We're content, should we move?
April 14, 2011 6:44 PM   Subscribe

You have friends, a kid, a spouse, family that you reasonably like nearby, a good job, a place to live, and most of the other trappings of a decent life. Would you move for something new?

I'm the sole wage earner in my household that consists of me, my spouse, a pre-teen who is homeschooled, and an obnoxious cat. We live in north Texas where I have family I get reasonably along with, a few friends, a decent (rented) house, and a really good job. My spouse has little of that. Some of her family is nearby but they really don't get along and haven't spoke in about two years, and only one of my friends is really a mutual friend.

I've been offered the chance to change positions within my employer to a job based near Seattle. If accepted, my salary would go up a little bit and the company would pay relocation expenses.

My spouse would love to live in the Pacific Northwest and Seattle seems like a great place*, but I am extremely anxious about leaving everything I've ever known behind. I was born in the area where we currently live and have never lived outside of a 50-mile radius of here. My spouse is fine with remaining here but this isn't her ideal location. My only other concerns with moving up there are the cost of living adjustment and that we still have 8 months remaining on our lease here, but I wonder if I'm just using those as excuses to nix the idea.

* We like that the weather is Not Hottm, there is a baseball team (such as it is, but baseball is baseball) and I imagine the area has things like Fort Worth's Main Street Arts Festival.

Understanding that this is a decision that we ultimately have to make ourselves, what would you do or what advice would you give, hive mind?
posted by fireoyster to Travel & Transportation (28 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Life is about relationships. No amount of money, better house, better weather, etc can make up for a lack of meaningful people to share your life with. Go where you feel you can build/maintain the strongest relationships (that includes your relationship with your wife).
posted by shew at 6:48 PM on April 14, 2011 [6 favorites]

Take it. If you don't, you'll always wonder what you missed out on. You're not burning any bridges. Texas will be there if you want to go back.
posted by roue at 6:51 PM on April 14, 2011 [17 favorites]

Do it. Your name is fireoyster. Seattle is a great place for oysters.
posted by jabberjaw at 6:54 PM on April 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Obviously there's a lot of variables at play, but when I moved from New York to Toronto (a move that happened because of my husband's job) it took me a full five years to feel like I had a good, solid group of local friends. Five years and so much effort. I love Toronto and I'm glad I'm here. But holy shit, it took so much time and effort to feel at home. (And frankly, I feel like Toronto and New York are much more similar than North Texas and Seattle are.)
posted by kate blank at 6:54 PM on April 14, 2011

I've lived in three different countries and several cities. I now live in the Pacific Northwest, and if I was offered a job and a raise somewhere else, I would turn it down, simply because I believe that this is the best place for me. As far as finding your best place goes, well, you'll never know if you don't try. As roue said, Texas will always be there.
posted by smilingtiger at 6:54 PM on April 14, 2011

Well, I'm someone who'd lived overseas three times by the age of 21, and lived in every time zone in the U.S. over the course of my life, so that's where my immediate "holy cow, of course you should give it a try!" response comes from. New settings, new people, new challenges, new adventures can be good for anyone. Doesn't mean it will automatically be easy, or that you'll immediately feel at home in Seattle (it can really take time to create a tight social circle in a new city -- it took me several years to really feel settled into L.A., for example)... but it does have the potential to be an exciting, valuable, life-changing experience for your whole family. Give it a shot!

And if you hate it, Texas isn't going anywhere.
posted by scody at 7:00 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

In the words of an old friend, "Yay for adventure!"

One finds out a lot about oneself moving out of one's comfort zone.
posted by mollymayhem at 7:03 PM on April 14, 2011 [4 favorites]

Nthing OMG do it.

Also paying whatever fees you would incur by breaking your lease should be part of your relocation package (as should be a house hunting trip for you and your spouse).
posted by hansbrough at 7:26 PM on April 14, 2011 [3 favorites]

Last year, Mr. Leezie was told that he was being relocated to BFE Nowhere Texas for his job. My job is home based and thus easily movable, so I didn't have the job card to play. I was initially extremely bummed about this. I did not want to move, to leave our friends, our house, etc. behind.

But, as the move became more and more likely, I decided to embrace the adventure of it. I began to research the area and founds lots of things that I would be able to enjoy. I made peace with the unknown.

