Should we move back to Boston after a month?
October 18, 2012 12:55 PM   Subscribe

My fiancee and I moved to Chicago from Boston, a couple of months ago, and the both of us are just longing to go back to Boston. We can afford to move back, and she has job prospects out there. Should we go or wait it out?

To make a very long story short, my fiancee and I moved out here to Chicago a couple of months ago. We moved into our new apartment, which we love, at the beginning of the month, and are in a neighborhood that we adore. The only problem is that neither of us can stop thinking about what we left behind -- our friends, my family, the hills and mountains and ocean, the smaller-city feel -- and it's starting to really get to us.

She was lucky enough to find a job very quickly, with a company that seemed really interesting. Unfortunately, the job was poorly described, and she feels more like an intern than an experienced employee. In Boston, she was working with a well-respected global non-profit, and was happy to be serving a good cause, even when the work wasn't great. She also worked with a ton of women about her age, which made it very easy to branch out and meet people. Now, she's pretty isolated in her current office, and the people she works with seem to ignore her.

I, on the other hand, am unemployed. I'm currently collecting unemployment from the state of Massachusetts, and have had a hard time finding suitable employment. As most of my experience is best tailored to school environments (college and otherwise) Boston was fantastic, as there are more colleges and Universities there than anything else. While I do like it here, I'm not married to the idea of being here.

Neither of us are really happy, but then again we've only been here for a few weeks. Very recently, she was made aware of an opportunity at her previous employer in Boston. The opportunity would be supporting one of the highest executives in the organization, and would likely be a pay increase, a 'fulfillment' increase, and a spot at a place she loved to work. She is heavily career focused, and her current job just makes her feel hopeless.

Then there's the lingering feeling that we're cutting and running too early. There's the knowledge that we'd have to find a subletter and that we'd likely have to move ourselves back with savings money. That we'd have to find an apartment in one of the toughest places to do so. That'd we'd have to pack up all of our crap and drive 12 hours to put it in storage until we get on our feet.

But is it worth it? We really do love Chicago, and have enjoyed a lot about being here, but there are a lot of human things that we've realized we miss terribly about our old home in Boston.

Have any of you moved someplace, found out it wasn't as great as you'd hoped, and moved back? Should we stick it out? My gut tells me we should stick it out, but this could end up a good career move for her, and there are certain things we miss about New England and our old life that you just can't get out here.

I'm not entirely sure what the big question is here, but I'd love any advice that you could offer. Is this just normal for moving so far from home? If we know what we want and know where it is, should we just run back to it?
posted by summerteeth to Human Relations (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's normal to be homesick.

Why did you move to Chicago? If Boston was so great (and it is! I grew up there and still love it and miss things about it), then why did you leave, and why specifically did you pick Chicago?

Re the job thing: More than half the battle in finding a job is, of course, who you know. And even when you know people, it can take more than a couple of months (especially in this economy) to find a job. Are you working your Boston-based network for who they know in Chicago? Are you going to whatever meetups/mixers/etc. in your field? Even if you're doing all the right things, it can still take time.
posted by rtha at 1:02 PM on October 18, 2012

Great question and points. We moved to Chicago because some of her family (including her nephews) live in the suburbs, and she wanted to be closer to them. We also liked the idea of trying a bigger city with a more robust urban plan and transit system. We'd visited here a handful of times and always really enjoyed it.

We left Boston because we were tired of our apartment, which was falling apart, and wanted an adventure. We got the adventure, and it might just turn out to be an expensive vacation.

Part of the problem, I think, is that we decided to move when it was cold and gross in Boston. Being in Chicago isn't going to change that weather or anything, but I think we were better able to say, "Yes, let's do it!" because we were bored, sort of stuck in our life situations, and were dying for a change. In retrospect, we probably should've just found a new apartment, but we wanted to do something a bit bigger. Over the next 6 months, however, the weather got warmer, we saw our friends more often, and we remembered exactly why we loved being there in the first place. When we left, it was hard to go, as our best friends were there, tearfully hugging us. Needless to say, we felt the pangs of regret almost immediately.

