Help me get my family on board - moving Florida to Michigan ...
February 13, 2015 2:59 PM   Subscribe

Due to financial & career reasons, I need to relocate from Tampa Bay area to Detroit area. My wife is livid. She has a history of depression, difficulty making friends & has told me just before we moved down here (15 years ago) that she'd be a happier person in a warmer climate (as we're from Philly & know all about cold/snow). We have 2 kids... my daughter is about to turn 15 & is in the 9th grade (1st year of HS). My son is 11... and in the 5th grade (next year is middle school)... He also has Aspergers (social disorder)... but is mainstream this year & most of last & is doing just fine. Nobody wants to move (me included), but financially & career wise, there is no other option... I welcome all thoughts on this... as it's a tough one to digest

I've been with the company for a year & doing okay. But due to being in & out of work over the prior 2 years, we incurred some significant debt... & due to some recent medical reasons, have incurred some significant medical bills.

So my initial thought was sell our house, downsize, save about $800-1000 / month & stay in our area.

The problem with that is the following; First, my boss told me that i'm doing so good in Michigan, they want me to re-located... will pay my moving expenses & compensate me $2k/month (increase in my salary). They will also give me a no interest load for about 1/3 of my debt that i can pay back over (almost) any period of time... as they know my financial situation (as i'm working now really for the banks, & coming up short every month).

Also, i'm on the road alot now, (about 7-10 days a month or more)... and if i stay, they'll need me up in Michigan more often... thereby i'll be seeing my family less.

If I decided to go, then i get the raise, great opportunity to continue to grow with the company... The real estate seems about the same as down here (they say it's less, but in the nicer neighborhoods that i investigated, it looks about the same)....

To greatly improve my financial situation, we don't want a bigger house / higher mortgage payment... So initially we are going to rent for a year in Michigan... get the lay of the land... I'll bank some money, reduce my debt... & then we an purchase a home ...

The bad with that of course is my wife HATES the idea (can you blame her?), my daughter is smart, but shy... doesn't have a HUGE amount of friends down here... yet, i will be uprooting her, pulling her out of her life... she'll have to goto a new high school, in 10th grade, and find/make new friends.

My son will have to do the same thing, but i think it will be easier for him, as he's going into middle school (6th) grade... and everyone will be scared, making new friends, etc. Although he does have some mild behavior issues, and some social issues... he's not as shy as my daughter & I actually think because of all the above, he'll actually adjust better.

So the trade off is ... stay in Florida, continue to suffer & struggle financially (we're planning on downsizing our home anyway.. so we're moving at the end of this school year either way), see my family less (as i will have to travel more)... but they all remain happy (except for the kids/wife see me less)....


Move to Michigan... make more money, have better opportunity... & come home every night to my family. I will get a strong handle on my debt & resolve those problems aggressively. But, i'm uprooting my family... & pray they don't hate me for it...

I know kids are resilient. I know the adjustment to the new school & making new friends are temporary problems. My wife is so against the idea, she doesn't think so... but i'm much more confident of this. My wife is convinced that she may never make friends in Michigan (but i know better... i really do...)

Only today have i really made her understand that we must make this move... i can't be living (financially) hand to mouth anymore... & being away from the family is killing me (literally too much traveling & it's taking it's toll on me).

I know people have done alot more for alot less.... but this life changing decision is the most toughest one of my life as i only care about my kids health & overall well being... I want them to have a stable life... & I know moving does the opposite. But people move & relocate every day... right?

Help me deal with this.... as it's impeding my ability to focus on anything else... I've told my employer if i do move, it will have to wait until the kids are out of school (which they are totally fine with).

Side note; they told me there'd be no repercussions if i turned down the offer, but at the same time, they said they'd need me to travel more because to generate more business (that they know i will do multiple times over in the Detroit area). And that they'd likely have to "re-evaluate" my situation. If i do move, they told me they give me security (in the form of some kind of working contract)... as they appreciate my situation & want me to be okay.

I figure we move up at the beginning of summer after the school year, it will give the kids time to settle into their new surroundings & environment & perhaps gives them time to make new friends .. but neither are into sports... (my daughter is into Dr. who, Sherlock, etc... ) she's not a girly girl, but beats to her own drum... My son is into WWE, Lego & is living the life of an 11 yo.

My wife's biggest fear is i'll be at work during the days, the kids will be in school... & she'll be stuck in a strange house, not knowing anyone... & I'm not really sure what I can say to her or do about that...

