Should I temporarily relocate 70 miles from home to find a good job?
February 15, 2012 10:43 AM   Subscribe

I have a house and a husband I'd like to keep. However, it seems like the only way to do this is to temporarily relocate myself 70 miles away where the job market is better. Is this a good idea?

Relevant Details:
Me: 30-something female, sans degree, using my sockpuppet account
Mr. Yum: 40-something male with chronic pain (3+ years)
We've been married almost 12 years and are self-employed.
Location: Southern California

Due to my husband's health issues, he hasn't been able to work as much as he used to. Our tiny rural community's job market isn't that great. I have a very casual housekeeping gig for a friend, but it's not going to turn into something full-time.

My Dad's my landlord, and has been VERY understanding about my husband's illness. However, we owe oodles of back rent. Dad doesn't like to nag me about it, but I know Dad could use the money back.

As Mr. Yum and my Dad have been taking care of me for pretty much my whole life, I'd like to do what I can personally to become the main breadwinner in this family. I'd also like to keep this house, as Mr. Yum and I love it up here. Besides, moving isn't a realistic option for many reasons.

It seems that the majority of jobs available right now are around Downtown LA, which would be the Commute From Hell for me (.75 hr drive to train station, 1.75 hr train ride, ~.5 hr subway or bus ride each way, five days a week). My car is old and probably won't handle that kind of commute too well (doubly so driving into LA daily), and I have no money for major repairs.

However, a dear friend of mine has a spare room that he'd let me use, rent-free. He's a mile from a Metrolink station, a couple miles from a light rail station, and lives in the area where most of my family does. Commuting to Downtown LA from his place would take an hour or less each way. I've found a temp agency or two that seems to list most of the jobs available in that area, and I'll most likely sign up with one or both of them if I do this.

When I've brought this idea to Mr. Yum, he says, "What about us?"
I've told him I feel I owe it to him and our marriage to try this. It will be hard adjusting to me being gone a lot, but thanks to technology, we'll be able to keep in touch. Plus, when Mr. Yum is well enough to work, he prefers me out of the house anyway. We could also use health insurance, as that seems to be what will get doctors to treat him properly (long story not relevant to this post).

So, is this a good idea? Am I being short-sighted by thinking the only way to keep my house is to move away from it temporarily?
posted by Val_E_Yum to Work & Money (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think it seems like an extreme step to take unless your father is ready to kick you out of the house, and it doesn't sound like it's anywhere near that point. Is it possible this is more something you want to do then something you have to do?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:47 AM on February 15, 2012

People in academia or other very specialized fields make much longer distance marriages work for extended periods, but then again, sometimes those marriages do not work out. It is so hard to say without knowing you and your marriage (hell, it would be hard to say for sure even if I did know you), but you and your husband have to have some serious discussions about whether or not there are ways for your marriage to weather this strain. One thing you mention that makes me a little more leery than I would normally be is that you would be living with a male friend? That might make your husband less likely to accept this scenario than he might otherwise be.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:51 AM on February 15, 2012

Best answer: It sounds like since you would be signing up with a temp agency at first that you could trial this arrangement for two weeks, to see how it goes (unless I am confused about how temp agencies work!) It doesn't have to be a permanent decision from day one!
posted by unlaced at 10:54 AM on February 15, 2012 [8 favorites]

You're basically talking about short-distance remittance. I've worked with a number of people who moved away from their family (usually to another country) in order to make money in America, send it home, and then move back when they fulfilled whatever goal it is they were trying to make. I can't tell you if it's a good idea or not, but it's certainly feasible.
posted by griphus at 10:56 AM on February 15, 2012

I think it can work out well if your goal is to be together long term. It builds up your resume and gives your husband a chance to get health insurance (and eventually work full time).

One suggestion would be to look for a three/four day a week gig so you are home for more than the weekend.
posted by saucysault at 11:01 AM on February 15, 2012

If your husband isn't working anyway, why not bring him with you?
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:01 AM on February 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would start applying to jobs first (using your friend's address), then start talking about whether it's a good idea with your husband. Feels like you're putting the cart before the horse.

