What are the risks/rewards to moving to a new town and "starting over"?
October 21, 2014 11:46 AM   Subscribe

Married couple with small child considering moving several hours away from "home". Pros/Cons/Things to consider?

My husband and I have been together almost 10 years and have a 3 year old son. We are both 28 years old. Husband is currently a correctional officer in the state of Florida, and attending the police academy during the day to become dual certificed as both a corrections office and a sworn police officer.

Once he graduates, he STILL will not be able to become an "on the streets" police officer here in our city because our city requires a 4 year college degree to become a police officer, which he does not have.

Husband has been bringing up moving to another city, several hours away from where we live now, so essentially "start over" and focus on ourselves and our son and he could become a police offer and use his certification.

I have never lived more then 20 minutes away from my parents and we are VERY close. My son adores them. My mom is my bestfriend, and not in a creepy "too attached" way. She doesn't take care of me or anything like that, we just geninuely enjoy each others company. My husband is very afraid that I would get homesick after a few months and want to move back. (He actually turned down an opportunity a few months back in Toledo, OH because of this concern)

I make really good money where I am at my job. I'm in a management position, and have been with the same company amost 8 years. Also, husband makes good money as a correctional officer -- and anywhere we go, we will essentially make less money.

But is it worth a new start? One of the cities we are considering is Savannah, GA. It's my favorite place to visit in he entire world, only a 2 hour drive away from where we live now - just enough to feel far enough away to "start over" but not so far that I wouldn't be able to visit. We were also looking into Charleston, SC. as well.

Have any of you ever just picked up, and moved away and started over? Did you regret it? Did you make less money where you moved, and were you home sick?

Basically just looking for some personal experiences and suggestions to help us along the way.
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah to Human Relations (23 answers total)
Would he consider staying on at his current job and getting a 4-year degree after he finishes at the Police Academy? Even if you move to a place where entry into the police force is possible without a degree, he may find that he's unable to move up the career ladder without one.

Having a young child and being close to support systems and positive family relationships is really priceless. Your career also sounds very stable financially and otherwise. Is the move being considered just so your husband can avoid getting a 4-year degree? That seems a bit extreme to me. I don't think that what you'd be giving up would be worth it unless you both were moving to make significantly more money and would be able to enjoy a significantly higher financial status and increased stability.
posted by quince at 11:56 AM on October 21, 2014 [17 favorites]

...and anywhere we go, we will essentially make less money.

I think you both need to sit down and do some calculations:

If you're both going to make less money, is the cost of living going to decrease so you can at least get back to where you are now?

Is your husband going to be able to make more doing what he wants to do somewhere else than doing what he's doing where he is?

If your parents are helping you with raising your kid, are you factoring in babysitting costs if you move somewhere you do not have family or friends who will help for free (or, at least, in exchange for something that is not hard cash)?

Is getting a 4-year degree part-time feasible for your husband? Doing that might end up costing you less time, money and grief in the long run, than uprooting your entire life.

Moving somewhere else, especially somewhere without a support network, is an investment (financially and emotionally) and the investment has to pay off to be worthwhile. Save for your husband being able to do the job he would like to do, it doesn't sound like there's much reward to all this risk. For some families, that's worth it. For others it is not. For some families it may seem like it's worth it and ends up being a big mistake. But if you do the math, it'll help you get an idea of what your life will look like five or ten years down the line if you do this.
posted by griphus at 12:05 PM on October 21, 2014

I have done this move several times with and with out kids and much farther distances. It has to be worth it. For us that means a 50-100% bump in salary each time.

Two hours away from family is nothing. You can visit weekly or every other week. You giving up a well paid job that you like seems like too high a cost.

It seems that your husband should try to complete his degree part time where you are.
posted by saradarlin at 12:15 PM on October 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Why not invest the considerable expense of moving and finding new work/daycare/etc. into a degree?

I understand his frustration with not being able to do what he loves, and if you had no kid/felt like being adventurous, it might be worth it (especially if there were good jobs doing what you wanted to do in the place you were moving). Or if one or both of you had a golden opportunity to make more/go further in your field that you couldn't have where you were. Otherwise, I am not seeing a lot of upsides for you.