In the end, the company decided to keep him (and therefore us) where we are. I know that we may be moved again and I don't dread it now - there will always be something to look forward to in a new place!
posted by Leezie at 7:29 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

As a fellow North Texan all I can say is; take me with you? Husband and I left TX for NYC sev. years ago; after four years and a child it no longer worked for us and we came back. But we don't regret that time at all, and frankly, I wouldn't mind leaving again. We have a potential plan for that in the works, actually. But our circumstances are different than yours, and part of them is that we are trepidatious about our kid going through the ever-more-censored-and-non-fact-based education Texas wants to offer him. And also fears about being poisoned by Barnett Shale benzene emissions and water pollution. And the crappy air quality that makes my husband sick a lot. None of which those who run Texas want to even acknowledge, much less fix.

We have friends here, and work that my husband loves and family that we love and will miss. But Texas is making it hard to want to stay all the same.
posted by emjaybee at 7:34 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

Well, I know I'd certainly try Seattle and soon before the big earthquake hits.
posted by bz at 7:45 PM on April 14, 2011

Yep, I would do it. Heck, I did it. Born & bred in Ontario, very similar situation to you - sole income earner, married, 2 kids, dopey dog. All my family was nearby, as was my wife's. We had many good friends. And then we moved to California.

It has had its ups and downs, but for me it has been an undisputed career win - we are far better off financially now then we have ever been. The kids have adjusted very well.

We adults have not made many new friends honestly, but it's coming along. On the balance it's not any more stressful than it was before we moved.
posted by GuyZero at 8:01 PM on April 14, 2011

emjaybee: "As a fellow North Texan all I can say is; take me with you?"

Also me! Let's all go! We'll gather all the North Texas Mefites and form a new cabal community.
posted by dejah420 at 8:47 PM on April 14, 2011

I moved from Texas to Seattle as soon as I graduated (well, actually, I spent a gap year here and couldn't wait to come back). The Pacific Northwest is wonderful. DO IT.
posted by halogen at 9:02 PM on April 14, 2011

Well, I don't know. I don't have a dog in this fight location-wise - and I don't know either of you. But if you both have roots in Texas and only you have Texas friends... I wonder if she isn't being unrealistic. Because wherever you go - there you are! Why doesn't she have friends and why doesn't she talk to her family? I'm not unsympathetic to your wife or trying to be a jerk - a lot of amazing people have enormous trouble connecting with others - but a major move with all of the losses that that entails to fulfill a fantasy that somehow a socially difficult person will find all kinds of community and friendship far away seems unreasonable to me. There's also the matter of cost of living, which again, I don't know. Will the "little bit" of salary increase net you more or less in that more desirable location?
posted by moxiedoll at 9:28 PM on April 14, 2011

I say go for it. You can always move back. And a little bit of adventure should be fun. If you don't, won't you always wonder?
posted by bluedaisy at 9:30 PM on April 14, 2011

I lived in Seattle for 5 years, and I would totally move back if I could be employed there. It's a great place (although given housing prices, you're likely to be renting). Good food, good public transportation, fun stuff to do...

I also gathered from details of your question that your spouse is maybe not happy where you are? She doesn't have much in the way of friends, sounded like, and no job (presumably on purpose, since you're home-schooling, but still, no folks she gets to be associating with on a regular basis...). Seattle would be a new opportunity for both of you. Sure, she says she's "fine" with staying where you are...but are you sure she really is, given another option?

I say do it.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:46 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

It doesn't sound like moving will cause a tremendous amount of upset in your family, which would be the only valid reason I could think of not to do it. You have friends, but friends won't wait for you like family will. They might move and leave you behind, and then you might regret not doing it.

You might be spending more in Texas, but I hear Seattle is really nice. Haven't been there, but I've always wanted to.

Like roue said, Texas isn't going anywhere.
posted by CorduroyCorset at 10:22 PM on April 14, 2011

I moved two (Australian) states from both of our families and friends. I was there for two years and I desperately miss the friends I made, as well as the city. More than I missed anyone Ora trying when I waas there.
posted by geek anachronism at 4:29 AM on April 15, 2011

Seattle can be difficult for new folks to meet people, especially if you're not that used to the weather, types of outdoor activities, or have an in. If your wife will continue not to work, and homeschool your kid, she might be really isolated. You will have to make a concerted, specific effort to meet new people, so I'll offer a few ideas.

- Sign up for REI sponsored events (hikes, kayaking, trail building, nature walking, whatever) - these will give you both the structured time to start something (preventing the "oh someday, I'll try hiking" malaise), a new group of people to meet, and lots of great tips about how to prepare for and enjoy the PNW outdoors.

