Very nervous about my upcoming move!
August 26, 2012 9:41 AM   Subscribe

Is it normal to be petrified about a move? Wondering if what I am feeling is normal fears/doubts or a sign that I am making a mistake?

I am in my mid-30's and have only lived in one place my entire life. I have, however, traveled a lot internationally and also to some parts of the US. I have always longed to try living elsewhere and am attracted to bigger cities. I live in a small midwest town with limited diversity which has made it somewhat difficult for me as an African American woman.
I have a small, perhaps what many would consider, dysfunctional, family. We do not regularly get together or see each other...funerals, weddings, is about it. I am however close to my mom, and speak to her daily. She is my small support system as much as she is able to be. She is in her mid-60's and I am not sure how soon she will need more support herself and I want to be a part of that. My siblings all still live in the home city and can be of some support so she is not completely isolated.
Recently I saw a job in my "live here bucket list" city, and applied. The application process took more than 5 months and did not look promising, but at the very last minute they offered me the job. I am a teacher and have worked in the same district for 13 years, however, there is some uncertainty due to new legislation for public employees in WI, that could change my income in the coming years. With that said, the place offering me the job is a pretty good offer and seems like a stable place. However, although I was so excited to move, I think all along I never expected it to happen and now it is all coming together very fast. I am worried about many things...I still have a house in home state, and would have to try to sell it - I am not sure how long that will take. I am worried I could move and lose my new job in a year. I am worried if I needed to come back some doors would be closed and I would end up taking a huge salary cut. I am worried about being completely alone in a new city. I am worried about my mom. She came to my house yesterday and saw everything in boxes and dad died 3 months ago (in the middle of this process), and I think it is all too much for her. With that said, I am also worried I will always regret if I do not give this a shot...or, if I wait a year, will it really be any easier, or will similar opportunities exist. I have had a knot in my stomach for the last week and barely eat. I can't sleep well either...I have a small window of time in which to back out, and have thought many times about doing it...thoughts, insights, similar experiences? Have you moved and regretted it? Have you moved and it worked out?
posted by mdn31 to Human Relations (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
What would you feel if you backed out? Chances are you'd regret not taking the risk.
posted by Obscure Reference at 9:52 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

A couple of years ago I wanted out of my then job and was happy to go just about anywhere. Then, at very short notice, an opportunity came up to go to another country for my employer so within a week I went from everybody thinking I was totally settled where I was to telling people I was moving abroad for 18 months just as soon as they'd sorted out my relocation formalities.

And before I knew it I was in the new country I'd never been to until after I'd committed to moving there and had left just about anybody important in my life in the old place. And for a while I wasn't sure I'd done the right thing. But after a while I sorted out my life in the new place and things were looking much brighter.

There are still some things I don't like about the new place but I'm learning to work around those. And there are some choices about the relocation that were more or less forced on me or that I made in haste thinking I'd go back after a year or two. Well I am no longer going back having been given a permanent contract here. So I am now fixing those issues. It is a process, not always an easy one at that. But you can so make a life in the new place if you want to.

As to your specific concerns:

- You can talk to your mother on the phone, every day. You can video chat etc. I am sure if you asked her if she wanted you to go she'd tell you of course not, that she'll miss you terribly but then send you off on your adventure. If you find she needs a lot more care in 10 or 15 years you reconsider where you need to be at that point.

- Let your house, no need to sell it at the moment.

- You don't even need to move all your things at the moment. Put them into storage, get a shortish lease on a furnished place or even a room in new location until you've got your bearings and know what areas you like etc. Non permanent arrangements are your friend at this point. They allow you to feel less scared because your commitments don't feel permanent and they allow you maximum flexibility as you learn about the new place.

- You can always move back if you want to. Whatever uncertainty you perceive at the moment will be there irrespective of where you life. There is no such thing as certainty about your job or your pay or any aspect of your life.
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:21 AM on August 26, 2012

In January my wife and I moved from a small, flat college town where we'd lived since we met 14 years ago, to a busy city full of hills and rivers. We are now further from family (though still withing a day's drive), and the landscape and population density are very different from what we'd gotten used to, or what either of us had grown up with. We also moved on short notice (job offer a couple day's before Thanksgiving, packed and moved about a week after Christmas so my wife could start work the second week of the new year). The process of moving was extremely stressful. We, too, had to prepare to sell our house, where we'd been dug in for 12 years; do all sorts of deferred repairs to help it sell; admit to dear friends and neighbors that we were suddenly leaving. I reflected at the time that the process of getting ready to move was stressful because I was focused on nothing but labor and loss for weeks at a time, with no way of really knowing whether it would be worth it. That last couple of weeks were emotionally grueling.