Thanks for the job search advice. I've leveraged a lot of my connections and, unfortunately, many of them have just fallen off without good results. Still chugging away though!
posted by summerteeth at 1:11 PM on October 18, 2012

It's OK to move back, if that's what you both want to do. And it sounds like it is.

That said, you've only been away a short time, and while that in and of itself shouldn't preclude you from moving back, I'd think you're still well inside the adjustment period. Of course, it's natural to reach back to the certainties that Boston offers.

Personally, I'd give it a set amount of time, say, whatever you have left on the lease, which I'm guessing is a year. That's a long enough time to evaluate Chicago on its own, rather than not-Boston, and remove you from Boston long enough to give an honest appreciation to both places' merits.

A year is nothing. Really. And should you choose to go back, you can do so saying that you gave the place the ol' college try.

When I was on exchange, I had much the same feelings you're having now. I could have bailed halfway through, but I'm incredibly glad I didn't. Even having just the security of a fixed deadline of the horizon was enough to let me enjoy the place on its own in a way that I hadn't before. YMMV.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:15 PM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd hold out a little longer. Not exactly the same experience, but I moved here to Chicago for undergrad several years ago and moving to a new place is always going to be a tough adjustment, especially when you're moving to a larger city. Chicago can feel big and impersonal and it's especially tough when you don't know anyone here. I'd give it at least a year.

If she's working in the nonprofit field (which it sounds like she is), she should be able to find a better job here if you guys stick it out. There are tons of nonprofits here and lots of great jobs available. is wonderful for nonprofit job listings for Chicago. I would also check there for university jobs, if you haven't already.
posted by anotheraccount at 1:15 PM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have any of you moved someplace, found out it wasn't as great as you'd hoped, and moved back?

I usually move every 1-2 years, and I've done this a few times. Not exactly because it "wasn't as great as I'd hoped," but just because the previous place became right for me/my life again.

I would usually say to stay for a year. I think that can be really valuable for lots of reasons, and I'm just generally pro-moving. But from what you say it sounds like Boston was perfect, and Chicago isn't for you at all. It sounds like the only reasons for staying are a, not giving up and b, your lease. Re: a, no one will see it as giving up if you return for a much better job for your fiancee and better job prospects for you. Re: b, are you sure you can't break your lease, maybe pay a fee for leaving early and finding a new tenant or something?

I also believe very much that everyone has places they like for visiting, and places they like for living, and they do not always intersect. E.g. I loved living in New York, miss it all the time, but sort of hate going to New York for the day. You might love Chicago for short stays, but not for living there.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 1:36 PM on October 18, 2012

regarding network building in Chicago -- come to one of the metafilter meetups at the Billy Goat Tavern. We have them on the first wednesday of every month, so the next one will be on Wednesday, October 7.
posted by garlic at 1:54 PM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Very recently, she was made aware of an opportunity at her previous employer in Boston. The opportunity would be supporting one of the highest executives in the organization, and would likely be a pay increase, a 'fulfillment' increase, and a spot at a place she loved to work. She is heavily career focused, and her current job just makes her feel hopeless.

Wait, so... why is moving back even a question? (If she gets this new employment.) You made a list of pros and cons, and there was everything in the "pro" column, and nothing in the "con" column except a bit of upfront costs.

If you want an adventure, then move back to Boston, make $$ for a year or two, then head out somewhere really adventurous. Like the South Pacific. Or Africa.

Also, re: apartments -- you can live super cheap in Somerville and there are great places. Best city evvaaah. (I live there.) Or live on a houseboat in Charlestown. That's my #2 choice as an adventure loving Bostonian. A lot of people do it and it's super fun. If you want adventure, sign up as short term foster parents where you get foster children housed with you for a few days or weeks at a time, when they need it. Adventure can begin at home.
posted by kellybird at 1:57 PM on October 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

Just realized my previous answer was totally too pro-Boston because I @#$%ing love love love this city. What comes across in your question is that you have a gut feeling of wanting to stay in Chicago, even though there is a giant list of pros and cons which entirely points toward leaving. In that case, it's ok to stick it out and stay. Things do get better after the adjustment period if your gut feeling is to want to stay and seek adventure in your new place. However, if your gut feeling is to want to go back to Boston, that is totally ok too. I think you can go with your gut feeling here and be fine either way.