I welcome any questions or suggestions here...
posted by foodybat to Work & Money (43 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Is finding a new job in Florida not at all an option? Is your wife getting a job in Florida an option? Can you spend the time from now until the end of the school year focusing much of your efforts on trying to get a new job that's better for your family instead, including at looking at moving to other low cost-of-living, warm climate areas that your wife is more interested in? You give 2 options as if those are the only two options, when it seems to me there are a lot more than that.
posted by brainmouse at 3:07 PM on February 13, 2015 [17 favorites]

There is an option -- don't move!! Get a different job in Florida that's either 1. higher-paying or 2. minimal travel. You're trying to spin this into a situation where you have to move, and your boss is happy to talk you into this even though it's not what's best for you. You don't have to move. Stay put.

I've moved to cities that have a reputation for being poor places to live, and found the reputation was accurate. Being surrounded by other people who chose to move to (mediocre city) set back my career and caused me to lose friends. Don't do this to yourself and your family.
posted by sninctown at 3:08 PM on February 13, 2015 [11 favorites]

There's a lot to be said for financial freedom.

What are your wife's interests? Maybe you can scout out (or IRL.mefi!) or other social groups remotely to assuage some of her fears about no social circle.
posted by TheAdamist at 3:20 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Having moved from NYC to Orlando a couple of years ago I just couldn't see moving back to the winter again. Maybe moving is still an option. What about moving within Florida for a better job and smaller living situation? Florida to Michigan? Big mistake in so many ways. The kids would be my primary concern. Do some serious research into the living conditions in Michigan.
posted by Splunge at 3:21 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Clarification: I have lived in Redford, Michigan for several years.
posted by Splunge at 3:22 PM on February 13, 2015

Dude, don't move. This is a disaster for your family. Bite the bullet and be a road warrior if you have to, but you don't move kids out of high school unless there are DIRE reasons for doing so. If you have a kid on the autism spectrum, you DON'T change surroundings lightly. If your wife has SAD and does better in lighter, warmer climates...that's a legitimate thing. Don't brush off these very real issues because it's inconvenient for you to turn down this change in your job.

Sell your house and rent until you've got your debt paid down. Find another job. Do what you have to do to provide for your family where they are happy and thriving.

People live in Detroit because they have connections and families there. They move there because they work in the automotive industry. They move there because they have NO other options. This is not you.

I get it that it would be better for you if you moved, but you can make it work where you are, and make everyone happy, why NOT do that?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:22 PM on February 13, 2015 [24 favorites]

The best thing to do is engage your wife in the nuts and bolts financial aspects of this decision. Right now it sounds like she's addressing only the emotional outcome of the move as it impacts her. Does she have a day to day understanding of the family finances? Do you guys have a budget where there's a shared understanding of and agreement on goals? If not, you probably want to start there.

On re-read: I'd first explore her feelings on this: "If i do move, they told me they give me security (in the form of some kind of working contract)." Are you honestly working without a written contract? That's...incredibly rash. Is it possible she doesn't see this job as much of a sure thing as you do? If so, that's got to be a factor in her current response and it's worth talking about.
posted by jamaro at 3:23 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Stick around. The job market is probably better where you are, and your kids will be happier if they can finish the same high school they started. The weather sucks up north, and you already have a house. You have already planted roots. If you want to downsize, downsize where you currently live.
posted by oceanjesse at 3:24 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

The difference in climate and daylight hours between Florida and Michigan is huge. Huge. For someone with seasonally-triggered depression, the difference in latitude is like going off medication. That's in addition to the stress of moving to a new location with no social network in place.

I can't recommend anything to say to get your family on board with this move, because I can't recommend moving.
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:24 PM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

Also, you don't even have to move! Your employer is cool with your current arrangements, your family is cool with your current arrangements, all you have to do is find the middle ground, which is moving into a smaller house.
posted by oceanjesse at 3:26 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ask your wife to help you explore other options. Put everything on the table, including doing nothing, moving, getting a different job where you are. If finding another job is an option, ask her to help you search (because searching for a job is like a job).
posted by adamrice at 3:29 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Reading this (through the cloud of ellipses...dude, limit those going forward in life), gave me a different take on your situation. I think you are really puffed up about the fact that your employer thinks highly of you and is rewarding you. You want to reap those rewards and you are struggling with your personal happiness and financial improvement meaning unhappiness for your family. It's a legitimate struggle and it's okay to not want to turn down the opportunity, but I would be cautious about reframing it as "no other option" "must move" and "killing me". Making it sound inevitable when it's really only inevitable because you want everything your way is going to drive a wedge between you and your wife and kids.