It's been totally worth it. City life is a lot more fun that I could've anticipated. There are places to go, things to do, excellent restaurants and grocery stores close by. We started out renting an inexpensive apartment, then got lucky and sold our old house after only a couple of weeks on the market. By April we were browsing houses in the new city, and soon bought one. That meant breaking our lease, which was a pain but not terrible to deal with. So now we're living in a lovely neighborhood, with an objectively nicer house than we had before, enjoying our surroundings and feeling like we somehow fell into a tub of butter. We still miss our neighbors and friends, but a few have already come to visit us in the new city. Eight and half months in, it's starting to feel a little like home.

Until you get to the good part, do your best to take care of yourself. If friends offer to help you, let them. Spend time with people you will miss. Eat. Sleep. Also, find the best Realtor you can; we interviewed three of them, and the difference between the mediocre guys and the extremely competent woman we finally hired would be hard to overstate.
posted by jon1270 at 11:15 AM on August 26, 2012

There is no ideal time to make a big change. You can always stack up a ton of reasons to stay exactly where you are. You love your mom, but it will be very hard to not grow to resent her if she's the reason you pass up opportunities that could positively reshape your live.

Make your choice to stay or go. Staying feels safer because you know the grooves in the road. Both choices have risks and neither is going to end up exactly as you think it will. And yes, it's totally natural to be in a complete panic before a move, especially if you've never made a big move before. When I made my first big move, I was so stressed out about it that I worried myself in a case of full-body hives (no exaggeration). Once we loaded the car and started driving I calmed myself down and it was okay. In fact, it was an amazing time in my life when led to my next big move.

Personally, I'd be packing my boxes.
posted by 26.2 at 11:26 AM on August 26, 2012 [6 favorites]

Go. We regret the things we do not do. It's ok to be scared; that means you're really trying something.
posted by samofidelis at 11:36 AM on August 26, 2012 [4 favorites]

First, I am very sorry for your loss. Your mom is going through a natural grieving process, and I'm guessing she would cry and be sad regardless of whether you were moving or not.

Secondly, I was you just a couple years ago. I was settled in a job for many years and lived close to my family. I relied on them perhaps more than I should. I was in my comfort zone...but not exactly happy. I knew that I needed to expand my horizons. I found a position two time zones away and made the leap. I loved the area, I loved the people. Unfortunately I did not end up loving the job. I am now moving (again!) for another job and feeling the same nerves you are feeling. But I also know that I did it once, and I can do it again. I have high hopes that this position is a better fit for me and the area promises to be just as nice as the one I am leaving.

Also, I should mention that like you, I own a house back in my hometown. I decided to use a property management company to rent it out and that has worked well. Just something to consider.

Yes, there are always concerns about taking a new job and it not working out, but it's not insurmountable. I had no problem finding a new position even though I've only been in my current position for 20 months. It doesn't have to be a career killer.

I think you are making a good move. It won't be easy to start over and get used to a new area away from family, but no adventure is ever without its painful moments. Consider joining Meetup and getting involved in local groups in the new city.

And just throwing this out there, since you're concerned about caring for your mom as she gets there any chance your mom might decide to move closer to you after you have settled in?

Good luck! And congratulations on crossing something off of your bucket list!
posted by BeBoth at 11:38 AM on August 26, 2012

Hi, I'm in a similar situation to you. I've recently moved back to the smallish, diversity-less town I grew up in. I'm of a racial minority too (Asian) and it's been hard for me to feel that I belong here, yet at the same time I'm worried about leaving behind responsibilities (mainly the parents) and my comfort cocoon.

I've been wrestling with my own stay-vs-go dilemma (even asked a question about it here!). For me, I know that if leaving is what I need to do, then I need to leave. This place where I grew up is far too small to hold me. The jobs to be had here are jobs that would not satisfy me and would not use me to my fullest potential. As much as I think I wouldn't feel comfortable in a bigger city, in the end it might be for the best for me.

And so it might be for you. It's a city on your bucket list, so why not go since you want to see what it's like? And you'll have a job there, so you'll experience life there, unlike the tourists who just see it as a visitor.