We pulled up stakes and moved cross country pre-kid, and it was worth it, but it was really hard. And we ended up moving back once the kid came so he could be close to family. We might move again, but not till the kid is old enough to deal with it, or after he's grown, and then it wouldn't be for career reasons.
posted by emjaybee at 12:16 PM on October 21, 2014

Man, if I had a kid and a great-relationship grandma in town, it would take a lot to convince me to give that up.

And I get that he wants to be more professionally fulfilled, but at the cost of you giving up your job? So you have to give up your job and your family for his worse-paying job? Is there a house involved in this situation as well?

I've done some pick-up-and-go moves, but I don't have kids and it was always to my working benefit since my husband is less employed than me.

I think you guys need to both sit down and work the numbers strictly based on numbers, and then add the emotional layer to it. He's restless, but that can be soothed in other ways. Like getting a degree at in-state rates near your mom so you have help while he's extra-busy with school and work. Eventually, it's going to impede his climb up the ladder and he's going to need the degree. (And I strongly recommend doing that while you're as young as possible, because it is going to be a lot less exhausting at 28 than 36.)
posted by Lyn Never at 12:26 PM on October 21, 2014 [8 favorites]

Ordinarily, I'd say you're young, this is a good time to try things out, and 2 hours is hardly any distance. (In general I think it takes about a year to feel at home in a new place, in terms of haunts and friends.) But the combination of having a young child and a close relationship with your parents would make this harder than usual -- less support and the loss of regular contact with a close intimate (even though phones and email are ok for many). So I'd agree it should probably represent some serious up-sides before being worth doing.
posted by acm at 12:27 PM on October 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree with the above that there is virtually no upside to your husbands. plan except he has a job he likes more. Money stress, childcare stress and your unemployment stress = unhappy marriage. Him liking his job won't solve the problems he created.

Would it be doable for you to move an hour away, commute to your existing job/see your family all the time and he commutes an hour to his job in the other direction? You would have to live somewhere a LOT cheaper to compensate for gas and his drop in pay. Can you continue to live where you are and he commutes two hours to a new police job? (Police officers I know so this because their shifts are long but only three days a week YMMV). Can he pick up a second job to compensate for the drop in income?
posted by saucysault at 12:39 PM on October 21, 2014

I've done it a bunch. I've been single, no kids and have always moved to take better paying jobs. So no, and certainly not for police officer.

Your husband can get a degree, I'd suggest a state university, perhaps starting with a JC, and some place that accepts credit for work. Also there's CLEP.

There is no good reason to move. What if he HATES being a police officer? Getting a BA is easy, and he can do it in his spare time.

That would be easier and make a shit-ton more sense that up and moving away from your family.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:43 PM on October 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, in your area, there may be Transit Police, University Police, Sheriff's Department and other policing agencies in suburbs and small municipalities. Also, what about State Police? Check that out first.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:44 PM on October 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've moved all around the country (albelit without kids) for school and work, and my partner has followed me once. I have really enjoyed living different places, meeting new people, and exploring new cities. The downside is that I definitely do miss seeing my family...I get to see them 1 or 2 times a year, which is tough. We would definitely like to move closer once we have children, although for us, "closer" probably means within a 6 hour drive or so.

I do think that getting the chance to embrace a new location can be a good thing! And, a two hour drive is certainly enough to see your family fairly often. My grandparents were a 2.5 hour drive away when I was growing up, and I felt very close to them.

Some things to consider:
--Hubby's job satisfaction. I can see how being a police officer would be a WAY more awesome job than working in a prison. I have a family member who works in a prison (as a teacher, not a guard), and although he loves his job in some ways, it is also very hard to be in that environment from day to day. So, I do think this matters quite a bit.
--Your job prospects. You've been at your current job a long time, but how difficult would it be to find a comparable job? I realize you can't know this for sure, but do some research and see what you can come up with.
--Schools/other opportunities for your child. Do research on the new neighborhood, whether the schools would be comparable, day care options, etc.
--Husband's schooling -- does he have any credits that could be applied to a 4-year degree? How quickly might he be able to finish one if he did this next?
--Is there a closer location where your husband could find the job he is looking for? If you found a city, say, 30 minutes away where he could find a police officer job, and you moved to a house in between, that's still just a 15 minute commute for each of you. Depending on the commute you guys are willing to tolerate, your radius expands significantly -- if you're both willing to go 30 minutes, you could go out an hour from your current location for your husband to find a job, for example.