Your wife's concerns are real. Michigan is cold and gray for a good portion of the year, which is challenging for people with sunny dispositions let alone someone who struggles with depression.
posted by cecic at 3:29 PM on February 13, 2015 [20 favorites]

You didn't mention whether your wife is working. It seems that your kids are old enough to be more independent, so she doesn't need to be home all the time to care for them if that's what she's been doing. Even a low-skill, full-time job would likely bring in enough for you both to get out of the debt and money issues you're having. Financial insecurity is a problem that impacts everyone and both of you need to do whatever it takes to get yourselves out of an insecure situation.

If your family doesn't want to move, then you should find a way to still move up through your company while staying where you are (if only to also be able to get a better job in FL) and also have your wife find a way to do the same, either get a job or get a better job.
posted by quince at 3:35 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

financially & career wise, there is no other option

I think this is the first premise that you should re-visit. I totally get that doing something new and different seems like it might be the thing that would really help get things on the right path, but it seems like things have been bumpy for you guys for a few years now and my feeling is that if you want to really see something that makes a difference, you might be better off putting your family first and saying "Let's focus on this debt issue without uprooting the stability we have" and give yourself six months with that first. You've got a wife and two kids who are somewhat fragile and are in okay spots right now except for the debt stress. Your job seems like they haven't given you an ultimatum. This seems like you're really stressed about money (understandably) and are maybe being a bit too rosy about the Michigan possibilities at the expense of destabilizing everything else. Money is more manageable than an entire family's sense of stability and comfort. I know it seems like that is not the case, but that is my assertion. Check this comment from last month have a no-bullshit talk with your wife about other extreme options ("Look I know you are hellbent on no Detroit but it's the only option I can see to get the money thing sorted. What about other options like you getting a job or us renting instead of woning or...") and try to work this out as a team. I'm sorry I know it's stressful.
posted by jessamyn at 3:36 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]

Michigan is THE worst state I have lived in for SAD. You wife will be MISERABLE.

I have moved my kids every 2-3 years and it is hell on them.
The move into middle school is NOT a good time to make new friends. Kids cling to their old friends like a lifeline.
10th grade is a hard time to move.

This will be an incredibly traumatic move for your wife and kids. Do the road warrior thing.
posted by LittleMy at 3:38 PM on February 13, 2015 [16 favorites]

It probably would be best for your family to stay in Florida for the time being and work out your financial issues there. If you have the skills to be promoted in your current job, you should have the skills to find a good job in your area right now (and the job market in Florida has to be better than the one in Michigan).

Unless there is a compelling reason for your wife to stay home, she should be looking for work as well. Your kids are old enough that they don't need a stay-home parent around. And even if your wife can only find a low-paying job now, the skills and experience she gains will enable her to earn more down the line.

There have to be other options for you to dig out of your financial hole than taking a job in Michigan. Explore them.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:41 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

My partner and I have been debating relocation for some time, including to Detroit. I even posted a question about relocating to AskMe recently! In the end, we were looking to relocate to *better* weather and cheaper housing. We have no kids, and no mortgage. A move to a cheaper city would mean my partner could pursue a more meaningful work path. Etc. In other words, we'd be disturbing nobody's routine but our own, saving money, and establishing a more comfortable lifestyle.

I was still told by many, many people that this was the dumbest plan in the world and that we should not do it. Big, huge, dislocating moves are apparently a super-stupid idea if they are anything less than absolutely necessary, or you are 19 years old.

You have framed this move as absolutely necessary, but others have ably pointed out that it is not. Time to get flexible about your thinking and make a decision the whole family can be on board with.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:46 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would start looking for another job in Florida, close to where you are now. It sounds like you are unhappy now, with your financial situation, which is probably equally bad to moving to Detroit. See what's out there.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:04 PM on February 13, 2015

My wife's biggest fear is i'll be at work during the days, the kids will be in school... & she'll be stuck in a strange house, not knowing anyone... & I'm not really sure what I can say to her or do about that...

It's not clear from your question, but does your wife work outside the home? Because if she doesn't, that's a potential solution sitting right in front of you.

Adding - I'm a big advocate of downsizing. Smaller house, less stuff, cheaper cars, dump the cable bill, go to an MVNO for $35/month or less cell service, buy in bulk, cancel the gym membership. This stuff can be hundreds of dollars per month.
posted by cnc at 4:14 PM on February 13, 2015

Your wife doesn't want to move. How does she propose you both address your financial difficulties and the toll that travel takes on you? Are any of her ideas workable? Why isn't she working?

