Happiness living in a small town
July 11, 2016 7:34 PM   Subscribe

Boyfriend and I have been together nearly a year, living together for 7 months. He has a fantastic job opportunity in a small town on the other side of the state and has asked me to move with him. I'm not totally opposed to the idea but not completely on board and excited either. Help me figure out the best way to approach this!

I work from home at the moment so job is not an issue for me, although at some point it would be nice to use my degree to work with statistics as a research assistant of some sort.

We are currently living in Reno, NV, with a population of about 425,000 in the Metropolitan statistical area. It's getting a little bigger than I would like, but we live on the outskirts in a smaller community that's more close knit. I like having access to concerts and events and a big selection of stores, but generally don't care for the downtown area. I'm an hour away from my family and have a couple of friends in the area.

We are looking at moving to Elko, NV with a population of about 50,000 in the area. He's said it's a great area for some of my hobbies like horseback riding and that it has the nice small town community feel we love, as well as local events like the rodeo and fair, but my biggest concern is that the next closest city with the amenities like I'm used to would be Salt Lake City, 3 hours away. This would put Reno 4 hours away and my family 5 hours away, though he promises we'll plan trips to come visit once or twice a month.

I'm completely fine with the idea of living in a small town /city, which I've done before several times, but I've always been within an hour drive of Reno, making it relatively easy to go up for the day, or go to a concert and still come home the same night. Moving to Elko would mean these things would be an overnight trip and likely not done spur of the moment.

I think I could see this as an interesting opportunity and adventure for the next few months up to a year, but I'm afraid of my happiness in such a place in the long haul. I'm afraid I would want to move back to Reno eventually, but he would like to buy a house in Elko. This all came about kind of suddenly today when a transfer position opened up at his company. He was planning on buying a house in Reno at the end of this year, but has now expressed to me that he's getting increasingly unhappy here and feels he would much rather live in Elko for the long term. He says he will take my feelings into consideration on this decision, and I don't want to hold him back from an exciting opportunity that he's had to pass on before, but I also don't want to commit to this move if it's going to make me unhappy in the long haul. I like the idea of getting to explore new places like SLC, but I'm a little worried that in the long run the monthly trips won't be enough to cut it anymore and I will miss the amenities of having a city closer by, and feel a little "stuck". We are taking a trip this weekend to get a feel for the area as I have never been there.

Any input or thoughts on how to deal with this situation would be appreciated, especially stories if you have been through something similar before.
posted by Malleable to Society & Culture (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I am too tired to figure out how to link, but please look at the similar question I asked. I moved a month and a half ago. So far the only things I miss (besides friends and family) are sushi and multi-lane roads (I am a lead foot, now driving an hour to work on what I consider 'back roads', and I hate passing farm equipment). I've had two trips to the closest city (St. Louis). For me, this is worth it for the relationship, and I think I went into the move mentally prepared to have it rough, so that may play into my feelings thus far. Early days yet.
posted by sorrygottago at 7:46 PM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

I am not sure why you have to make a decision without trying it for a little while. I don't know how often you take advantage of what Reno has to offer, but I do get that just knowing it is nearby is a comfort.

I don't know if I have been through this before, but I did move from NYC to Chicago on 6 days notice and ended up staying in Chicago for about 14 years. I also moved from Chicago to San Francisco and only lasted one year there. I just did not like it. Whatever, but I can tell you it was well worth the experience.

I am going to sound like the old guy that I am, but if you are ever going to make a move like this, when you are young and single is the time. You are working from home too which makes the job issue somewhat moot.

I would recommend you try it. Move to Elko, but only do so with an open mind. If you like it, great, you and bf can have a great life together. If it sucks after a year, move back to Reno knowing you gave it a full try with open mind.

I am not sure I would agree to go because bf has promised to make the trip back 2 times a month. That is a promise that is unrealistic to be held to. Go because you want to be with your bf and want to try a new experience.
posted by AugustWest at 7:53 PM on July 11, 2016 [12 favorites]

I'm usually conservative about this but I say go and try this lifestyle out
You just won't know unless you go.
By staying put, you will never find out
posted by calgirl at 7:59 PM on July 11, 2016

I think that moving with the intent to buy a house no matter what would be a mistake, but I don't see the harm in moving and seeing how things go.

The only thing I would be concerned about is visiting family "once or twice a month"-- at the distance you'll be at, that seems unrealistic. How unhappy does that make you?