Also depends how old you are and what your life plans are. If you're looking for somewhere to "settle down," maybe this is just the excursion it took for you to realize you're in love with Boston and want to be there permanently-ish. If you're, say, mid-20's and not looking to settle down anytime soon, then toughing it out in Chicago could be a good learning experience and a lot of fun and adventure. You could always move back to Boston later.
posted by kellybird at 2:06 PM on October 18, 2012

There are a ton of higher ed jobs in chicago: right off the bat you've got Northwestern, University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, DePaul, and Loyola, not to mention a ton of smaller schools like Kent, John Marshall, Columbia, etc.

I moved to Chicago seven (!) years ago for largely the same reasons you did, my girlfriend dumped me three weeks later, and now I'm a homeowner here with a wife and a 6-month-old. Chicago is a fantastic city, I'd give it at least a year. Incidentally, I work for U of C, if you post what you do (or memail me), I can see if we have anything that'd fit for you.
posted by Oktober at 2:06 PM on October 18, 2012

Kellybird: I know we can find cheap(ish) living -- I lived in Boston for 10 years and Jamaica Plain was our neighborhood of choice (for price, amongst other reasons), though we love Somerville -- it's more about actually finding a decent place, putting down all of the required money, and doing so at the right time, that's a hassle. Truthfully, we probably should've just gone on vacation for a couple of weeks and then come back, ha! But good advice nonetheless.

Garlic: That's a great idea. I didn't know those happened! I'll have to see if I can make the one next month.

Capt. Renault: I think what you're saying about that deadline is funny and true. Our last deadline was the one where we'd be moving out of our apartment. Lo and behold, suddenly everything in Boston was wonderful. Go figure. But I think that's good advice that I'll be sharing with my fiance.

anotheraccount: Your link to NPO is amazing. I don't know why we didn't know about this site until now. There are tons of jobs that we hadn't seen anywhere else -- we'd mostly been looking at idealist, craigslist, and the websites of the orgs/companies themselves. But this is fantastic.
posted by summerteeth at 2:08 PM on October 18, 2012

Kellybird: We are in our mid-late 20s, for what it's worth.

Oktober: You're absolutely right, there are a ton of schools here. I just feel like I never see anything that I'm a good fit for, which is sort of demoralizing. I'll send along a link to a current resume, in the meantime! Thanks for looking out!
posted by summerteeth at 2:15 PM on October 18, 2012

It is totally OK to move back. Just like it's totally OK to be homesick. It's not defeat and if you go back, all those awesome friends will welcome you back with open arms, no questions asked, because that's what friends do!

I'm a big proponent of "give it a shot", as in stay put, but she should absolutely apply for that job! You never know what could happen. If she gets it, move back. If she doesn't, give it a little time in Chi-town. Maybe a solid year?

(FWIW, I live in Boston and love it - this was after living near NYC and abroad and after traveling to all 50 states and beyond for work - e.g. major cities. Beantown is a love-hate relationship, yes, and at the risk of being a total jerk, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I've always FIRMLY hated Chicago. Aka "Shit-cago" (sorry to any Chicago people! I don't hate on y'all but I am just not a fan of your city because it does not work for me. The steaks can stay though!))
posted by floweredfish at 2:24 PM on October 18, 2012

Usually people move out of one city into another because the old city sucked. I'm not really sure why you moved -- a clunky apartment suggests finding a new place rather than new time zone. Are you sure why you moved? Boston sounds great for both of you.

This is not to say that Chicago is bad. It takes years for a city to really open up for new residents. I've been in KW for almost 10 years and it's only half a million people and still I'm finding new things opening up. So it will take years to get the same level of "home" in Chicago that you had in Boston.