I sort of get the sense that you are used to making all of these kinds of decisions for the family, and that your wife needs to be more actively engaged. Then she'll either get on board with moving or be a good partner to you by figuring out how to solve the problems otherwise. (Or she'll be a bad partner, stomp her feet and say no and expect you to suck up the travel and money stress, in which case you have a whole nother problem.)
posted by metasarah at 4:50 PM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

There are rarely only two choices in life. I'd sit down with your wife and ask her (and friends and family, if needed) to help you brainstorm other possible solutions. You know that old saying, If momma ain't happy, then nobody's happy?

You wrote: My wife is livid. She has a history of depression, difficulty making friends & has told me just before we moved down here (15 years ago) that she'd be a happier person in a warmer climate (as we're from Philly & know all about cold/snow). You also wrote, I know the adjustment to the new school & making new friends are temporary problems. My wife is so against the idea, she doesn't think so... but i'm much more confident of this. My wife is convinced that she may never make friends in Michigan (but i know better... i really do...)

You do not know better. My kid was 7 when her dad and I moved to Europe. She was angry on the plane. She was angry after the move. She bitterly resented it for the next 12 years, basically. And I made few friends and was depressed. We should never have moved although we moved for really good reasons.

My guess is that your wife is not working because of her depression. Either way, the solution to the problem of being burned out from traveling in your job is not to relocate. It is to find another job that is local or involves less traveling. If I had it to do over again, I would never have uprooted my family.

Depression is serious. Of course your wife is livid. She has told you as clearly as she can that this move will be a nightmare for her and you are refusing to listen. 3 of the 4 members of your family will be better off staying. Which means that you will be better off staying, too. Turn down the move and look for a different, local job. Wanting the move to be the solution to your problem does not make it the solution to your problem. And you may be angry about that. You are allowed to be angry that you have a wife with a history of depression and with difficulty in making friends. But it is asking for trouble to ignore what you know about your wife, your children, and what they are telling you in hopes that you "know better". It's unlikely that you know better. Ask for help from your wife and find another option, please!
posted by Bella Donna at 5:29 PM on February 13, 2015 [19 favorites]

Do you have to do this now? Moving is expensive (especially to do it twice), I can't see how your finances will get better in the short term if you move. Plug away at your current job for another year, see how traveling more treats you, look at other job options and downsizing your home, reassess in a year.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:02 PM on February 13, 2015

You don't NEED to relocate to Michigan. You WANT to relocate since it would be good for your career. However you are part of a family, and that move would not benefit anyone in the family except for you. I urge you to consider other options. The earlier responses have lots of great suggestions - your wife getting a job, you finding a different job, downsizing, etc. At the very least you can stay in your current job while you evaluate the many options available to your family.
posted by barnoley at 6:14 PM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]

I think you should explore other options, as people are saying, and that -- much more importantly -- you should involve your wife in that exploration process. It sounds like you're coming to her with faits accomplis rather than respecting her as a partner and working out solutions together as a team.

This shouldn't be a situation where one of you "wins" at the expense of the other. Work together to find a solution in which you both win.
posted by jaguar at 6:48 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think you are being awfully cavalier about how this move might affect your children, especially your son with special needs. I would try every other avenue before I would relocate from a situation where my children are happy and my special needs child was accommodated. You don't know what a nightmare that is unless you have been on the other side (miserable children and having to fight for proper accommodations).
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 7:16 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Have you considered moving yourself for the job and coming back home for weekend visits? Hopefully after a year you would be able to leverage that experience into a local job with either your current company or a new one. My father did this for several years - and it was hard - but it was preferable to uprooting the entire family to move to the arctic circle. A bedsit would not cost much per month and meanwhile the family can start downsizing and moving into rented accommodations in Florida (and your wife can start working?). This is just one of the times you have to put your family's needs before your own, unfortunately.
posted by saucysault at 9:03 PM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

"I know kids are resilient. I know the adjustment to the new school & making new friends are temporary problems."

This line of thinking was the main mistake my father made 17 years ago when he uprooted our family and forced us all to move across country for his career goals. To let you know how that turned out- I haven't spoken to my father in over a decade and a huge reason for that had to do with how he forced me to move in the middle of highschool despite no one in the family wanting to go. Some children are more attached to "home" than others and if one of your children happen to be like this and they're old enough to have established foundations where they live, they may be resentful about it well after they move out of your home and start their own lives. And I only lived there for two years! Because as soon as I became legal I moved out of that town and went straight back to "home" even though it meant living in a roach infested apartment the size of a shoebox.

