I want both!
July 26, 2012 6:56 PM   Subscribe

I've been offered an 18 month job 3000km away, where my partner lives. Everything sounds great except for leaving friends and family for 18 months, which is a really big deal for me. I'm really struggling to make up my mind, help me?

Some background:
*I need people. I have a really good network of friends and family that I rely on enormously. I see people a lot and that is a defining characteristic of my life.
*Despite the above I'm super-shy and make friends slowly.
*Job and partner are in a small, fairly isolated, rural town. The culture is probably something I would struggle with, being very much a lefty city boy myself.
*The job would be enormously challenging (a good thing in my book), with long hours, leaving little time for much else (a less good thing).
*The money on offer is excellent and would probably enable me to put a large deposit on a house, come the end of the contract. Which I would love.
*Other offers of work are a little sparse at the moment, but there may be some good work coming up at home soon. It's hard to know though.
*My partner will accept my decision either way and has been nothing but supportive. She would like me to be with her but understands my doubts.
*The offer has come rather unexpectedly, arising out of a random conversation while I was visiting. Everything is moving faster than I would like - I was not considering moving at all in the next couple of years until only days ago.

Really, it's a very tempting offer, but leaving friends and community is a massive snag.

So my questions are:
How have people resolved similar conundrums?
If you have moved in a similar situation, and have a similar need for sociability, how have you coped? What worked for you, what didn't?
posted by deadwax to Human Relations (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I say take the plunge. You'll be with your sweetie and be showing her you're willing to put that high on your priorities. You'll push yourself a little outside your comfort zone, and that's a growing experience--but it's not for too long, so if you hate it you can chalk it down as something tried that didn't work. In a small, isolated, rural town you'll probably find that it's pretty easy to get to know people pretty quickly, even if you're shy (you might also find that being in a place you know you'll be leaving after a while knocks back your shyness a little). And while you might be worrying that they'll all be rock-ribbed conservatives, you don't have to spend all your time arguing politics. There'll be plenty of kind and interesting people who'll be delighted to have someone new to get to know.

In general and all other things being equal, I think when the choice is between "stay in my comfort zone and just toddle on" and "take a bit of a chance which might really pay off" you should go for the latter.
posted by yoink at 7:04 PM on July 26, 2012 [6 favorites]

This is a huge growth opportunity - to build new friendships. Some of my greatest friendships have been the briefest.
posted by victory_laser at 7:06 PM on July 26, 2012

There are going to be much, much harder things in life than spending 18 months working hard in a place where you don't know anyone. You also probably owe it to your SO to be close to her for a while, and rejecting this opportunity would be akin to rejecting her.

See what arrangements you can make to head back to your home city semi-regularly.
posted by deanc at 7:11 PM on July 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

Do it, absolutely do it -- it sounds like a great opportunity and the only downside is that you're not sure you can handle it. I kind of freaked out about an 8-month opportunity overseas, but it was the best thing I could have done. I feared I wouldn't make friends; I did, and I had great experiences. And I stayed in touch with my old friends while away, and now that I'm back, hey, they're still here. And in fact I think my relationships with them are actually growing a little deeper than they were.

Moving to a new place is freeing. You can break out of ruts and find new patterns and scratch itches you'd forgotten you had. You can redefine your life to be however you want. And when you return, you'll have gained a new perspective on your life; what you thought was 2-dimensional will have all these interesting depths that you'll notice once you step away and look at it from an angle.
posted by PercussivePaul at 7:12 PM on July 26, 2012

I tend to have some similar traits (shy/quiet, although I'm a bit more comfortable being by myself) and have found that moves like that are good for pushing me out of my comfort zone - they make me want to seek out new experiences and meet new people, naturally making me a bit more sociable. Plus, you'll be closer to your SO - sounds like a good deal to me! If you're worried about losing touch with family, you can always make a plan for semi-regular visits, plus there's always Facebook, Skype, email, etc.
posted by photo guy at 7:24 PM on July 26, 2012

I don't see any reason not to go. It sounds like a great opportunity and your girlfriend wants you there. 18 mo is nothing in the grand scheme of things. Do the big adventure! It will make you more interesting when you go back home.
posted by amanda at 7:44 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

nthing just jump on this. You get a great work opportunity, time with your honey, excellent pay and what could be a great adventure.