But those are real years -- do you want to spend them getting to know Chicago as newbies, or to really digging a deep foundation in Boston? Especially if a career track is important to both of you, you may not want to be uprooting unless you have rock-solid jobs lined up in a new town -- and you don't.

So move back! You have my blessing.

And take some really wild vacations every year.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:35 PM on October 18, 2012

Stick it out for at least a year. I had the EXACT same issue, albeit 10 years ago.

I regretted moving pretty much the second I closed the door on the moving van. GR had my favorite bar. My best friends were there. I had a more unique (if not nicer) place than I had in Chicago. Holy crap is it expensive here. The list went on. Every time I'd go back (and go back often I did...nearly every two weeks), I'd think "I should have looked for a job here instead".

But slowly, I formed a life in Chicago. I met up with people I used to know. My friends from there came to visit me here. I found some local bars I loved. I started to do things I couldn't do in GR. Friends started moving out of there also. I made some life changes that I had been NOT doing in GR for a variety of reasons. I started to look forwards to coming back to Chicago. I still love GR. I enjoy visiting there. For about two days. Then I'm homesick for Chicago again.

The caveat here is that if you or your SO are so miserable in Chicago that you wind up in therapy, get the hell out and don't look back.
posted by moitz at 2:46 PM on October 18, 2012

I left Boston for a reason, and I'm never moving back. But my reasons were much more black and white than your reasons, and a few years of misery in my new city were/are worth it because there is a pretty big carrot on the stick in the end, and now I don't feel like I'd fit in ol' Boston anyway.

It doesn't sound like there's anything keeping you in Chicago other than your fiancee's job, and that has morphed from a pro to a con. Sure, you're still in the adjustment period, but if you think you can be happier in comfortable in Boston, go with your gut. No shame in being where you want to be.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 2:53 PM on October 18, 2012

You will be homesick. A lot. But, it fades as you integrate into your new city. I'm a bit biased, Chicago is a fantastic city. I lived there for 8 years and loved it. Moving to a new place is almost always hard. The grass will look greener for awhile. I'd stick it out for a bit longer. If you had moved to some tiny po-dunk town, I'd say move back to Boston. But, you're in a giant, great city and it will furnish many adventures and new opportunities.

In my experience, it takes a year to get used to a new life in a new place. It's totally normal to want to run back to where you came from, but sticking it out has its own rewards.
posted by quince at 3:10 PM on October 18, 2012

As someone who moved from Boston to Chicago a few years ago, I will tell you to move back! I wish I could, but I'm stuck here now in the flat Midwest. Let me live vicariously through you, move back to Boston!!
posted by katypickle at 6:28 PM on October 18, 2012

I think she should apply for the job. If she gets the job, you guys should move back. As it is, she hates her job and you have no network. If she gets the job and you move back here, she'll have a better job, and you'll have better networking prospects. Win!
posted by ldthomps at 7:16 PM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, I feel for you! I, and now my spouse and I (and two cats!) have ended up moving every couple of years for the last... well, 12 years. These moves varied from close (Berkeley to Oakland) to really really far (to Japan, to Sydney - California - NY - Sydney). We're totally exhausted. Our last move was from CA to Sydney, and every time we got tired or frustrated with the move we both had this gut reaction: "Run! Go! Anywhere but Here! Ahhhhhhhh". We didn't, but yeah... moving is exhausting, and the temptation to bail is great. We moved in Feb.; I love my job but my husband hates his and is looking for something else... and this job, the one he hates, was one a friend got him (friend subsequently quit to go backpacking in Cambodia, new management came in and restructured the job...). Anyway, my point is, Moving Takes Time. Give it at LEAST a year, if not two. Also, there is no guarantee that she'll get (or like) the new job, or that you won't hate the job you get in Boston, or...

There are things I miss about ALL the places I've lived; homesickness is frequent, and changes =) I will also say that making friends is HARD, and takes lots of time... Look for a fairly recent NYTimes article called "Friends of a Certain Age".