I realize that not all situations are the same. In my case It wasn't just the move- but the way he just didn't seem to care how the move was affecting me and how the move brought up all these tensions that we already had between us. Despite my never really feeling close with my father, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that had we not moved we would still be on speaking terms. Mainly because all those buried tensions would've never had a chance to explode the way they did during those two years of high school before I moved out for good. But the move created the circumstances for all our previous issues to come to a serious head. My mother also fell into a deep depression because she was far away from all her friends and family. So please be careful with this decision. You may think that they'll get over it and maybe they will- but that depends on a variety of factors and it's not a guarantee. I think that it mostly depends on the personalities involved more than anything- as well as your own. And your personality of- Oh you guys will get over it because you're resilient, is NOT going to help you if you guys do move. It's only going to raise more resentment because it sounds like you don't care.

A few years after I graduated college when I had already cut him out of my life, he tried to email me about how now that years had passed he wishes he never uprooted the family and moved. I guess he finally realized after all those years how much his career goals and the nice big house and fancy cars really mattered in face of all the family trauma it caused. Suddenly it dawned on him that all those nice material things that he got out of the move was not worth it. I never responded to that email, because I just didn't care enough at that point. His apologies can't change the past. Instead I just deleted that email account so that he couldn't reach me anymore. That was many years ago and he might be dead now for all I know. At some point I might care enough to check and see. His other kids moved back home too after they grew and now he's in his big house with a wife that resents him for breaking up the family for his career. So... that is how that move affected our family. I realize your family is not my family, but I'm telling you this to get you out of that terrible 'they're resilient- and this problem is definitely temporary' idea. Because fast forward 17 years and that thinking is my now aging father's biggest regret. If you do move, then you need to change that attitude stat.
posted by rancher at 9:15 PM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]

I might consult with a financial planner / bankruptcy counsel.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:59 PM on February 13, 2015

I think pulling your kids out of the schools where they're doing well and moving them to another state may be the biggest mistake you'll ever make with them and I think your wife is content and doing well where she is and - again - forcing such a move would be a disaster. You're in Florida - are there no other jobs that you could pick up as a second - or a part-time job for your wife? I definitely agree with ClaudiaCenter that a consultation with a financial counselor is an absoute necessity at this point and if your biggest problem financially is medical bills I'd seriously consider taking a medical bankruptcy and starting from scratch.

In today's world, a massive number of people are drowning while trying to pay off huge medical bills, bills that are ridiculous to begin with, bills that are outrageous after the insurance you're making monthly premium payments on has paid its "share" - bills that are more than there's any hope of paying off. Payments made on the bills are swallowed by late fees and interest fees and people are just spinning their wheels - and, of course, as they keep working at paying these bills they get behind on everything else. Student loans are another one - but you can't discharge those on bankruptcy. I know it's stigma-ridden and a hatchet job to one's self-esteem, but the alternative, to keep paying and taking one step forward and two back, is not going to work; at some point, it will be the end of the person's financial stability, which sounds to me like just about where you are now.

See a financial counselor, look for a better-paying job or a second, part-time one, and try, if you possibly can, to stay where you are. And by all means, get your wife involved with the financial situation - she may have some ideas that you haven't thought of.
posted by aryma at 11:26 PM on February 13, 2015

Response by poster: Some Clarification....
I'm in the scrap metal business. These days (& for the past several years) it's been a tough business. I can't just "find another job locally"... I'm not educated (only 2 years of college, as i got in this industry through a family business. I've been doing this for a long time (25+ years), so there's not much available to me outside my industry.
My wife was working at a health food store part time for the past 2 years up until January.

Either way, i AM moving, and I AM downsizing.

The raise if i move is significant, ($24k)... which means that i can financially, literally turn my life around.

If i stay, they said they would have to "re-assess" my position... They certainly would want me traveling more (up to Michigan)... My selfish concern is that if i play the road warrior role... will I implode? It's been difficult enough for me to be travel as much as i do....

I know there are always options, but i've found a good job, that's growing... and i could be positioned for a long & profitable future... I know what it's like to be out of a job (on & off between 2012-14)... and I really don't wanna jeopardize my current job... Staying will be more pressure to perform better, + the traveling... I will still have some financial stress.... (even downsizing, trimming excess expenses back...which i've been doing already)... I just don't know if i can handle that. If I have a nervous breakdown or crack under all this stress...that doesn't help us (living in FL), but of course if anyone else in my family go through it in MI ... i would blame myself ....
posted by foodybat at 5:02 AM on February 14, 2015

What happens if you move and then lose the job that you moved for after only a year or two? This is what happened to my dad when he moved our family to chase a big raise, and it was a huge problem because the place we moved to had a terrible job market in general. Does Detroit have a good job market for your business? I don't exactly associate Detroit with good jobs.