It might be much for your mom, since your dad went so recently (sorry about your loss btw), but hopefully she can understand that this is a dream of yours. If you need to check on her, call her up. Even if she can't see you, hearing your voice would help to ease the loneliness.

Don't know about the house, but a property management company sounds like a good idea.

Good luck!
posted by ditto75 at 12:00 PM on August 26, 2012

I'm sorry to hear about your father. Moving is very scary. We've done two very big long distance moves and I can tell you it is terrifying. You'll second guess ever step of the way. You worry to bits about everything from your old house selling to trying to make new friends to the possibility that you will hate it, everything will go wrong and you should have played it safe. Never play it safe. You won't know what you've been missing until you're there. You won't see how much you've grown until you bloom where you plant yourself next. So do it- your mom will be fine, she has your other siblings close by and she has you by email/text/phone/Skype. You can't clip your own wings here. Time to fly!

If by chance it isn't exactly what you hoped you, you get to do it all over again, but this time with experience! (win-win!)
posted by pink candy floss at 12:02 PM on August 26, 2012

Don't worry about whether it's Normal-with-a-capital-N. Pay attention to whether this is normal for you.

If I were you, I'd make the move. If it goes well, you'll have learned something about yourself: "Oh, hey, I'm the sort of person who gets jittery before a big life change, even if it's a good idea." If it goes badly, and you end up feeling like "Oh man I knew better why didn't I listen to my feelings" then you've learned something that way too. Either way, remember what you learned and apply it next time.

Me, every single time I've moved, done a serious bit of travel, changed jobs, whatever, I've spend the night before going "OH GOD IT WILL BE TERRIBLE I SHOULD BAIL OUT" — and that includes the times when it's gone well. So what I've learned is that yeah, I am the sort of person who should ignore last-minute cold feet. But that doesn't tell us anything about what you should do. You gotta pay attention to yourself and your own history and try to learn what your own patterns are like for this stuff.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:40 PM on August 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

You've wanted this change for years. You've been questioning this change for weeks. Listen to past-you, who went through months of applications to get this job.

It's normal for moving to be stressful and for you and people you love to cry about it. I find thinking about my exit strategy if the move doesn't work out to be helpful, and otherwise I stay busy packing.
posted by momus_window at 2:35 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Moving can be horribly stressful, to the point of feeling WRONG AND AGAINST NATURE. I'd imagine that feeling is multiplied many times when you've lived one place all your life. I've moved maybe 20 times or more, and can report no correlation between moving-stress and moving-mistake.

Moving stress fades. Living in a new city is exciting, especially if you're someone who loves to travel. Living in a community with plenty folks of one's own ilk boosts morale (that's my experience as a dyke, anyhow -- and hell, living in a city with more African Americans boosts morale even for some of us Euroamericans). Living in a bucket-list city? MAJOR morale booster. Plus it can feel especially easy to pursue new friends, and career success, when you've fallen in love with the city where your life is now set.
posted by feral_goldfish at 2:41 PM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I move a lot. I've lived in four different countries, twelve different towns, and more than twenty different houses. For just about every move I had an attack of paralysing "what if it's the wrong decision" fear anything from a couple of months beforehand to a week before leaving. It usually passes before I actually leave, but in one case it hung around until a few weeks after I was settled in the new place and had sorted out work and paperwork and unpacked everything and learned how the neighbourhood worked.

Looking back, I don't think a single one of those moves was a bad decision.
posted by lollusc at 6:53 PM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have moved a LOT - I'm about the same age as you, and I've moved cities 8 times (I work in a career field where that's somewhat common)! And I was nervous as hell and had doubts ALL of those times. So having doubts doesn't mean it's a bad idea. And the thing is, sometimes those doubts were a little bit right, and the move ended up not being the greatest idea in the long run.

But what I eventually realized is that few mistakes are irreversible. And hell, few mistakes are even mistakes, as long as you learn new things about yourself or about life.

It sounds like you could really benefit from a change of scenery - someplace with room for you to grow as an individual, separate from your family, and somewhere you won't always feel like one of the only African-Americans. That's not to say it'll necessarily be easy, but that's ok, right?

And if you give it a year and still hate, it, you can move back. Maybe not right away, and maybe not to the exact same job you had, but there will be opportunities.
posted by lunasol at 7:56 PM on August 27, 2012

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