Preparing for a theoretical cross-country move
September 18, 2019 10:15 AM   Subscribe

What steps can I start taking to get myself comfortable for a move cross country to San Diego/LA from Washington DC? Complication: I'm very comfortable where I am now, both in terms of career and location. I'd like to hear specific steps mefites took to explore their own cross country move, bonus points if it's to southern california.

My partner has their heart set on moving to Southern California, where both of our respective families would be within a theoretical 1-3 hour drive compared to now, where it's a 7 hour flight. We have a toddler and another on the way, she's unhappy with her current workplace and misses her family.

We've been living in DC for the past 7 years where we made our lives together - got married, bought a house, had a kid here. I'm very comfortable where I am now - my career has a good trajectory, i've worked hard to make our home a nice place.

Over the past few years the drum of "we're moving to San Diego/LA" has been steadily beating louder and I've been putting off the research I need to be doing to get myself mentally prepared for the day we pull the trigger and say okay we're ready, begin the job hunt.

I agree with her in theory that being closer to our aging parents is a great thing. I also agree that the weather and food and general lifestyle will be better. I do not agree with her that "everything will be great and we'll be financially comfortable."

My own anxieties about "starting over" is preventing me from doing the work needed to prep for the day we start the move prep in earnest.

Tell me about your own move and how you came from the "an idea" to "yeah this makes sense for me and i'm all in" stage, especially if had an established footing in the place you moved from. I would appreciate concrete steps I can take to start getting there. Particular areas holding me back are:

- I don't know how to research job opportunities out there, where they are, or whether what I do now (Lawyer but now in Corporate Change Management/Lean Consulting) has any demand. Do I need a headhunter? How do I even find one?
- I don't know how to research the relative cost of living compared to us and what salary I should be shooting for.
- I hate long commutes.
- I have no idea what regions we should be thinking about. She's very set on San Diego but is open to greater Socal so long as we're within reasonable driving distance of San Bernadino/Orange County.
- I am very comfortable now and find it incredibly disruptive that we're shaking things up at this point in my career, especially since we don't have much career network out there.
posted by Karaage to Work & Money (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It seems like feeling certain that you will have a job, a community, and some fun is important to you.

I don't have advice on the job hunt.

For community, can you list out the types of community that you enjoy now (church? Improv classes? Gardening?) And look online for some similar groups in San Diego?
posted by jander03 at 10:20 AM on September 18, 2019

It seems from the question like your opinion on this isn’t being taken into consideration at all. It’s framed as if your spouse has made the decision unilaterally. If you agreed to the move, you need to own that as a decision you are part of also, because you do have agency here. If you do not want to agree to the move, I think you need to use your voice and broaden this into a conversation about options rather than a done deal. You need some control and input here, even if that means a compromise. It seems like right now you are dragging your feet on dealing with this and acting like it’s just happening. Make yourself part of this family decision.
posted by sallybrown at 11:40 AM on September 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

Headhunters are generally for c-suite/upper management. You should just make an account on Indeed* and search some job titles and limit your search to the area (plus! look for remote/telecommute jobs, which is the best of all possible worlds when you live in SoCal), to see what's happenin'. Just consider it field study at first, more than a job search, just to understand the landscape. You can also put your resume up and set your location as something vague like Orange County, and see what kind of recruiter pings you get (I strongly recommend setting up a dedicated email account and phone number for this, because it shits up your mailbox/phone something fierce - it's an avalanche of garbage with a few gems).

The job listings will help you calibrate your salary expectations, as you see what the offered range is for similar jobs.

*Possibly your particular field has its own popular online job portal, and if it does you should search there too, but Indeed appears to aggregate a lot of listings from elsewhere.

Depending on your housing preferences, you can also window-shop apartment rentals, house rentals, or houses for sale. Not to actually commit, just to get an idea of what the market is like and what you'll likely need to plan to spend. That should be a gateway to learning more about the towns/neighborhoods in your search area.

This is obviously pretty anxiety-creating for you, but all you really need as a first step is information, and that's all online. It's not the moon, we have pretty much the same economy and jobs as your part of the country unless what you do is extremely DC Insider Baseball stuff, and even then I'd guess there's still similar work here.

I did these information-gathering things for about six months (at first very casually) before I got serious about the job search, and then let the job drive where we moved. We ended up in San Diego first, and stayed for 3 years until we needed to move to LA for my husband's career, and I'd move back to San Diego if we stopped needing to be in LA. LA has grown on me, but San Diego is a much better size and vibe, for my taste.