We ended up away from home with my dad struggling with unemployment half of the time and hour+ commutes or home only on weekends arrangements when he was actually working. My mother never really made new friends, and the resentment between my older sister and my dad caused by moving her midway through high school still hasn't healed 30 years later.

My family also moved once within the same school district when I was in high school, and that was comparatively no big deal. Just because you are definitely moving doesn't mean you might as well move all the way to Detroit while you are at it.
posted by insoluble uncertainty at 7:38 AM on February 14, 2015 [4 favorites]

I'm guessing the answer is "yes," but is there a job title change that comes with the raise if you move?

If so, is there a way to negotiate a position with similar responsibilities that still gets you more money but doesn't require you to actually live in Detroit? I can't imagine that the cost of your annual travel over a few years is going to be more than $24K plus relocation expenses. If it's the bouncing around that's harder for you than being away from your family for a stretch, could you rent a room in Detroit and live 2 week in FL/2 week in MI per month?

I ask because it sounds like your bosses value you as an employee and are willing to financially invest in your future with them. If they're sane and decent people, their commitment to you shouldn't evaporate if you decide not to move your entire family to another state. (I do recognize that we all don't have the luxury of sane and decent bosses, but based on what you've said, yours sound like good eggs.)

As someone who's worked in two struggling industries in Florida, I get that you can't just find another job based on your experience. And I really, really understand the stress of traveling. But please listen to the overwhelming number of people who've responded telling you the move to Detroit is a bad idea and to explore whatever other options you and your wife can think of. As you've experienced, jobs can always come and go, and so can money, for any number of reasons. There are lots of problems the money would solve, but years of estrangement from your wife and kids isn't one of them.
posted by Owlcat at 8:44 AM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yeah this is crappy, but I kind of believe you that the move is probably what you will wind up doing. Your wife though, I think is the one you need to worry about the most. My family moved a lot, for various reasons. It takes a while to adjust but it does usually happen, but you need to do some work to help with that; it is not an automatic thing and should be an important part of what you plan and strategize for in the coming months.

I remember moving when I was in fifth grade. There were definite perks to the new location which were a big compensation for the move, so everyone bought in to it ultimately, though I had some lonely times at first. Compensations were things like a house on a quiet street that was smaller than our old one but way more affordable, small lakes in walking distance with free swimming, a deeply discounted day camp as a privilege of living in that town, and it is still a safe, woodsy and bikeable small town today.

I think you need to seriously investigate now where you would be living in the part of Michigan you will be moving to, and look for a house and community/neighborhood to live that has some compensations and amenities for your wife and kids for having to leave their home (Mefites may be able to help with suggestions for this if you ask). Neighborhoods and towns in an area can differ dramatically from one another, with some chilly and cliquey, where another town or section can be much more to your taste. Don't forget looking for a good school system for the kids. It is also so much easier to move during the beginning of summer. I hated moving in early December, with the holidays coming, and coming in to a school when cliques and friendships had had a good long time to develop without me was pretty traumatic. I do not recommend it!
posted by gudrun at 8:54 AM on February 14, 2015

Response by poster: If i move, they are willing to give me a working contract to ensure i have security (hopefully eliminated the option that i loose the position) while in Michigan.

I am hearing the majority loud & clear.... but assuming they don't let me go or drop my salary if i stay in Florida... downsizing will help, my wife will get another job, will also help... but it will be a struggle without any guarantees... Is this truly the wisest move?

My son has seemed to comes to terms with it... My daughter is shy & i believe much more concerned about it that she leads me to believe.

My one boss (there are two of them) suggested to wait until end of March when it's nicer there & fly my wife & I up... to see several neighborhoods (with a Realtor) ... maybe look at some schools for the kids, etc... Then a week or two later, come back up with my kids... (all at their expense of course).

On the one hand ... I figure, don't make a decision until i have to... but i also don't wanna lead them on either. If I come up with my wife, maybe she starts feeling better about it all? Maybe the opposite?

My understanding is that although we have okay schools in Florida, the schools are generally "better" in Michigan... but i can't confirm this ...

Just fyi... we're thinking Farmington Hills, West Bloomfield, Bloomfield Hills, Birmingham, Royal Oak, Ferndale, Troy, Franklin, Canton, Bloomfield Township, Rochester Hills, or Novi...

I did find some nice homes to rent in these towns... the schools seem to be mostly 8, 9, & 10 (out of 10)...