Good luck!
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:49 PM on October 21, 2014

Another thing I didn't even think about in my answer: he understands what kind of odds your marriage faces when he's an "on the streets" police officer, right? He understands that even if nothing really major ever happens to him, you and your child run the risk of actual diagnosable PTSD just from being his family?

But he wants you to do that without your support system. When he's going to have to work the shit shifts at first and it's you putting the kids in the car to drive to Grandma's without him for Christmas, and you doing bath/bedtime by yourself when he works nights, and you handling kid sick days when daddy needs to sleep during the day. Two hours isn't close enough to help, it's only close enough for emergencies and planned visits.

That's a very serious conversation that needs to be had in a big picture way, before the secondary discussion about moving.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:08 PM on October 21, 2014 [8 favorites]


- Costs of relocation
- Away from family and friends
- Loss of child care from family/mother
- Giving up your stable, long-term (and well paying) job for the unknown
- Adjusting to life in a new place


- Your husband gets what he wants

Hmm. Have I picked up and left it all? Yeah, I did that when I was 18 years old and had zero obligations to anyone or anything. It was awesome. I would do it again and very well might. But I probably wouldn't do it in your particular situation.
posted by futureisunwritten at 1:10 PM on October 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Sorry you all - just to clarify --

The moving away it's completely based on his job. I apologize for the confusion. Him finding a job more quickly in that field is just a positive aspect of moving to another area, but NOT the entire reason at all. There are small counties around us where he could get a job as a police officer.

This is something we have talked about in the past, and have just recently re-hashing in a more serious manner. Not just because he will be getting his certification soon, but because our son has not started school yet and is still so young.

Our city is the second city in crime in Florida, second to Miami. Lots of drugs, murder, and shootings in the news every single morning. My husband doesn't want to raise our child in this area, and thinks moving away to an area with less crime and a better school system would be beneficial to him as well.

Also, though I have a close relationship with my parents, they don't care for me or my son in any way. So cost wise, it doesn't matter. They don't provide any kind of support system in that way.

So, lots of pros and cons, but not just centering around his career. I should have worded the above information better, my apologies.
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah at 1:11 PM on October 21, 2014

Also, though I have a close relationship with my parents, they don't care for me or my son in any way

Could you clarify this sentence?
posted by JenThePro at 1:17 PM on October 21, 2014

Response by poster: Also, though I have a close relationship with my parents, they don't care for me or my son in any way

Could you clarify this sentence?

Sure, sorry - I mean financially mostly, but they also don't provide care for my son in any way. I pay for full time daycare for him, and I pay a baby sitter when needed as well. A few people above mentioned the cost in child care that would go up because of moving and not having them close but that isn't an issue.
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah at 1:22 PM on October 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

@JenThePro - I think she is talking about childcare or providing other types of services (i.e. cleaning, meals, etc.) that they would otherwise have to pay for out of pocket.

Given your update, I would honestly say GO FOR IT if this is something you and your husband are excited about but just a little nervous because it is new. You will obviously still want to check out your job prospects/options and make sure that's something you feel good about first, but if the only reason you're staying in a dangerous city that you don't much love is to be close to family, then give something else a try! Two hours is really really close enough for you guys to still have a close relationship (and for your son to have a relationship with them). And having good schools and a safe place to grow up is an important thing for a child as well.
posted by rainbowbrite at 1:24 PM on October 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you everyone for your ideas and input as well. It's given me a lot to think about.
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah at 1:32 PM on October 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you move at all it should be for *your* job, not your husband's. He will be a rookie no matter where you live. You are on a solid long-term career track. You didn't get off-track when you had your child - that's no small feat. Don't get off-track now.