A few people have said you have nothing keeping you in Chicago, but you do - family/nephews. Are you seeing them regularly? Can you babysit/do something with them once a month? If you move back in a year or two, you'll have formed a better bond (which is what you came for); if it doesn't work out (I would NEVER babysit my nephews! LOL) you can move back guilt free (you tried!). If you stay, you can watch them grow up! =)

Plan a couple quick trips back to Boston - take a long weekend and go Christmas shopping with friends etc. This makes a HUGE difference. When I first moved it felt like I was "banished"... but you CAN visit! Part of what makes the beginning of a move so hard is that the relationships you're leaving behind change and there is no established pattern for the new format - no history of calling/letters/visiting. Once you establish that (visit a certain number of times a year, etc), it gets better - LOTS better. Maybe convince some old friends to swap actual letters (or care packages) with you. I spend less time with my family (they're in CA), but when I do see them it's very high quality (undivided attention - we go camping together etc.).

Also... I lived outside of Chicago for a while, and I LOVE CHICAGO. Yup. If I had to pick a major metropolitan area to live in State-side, I'd pick Chicago. (Yes, I've been to LA, Seattle, NY, DC, Boston, lived in SF etc.) Weather you move or not, make sure you get out and do stuff! Definitely go to the Raven's Grinn Inn this fall =) (you'll need a car, but it's soooo worth it).
posted by jrobin276 at 7:27 PM on October 18, 2012

My wife and I moved from Chicago to Boston three years ago for reasons similar to yours. We like features of both, but in an inchoate way, I feel like I'd be more comfortable in Chicago. However, as you know, moving 1,000 miles is a lot of work, finding new jobs and apartments is a lot of work. There is a huge cost to replanting.

So, whenever I miss Italian beef, grid systems, and townies that don't make you feel like you better get ready to fight them whenever there's a traffic issue, I recall that cost. That loop has gotten faster and faster over the years, while at the same time, it occurs with decreasing frequency. I'd say about 1.5 years in, it became a recurring musing rather than a consideration with any real pull.
posted by ignignokt at 8:46 PM on October 18, 2012

You wife should apply for that job and you should move back if she gets it. Considering she hates her current job, and you don't have one yet, it's basically a no-brainier to move back to a city you like for what sounds like an ideal job for her.
posted by emd3737 at 9:05 PM on October 18, 2012

A couple of months is not a lot of time. I'd give it a little more of a chance because moving is SUCH a pain, and because Chicago is SUCH an awesome city. I moved here from NYC about 10 years ago and have never looked back. I was worried about moving away from the ocean but the lake is beautiful and so central to the city's life.

If you're looking for friends, especially if you're unemployed right now, I highly recommend seeking out some kind of volunteer activity. I volunteer at an animal shelter and it's not only rewarding but has introduced me to lots of amazing people. There are so many activities like that you can do to start feeling more like you're part of a community. Good luck.
posted by walla at 7:15 AM on October 19, 2012

If it weren't for the job I'd say stick it out, but the choice between a job your girlfriend will almost certainly love versus one where she feels hopeless seems pretty clear to me. In other words, i think you should definitely move back.
posted by hazyjane at 10:38 AM on October 19, 2012

I think there is a tendency to have that feeling of "we put all this effort (and expense) into moving and so we should stick it out." But as many people have already mentioned, it's absolutely, completely ok to go back, especially in light of the job/family/general fit aspects.

I just made a move away from New England after nine years, and had last-minute panic at the end in the form of, "WhyTF am I leaving? Why I am taking my life apart this way?," and while it's all turned out fantastic in the end, the only thing that calmed me down during that panic was several friends saying to me, "Go. Just go. If you don't like it, you can always go back."

Life is short. While there's lots to be said for adventure and new experiences, you can have those while traveling. Live where you want to live, and where you'll both be fulfilled.
posted by DuckGirl at 12:45 PM on October 19, 2012

« Older How to turn Google Forms results back into the...   |   SuperPAC Hell Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.