I don't see why my wife couldn't find a easy part time job to keep her sane & help her meet new friends...


I could just tell them, inasmuch as i appreciate the opportunity & generous offer... my family's overall happiness is paramount to me... We have an aging mother here, and i cannot have my family resent me over this. After numerous & lengthy family meetings, we collectively decided family is more important than money. I will be dedicated, travel as i must, and do the best job I can... but cannot uproot my family.

I think they will understand, be disappointed. Their demands of me will likely to increase. I will not receive the raise... and they may find someone else to fill the position in Michigan which may impact my position in the future....

posted by foodybat at 9:14 AM on February 14, 2015

Stay in FL, start your own business if current job starts giving you grief for your decision not to move. Maybe start your own business anyway.
posted by Klaxon Aoooogah at 9:25 AM on February 14, 2015

I'm sorry you're in such a tough position. I'm still not hearing what your wife proposes as an alternative. Are you two making decisions as a partnership? How much are you talking about this?
posted by metasarah at 10:00 AM on February 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

Is the two weeks in Michigan, two in Florida a possibility? Or living in Michigan during the week and flying to Florida for Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays? Will that make it easier, if you have a regular schedule for travel? I hear that the travel is wearing you down. And I also hear that you are concerned about your daughter, as you should be. So once again, I am going to suggest that you consider an alternative. Why not ask for a 6 Month Test Drive of the new job, in which you are there halftime? Or 4 days a week? Your bosses like you, they want to work out something that will work for you. Is there a problem with being honest and explaining that it appears best for your family to stay in Florida and so is there a way to make the job work? Don't give up. It is not possible to guarantee a good outcome for any decision we make. All we can do is give it our best shot and see what happens. So why not see if there's a way you can take the job and keep your family in Florida on a trial basis for 6 months. Get your raise in writing. Get your security in writing. And just live apart from your family for 6 months (traveling back when you can to see them, of course). That will also give you time to see if this job is actually going to work out for you. Because if you do relocate, and your job goes to hell, then you will have lost everything. It probably won't go to hell, but wouldn't it be nice to know that for sure? I have had friends forced to commute between work and family over several years. It is hard, but sometimes it is better than the alternative. Unemployment sucks, nobody wants that for you. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 11:19 AM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sorry to be blunt, but I am finding your relationship with your wife a bit peculiar. I understand why she wouldn't want to move, and believe me, uprooting a kid with special needs is a very. big. deal. (I have stayed in a difficult situation for years in order to keep my daughter in a special high school.) And it's a big deal even if said kid seems to be okay with it. For your wife to have good friends--a support network--is valuable too and not easily replaced. It takes years to build that sort of network, and if your kids aren't easy, she probably relies on her friends more than you realize.

I just get the impression that you really don't understand the problems she deals with every day. It also looks like she doesn't understand your worries either. Does she understand, and does she feel any responsibility for, your family's financial problems? Has she considered getting a job herself? Does she understand your fear of unemployment? Does she get that your employer likes you enough to have offered you a path to financial solvency if you solve your employer's problem of finding staff in Michigan?

My point here is not whether you stay or go. I am more concerned that you and your wife seem to be living parallel lives. You don't seem to take her concerns seriously and vice versa. To make a good decision you need to be a team. I don't know if you were a team once and you lost it, or if this has always been a problem for you, but you won't be able to make a good decision without fixing that.

Difficult times and difficult decisions can force us to confront some of the more fundamental issues that we otherwise manage to ignore for years.
posted by islandeady at 11:35 AM on February 14, 2015 [12 favorites]

I appreciate the difficulty of your situation, but damn man I have to come out of lurkage to urge you to maybe definitely don't do this to your wife/kids.

I'm a recent transplant to Michigan from a balmy Southern clime and -- though I don't intend to make this my permanent home, I had excellent reasons to come here, and I don't have young kids in tow -- I still question the sanity of this move well over a year later & keeping my mood up through the insane winters is a day-to-day project. My hat's off to Michiganders, a mighty people indeed -- as a native of Siberia (long long ago), I can confidently say that this is basically Siberia with much less sun and much more wind. The chemicals in my brain are not OK with this. There's lots of cool things about Michigan (natural wonders, people are interesting, Canada is nearby), but it's not a good testing ground for someone with depression & two kids at notoriously awkward ages.

Just the opinion of a guy who just stood outside for 75 minutes in -1 degrees w/ 45-mph winds to eat some sausage, b/c that's kind of all there is to do around here.
posted by geneva uswazi at 12:56 PM on February 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

>> Just fyi... we're thinking Farmington Hills, West Bloomfield, Bloomfield Hills, Birmingham, Royal Oak, Ferndale, Troy, Franklin, Canton, Bloomfield Township, Rochester Hills, or Novi...

