I like adventure. Profound and permanent change, not so much.
April 7, 2009 8:53 AM   Subscribe

Help me with my fear of transplant shock.

My wife and I are in our late 30s and have lived in the same lovely small town for the entire 11 years we've known each other. We own a house that fits us well, and enjoy the frequent company of several close friends. That small town is within 50 miles of the house I grew up in, where my parents still live. It is the house they bought when they were married in 1968. My parents' house is within 10 miles of the house where my dad grew up, and which is also still in the family. All that to say, I don't seem to have the DNA that makes one prone to leave town on a permanent basis. I've lived in other parts of the country (school) but always come back to the same area. It smells like home to me.

My wife's job is sucking. She's trying to cope, but the bloom has been off the rose for, oh, 5 years or so. She's entrenched in her current roles and isn't sure she'll be able to improve her career situation with this employer. She's highly qualified and can find another job, but not in our nice small town, and probably not anywhere in commuting distance. There's a distinct possibility that a new job for her will mean moving to some distant place that will be utterly unfamiliar. FWIW, she's the primary breadwinner, and my work is somewhat portable.

I really want to support my wife in her efforts to improve her work situation. Her options where we live now are distinctly limited; she's been a trooper about it for a long time, but asking her to suck it up indefinitely isn't remotely fair to her. But I find the idea of tearing ourselves loose from our house, our friends, my garden, and from easy access to my extended family nauseating to contemplate. I don't want my anxiety to lock my wife into job hell.

I'm not sure what I'm asking, exactly, but I'd appreciate relevant thoughts, book recommendations, anecdotes about having thrived and made a real home in new surroundings -- whatever comes to mind. Anything, really, that can help me see that moving to a distant place doesn't have to suck.
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Has she considered starting her own business? All the benefits of home, none of the downsides of moving.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 8:59 AM on April 7, 2009

Moving is hard, and it will take courage to support your wife in her career.

I would suggest thinking about what exactly scares you about the move. Then you can find ways to alleviate those fears. If it's distance from your family, don't move across the country. Is the weather important to you (it is to me), then find a place with the type of weather you enjoy. Do this completely, and ask your wife what she would like for your future together.

The reality is, your new town may never feel like home, but that's OK. As long as isn't hell and it won't be if you can figure out what you want, and visit your real home often.
posted by Gor-ella at 9:40 AM on April 7, 2009

Does your wife want to move? If you both want to stay then what about looking for ways to make the current situation work by having you step up and be the primary breadwinner and she can pursue less lucrative interests. If, on the other hand, she wants to move (you say you are near your family but you don't mention hers) then really you owe it to her to try something new for at least the five years she has been miserable in your current town. Maybe a third option would be to keep your existing house as a second vacation home with frequent visits home, however that would probably require you to provide more income to support the two houses.

I am somewhat like you in that I love where I am living now and can't conceive of anywhere else I would rather be but if where we are living was making my husband miserable for a period of years I would also start to view our beloved town in a negative light. There are lots of lovely places and people to meet out there in the big world. And you may not have to go as far as you think for your wife to find a job she can love again.
posted by saucysault at 10:17 AM on April 7, 2009

You really have decide if you want to stay in this town or if you want to leave.

Even if you want to leave, it is going to take time for your wife to research new companies and communities where she will prosper.

While she is doing this research, she could also consider researching consulting opportunities that would allow her to stay in your town and perhaps travel a few days a month while working from home.

It's kind of a win-win, because I'm sure your wife can find a job in a new community you will love. Or you can remain in place and she will move forward in her career.

But affecting change take a lot of effort and a lot of focus, and it sounds like your wife is mired in negativity (it's to be expected). Focusing on future horizons will be refreshing. And also focus on achieving what you want.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:44 AM on April 7, 2009

Living in another part of the country for school doesn't give you the same chance to settle in and get a feeling of "home" that really moving somewhere does, I would argue. School is generally a weird state of limbo where people don't really put roots down, build gardens, etc. So I'd say you haven't really had the chance to experience making a home in another place, and that you don't really know whether you might be able to make a home in another place. Any conclusions you've drawn about relocating for school probably say more about life during school than about relocation.

If you and she decide to do it, give yourselves lots of support: make plans to visit your family and have your family visit you (maybe make sure the new area isn't too far from a major airport, and choose a house with a spare room). Find out which of your friends have friends in the new area and make plans to meet them. Check out meetup.com. Buy Sunset guides or whatever the equivalent gardening guide is for the area; start planning your new garden right away. Use yelp.com or the local equivalent to find wonderful local places to eat and shop; find local blogs, etc. I think getting out and exploring a new area is key.

And the change doesn't have to be permanent; you can come back, or long-term, retire to your home area.

Hopefully, home is where you and she are together.

(Oh, I read an example much more extreme, presumably, than what you're thinking of: A Trip to the Beach by Melinda Blanchard, a memoir by one half of a couple from the East Coast who just up and move to the Caribbean to open a restaurant. It gets pretty crazy along the road to success, so if you do move, at least you can tell yourself "Well, at least none of THAT stuff is happening to me!" But they're happier for their changes, anyway. It's not the best book ever, but it's the only one about relocation that I can think of, and no one else has suggested anything, so.)
posted by wintersweet at 11:20 AM on April 7, 2009

If your wife's profession/occupation is one that is found only in certain metropolitan areas, perhaps you owe it to yourselves to take some scouting trips so that you can get a feel for how these areas could work for you (or not).

I grew up in New England in close proximity to my extended family and had no particular reason to leave, other than my inability to find work in my profession locally. Throughout my upbringing, I had found it difficult to imagine what would motivate someone to live anywhere else. The concrete promise of a job offer on the west coast opened up my thinking a bit.

Over the ~30 years since college we've lived in three distinctly different areas, the only common thread being that each offered a job for me. As it turned out, none of them was New England. Each had its strengths and weaknesses. One area I fell romantically in love with but had to leave because of the job thing.

With our travelling experiences I've discovered that there are areas that I personally will not consider moving to, but you'll find good people just about anywhere you go.

The big negative, obviously, is losing touch with friends and family. The only way to avoid that, of course, is to find a way to stay.
posted by css28 at 1:39 PM on April 7, 2009

It's reasonable to give up some career advantages to live where you really want. We dont know enough about your wife's job to evaluate the advantages of moving but you sound like you would be much happier staying where you are. Does she enjoy living there as much as you?
posted by canoehead at 8:30 AM on April 8, 2009

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