

You can do this. I'm just a stanger on the internets, but I have faith in you.
posted by KAS at 7:33 AM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

You're not going to get hired without actually being in the target city. No seriously. I have done this enough times already to know how it works, and watched enough friends, both laborers, medical professionals, as well as credentialed professionals, run into this problem. if you start looking in target city you are going to get seriously dissuaded from moving because unless you are a nurse or have some kind of skill that is in short supply and incredibly desirable, they don't want to waste their time on someone who says they are moving there.

once you are there it is much, much different. Even if you have an address in the area and a local area code, they STILL want you RIGHT THERE RIGHT NOW, not "i am coming if i get this job". This goes for entry level as well as right up to middle management. what you do need to do is have a plan as to which companies you are going to apply to and which retailer you will go get a job with immediately if you don't have any serious bites within your first two weeks. everyone is hiring for the holidays now, that should be your backup plan. Research the employment opportunties (and that's more than craigslist) and have a polished resume and plan of action. And when you get there, looking for a job IS your job.

I wouldn't count on a bonus this year either. Even if the company could pay you one they will probably not because they'll give the 'economy' excuse. Waiting for that will only make you more miserable. Plus, it's harder to find a job at the beginning of the year, after the holidays, etc. You need to get out well before Thanksgiving if you want to have time to actually job hunt.

In regards to your family, you don't need to "let them make a plan". You're right, they're not going to. THey won't make a plan until you've left. And they will also manage to pay the rent. You can't let them take you down with them.
posted by micawber at 9:44 AM on October 13, 2008

Response by poster: This is all really good advice. Thank you for your extremely valuable input everybody. It is SO helpful to have an impartial resource like this.
posted by amethysts at 11:04 AM on October 13, 2008

(I realize I'm saying mostly what's been said, but I started this comment on Sunday and then forget about it so I'll just post it: )

I'd pick a date, say, January 16th (that's Christmas bonus plus two weeks notice), when you are going to move out. The plan will satisfy your mom. Start applying for jobs. Pick a week when you will go out there for interviews (which will give you a few days to see your bf). Figure out what to do with your stuff -- I'd put it in storage so you don't feel you need to pay rent for it at your dad's house. The tendency with alcoholics is to get worse and worse, so you don't want to set up a long-term expectation that you will be his fall-back plan. I'd encourage your brother to move out, too. You both will be better able to help your dad if you're more happy, healthy, and financially secure. Good luck.
posted by salvia at 8:49 AM on October 14, 2008

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