So do the research to find *your* next ladder-step (or at least lateral with cost of living adjustment), and then see what that area's jurisdictions offer for schools and your husband's work.

A 2-hour trip is pretty easy. But it will likely mean you end up using your personal leave to spend with your parents instead of traveling.
posted by headnsouth at 3:40 PM on October 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

Huh, I am going to be a voice of dissent. I think it's perfectly reasonable to move to a new place just for fun, just for a change.

I have moved cities for my work six times, and I never regretted it. My situation's different from yours in that I don't have kids and I don't see my parents much. (We love each other and there's no strain: we just don't see each other much.)

I would sit down with your husband and imagine your best possible future if you do move (your favourite city! How would your lives change!) and then do the same exercise in the event you don't move. Either way, what would your kid's life be like, your career, your husband's, in ten years. Then make a provisional decision and see how it makes you feel.

Just don't move grudgingly. Better not to move than to be reluctant and foot-draggy: that could end badly.
posted by Susan PG at 6:49 PM on October 21, 2014

I want to add that if you do decide to move, to do so before your child starts school. Since your son is 3, you have about 2 to 3 years to move. It will be harder on your child to change schools and move once he's started already.
posted by ichomp at 7:04 PM on October 21, 2014

Your parents may not provide regular care, but do they help you out of jams? I just last week had the perfect storm of traveling spouse, sick baby, very sick preschooler with respiratory problems who needed his prescription that night and was too sick to go to the pharmacy (he wouldn't do anything but lay on couch and cry), pharmacy delays til past bedtime, brutal rainstorm, and nobody to call.

Don't discount the value of having somebody to call, is all I'm sayin'.
posted by telepanda at 8:00 PM on October 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Just a few years ago, I moved 6 hours away from my hometown, for the sake of my now-husbunny's career. We're roughly your age, no kids yet. I make a little more money but the career satisfaction has been less, he makes a little less (for now, since he transitioned from military to firefighting and is entry-level).

We're closer to his family now, they're 2.5 hours away. We visit them frequently, usually overnight but day trips are doable. My family and I also visit every month or so. The 6 hours' drive isn't bad, it's alright for a weekend visit (particularly long weekends). My friends also come through to visit fairly often, which is lovely. 6 hours is about the limit of what I'm comfortable driving in a day though.

28-30 is still a decent age to make new friends. It takes patience, time and effort. Our friends have mostly been made through work, which is kind of how things go for adults. It's like how we made friends in school - you spend a lot of time with them and things progress naturally.

It also takes time to get to know a new city. I felt frustrated and disappointed when shopping for specific items for the first year - I didn't know where to look, but I knew where to go in my OLD town. Eventually I learned, that passed. We made it fun by reading up on places and exploring on weekends, and now we've got the hang of it. Still working on that.

Has it been worth it? Absolutely. Husbunny is much, much happier in this job, which translates to much happier overall. And it's definitely brought us closer together and solidified our commitment to each other - we've both made sacrifices and worked hard to achieve this goal, together. Domestic bliss.
posted by lizbunny at 9:52 PM on October 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

When I was 33, I moved to NYC for an academic year, as part of my graduate studies. Because of this, in spite of the fact that it was planned and agreed upon in advance, my husband and I were divorced. So I moved there as a single parent with a 3-year-old. It was an amazing experience and I loved every minute of it. It is invigorating to meet new friends and in a way, you can be yourself more fully when you don't have old friends and family who see you through the experience of a whole life.
The original idea was for my husband to apply for work in the city while I studied, and I really think he would have loved it, and it would have been good for our relationship.

I was invited to stay on, not in NYC, but upstate New York, and after a lot of thought, I declined. Maybe I would have seen it differently if I had been married, but at the end of the day, I felt I was too far away from my family, not because of economy or practical help, but because I wanted my daughter to be part of a larger family. I grew up in an extended family where grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins were always close at hand, and I really want this for my children as well.

This is not advice, but you asked for experiences as well as advice.
posted by mumimor at 8:16 AM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

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