PLUS, with all of this you're getting the security of knowing that if it doesn't make you happy it's only a year and a half.

Your home friends and family will be there for you when you get back, this sounds like one of those things that people ALWAYS regret not doing.

Good luck and have fun!!
posted by Beacon Inbound at 8:11 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Skype works great. Go.
posted by mhoye at 9:24 PM on July 26, 2012

Key points not included in question: how difficult would it be to visit home? How far is this rural town from an airport, and how much time off are you going to have for visits?

If you're within striking distance of a reasonable airport, that makes distance much less of a concern, especially when you're making enough money to afford to fly places when you want to. If you're going to have holiday time and long weekends where you can fly home, then that will help you get through your time enjoyably.

Remember, Skype and Google video chat are amazing things and can make the people you love seem like they're right in front of you, whether they're actually around the corner or they're on another continent. Once you've reached a certain distance away (I'd say 6 hours driving distance is about the cutoff) it really doesn't matter so much whether you're 6 hours, 12 hours, or 18 hours driving distance away - the point is that you're too far to drive home and you're going to have to fly. At 3000km away you should still be able to go for a long weekend if you can fly it.

I think you should go pursue your dreams.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:25 PM on July 26, 2012

Response by poster: The town is remote enough that travel back home is a day long affair, at a minimum. It does have an airport but requires connecting flights and so on. In all likelihood I'll only be able to go back home for Christmas and Easter. Time off is the standard 20 days per year and I'll be working 6 days per week. Work week will be around 60 hours. I'm not likely to have a hell of a lot of energy for outside work things.
posted by deadwax at 10:04 PM on July 26, 2012

Best answer: I'll break with the crowd and say that I think we as a culture really undervalue having a community of friends and family. If you look through AskMe you'll see dozens if not hundreds of questions from people saying, "How do I make friends?" "How do I find a community?" "Why do I feel so lonely?" While it's great to make your partner a priority, they can't be the sole source of support in your life, which it sounds like you know. If you're happy where you are - not just comfortable, but happy - then I say why mess with a good thing? A lot of people are glibly saying "You'll make new friends easy!" but it can take months to make new friends and years to build a solid community.

I think if it will be easy logistically to bail if you hate it, then there's no harm in doing this. But you don't want to end up isolated and lonely for a year and a half because you bought into this idea of either a) adventure, b) a good job, or c) romance as being more important than friendships/community, because that might not be how the world works for you.
posted by shaun uh at 11:31 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Go for it, but do yourself a huge favor and schedule a 3-day or 4-day weekend away within the first six weeks of moving in. I'm living in interior Alaska right now, 130 miles from the nearest grocery store, and I started to climb the walls after about five weeks. After a little weekend holiday in the nearest city (and the reminder that, yes, civilization is out there!), I felt a lot happier about living in the middle of nowhere/everywhere.
posted by mochapickle at 11:34 PM on July 26, 2012

I've done this, and I say go for it: think of it as an adventure, and remember that after all, a year and a half will go by like lightening.

It's not like you'd be dropped in a pool of total strangers, either: your SO is there, as well as her family & friends, and they'll more than likely welcome you. Plus considering the availability of social media like facebook, Skype and cellphones, there really isn't any need to consider yourself cut off from your own family & friends. (I did it back in the dark ages, and all we had was snail mail that was delivered once or twice a week --- trust me, nowadays? Easy-peasy.)

One thing I do think you should consider: your line about "The culture is probably something I would struggle with, being very much a lefty city boy," really strikes me as pre-judging an entire community. Have you ever even met these people yet? Because honestly, if you go in there with some sort of superior attitude, you WILL be isolated. If you are open and welcoming, then they are likely to be the same.
posted by easily confused at 4:00 AM on July 27, 2012

Response by poster: Yes, I'm actually in the town at the moment, that's how the job offer came up.

