Let's go... back
March 9, 2019 3:31 PM   Subscribe

My spouse and I are back in our hometown area. We moved back last summer from a city across the country, where I went to grad school. After a rough few months, I feel like I’ve acclimated to being back, although it was much harder than I anticipated. We have a lot going for us here, but I can’t shake the feeling of wanting to leave.

We had a few other transitions in addition to moving this past year, including planning a wedding and getting married, going from being a full-time student to full-time work for me, etc.

We moved back because job opportunities are generally better for my spouse here. His job in my grad school city, City B, was OK, although lower paying and a little less “cushy,” but he made great friends there. However, I felt like he dropped everything to support me in going to an amazing grad program and we had such a wonderful time there. He never, ever made me feel bad about going far away for school. When my graduation came, I knew I could find work anywhere, so I wanted to do what would be best for him and never wonder what his career could’ve been like if he had never moved with me in the first place.

After nearly a year, I don’t know if I like being back here — I no longer hate it, as I did when we first moved — but at times it just doesn’t feel right. I want to live somewhere that we can see ourselves buying a house within the next few years. Spouse misses City B and would move back, but has generally felt more OK about being back here.

City A (current location): We’re 30 mins. from one of the largest cities in the US (East Coast), where I went to college. I loved my time there and would consider moving back to the city, but it would give me and my spouse each a congested 1+ hr. commute each way without options for public transportation, among other cons. However, I am considering it to improve our quality of life in other areas. We’re also 30 mins. from our parents and the town in which we grew up. Moving to the city proper would make us an hour away from family.

City B: Mid-sized city in the Southwest.

Stay here (City A):
- It’s nice to be close to family… It’s cool to just have dinner with them without feeling obligated to stay longer after that. I’ve found that shorter visits are better for our relationship than when I’d visit for 1-2 weeks over school winter breaks.

- We’re on the fence about having kids, but if we were to try, we would do so in about 5 years. If we go back to City B, will we regret not being near family as we start our own? Would we then move back to City A again in the span of 5 years? It would be great to have both of our families nearby, as they would love (especially my mom) to babysit and help out. I feel lucky that we have supportive, generally good relationships with our families.

- We both have good jobs here that we mostly enjoy. I work in a healthcare profession and could find work just about anywhere, but the conditions of this job are particularly good. My spouse has many more opportunities here. On really good days at work, I think I can see myself staying here.

- I worry I’ll regret being away from family if something happens to them (e.g., illness).

- No need to spend a lot of money to travel home/travel at stressful, busy times, like Christmas.

- I get to see the two people to whom I am closest (aside from my spouse) more often, my childhood best friend and my sibling. However, aside from this, we don’t really have a network of friends here beyond coworkers and the very occasional happy hour. We’ve tried to reconnect with some old friends here and it’s been kind of weird because, of course, we’ve all changed. We’ve tried joining groups and such, but the area in which we live is skewed towards older people.

Go back (City B):
- I feel like I don’t really belong in City A. Back in City B, I could imagine us having a family there, which I can’t really imagine here. I liked the “vibe” of City B — it’s slower paced, outdoors-focused, and just cool and unpretentious. I love the city for what it is, not even what we had when we were there, if that makes sense. As in, I wouldn’t go back expecting to hang out with the same people or have the same life. I could see a new future there. My spouse really misses his friends there, too, so that’d be a bonus for him.

- I don’t like being in essentially the same area in which I grew up. The thought of staying here, at its worst, feels claustrophobic and sad.

- More practical, tangible points: city B is more affordable and has much better weather. We could do more of our favorite activities because of these factors. Also, now that we’re back in City A, I’m remembering how badly the darkness of winter affects me, although I’ve taken steps to alleviate it (e.g., supplements, going for walks outside). January was horrible, but February was better. I don’t know how it’ll be next year.

- We’re young (mid-20s). Now is the time to be “selfish.” I’m scared I’ll regret not living where I want long-term, even though I already had the experience of moving away.

tl;dr: We moved to an objectively good place for better job opportunities for my spouse and we happen to be closer to family. I don’t think I want to stay here forever, but I feel like this urge to leave goes against the practicality of our situation — we have so much going for us here — and I can’t tell if this desire to move is just a “phase” of my 20s. Do I wait, hope I “grow out of it” and learn to appreciate where I am? Or will I regret that I made myself stay when my intuition tells me this isn’t for me?

I’m looking for advice on where to go or how to make that choice, especially if you’ve found yourself having to make a similar decision. The hive mind has always been so helpful with big life choices. :) Thank you very much!
posted by metacognition to Human Relations (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Jesus, just move. You're young. You are NOT encumbered by a mortgage or children. Your parents are probably not going to drop dead in the next five years.

Also, news flash: you are your own family now. You do not have to go home every Christmas. You can visit your parents for four days and not spend two weeks (two weeks?!?!) at their house!
posted by DarlingBri at 4:10 PM on March 9 [29 favorites]

I was in your position about 5 years ago, with almost the exact same list of reasons to leave and to stay. We moved away again because fuck it. My spouse and I are in our early 30s now and absolutely 1000% do not regret our decision. This is home now. Planes exist, we have a room for guests, and our family unit of 2 (+ cat) is our top priority.

