Should I sacrifice a good job to move to a new city?
April 8, 2013 7:45 PM   Subscribe

I'm depressed and jumping out of my skin to get out of here. Should I sacrifice a good job to move to a new city?

I'm 26 and I've lived in the same area my entire life. I went to college 10 miles from my parents house and I've lived off and on in my college town/my parents house since graduation. I'm currently living in an apartment by myself in the college town and I'm unhappy.

I broke off my engagement in December and I feel like I'm jaded and I am very alone. Most of my good friends have moved away. I vaguely know most of the people here already but I feel so "over" this place that I don't even want to get to know them. I've felt stuck for a long time, like I've wanted to move or travel but I haven't had the guts to do it.

I am seriously considering moving to Portland, Maine (about 4 hours away). I have a good friend and my sister there. I've liked the area when I have visited and I really like my friend's social group and my sister's friends as well. Social opportunities would be easier to come by. There are also good educational opportunities there to further my career which do not exist here. My sister asked me to move in with her because she thinks that I need to get out of here and she needs a roommate. Thinking about living there makes me happy.

The only problem is my job. I feel like it is the only good thing in my life right now. I'm a new LPN and I've only worked at one facility and I love it here. It's a very ritzy place and I get paid well, the work is manageable, and I love the residents here. I don't think I could find a place I like as much in Maine, but I also don't really have anything to compare it to, so maybe I just like the work in general.

I'm scared that I will move there and only find a job in a seedy facility and be unhappy. Additionally, it is causing me a great deal of anxiety to think about telling my boss that I am leaving. I feel indebted to this place because they trained me when I was brand new, and it is really great. It makes me want to cry when I think about leaving the residents and my coworkers. (It's not all lollipops and roses, I have frustrations but not very many). What if I get there and am still sad, but now with a shitty job?

I am also very close with my parents and it makes me sad to think of them all alone without me or my sister. I feel pretty lame that I'm 26 and can't challenge myself to try something new.

I realize I sound depressed, and I am currently on Wellbutrin which is definitely helping. I do not see a therapist but maybe I should.
posted by pintapicasso to Human Relations (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Move. It's much better to have a meh job and a good rest-of-your-life-outside-work than it is to have a good job but everything else sucks. For one thing, when you're happier/less depressed, it's less overwhelming to go "Y'know, I'm not loving this job. I'm gonna look for a new one!" You've got something of a support system already in Portland, and you feel the need for change. Go change.
posted by rtha at 7:58 PM on April 8, 2013 [7 favorites]

Many of these considerations are for you to ponder. I will just mention that an LPN should be able to find work pretty much anywhere.
posted by yclipse at 8:00 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

This is the next step of your life; embrace it! Jump in. You will not regret it.
posted by theraflu at 8:12 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Start applying for jobs in other places you'd like to live. Stay where you are until you find a new job. The best way to begin to build a life in a new city is to have stable work that structures your life and gets you meeting new people and gives you the income you need to take care of yourself without worrying about it. Find a new job first, then move.

I think it's perfectly reasonable to want to start a new chapter in your life in a new place. I've done it, and it helps. But, practically, you need a job. So do it in the right order so that this new chapter begins successfully.
posted by decathecting at 8:20 PM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

Can you take a one-week vacation and live with your sister for a week? That will give you more data, and hence more clarity.

Once I visited my current city on vacation, and decided it was delightful. I moved here and I was right!

Another time, when I was in school, I was on a different lunch break than my friends. I ate lunch with them once and it was amazing! I wanted to switch classes so that I could be with them. First I tried it another time, and it was mundane and full of gossip. So I didn't switch.

My bet is that you'll probably decide to move. But trying it out first will give you confidence in your decision. That will come in handy when you give notice to your boss and coworkers, and they look sad.
posted by cheesecake at 8:22 PM on April 8, 2013

What if I get there and am still sad, but now with a shitty job?

Explain to your boss that you're not leaving your office -- tell him or her what you're telling us, that your workplace is the only thing keeping you in the place right now, and that if it weren't for a lot of other things, you'd happily stay there. Give them as much notice as they want to find and train your replacement and complete whatever transition they want (note that this might not be as long as you want). It is possible to leave a job on a good note, so if Maine sucks as much as your current situation does, you could go back.

I am also very close with my parents and it makes me sad to think of them all alone without me or my sister.

Your parents would want you to be happy.
posted by Etrigan at 8:24 PM on April 8, 2013

Challenging position to be in.
True that your job doesn't define you, but you do want to be happy where you work.
But if your life out of work isn't happy, then that's not good either.

The adventurous side of me says "move to Portland while there's nothing holding you back! You got nothing to lose and you'll find a nice job eventually" (I'm assuming and hoping that you're parents are in good health)!

The cautious side of me says "Why would you throw away a good job for the unknown?"

