Family vs. Career
December 18, 2012 1:47 PM   Subscribe

Is it more important to be near family or to follow career developments? Snowflakey existential question that needs review.

I am a 25 year old female - I've worked at my current job in my hometown for 2 years. Before that, I worked in two other major cities on the other coast of the US for one year each. Generally, I have a habit of moving around a lot.

I'm pretty dissatisfied with my current job, but there aren't many opportunities in my current town. I live about 20 minutes from my family, which makes living here a pleasant experience. I can definitely see myself putting down roots here, eventually.

However, I have a job opportunity that will take me across the country again. I'm having a hard time reconciling whether to accept the offer.

Although I love being close to my family, the thought of a stagnant career that I'm unhappy with is depressing, and there aren't many other opportunities where I'm currently located.

Can anyone relate stories of going through something similar? What tipped the scale for you one way or the other? I'm struggling with direction.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Move now and get those career bonus points. Plus, moving is still an adventure.

When you settle down and especially if you have kids, being close to your family will matter WAY more.

I moved a ton when I was young. My thought on the matter was that you rack up your experience when you're young, you take your chances when you're young. Once you settle down, there are too many other factors that make moving undesirable.

I've never regretted a move, I always got something amazing out of each one. The work experience, living in a new place, etc.

As they say, "you can sleep when you're dead."
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:54 PM on December 18, 2012 [12 favorites]

Well, I knew I wanted to go out and explore the world a little, so I moved to a couple new states in my 20s and have lived around New England for 15ish years now. It's all been really good; I see my folks at the holidays and in summer and one or two other times a year at their place, and they come up to mine for Thanskgiving, and we get together one other weekend at a vacation spot. It's been fine for my 20s and 30s. Now that I'm my 40s and thinking more about family, now I'm starting to consider moving back closer to them for the long term. But probably not before I finish my graduate degree.

So you don't have to make a decision that lasts forever, you can move away for a while now, work on your career, and then change your mind if you want to move back.

Part of it depends on your career goals. I'm really glad I didn't try to stick around right after college, because I could never have had the adventures and career I've had, or made the wonderful friends I've made, in my hometown and home state. I do have friends who did, and they essentially had to adapt themselves to the industries that are there (finance, banking, retail, nursing) - while I have a more specialized field with limited opportunities back home. So I went where the work was, and now I'm moving up to senior levels, which is great.

Part of it also depends on your relationship with your family. I'm close with my family, but never minded living in a different state. Some people have a very difficult time with the idea that you just can't drop by for Sunday dinner, I know. Others really want to get out where they can live an independent existence for a while and discover who they are and what they do outside of the family structure.

There's no wrong decision, and no decision is forever. If you find out you'd rather be close to family, you can figure out how to do that in future.

At your age, just like I did, I'd see the world a little and build my career.
posted by Miko at 1:56 PM on December 18, 2012 [5 favorites]

Yeah, but can you see yourself putting down roots if you hate your job forever?

Move. Your job is depressing. That's not worth it. There aren't other opportunities nearby. You're very young. Go move around some more. You can probably figure out a way to come back to the hometown in the future if it doesn't work out.
posted by Team of Scientists at 1:58 PM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

If your family is helpful, makes you feel stronger, and makes you feel lived, you're lucky, and that's better than a family that drains your energy.

Family is important. If you plan on having your own family, then it's good to have family around to help.

Also, how exciting would this new job be? Some parts of moving are awful. It's stressful. You might miss the love and support.

Maybe you should apply to jobs that are a few hours away rather than super far away.
posted by discopolo at 1:59 PM on December 18, 2012

Move now and get the good career experience. You can reevaluated in 2-5 years when you have more career experience and may need the family network more.

I was lucky and family joined me out in my cool new locale, and I agree with others that it's a wonderful thing to be near family - but when we were younger, careers were definitely the priority. Now we have more career flexibility with our increased experience.
posted by ldthomps at 2:22 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Are you talking about your "family" as in your family of birth? Your parents, siblings, and their potential spouses/children? Or are you talking about family as in your family -- your spouse, children you may have? Or do you mean family in a more general sense, like the core group of people who mean a lot to you?

If we're talking about your parents and siblings, maybe this is just my baggage talking but I see very few reasons to stay somewhere you're unhappy simply because you share a zipcode with them.

If we're talking about your spouse and children, yeah, unless the situation is dire enough that you need to leave in order to make enough money to support them, you should probably stay. Unless you can afford to move the whole family.

If we're talking about lifelong friends, cousins or other extended family you're close to out of affinity, and the like, I think that's a decision you have to make. It sounds like you've lived far from home before, and maybe you chose to come back to that support system for a reason. Ultimately you're going to have to decide for yourself how important a fulfilling career is to you and whether it's worth having to start over and build a new network.
posted by Sara C. at 2:24 PM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I've known lots of people who moved around and built their careers and had adventures when they were in their 20s and/or single, and then when they partnered up and had kids, moved nearer to at least one set of grandparents/siblings. It doesn't have to be either/or.
posted by rtha at 2:27 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I moved away at about that age, then moved back six years later, because I had kids and my parents are getting older. If my parents were older or sicker, I would have stayed. But I also have a big family here to keep me anchored when I eventually lose them.
posted by dpx.mfx at 4:13 PM on December 18, 2012

If family = parents, don't forget the possibility that they might be interested in moving closer to you at retirement.

It really does depend on what you want but...all in all, I vote go. You are young and can always come back in a few years to settle down if you end up not liking it. Staying now actually seems like more of a gamble to me, as you'd have less control over career options and could end up bitter/resentful that you didn't try.
posted by susanvance at 5:18 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

At 25, the next job you get is unlikely to be your last. Move if it's a great opportunity, and move back if your priorities change.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:47 PM on December 18, 2012

I'm about 6 months away from moving back to be closer to my family, and that will likely involve a less than perfect job for me. But that means being close to nearly all my important people (the only one missing is on the wrong continent), which I've decided is super important to me. The visits every 1-3 months just aren't cutting it; I'm not great at making new friends, and I'm lonely without the sisters and friends I already have.

How are you at making friends, settling in to new places? Is it possible to take the time to look for opportunities not in your current town, but also not on the other side of the country?
posted by ktkt at 7:22 PM on December 18, 2012

"Do what moves you out of your comfort zone." has always worked for me.
posted by roboton666 at 8:43 PM on December 18, 2012

Everyone is different. I work to live and focus all my energy into family and friends, we don't need money we only want it... I am reminded of the Story of the Mexican Fisherman and the American Businessman, always cheers me up when i think my career is stagnating.
posted by krisb1701d at 3:41 AM on December 19, 2012

Also w/r/t the "comfort zone" - if you have a desire to adventure further, but worry about missing your family, I should add that I did and do miss my family. But I'm glad I didn't stay put just because of that. I talk to my parents and my brother on the phone once a week or so, stay in regular touch via email, and plan to be together whenever we can - shared vacations, holidays. Don't think that people who do follow career to new locations just care less about their family, or that you can't do it if you care about your family. You certainly can, and I am happy to know that my family really supports me in following my career and finding a place I love to live. It just requires different strategies for interacting than what you do if you live close by.
posted by Miko at 7:27 AM on December 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

More and more jobs are completely fine with telecommuting. If you're in the same country as your employer, in some fields, you're unusual. Can you try remote work?
posted by brainwane at 8:49 AM on December 19, 2012

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