- Enroll in a local class, doesn't matter what it is - sewing, new language, local history, local food, cooking, whatever. You'll meet other people also interested in that topic, and have a shared opportunity for conversation and future meet-ups.

- Look at the Seattle meet-ups ahead of time, maybe there are some for folks from the South or even Texas! Meeting people who are also slightly bewildered at all the goretex westcoastness will be good for your soul. Ask friends and family now if they know anyone there who can help you get a lay of the land.

- get a house that is good for entertaining. Even if you dont' know folks well, invite them over for a casual BBQ, or Sunday afternoon brunch, or cake and coffee for no reason. It can be scary to do so with people you don't know all that well, but it'll be great for your social circle and build a sense of community.

- Ensure you really really really understand cost of living changes: things to consider include heating costs, gas costs, electricity costs, much more expensive rental costs, slightly higher food costs, etc. Don't be scare of tallying up what you can figure out, and if it's a higher cost of living that isn't countered by your salary increase, talk to the company and ask for more. Do it before you move, not in a year's time.

- Invest in good outdoor clothing. It does not have to be fancy brand new REI. Actually, it's better if it's not, especially when you first start out. There are often second hand stores for outdoor equipment - get rain pants, a light rain jacket (no insulation, just waterproof and breathable), a heavier rain coat (also waterproof and breathable, but a bit thicker and heavy-duty material). Then get one or two fleeces of varying thickness, a pair of wool and silk long underwear, and about 4 pairs of smartwool socks (yes, that brand, yes they're expensive, yes, they will change your cold/wet life). Get a pair of goretex trail runners or light hiking boots - doesn't have to be huge clunkers. They should fit with thick socks. Yes, just get all of it, or at least one full outdoor outfit for rainy temperatures about 45-55 degrees. Then you won't have any excuses not to get out and enjoy the amazing scenery. I find that people who say "oh I'll get it when I need it", then don't have it when they're invited out to do something, so they don't go, or they don't already have it, so they don't consider getting out on the weekend because it would first entail getting appropriate clothing. Not all of the west coast is rainy all of the time. But the PNW is rainy enough of the year, and for enough of the surrounding area, that you WILL use some outdoor clothing if you want to explore the outdoors. It's not the kind of thing you can say, "well I'll just get out when it's nicer." You will be stuck inside for months. Sometimes it's only drizzly, but a light raincoat and appropriate footwear will make you SO MUCH HAPPIER. Once you figure out what you like to do, you can get a few more specialized items along the way. Start small, start slightly used, and build from there.

- Budget in some flights home - at least once a year, maybe twice if there are good airfare sales. It makes it easier not to feel "stuck."

- also budget in some trips in the westcoast in general - omg, northern California! OMG, Oregon coast! OMG Oregon wine! OMG Vancouver Canada! San Juan Islands! Ferries! Victoria! Cascade Mountains! It's all amazing. Pick at least one new place to try out this summer. The point is get out!

Obviously I'd suggest DOING IT! Life is short. Adventure is fun. It has the capacity to really shape your child's life and ability to think about trying new things. But you can't go in with the mindset of absolute trepidation. It has to be a sense of adventure, willingness to go with the flow, and the EXPECTATION that it will be hard, it might be lonely at times, and you will have to figure out things you didn't even KNOW about, but you'll learn so much about yourself, this country, each other, and expand your horizons! And... North Texas isn't going anywhere. You wouldn't be failing if you went back -- you'd be making a new decision based on new information (i.e. you like it better than the alternatives!).

Go forth, young family. Enjoy the salmon and drizzly walks on the beaches.
posted by barnone at 4:56 AM on April 15, 2011 [5 favorites]

I moved from Carrollton, GA, to Washington, DC, 15 years ago. My wife (at the time) was a tenure-track college professor, and I had plenty of part-time teaching work. We had a 1-year-old baby, a pretty nice place to live, and prospects for a stable life a small town.

We hated the place, though. Had a hard time making friends, and we were generally kind of bored. We'd visited DC a couple of times as kids, and thought it'd be a cool place to live and a great place to raise a child. My wife got a job offer here, but I came up with no prospects whatsoever, just the confidence that I could find something.

I did, we stayed, and my daughter has grown up in an incredible place with a huge variety of things to do and people to meet. It worked, for us, at least.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:55 AM on April 15, 2011

Do it. As others have said, you can always return to Texas if you prefer it there after trying Seattle. We like Seattle, Mrs arcticseal is from Vancouver and we plan to return home to BC at some point, the Pacific Northwest has a lot to offer.

