Should I pack up my family & move across the country?
November 8, 2012 8:40 AM   Subscribe

Should I pack up my family & move across the country?

A few years ago, I wouldn't have dreamed of leaving my parents and moving across the country. Since then, I have gotten married and had a child. In that process, I lost my entire social life but gained a family of my own.

My husband has an opportunity to apply and possibly get accepted to do a job he has wanted to do for YEARS - but it's in Tennesee, where his father's side of the family is at, several states away from where we live now.

There are several pros and cons to moving.

Pros: More money. The opportunity to become more financially stable (we would live with his father for just a few months but be able to pay off so many bills in the process.) More family support. (His family up there is huge and supportive, down here we basically just have my parents.)

Cons: Moving in general is a pain in the ass. It will cost us a lot to move our things via Uhaul. It will also break my parents heart. We are super close. It's just going to piss my husbands mother off. His parents had a nasty divorce when he was a kid, so us moving closer to him would probably enrage her. I don't have a good relationship with his family here, so it won't matter to me, but it will to my husband I am sure.

It used to be my parents and my huge social life that has kept me close to home, but our lives have changed so much. I feel like this would be a good move but I am so scared and nervous.

Anyone else ever been in a similar situation? How can I make things go as smoothly as possible?
posted by AbsolutelyHonest to Human Relations (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
These are tough decisions. I can relate on some level, as I moved across the country away from friends and family, and boy did I get a guilt trip. Here's what I've discovered, though, which become much more clear in retrospect: people often adjust to their initial disappointment; and even if they don't, we are not (and should not) be bound to the emotional reactions of other people. It's not that they don't matter, but there's a tendency for people to perform emotional blackmail to assuage their own feelings. While their (and your) emotional needs are part of the calculus of this all, it shouldn't be disproportionately important. Giving yourself permission to make good decisions for your family, even ones that can be painful, contributes to human flourishing in the long term.

Regarding the pain of the move, I can relate to that, as well. Moving is on my list of most unfavorite things ever. One thing you might want to look into are shipping companies that allow you to stock up the back of a freight, and they will ship it to your house for you, often cheaper than it costs to rent a Uhaul. You have to be more flexible with the timing, but I know people who have done this successfully a number of times and swear by it (here, for example). It makes the drive and such a lot less stressful. You just have to pack and unpack without worry about truck details.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:48 AM on November 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

Do it.

It will, by your reckoning, make your lives better. Your husband wants this job and you'll still be near some family.

Other people not being okay with it? Honestly, that's on them, not you. You have to do what's right for you, your husband and your children.

Moving being a pain? That's true of all moves. If it's a move upward, then it this shouldn't prevent you from doing it.

Just be sure to have a deadline for yourself on when you move out of your father-in-law's house even if he doesn't and stick to it.
posted by inturnaround at 8:49 AM on November 8, 2012 [4 favorites]

Make decisions in your life based on the risk/benefit to the family you have created. The other adults can take care of themselves.
posted by headnsouth at 8:51 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

Do what's best for your own family. I don't know how old your child is, but having an extended family support structure when you have a young child can be hugely beneficial and helpful. More money (as long as your husband likes the job and you both like the community) is also helpful in raising a kid and having a harmonious marriage and less stressful existence. The one thing you said that puzzles me is about losing your entire social life. When you have a kid, it's incredibly easy to meet other the park, at the museum or zoo or supermarket, etc. I can't imagine any good reason why a parent should have any difficulty having a rich social life that, if you so choose, revolves around and/or is an outgrowth of your child's activities, school, friendships, etc.
posted by Dansaman at 8:52 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Take your list of pros and cons, remove everything that is related to OTHER people's happiness, well being, approval, make your decision based on the revised list.
posted by HuronBob at 8:56 AM on November 8, 2012 [17 favorites]

You are married with a child. You do what is best for your family, and everybody else works around that.
posted by COD at 8:57 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

You have to do what's best for your nuclear family.

Make plans to visit with your family and how you'll be handling holidays.

We're satellites here in Georgia family-wise. My family is in TX (they don't know why, they just are) and his family is in KY. We spend a certain amount of time shuttling between places trying to cover everyone.

One way to make it easier is to set folks up with Skype and plan video calls with your children so that everyone feels included.

Do lots of FB updates with pics.

Don't do Uhaul, treat yourself to professional movers. For Interstate moves the cost is comperable, and it's SO much easier.

ABF is another way to go with moving. Don't let that influence you.

Where in TN would you be moving? I can help with that, I've lived in Nashville and know Knoxville decently well.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:58 AM on November 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

My wife and I have done this. (I'm your husband in this situation)

We went to a place with no family. But we made it clear that we would be doing this until the bills are paid and the (huge) savings we want are developed. Then we are going back.

In that process, I lost my entire social life but gained a family of my own

I don't know if this was a choice, but this is not required reading.

Getting married and having children does not mean you need to lose friends.
Less time for friends, sure, less time for everything. But losing them??

To me and my wife that would have far more impact on our lifetime happiness than where we live.

My experience growing up with parents who had no social life was terrible.
posted by French Fry at 9:20 AM on November 8, 2012

I feel like this would be a good move but I am so scared and nervous.

This is the kind of feeling I've had when faced with awesome but hard decisions, like moving far away. The one thing that made me feel better is that this decision doesn't have to be permanent - if it doesn't work out, I can come back. And the one thing that made me go through with it is telling myself it's a great opportunity, and I'd regret it if I didn't give it a shot - I'm still fairly young, now's the time to be brave and choose adventure!

My parents miss me and wish I had stayed, but they come and visit. They've also learned to use Skype and/or Facetime on the iphone. And they're always available by phone too.
posted by ergo at 9:40 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sounds like a good move for your family, career-wise. As others said, agree on a time-line for moving out of your father-in-law's house. Also, talk to your husband about possibly moving back after X years if you are unhappy there.
posted by at 10:10 AM on November 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Everyone has good points. I will add: do your parents help with child care? Will his family help with child care when you move? That would be a huge, huge factor in my mind if I were considering the move.
posted by murfed13 at 11:23 AM on November 8, 2012

Moving is scary. And it's a pain, but if your family is going to be much better off and much happier because of it- don't you think your parents will support it?

I moved across the country when I was much younger, and my parents were bothered by it- but they got on board a few months later when I really got into my own groove.

Also consider paring down your possessions. it's funny low little shit you really need when it comes down to it.
posted by Blisterlips at 11:40 AM on November 8, 2012

The future is fundamentally unknowable.

It is a fallacy to try to base your decision on how things will come out, as they may not turn out that way. It could be that you'll move and you'll discover an amazing new supportive social circle which leads you to a new career. Or you could move and your parents suffer some kind of setback and need you to be close by. Or you could stay put and have some unexpected surprise (opportunity or calamity).

You can do due diligence and have some resonable guesses about how things will play out (e.g., you'll have more money because husband's job will pay more and housing prices are less). But fundamentally, you have no idea what's going to happen, and I don't think you can use the future as a way of deciding what to do. All you have is your sense of what's important in your life now and what steps you can take to try to ensure that those important values are a part of your life in the future.

Sure, there's a cost to moving, but there's also a cost to staying. Scared and nervous are the harbingers of most big changes, meaning that I don't think they have much predictive value.

The question is, does this move feel like it's a step in a direction that you'd like your (and your family's) life to go?
posted by jasper411 at 11:58 AM on November 8, 2012

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