I don't have a superior attitude regarding the culture of the place, but I've sat through one rant about "tree hugging city types" while having a break here and it's hard not to be intimidated by that type of thing. Particularly as I am in fact a tree hugging city type.
posted by deadwax at 4:54 AM on July 27, 2012

As someone who up and moved to another country and left her social and emotional safety net behind I regret it everyday. I have formed a new network in my new home country but it has taken me almost 4 years. I, like you, am incredibly shy and without the security of people I know to act as a base I found it even harder to stretch myself to make new friends. The only reason I stayed was that my husband is even shyer than me and I think him loosing his social safety net would have ended our marriage.

Yes it's a great job opportunity and if you are a person that values jobs first then I'd say go for it, but from the wording of your question it sounds like you might not be and being away from family and friends is very hard and then to have to be in a new "culture" as well it would be a lot of stress and strain and would be something I'd think very hard about.
posted by wwax at 6:01 AM on July 27, 2012

I am a lefty city type, introverted but with a great group of friends and coworkers, and I gave it all up to move to a rural village for my partner's job. BIG REGRET. But that was a permanent move. Even with my negative experience behind me, if it were an 18-month gig I would definitely go for it. Rural = hiking trails & lots of great outdoor activities. Hunters & farmers are often huge environmentalists. There are tons of similarities beneath the surface.

But ... what happens at the end of 18 months? Your job ends but you've gotten settled in with your partner ... do you both relocate back to the city then? Or then are you faced with the dilemma of "I hate it here but I don't want to leave my partner?"
posted by headnsouth at 6:36 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

6 days a week at 10 hours a day will leave you with little or no time to make casual friends. You'd best decide if you like your coworkers now because they will pretty much be your social life.

In addition I don't know what your history and relationship with your partner is but a combination of job stress + environmental stress + isolation is going to make for some difficult times. Be prepared.

Lastly, I can't say enough good things about scheduled video chats for keeping in touch with people. I can honestly say that in your shoes I would be making sure I could get a smooth video feed back to my home town before I agreed to anything.

(if you can afford to, get an iPad for yourself and for your parents/family. FaceTime has crossed some invisible threshold in communication for me and mine. After 20 years of sporadic emails and even more sporadic phone calls my sister in Australia and I are starting to connect on a regular basis again. And she is connecting with her nieces and nephews. These are good times to be living remote.)
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:40 AM on July 27, 2012

With modern communications and social networking you can stay in touch with your buds in your home-town.

If you're currently having a long-distance relationship, you have an opportunity to see if it's for keeps or not by moving to take this job.

It's a contract, it's over in 18 months. 18 months are going to pass anyway.

You will be so far ahead of the game after 18 months I can't think of a reason NOT to do this.

The good news is that you know it's temporary, so you don't have to uproot from your home-town.

If you go into it knowing tht it's not forever, and you look at it as an opportunity to be with your partner full time, any other positive thing that comes from the experience is gravy.

Go for it!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:46 AM on July 27, 2012

As a frequent mover, I think that the variety of perspectives in this thread will be helpful for you to decide. However, one question remains for you to consider for yourself, where are you at in your relationship with your partner and what kinds of plans (if any) do you two have for the future? Thus, what are the implications of this move on those?
posted by infini at 9:05 AM on July 27, 2012

As you get older, it'll be harder and harder to make these sorts of excursions. As your parents get increasingly infirm, they may come to rely on you more and more and you may regret not taking the opportunity to see other places. Likewise, close friends are likely to get more and more wrapped up in their personal lives and you could end up feeling abandonded in your own home town.

On the other hand, if you flat out don't like your partner's town, then don't be pressured into going.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:00 PM on July 27, 2012

I've done this. Twice. Once for seven months, and the other time for two years.

It was hard, yes. But I would do it again, no questions asked. It's an incredibly opportunity you've been given- take it.
posted by Tamanna at 9:33 PM on July 27, 2012

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