We loved Texas when we lived in Houston, but we also loved the other 5 countries we've lived in; each of them for different things.
posted by arcticseal at 8:06 AM on April 15, 2011

Native Texan here. My husband (also from a many-generations-in-Texas family) and I chased a job to Jersey City a number of years ago. We ended up back in Texas because it was where we wanted to be, and family was part of that, but I have absolutely no regrets about following that job to New Jersey.

barnone has some specific good advice for things you can do (some we did and some we wished we had done) to make the transition easier for you. But you can always chase another job home or ask for a transfer back if you really hate it. I'd go for it in your shoes.
posted by immlass at 9:40 AM on April 15, 2011

Well, I don't know. I don't have a dog in this fight location-wise - and I don't know either of you. But if you both have roots in Texas and only you have Texas friends... I wonder if she isn't being unrealistic. Because wherever you go - there you are! Why doesn't she have friends and why doesn't she talk to her family? I'm not unsympathetic to your wife or trying to be a jerk - a lot of amazing people have enormous trouble connecting with others - but a major move with all of the losses that that entails to fulfill a fantasy that somehow a socially difficult person will find all kinds of community and friendship far away seems unreasonable to me. There's also the matter of cost of living, which again, I don't know. Will the "little bit" of salary increase net you more or less in that more desirable location?

Sorry, moxiedoll, but my knee-jerk reaction to this is ugh. Maybe I've been lectured one-too-many times by my in-laws about how the fact that I can't be happy living in my home state is some kind of personal/moral failing ("Unhappy people are unhappy everywhere!" they cheerfully report).

The truth is, for some people, where you live really does make a difference. It can make a difference with how easy it is to find like-minded friends who share similar values. It can cause you to structure your day differently. The weather and the traffic and all of that can have a very real impact on mood for some people.

That's not to say that I don't believe that some people are happy wherever, and more power to them. But I don't think people whose environment matters should inevitably be labeled socially maladjusted.

I think you should really ask your wife if she thinks this move will make her happy. It's a risk, and it's scary, and I get that. But a happy spouse makes a world of difference.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:45 AM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think if you are even considering it may tell you something. I had the same opportunity a couple of years ago and turned it down immediately for a variety of reasons (kid starting high school, parents getting older). The thing is, for me it was an easy decision. Moving is hard and I think if at that time I was in a place that I would even consider it, then it probably meant I should go. And besides, Seattle probably has arts festivals without the 75 mile an hour wind.
posted by iscavenger at 11:56 AM on April 15, 2011

At the end of last August I had had a particularly unsatisfying couple of weeks a work after a professionally disappointing year. In the scope of 10 days an opportunity arose to move from the UK to Switzerland for 18 months or so. I did a very limited amount of soul searching, wrote a one page email to the Swiss partner in charge of the team I'd be working with and had a half hr conversation with him and accepted the job, without even having seen a relocation package or anything like that.

And whilst there are many, many things that surprised me about moving here there are no regrets as yet. And yes, my network here is still extremly small and it does take a lot of effort to meet people outside work. But that is not to say that's a bad thing because stuff that rattles your cage a bit and forces you to get out of your comfort zone some is normally a good thing. So if your family likes the idea and if you believe you'll enjoy the lifestyle go for it.
posted by koahiatamadl at 12:32 PM on April 15, 2011

I agree PhoBWanKenobi - I was exponentially happier far from my 'home' town. We are only back here because my partner was starting his stint as the stay at home parent and I didn't want him to be isolated. Up here I am awkward, lonely and uncomfortable with pretty much everything. The positives are family interactions for my daughter (slim positive since I have issues with a lot of the interactions) and we are back in the house we own. Down there I had a solid group of friends, I had a support network, I loved the city and the weather and I actually liked being away from our families. And I don't have an excessively bad relationship with them, I just like the distance. I was happier through a difficult pregnancy and with a newborn down there than I was as a DINK up here. Than I am up here now.

But any of that aside, you can come back. You really can. The difficulty is if only one of you wants to.

And I have no idea what went wrong with the last message. Stupid autocorrect.
posted by geek anachronism at 7:08 PM on April 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I live in Dallas now, and I'll be moving to Seattle this summer! Can I come to the meetup too? :)
posted by AngerBoy at 8:35 PM on April 17, 2011

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