If you do do this, I'd consider coming home every weekend to spend time with your husband.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:02 AM on February 15, 2012

I 4 day work week could really work out well. You would have enough time to be home for long weekends. It might be stressful, but sounds like living with owing back rent is stressful as well.
posted by Vaike at 11:07 AM on February 15, 2012

Plenty of people make arrangements like this work for their marriages (and there are lots of details to think about-- for how long? how many days a week? what about weekends? etc.). But the most important factor is whether it will work for *your* marriage, which is something that you have to discuss with your husband, not with the internet. (You've mentioned to us the arguments you made to your husband, but you don't say how he reacted. And it doesn't matter how we think he *should* have reacted.)
posted by willbaude at 11:21 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've worked with a tremendous number of people with similar situations, and though I am not an expert, I have seen too much not to share some advice:

Most important: Plan for what may come your way - leave nothing as "it can't happen to us." It will - and it will test you.

- men and women react very differently to separation. In your case, husband will have greater challenges (you're already started to see that with his comment "what about us." Do not assume what you're feeling is what he's feeling, and he's got to know the same.

- he is unhealthy, you are not - do not underestimate the seduction of relief you will experience when you are away and not having to deal with it.

- plan for the fighting and arguments. Natural outcome of both distance and fatigue. Control the spiral.

- plan for the affair - it can happen to either of you, though more likely with you (no reason to point out why). Do not pretend this cannot happen. Remove those elements from your new found existence that make this likely.

- plan for the "easier not to go home to visit" allure. Visit home, even though you don't feel like it. Technology will only take you so far - we need physical reminders about what people mean to us.

I've seen it all - it is the nature of the industry I work in. However, majority of the people do make it through, especially if they are relatively close, and they were prepared for the tests.
posted by Kruger5 at 11:22 AM on February 15, 2012 [12 favorites]

Definitely come home every weekend!

I have a family member who does something like this - works from home Mondays and Fridays (I think), drives to work (~3 hours?) from home on Tuesdays, stays with his sister Tuesday and Wednesday night (much closer to his work), then drives home after work on Thursdays. I wouldn't want to do it, but he has his reasons, as do you.

I agree with those who say you should start looking for work and then see what happens.
posted by mskyle at 11:27 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

One thing not mentioned thus far: living with your dear friend rent free. While I have dear friends that would let me live with them also - for a time - I wouldn't count on it being an indefinite arrangement. Now you'll "owe" 2 people, no matter how dear or closely related you are. I'd much rather see it happen with your own place, and just taking your husband with you, as someone else mentioned.
posted by bellastarr at 11:32 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

My husband once spent seven months doing this sort of thing. I wouldn't call it the happiest period of our marriage, but it certainly wasn't a marriage-breaker. There was a purpose to it, which made it all bearable. In the end, I was glad when it finished but don't regret that it happened.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:34 AM on February 15, 2012

Is telecommuting an option? And, if so, have you checked yet? There are plenty of good telecommute jobs that are featured all the time on that site. There is a small annual subscription fee (I think maybe $10?), but I have found it to be worth the money for the sheer volume and variety of flexible and remote job listings.
posted by anonnymoose at 11:48 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sorry, I misspoke--looks like a year is $49.95 (big difference).
posted by anonnymoose at 11:50 AM on February 15, 2012

Response by poster: I promise not to thread-sit, but:

*My friend is like a cousin to me, and he respects Mr. Yum. There's pretty much nil chance an affair will happen. (When Mr. Yum is up for it, the sex is still amazing.)

*I plan on cooking for said friend and will do other things to repay the favor. (He owns his house outright, so he's not paying rent, either.)

*Bringing Mr. Yum with me is not an option. He wants to work when he can, and home is the best work environment for him. Plus, we have two cats and my friend's allergic.

*I will talk more about this with Mr. Yum, but I wanted some outside perspectives, too.

*I'd love to telecommute, but so far I haven't found anything that doesn't look like a scam.

Thanks. :)
posted by Val_E_Yum at 11:52 AM on February 15, 2012

*My friend is like a cousin to me, and he respects Mr. Yum. There's pretty much nil chance an affair will happen.

I wanted to point out that I don't think Kruger5 was talking about the male friend. The affair could be anyone--like the person you see in line getting coffee every morning.