We don't grow if we don't take risks
Then again, there's taking a risk and then there's throwing away a good thing.

Being loyal to your employer is good, and being thankful that they trained you was good too. But how long have you worked there? Are you a good employee? If you've worked there for a while and/or you're a valued member of the team, then consider that you've probably repaid whatever debt you've incurred many times over! Remember always that a place of employment is just a place of employment, people of all roles and responsibilities eventually move on, and one never grows intellectually, spiritually or sometimes professionally by staying in the same place.

I guess I'm leaning toward you making the move - but I only advise you to take a calculated risk. Consider the following:

- Is it possible to find a job in Portland before you move there?
- Maybe you can give your employer lots of notice before you leave so they have time to find someone new
- Are you willing to consider that Portland might not be the great place you originally thought it to be? Visiting a place when you're in "vacation mode" and living there can be different
- Are you willing to consider that your sister's social circle and friend's social circle aren't as amazing as they might be? Maybe they are, but see my comment above re: vacation mode

Basically, take heed before you throw away a good thing. But if you're going to leap, then look first. And if you're going to fall, well fall forward! And while there's no such thing as a bad experience, it is still possible to get burned so proceed with caution!

My personal story is that I left a really swanky, good job for a crappy job with more pay, quit that job and desperately took a job that paid me even less than the first one, only to have to claw my way back up into a livable salary. But in that difficult time, I learned a lot - professionally and personally. In the long term it was good for me, but I had a few close calls.

Good luck!
posted by bitteroldman at 8:25 PM on April 8, 2013

posted by nathancaswell at 8:25 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

What if you stay, letting yourself get more and more frustrated with yourself because you won't make a move? You know exactly what life is going to be like if you stay here. You don't know what life is going to be like out in Portland. You've tried making a go of staying where you are, but you haven't been able to find fulfillment in it. On top of that, you're not happy with yourself because you feel like you're letting yourself down. Let's say you go to Portland. It works out. Your life is infinitely better because you have the job, the educational opportunities, and the social life you always wanted. Let's say you go to Portland and it doesn't work out. Okay, you move somewhere else (or you move home). At least now you know you're not missing out.

You're 26. This is THE time for you to take risks for yourself, because the risks currently aren't that great. You will have other great jobs. Your parents are currently healthy. They have each other for company. This, unfortunately, will not always be true. Go now, before life changes on you and you have no choice but to live in your city. Do things just for you before you can't do that anymore.

For what it's worth, I recently just made that decision myself (I'm 28). I was raised elsewhere, but the city that I have spent the past six years in is the city where I really grew up. I am comfortable here and love certain aspects of living here. Things are good, but not great. I've been restless for years. The only reason I have stuck around is that I have a job I love. I work with great people, and I believe in our product. They took a chance on me and trained me up. I also felt guilty and worried about how they would feel about me leaving. At the end of the day, though, my job isn't enough to keep me here.

I recently made the decision (and informed my boss--who was very nice about it) that I was moving across the country to a city I have always wanted to live in. I have some savings. I may or may not have a job lined up there. I don't even know where I'm going to live yet. I was terrified before I made the choice. What if I can't find a job? What if I hate it there? What if my depression gets worse? Am I tanking my career? After I made the decision and told my boss, I no longer felt any fear at all. My depression has completely lifted. I'm not stuck anymore. It feels incredible. Don't discount the power of doing something risky for yourself. You will be giving yourself and your life value in your own eyes.
posted by rhythm and booze at 8:32 PM on April 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

If Portland is only 4 hours away and your sister lives there, I'd imagine driving up there for job interviews would be workable. Apply for jobs while keeping your current job. You can use your sister's address on any job applications so you seem like a local candidate - it's not a lie since you will be living there.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:32 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nursing is highly portable. I was a military wife for two decades. Unemployment in military spouses tends to run at about 30%. A career is nearly impossible. The only exception I knew of were nurses. They could get good paying jobs that furthered their career anywhere they went.

So my vote is: Move.
posted by Michele in California at 8:34 PM on April 8, 2013

It's especially hard to leave your first "real" job because you feel you owe your employer your loyalty for them taking you on when you were just a greenhorn. You don't. It's your life, and if you decide Maine is your future and you're sick of bumming around your hometown, set your mind to finding another job and trust that everyone at your current gig will understand why a young person would want to leave the only place they've ever lived to try a change of pace.
posted by deathpanels at 8:41 PM on April 8, 2013

Response by poster: I will absolutely not move, or leave my current job, without another one lined up in Maine. And although nursing is portable, I'm an LPN, not an RN, which really limits the job opportunities. Thank you for reading and I am weighing each answer so far in my mind.
posted by pintapicasso at 8:41 PM on April 8, 2013

Man, I've given up really really good jobs--talking management level and way more money than I deserved--to get to a better location and it was totally worth it. I think a fresh start in a new city would do you good, no matter how scary it is.