I live about eight hours from my family and I'm still contemplating moving back (to a pretty dinky little area) to be near them, despite the fact that I generally like my life (in big fun city).
posted by stoneandstar at 8:02 PM on July 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Try before you buy (speaking metaphorically).

He seems to be pretty motivated to make the move, which is fine for him, though I would caution him not to buy there until he is sure the workplace and the smaller town are working out the way he wants.

For you, I can see an opportunity to try something different, and suggest you make the move on a trial basis - he needs to understand and accept this, and recognise that you may want to move back after a while if it isn't working for you. His acceptance that you really are only trialling the move can be a trap - a lot easier to say than to live out. Which might mean a painful time later on if it you do need to move back.

This also means he should not buy unless he can finance the purchase himself (which may be his intention anyway). You do not want to be part of a purchase that you can already see carries a real risk that you might want out of in the short-medium term.
posted by GeeEmm at 8:33 PM on July 11, 2016 [5 favorites]

I've driven three hours for a concert and come home the same night. I live within 30 minutes from two major concert venues, and with traffic, I generally get home at least three hours after the show ends. Three hours isn't a big deal. If I worked from home, I could easily swing the four to five hour drive to NYC twice a month. Try it. Give it a real shot, which means at least a few months. Elko is almost twice as big as my town, but there are TONS of fun things to do here.

Edit for clarity: Driven three hours was two states away, not the venues nearby.
posted by Ruki at 9:39 PM on July 11, 2016

Agree with others that if your bf purchases a house you should not be financially tied to it at least for now. Beyond that, I think you're in a good position to make the move on a trial basis. You work from home, you're still within driving distance from your family, and you're not tied down to anything. Though I don't thing you'll end up visiting reno and family once a month. Maybe every 2 or 3. But I say try something new. If u were tied down to a job I might object but you can still work the same job. Good luck.
posted by ljs30 at 9:39 PM on July 11, 2016

we just moved from a big city to a rural-ish suburban-y kind of place. it's still very early days, but some of my struggles include:
- omg how do i make friends here? in my old place i just walked down the street and i knew about 25% of the people.
- here we have to drive everywhere, in our old place i walked everywhere. huge lifestyle change.
- what do people do for fun here? the culture is very different.

what's great is:
- nature nature nature!
- no noise from neighbors to wake us up
- some other stuff that probably won't apply to you

we have decided to give it a year; if we aren't convinced, we will head back. but make sure that if you say you'll give it a year, you give it a year. these past few weeks have been incredibly challenging. (but we are resilient.) (i hope you're in a strong partnership; moving is stressful).
posted by andreapandrea at 9:40 PM on July 11, 2016

This would put Reno 4 hours away and my family 5 hours away, though he promises we'll plan trips to come visit once or twice a month.

Unless you're the type of people that *love* road trips, that seems unrealistic. Assuming normal work hours, you only end up with a day and a half to enjoy the trip if you want to get home in time to be well rested for the work week and get some chores done, and that gets exhausting. Spending that much time away means that stuff that needs to get done around the house doesn't or eats into quality/personal time on work days, and if you're always going away for weekends or spending them catching up on what you didn't do when you were out of town, you don't get established in the social life of your new place.

But I'd encourage you to give a shot - unless you're likely to lose all of your non-boyfriend support structure by leaving Reno, the experience of living someplace very different can be a good one. It sounds like his heart is set on something other than Reno, and this will be the experience that lets you know if you're right for each other in the longer run.
posted by Candleman at 10:25 PM on July 11, 2016

I hate to be a party pooper, but in your position, I wouldn't move just yet. You guys have barely been together a year. He's basically asking you to be the trailing spouse in a small town quite far away from your family, friends, entertainment, familiar conveniences and most importantly, your future job prospects. The likelihood of you finding a job in your chosen field in Elko, NV is none too likely. Also, living in a town that small is stifling and mentally taxing if you're surrounded by people who are hardcore politically/religiously opposite to your own way of thinking. (I'm not saying Elko is or isn't; just making a point.)

I've done it and it was sooo stressful and energy-sapping in ways I can't even begin to explain. Every day, the most innocent-seeming encounters could've turned into tense discussions or dangerous situations if I hadn't been so good at gritting my teeth and walking away.
I was never able to find a well-paying job, I missed my family terribly, and it was harder than I thought it would be making new friends. In hindsight, I wished I had tried a long distance relationship instead of moving so quickly into a situation I wasn't prepared for because my SO was pushing me into a quick decision.