And pay special attention to this: do not underestimate the seduction of relief you will experience

My wife had to go somewhere for three days during a time when our two tiny children were extremely difficult. As amazing and healthy my marriage is, even she was tempted to not come back after seeing how easy life could be without us (i.e. the two extremely high maintenance children). Heck, there are days I don't even want to come home from work.
posted by TinWhistle at 11:58 AM on February 15, 2012

I know quite a few people that have 2-3 hour each way commutes, myself included. I would agree it's impossible if you are driving the entire thing, but if it's mostly mass transit that is doable. It's not fun, but it is doable. Depending on the nature of your work, you might be able to use some of the transit time as work time too. You could also consider something like go home Monday night, crash at friends Tue and Wed, go home Thursday night and Friday for the weekend.
posted by COD at 12:26 PM on February 15, 2012

I don't know if this is possible - especially since the details of your employment situation once you get there is a little 'up in the air' -- but I'd recommend, if you do it, to figure out a time frame on this to make it feel like it wasn't so open ended.

My partner and I lived apart for six months for (mostly) employment reasons, but we always knew it was going to be six months, so it didn't feel quite so much like it might have been even remotely 'terminal' to the relationship. It wasn't always easy -- but in other ways it was the best thing to happen to our relationship. The reason why 'absence makes the heart grow fonder' is because when you're in love, it's true. The extra income at the time was helpful, but, after a long time of not working, he also needed to feel like he was contributing (which was why a large part of your message sounded familiar to me). And to be honest, though I didn't know it at the time, I needed the space -- even though I also missed him the whole time he was gone.

It's not perfect, but just because it's different than a 'typical' situation or the ideal doesn't mean it can't work and end up being best for all parties involved.

Good luck!
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:43 PM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Consider that you are on the fence about this because it's an option. Were it not an option, like in the case of a sick child needing to be at St Judes, or a military deployment, you'd just get on with it, make the best of it, and make it work.

I have always found it seriously helps if both parties recognise you're in the same boat and make a commitment to not complaining how hard it is and how much it sucks. It sucks; it's a given; find something else to talk about.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:11 PM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I know married people who are separated physically due to work (or work/school). One couple is going strong still, primarily because they are both independent, VERY focused on connecting with each other as much as possible, and because they know that there is an endpoint (he is finishing school soon). It's not easy, but they work at it because right now this is the best solution that will ultimately bring them back together and further their careers.

Another couple I know divorced, not because of the distance but because of differing wants/expectations and they didn't really go into it on the same page. So it really has to be a conscientious decision made with both partners fully on board and with as many details figured out as possible (and the willingness to figure out the ones that come at you later).

I think having a 3-4 days/week job would be awesome if you could get it. You might want to look at working in a hospital type setting where you could work 10-12 hour shifts and get your 40 hours done faster (plus weekend and overnight shifts often pay more) so you could spend more time at home.
posted by MultiFaceted at 2:51 PM on February 15, 2012

Response by poster:
  • I'm after secretarial work, so the Virtual Assistant suggestion is awesome and makes me wonder why I didn't think of it before. :)
  • I've been having issues with depression lately (I'm on meds), and if I stayed with my friend I could see my family a lot more. Being around them would be very good for me. And yeah, the break from Mr. Yum's pain-related issues wouldn't hurt. ;)
  • Mr. Yum and I have lived and worked under the same roof for a good chunk of the 15 years we've been cohabitating. We love it, but we can't sustain the current business model due to his illness. Restructuring is possible, but will require cash flow we don't have right now. Me working would provide said cash flow and help alleviate some money-related stress for Mr. Yum.
  • Affair potential--Yes, it is there, for either of us. Non-monogamy can be put on the table under the right circumstances.
  • I can get a ride to the train station in the mornings with another friend, but his work day ends early, so I couldn't get a ride home.
  • Getting home without a car on weekends will be tricky, unless Mr. Yum is willing & able to fetch me from the train station.
  • My Dad wants to visit Vietnam again next year (he's a VV), and I know he could use the money I owe him to cover that.
That said, I think I may look into a short trip to my friend's place to do some temp agency scouting while I research the VA biz.
posted by Val_E_Yum at 3:24 PM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Well, this question's resolved. After months of daily emails from, I found a sweet gig helping a European business set up shop in LA that starts tomorrow. :)
posted by Val_E_Yum at 1:21 PM on September 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: D'oh... Forgot to mention it's a telecommuting gig. It may require some travel to LA, but I can handle that. :)
posted by Val_E_Yum at 1:22 PM on September 30, 2012

Response by poster: Damnit, the gig was a scam. Beware of Vexel Labs.
posted by Val_E_Yum at 7:47 PM on January 13, 2013

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