Life is too short to put up with places that suck and deprive yourself for reasons that look good on paper but don't make you happy. Go live your life, worry about the far-flung future later, there is a lot of life still between now and kids.
posted by Snacks at 4:16 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]

Assuming that Spouse considers the employment trade-off worthwhile, I'd move. You can always return if you change your mind. (Though if that happens, you might not want to move back to the SAME EXACT town... you could live in the same region and find a town that better fits your needs.)

(My answer would be different if you were set on having kids. Assuming you like your families, being within driving distance of them is a gamechanger when you have children. But I advise against people having kids unless they desperately want to, and you're not there, so don't base decisions on that.)

Also, make sure you reality-check yourself and that you really do feel this way most of the time, and it's not just the winter that does it for you. Not to say that avoiding winter isn't a good idea, but if your feelings are likely to be very different in July, wait a little bit before deciding.
posted by metasarah at 4:28 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]

You haven't given yourself enough time to make a smart choice. The hangover of all the transitions and moves is still on you. Pause and promise yourselves you'll revisit this question in a year. Focus on enjoying the lives you have now. You don't need to have the answers just yet, and you are in a pretty good position.
posted by Miko at 4:48 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]

The biggest issues worth considering here are your spouse's career and feelings overall. Everything else you mention -- family support when you have children, being there if they get sick -- is important, but not nearly as important as that sense you have of being able to truly settle in and build a home and family for yourselves in City B. That's a major trump card that outweighs even proximity to family and friends.

The desire to move doesn't seem like a phase of your 20s; to me it seems like the phase that comes after getting married, when you settle in together as a couple and start building a life together. It seems like you want to start a family there in City B.

I think it might be possible that later, you might crave being closer to your family and back in your home area, either when you really start trying to have kids (if that's what I'm seeing between the lines) or when your parents start to need more help. If there's a way to keep the door open to coming back to City A (hedging against differential real estate appreciation somehow and maintaining professional connections), that would be excellent.

But in the near term, the only consideration I think worth really pondering is how your spouse feels about how their career prospects would shift.
posted by slidell at 5:19 PM on March 9

I say if your spouse is on board and it's financially doable for you two, go ahead and move. You're not locking yourself into something forever; if it's better for you to be back near your families in the future, you can make that decision later.

For some people, including me and apparently you, having comfortable outdoor temperatures year round is incredibly valuable. I tried moving back to the Midwest from California when I was at a transition point in my career. I went back to a town I loved before, and I was close to my family. I had the connections to get a good stable job. Everything looked great on paper, but it didn't feel right to me any more. It was partly that everything had changed while I was gone and "my" people had mostly moved on, partly gloom about the humid summers and never-ending winters, and partly just a gut feeling that it wasn't where I was suppressed to be.

I lasted 3 months, long enough to see my niece and nephew born and hang around for the first month of their lives. Then I had a good cry, promised to visit, hugged my family goodbye, and put myself back on a plane to California, where my heart wanted to be. I wouldn't take any of it back -- I needed to live that 3mo detour to know it wasn't right for me long term. I'm occasionally sad about some family things I have to miss, but I'm definitely happy with choices overall.
posted by ktkt at 5:19 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]

I feel like if you wanted to stay where you are you wouldn't have taken all the time that you did to put together a post and ask about it here, you would just suck it up and stay. It seems like the answer you're hoping to get from us (in my opinion) is "move". So, move!
Don't feel bad about it for a single second. Screw the "practicality" of your situation. Enjoy :]
posted by leafmealone at 7:44 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]

We’re young (mid-20s). Now is the time to be “selfish.”

posted by xammerboy at 10:42 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]

There are cities C, D, E, etc. go visit different places, try new things.
posted by theora55 at 7:23 AM on March 10

Move. Please move. We were desperately unhappy in our last location. There are a lot of middle ways on the East Coast where you would neither have to spend weeks with your parents nor have them in your backyard.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:49 AM on March 10

Please move! You will regret it forever if you don't take this chance. You can always go back later.
posted by Sijeka at 11:03 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]

Move. You're in your twenties. That's what they are for, move & move again if that's what it takes. It's not selfish to look after the interests of your nuclear family first, you & your spouse are your family now.

Go see your family at not busy times, make your own Christmas traditions, just because something was always done that way doesn't mean it always has to be. Go visit for a parents birthday or Easter or for a week in summer just because if that makes it less stressful for you.
posted by wwax at 1:07 PM on March 10

Friends are hugely important. Support systems are hugely important. Men often have difficulty making friends and keeping them. If your partner has friends he misses in the town you prefer to live in, move the hell back. Why wait? If that feels like home, it’s home to you. You don’t have to force this new thing to work. My husband used to do more of certain things than I did. That made me feel guilty. Sometimes I would say, this is not fair. And he would say, it’s fair if we agree it’s fair.

Do not let your guilt about the support you got from your husband earlier prevent both of you from enjoying your lives as much as you can. Everything does not have to be equal in order to be fair. The two of you just have to agree that you want to move back. That’s enough. If your husband wants to campaign for his career in another place, let him do that. You don’t have to do that for him. You’re both adults. And if you both prefer life where you used to be, start packing. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 1:44 PM on March 10

If I'm understanding you correctly, you've only been in City A for nine months or so, which is prime time for the doldrums (the excitement of the change has worn off but you haven't really formed tight social connections and attachments yet). I don't necessarily disagree with the prevailing sentiment on this post, but I would say give it two years before you decide to move again. This will also help avoid any awkwardness on the resume of such a short stint at one job.
posted by praemunire at 3:04 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]

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