Let him move and buy a house if that's what he wants to do, but don't limit your career goals or separate yourself from the people you care about until you're quite sure that this is something you want to do for your own reasons.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 11:26 PM on July 11, 2016 [7 favorites]

This would put Reno 4 hours away and my family 5 hours away, though he promises we'll plan trips to come visit once or twice a month.

I came in to say basically what Candleman said. You may think that this would be a good compromise, but you will both hate this if you try to actually implement it. My wife and I live in a city 5 hours away from most of our family, and we try to go back and visit every other month. Even that feels like a lot!

I think you should give moving a try. Change is exciting, and small town life can be wonderful. But I think you should recalibrate your expectations on how often you will honestly return home or travel to the big city.
posted by 256 at 3:27 AM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

I know people have different levels of family attachment and different tolerances for road trips, but 10 hours of driving once, let alone twice, a month is unrealistic. My family lives 8 hours away and our visits have dwindled to once a year.
posted by LoveHam at 5:00 AM on July 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm always in favor of people trying new things and new places, as long as the risks are manageable. So in this case I'd say go ahead and move, but don't buy a house right away and maybe do the long distance thing for a month or two while looking for work. If it turns out that you don't like it, you can always move back.

And spend some time thinking about what kind of living situation in Elko might work best for you. Do you want to be out of town on some acreage, more in town, or what? Just saying you are moving to a particular town still leaves a lot of choices and options available, and it is good to think them through.

I wouldn't drive four or five hours for a concert, but I drive those distances for work all the time and it is not a big deal. For a weekend you could leave at 5pm on Friday and get in that evening, returning Sunday afternoon. I wouldn't want to do that twice a month if I didn't have to, but once a month would not be a burden.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:19 AM on July 12, 2016

This sounds like a really low-risk proposition to me. You'll keep your job, it sounds like you don't have a huge network in your immediate area, and your current household is moving no matter what (so you won't have to pack up an extra house). Go, and if you don't like it, load your stuff into your car and go back.
posted by the_blizz at 5:21 AM on July 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Encourage him to move while you stay. You can see each other on weekends, taking turns visiting. Get a roommate if you must. Either you will decide his new home isn't that bad or the weekend trips to fun town will remind him why he likes his old location. Either way, the time apart will do you both good, and will give him the chance to figure out if he wants to commit to you forever and ever instead of just keeping you around as a roommate.
posted by myselfasme at 5:27 AM on July 12, 2016

You'll keep your job

I missed that detail when I read the question. Given that, I just don't see any real risk here other than the cost of the move itself. If you don't like it there, you move back, richer for the experience.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:45 AM on July 12, 2016

It's hard to imagine something you've yet to experience: new friends, broader hobbies. Labeling is dangerous: trailing spouse. No matter what happens, you'll steer your own life yourself.

Let me assume that you are fairly young (under 35 or so). Adventures are still in your future. Riding horses in Elko?--cool. The Nevada deserts cannot be explored merely in one lifetime. Shopping in SLC and Reno?--fine. Plan town trips that span a weekend. I don't believe you'll be visiting Reno twice a month--more like every other month, or whenever you plan your town trips.

When talk it over with SO, frame your position provisionally. The idea is still new, so nuances are yet to be revealed.

Your position would be: "Yeah, this sounds intriguing. I'll give it a try, but I want some time to settle in, and see what kind of life I want to build there. Let's not get into a rush about buying a house together (in Elko) until we see how this shakes out."

Manifold possibilities stem from this. None of your options are curtailed.
posted by mule98J at 9:46 AM on July 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

I moved from a town and environment I loved to a town and environment that is adequate in order to live with my (now) husband whose job is geographic-specific. I would not move somewhere only ok- for whatever metric is meaningful to you- to be with a boyfriend. I think I regret doing that for my (now) husband and it's troublesome.

Give Elko a shot. Try something new. But don't be afraid to bail.
posted by thewestinggame at 9:04 PM on July 12, 2016

The least of your worries should be the town size and the closeness of concerts...you have not been together very long actually for such a big move. How is the strength of your relationship? If it isn't really strong you should think long and hard before you move.
posted by Izzi at 3:11 PM on July 15, 2016

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