Also, 4 hours away is close enough to come home for the weekend and see your parents, that's not a big deal at all.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:43 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I feel pretty lame that I'm 26 and can't challenge myself to try something new.

I'm almost 35 and still can't challenge myself to try something new on this scale and I have chickened out of moving a couple of times by now. It won't get easier the older you get, I can tell you that. You still feel the same, except older and lamer and "Well, what the hell else am I going to do anyway? Guh, I dunno...."

You can apply for jobs long distance, using your sister's address, and crash with her or the other friends if you get one. When it comes to a potential move, it really, really doesn't get much easier than that. I wish I had those advantages if I ever move (which is part of why I have not). Apply and see how it goes.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:30 PM on April 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

couple of thoughts on both sides...

First and most importantly, life is long. You will have plenty of time to make the wrong decision come back from it. If moving to Portland is wrong, one day you can leave and consider yourself a Portland survivor. If you go work at a seedy facility, a year later you can go someplace else and be a survivor of a seedy facility.

Second, we are what we repeatedly do. When you take travel you become a traveler.

Third, environment (like a bad job or a town with too much bad history) can make it hard to find contentment. So can being inactive or not getting enough sun. With work, you can be happy anywhere.

All of this is to say, that the consequences of this decision are not so great. Also, if you leave on good terms, your old job may welcome you back with open arms.
posted by jander03 at 9:50 PM on April 8, 2013

As you describe it, Portland sounds like a good idea, it's exciting and may be exactly the sort of change you need. Your job is only a part of your life, and you shouldn't stay anywhere you don't like just because of a job, especially if it's possible you could find a job just as good (or better) in a place you're more excited about.

I can tell you that moving from Long Beach to LA made a huge difference for me. I grew up in LB, but that town was always a horrible fit for me. In many ways my life is still pretty crappy now that I'm in LA, but it's crappy in an amazing place, instead of crappy in some suffocating little hellhole. Everything, even the bad stuff, is better in a place that feels like home.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:56 PM on April 8, 2013

Find that good new job in Portland; then move. Don't accept a 'seedy' job.
posted by JimN2TAW at 3:49 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you can line up a job ahead of time then I definitely think it's a no-brainer.

Either way I think you should do it. I recently did it(without a job lined up, but savings and a plan) and I am so much happier. It wasn't an overnight decision though and I struggled with a lot of what you mention here, but finally the idea that I would look back on my life and regret the things I didn't do far more than what I did made me finally get up the guts to do it.

I do NOT think you should explain all of this to your boss. I think you should explain what you are doing as simply as possible without getting into any of the depression, unhappiness, etc, because that could be taken differently by different people. Some people would react positively and encouraging you to do this, but then others might think you should just be able to suck it up because you have a job. Since it's your boss, it would be best to leave on a high note. If you find another job then just tell your boss you took the new job and will be relocating.
posted by fromageball at 4:53 AM on April 9, 2013

There are tons of opportunities for LPNs, no matter where you are. Are they laying in the streets? No, but they exist.

Sure, you love your job, but everything else about your life sucks, and frankly, that's no way to live.

You're young, you have a portable job skill, and a good social network where you want to land.

Use your sister's address and get a cell burner for the area, and start applying for positions as though you already live in the area (I remember the days when nurses could get signing bonuses and relocation packages...sigh).

Line up a job, then move.

There is nothing worse than feeling trapped in your location.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:08 AM on April 9, 2013

Look, I've moved a bunch of times in my adult life, normally to new places and sometimes new countries first in pursuit of higher education and then in pursuit of jobs. And the process does get a lot less daunting once you've done it a few times and I have always found stuff to enjoy about each place and each move. But the one thing moving doesn't guarantee is happiness. Being somewhere nice with a nice potential circle of friends helps but in and of itself it doesn't make you happy. Neither does having a job you love. To be happy you have to work on being happy :) But change and leaving your comfort zone is always good in my experience.

As for your job, would it be a disaster for you career wise if did another kind of job when you first arrive in Portland and focus on getting another LPN opportunity in Portland? It sounds as if you have good personal reasons to move so you could certainly explain your decision both to your current boss (so they'll be happy to give you a good reference or even use their network to help you find an opportunity in Portland) and to any future employers.
posted by koahiatamadl at 6:20 AM on April 9, 2013

LPN is one of those jobs where it's possible to find good work pretty much anywhere... in a "hip" city like Portland, ME, even moreso - there's middle class population growth, which is generally good news for the medical profession.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:12 AM on April 9, 2013

Is there a cute nearby town to your awesome job you could move to and love, commute to awesome job and visit your sister in Maine? This doesn't have to be an either or. I don't know about the rest of you, but when a job takes up a big part of the day, I'd rather have one I was really jazzed about than one I was unhappy with.
posted by canine epigram at 7:36 PM on April 9, 2013

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