I grew up in one of those suburbs. Left for college ten years ago and I'm not going back. I don't know anyone in Michigan anymore because all my friends left too. It's boring, there aren't public spaces, and there are no jobs.

Royal Oak and Ferndale are the most "community" feeling. They have small downtown areas and libraries and art centers and such. The schools are not as good - they're closer to Detroit, so the tax base is lower.

If your wife will be staying at home, and has trouble making friends, these suburbs will be very difficult for her. They're sprawl and its not easy to make friends because there are virtually no public spaces. You can't go anywhere without a car. When my parents left Michigan for California to retire, they moved to the top of some weird mountain and instantly had more friends in six months than in 30 years of living in Michigan. And they both worked.

>> I don't see why my wife couldn't find a easy part time job to keep her sane & help her meet new friends...

The economy in Michigan is bad. Any job, "easy part time" or no, will be competed for by people who are trying to feed their families with it.

I really wish I could tell you something about Michigan that would make your family want to live there, because it would mean that my home state hadn't been hit so hard by population loss and bad economy. I can't think of anything though, I'm just feeling bad that you and your family have this tough choice.
posted by ProtoStar at 8:51 PM on February 14, 2015 [5 favorites]

One thing you might do is sell your house, move your wife and kids into an apartment that keeps them in your current neighborhood, school/system.

Then you move up to Detroit and get yourself a studio somewhere, or rent a room in a house. You may still reduce your expenses and pay off debt, even while flying home on weekends.

It's not optimal, but it keeps your daughter in her high school through graduation, which should be a HUGE deal to you.

At the very least, you need to go up there and SEE what the neighborhoods are like, SEE what kinds of rentals you can get, know what the utility bills will be (FPL is pretty inexpensive compared to other utilities.)

One thing that bugs me about your question is that you're assuming quite a lot about Detroit without really knowing what the realities are. Also, the whole, "trick the family by bringing them up in the spring," strategy smacks of paternalism and plain trickery. If you're serious, travel when you're showing the place at its worst. Not just for the family, but for you and your wife. Don't fool yourself or your family by painting this overly optimistic picture of what you HOPE will happen when you move.

Do due diligence on this. And for fuck's sake do NOT buy a house in Michigan.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:09 AM on February 15, 2015

Lets talk downsizing. Really downsizing.

Downsizing has to happen in all aspects of your life. Every single one. This can be difficult when you are working full time. At the same time, your wife isn't working full time right now so you have someone with the time to pinch pennies and scrimp.

After the housing bust in the 80s, a relative of mine and her family were suddenly stuck on the bottom rung of the income ladder for most of the 90s. They were living on so little that the IRS audited them because they thought there was no way a family could survive on that little money.

To this day, my relative claims that what got her through that time was religiously following the advice of a newsletter called The Tightwad Gazette, by Amy Dacyczyn. Apparently the author and her husband were able to pay down all their debt, save for their future, and still put food on the table despite an extremely low income. The newsletter has been compiled into a book.

I would think twice about uprooting your family and placing them in a location where they will have literally no local social network aside from your work colleagues. Look critically about every single aspect of your life that you can trim and do so before making a decision on the move. If you make the move, you may end up accidentally prioritizing income over the people you originally intended to help with that income.
posted by donut_princess at 8:50 AM on February 15, 2015

My husband pursued a career move that I was actively opposed to, and required us to move to a cold, dark climate. I already had lifelong depression that is acutely sensitive to light, and moving tore me away from the family and friends that provided the necessary support network to keep me in good mental health. I wound up more depressed than I had ever been in my entire life and cried constantly. It destroyed our marriage.

So my point is that I don't think you should underestimate just how severe the consequences could be if you uproot your family to a cold, dark, unfamiliar, and lonely location against their wishes.

You mentioned an aging mother. Do you have family in Florida to help care for her if her health declines? If not, don't underestimate how difficult caregiving would be from a distance.

I join the other people suggesting that you work with your employers to see if there are alternate arrangements that would allow your family to stay in Florida. My partner and I have spent the last five years with him working in another state for three months out of the year. It isn't fun, but it is doable. Skype helps a lot, and I would imagine that while it would be lonely for you to be by yourself in Michigan, it might be less taxing on your physical and emotional health to stay in Michigan for a longer time than traveling constantly.
posted by Neely O'Hara at 9:11 AM on February 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

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