Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now?
July 7, 2010 8:28 AM   Subscribe

I think I want to move but don't know how, nor if it's wise to do so right now.

For the last 20 years, I have lived in the same small suburb in Southern California. There are many things that I enjoy about this area, like the relative lack of traffic, and the ability to be in San Diego or Los Angeles within an hour or so (depending on the time of day). And of course there are all the things there are to do in those cities and the cities around them, like the zoos, the museums, the clubs, the music shows, and the ability to get out and be in nature without having to drive too far from civilization.

But it has its downfalls, too. The job market is limited. There's is very little to do locally, and fewer places to meet people who are around my age and share my kind of interests (tabletop RPGs, sci-fi movies and literature, anime, all the things I mentioned in the previous paragraph... those kinds of things), which of course makes trying to date even worse. I haven't met anyone who lives less than 30 minutes away in over five years, outside of co-workers. It's still two hours to drive to get back from to a major city where most of the things I like to do are. And in the summer when the temperatures creep up past the low 80's, I tend to become a hermit because hot weather does nothing but make me lethargic and irritable. I'd love to live somewhere with more greenery and more rain.

I am currently unemployed (and getting close to the end of my UI benefits), in my early 30's, and I graduated from college two years ago with an undergrad degree in psychology and $40k in loan debt. Between that and car payments/insurance, I am only on my feet financially because I moved back in with my father several years ago and he doesn't charge me any rent.

I do not know if I want to continue to pursue psychology into a grad degree. I haven't even taken a GRE. I do know that if I decide to go to grad school, I want to get it done sooner rather than later. My interest in the subject has waned since I graduated, and occasionally I wonder if I shouldn't have given more effort into exploring my interest in architecture or some other field of study.

Also, as a side note, I have been rather depressed lately. I think it's actually a long-standing issue that needs to be addressed but I am feeling stagnant and directionless and all of these things are just compounding that problem and are also a drain on what little motivation I have.

For all of these reasons, I am thinking about moving somewhere. Getting a fresh start and a new perspective somewhere else in the world (probably still State-side, though, and probably still in Cali unless I find a compelling reason to move elsewhere and pay non-resident fees for a year if I go to grad-school). I feel a bit clueless about how to job hunt for a serious job (previous employment has all been retail), much less how to do so in a place that I don't live, and then to also try to find housing. I also own a cat, and don't really know anyone that I could leave him with if I went to another town to job hunt for a while.

So that's my story, MeFites. I await your wisdom.

It's possible I left out important details. Please ask if clarification's needed.

I've also set up a temporary e-mail address: fromheretoanywhere AT gmail DOT com
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not into table top RPGs, but I know a number of people who are. None of them are having trouble getting dates in the San Francisco Bay area.

Generally speaking though, working out the depression is going to pay a bigger dividend than uprooting your life. It might be worth focussing on that while you have your support systems in place before you discover you're depressed and living far away from anyone you know.
posted by desl at 8:37 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

There's is very little to do locally, and fewer places to meet people who are around my age and share my kind of interests (tabletop RPGs, sci-fi movies and literature, anime, all the things I mentioned in the previous paragraph... those kinds of things), which of course makes trying to date even worse.

Have you been to/checked out LASFS? It's not going to help on the dating front -- at least if you're a heterosexual male -- but you'll definitely find people who share your interests there.

I do not know if I want to continue to pursue psychology into a grad degree.

Not right now. At least not with $40K of undergrad debt and no one offering to pay for your ride through grad school. You could find a job in a field where they want you to get a grad degree in psych and will not only pay for it but will pay you to get it. My mom's employers cut her a few grand a semester (along with paying the tuition) for getting her degree. Plus going to grad school without being interested in the field without having the ability to push yourself and excel through something you don't like is a recipe for disaster and more debt. Education debt is not inherently "good" debt and it certainly isn't "good" debt at all if you don't finish. Which you're liable not to if you're interest is already waning.

Moving to a new town will not fix your depression. I am not advocating you don't get a change of scenery, but it is not a cure. You must take steps, be they therapy, psychiatry, a CBT book, to get rid of the depression. It won't magically vanish because you changed locales. In fact, it may be exacerbated by the stress and anxiety of moving somewhere where you have no social support or work.

Still, for some people, being thrown in the water in that way kickstarts their I-gotta-fix-myself faculty. You'll be forced to improve yourself, to hunt for sustaining work, etc. etc. by necessity alone. Only you know if you're the kind of person who would flourish or wilt in that sort of state of emergency.
posted by griphus at 8:47 AM on July 7, 2010

Most psych PhD programs (and some masters programs) offer stipends and cover nearly all of your tuition. This is true even in the first year, as out-of-state charges are often waived. The stipends aren't huge, but they can be nearly enough to live on, depending on whether you're in a high COL area or not, whether you are awarded a fellowship, etc. So that's something to keep in mind in that grand plan. However, the model for psych grad programs is a bit different, in that they only accept a handful of students but then take really good care of those students compared to some programs. It's worth checking into whether other programs you might like are similar in their funding structure.
posted by bizzyb at 9:36 AM on July 7, 2010

Don't move yet. Instead, start traveling. You will learn more about other places you might want to live someday, you will escape some of your ennui, and you will appreciate the comfort of your home each time you come back to it.

You don't have to travel far, just travel near or far to specific places for reasonably specific reasons, so you're not bored when you get there. Expand your horizons a bit.

The alternative, moving as a means of solving your larger problems, will just do a good job of distracting you for a long while -- then you'll be right back in it. Traveling is a similar distraction, but without the high stakes and still allowing you the time to realize your problems are real and need fixing.
posted by davejay at 11:36 AM on July 7, 2010

that is, traveling will give you hope to get through your days without giving you false hope that your problems are solved.
posted by davejay at 11:37 AM on July 7, 2010

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