My advice to people moving out here is to NOT make a permanent housing commitment right away. Get the job situation sorted first, live extremely close to it for 6-12 months and spend your free time roaming areas that seem interesting and still commutable. (Yes, this is harder when it's two people who need to work, it's definitely a challenge for families here to figure out how to split the difference, and whose job is more important w/r/t location and commute.) Get to know the area first, then decide where exactly to live.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:03 PM on September 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm recently divorced, and it became clear during the divorce that my ex-husband resented our first move together, away from a place where he was quite happy, and that this issue had lingered with him for more than twelve years. This was the case despite the fact that he had decided to make the move (I had thought about relocating temporarily for an opportunity and then returning to his/our home after school). In retrospect, this probably colored a lot of other things that came up during our marriage, and I never really knew that this was the heart of it. I think he actually likes where we ended up living, too--and I had actually offered to move back to our original town a few times and he said no. But that resentment was a huge, invisible weight in our marriage.

Maybe I'm wrong to see parallels, but I want you to not be like me. So...

I want to encourage you to spend some time thinking about this move and feeling like you are part of the decision. My suggestion is therapy for you and/or couples counseling to discuss this issue. I agree with sallybrown that you are talking about this as a passive actor without agency. That's not a great approach to anything in marriage in the long run.

You are asking for concrete steps to move forward with the move. I think step one for you is therapy. Truly.

I do not agree with her that "everything will be great and we'll be financially comfortable." In your wife's defense, it may be that she feels cornered into the role of hyper-cheerleader for this move in contrast to your reluctance. Do you all generally communicate well otherwise? It may be that you need to have a conversation where you say (if this is true), "I will move, but I need space to have concerns, and I'd like for you to acknowledge that this will be disruptive even if it does make sense."

But I think you are trying to take action to move forward with something your wife wants, when you should be moving forward with figuring out why you are agreeing to do this when you so clearly want to stay in DC. Your lack of enthusiasm could well color everything that comes after this. Tread carefully.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:11 PM on September 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

Was a little surprised in reading your description, as I've lived a parallel situation last year. I grew up in Southern CA, have spent the past 10+ years in the DC area, and last year had a cool startup reach out to me to offer to me what at that time I felt was an 'opportunity of a lifetime'.

Like yourself we've built a good life together - three kids and a house in the suburbs. But with such a huge change for everyone, it has to be a GROUP DECISION. Your kids are too small (we moved out East when we only had one kid) but you really, really have to get on the same page about the whole 'we are uprooting and moving across the country' thing.

Due to our circumstances we agreed for me to give it a shot for six to eight months. I found a room to rent (yikes Northern SD county is $$$), got the car transported, and got to work.

Four months later on the personal side it's not working, and on the financial side it's not working, and I have to say it was extremely rewarding professionally (I can go on and on) but gave that all up.

For me, the juice was not worth the squeeze, as someone once said. A divorce with my spouse of 15+ years was just not happening. I found a new role, with a raise and great people, very quickly, and moved back out East. (The spouse and kids, mind you, stayed put here while I was by myself in SD.)

Regardless of your concerns, you need to be on the same page as your spouse, and come to some kind of agreement good for both of you, whatever that is.

As a SoCal 'native' after 10+ years the home prices in SD are outrageous. Apples-to-apples, the financial equation worked out like this: we sell at $X with Y-quality schools and Z-quality of life with my existing commute. We buy at $A with B-quality schools and C-quality of life, and yikes IT WAS TERRIBLE. Everything in our situation would be worse: a smaller house in a less-nice neighborhood with not-nearly-so-great schools and a commute that would suck life out of my soul. Mind you, I lived in Carmel Valley and commuted to La Jolla, so you can say that I was 'living the good life'. IMHO it's way over-rated.

Also: strong network of friends from 15 years ago who could help navigate the housing market. Looked at tons of open houses, visited several new-construction open houses, they start at $1.1M for new construction. Long story short the $X/Y/Z and $A/B/C comparisons were honest and accurate.

/rant over

My spouse teases me sometimes that this was my own 'mid-life crisis', I view it as a chance I took that just didn't work out for external reasons. OP, feel free to MeMail me if you'd like additional details.
posted by scooterdog at 1:16 PM on September 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

One more thought, in case my situation is relevant: my ex-husband always said no to everything and dragged his feet all the time. But often he would say no to something, and I would push, and then we would do it and it would turn out great. So that made it hard for me to know when "no" meant "really no" and no meant "I have some real concerns and objections but am willing to consider this."

I might be more like your wife, in that I would end up feeling like I had to push and push and push to make anything happen; his reluctance seemed like his default perspective to everything. It was incredibly frustrating. It was so hard because he wouldn't share his reluctance or concerns, but he wouldn't act to move forward either. It was a really terrible dynamic, and we were both pretty miserable.

Please work hard to avoid this dynamic if you have a good marriage and want it to stay healthy. It's really hard to be married to someone who has an objection to everything because it starts to feel like the objection is based on nothing.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:27 PM on September 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

SD is a huge biotech hub and Corporate Change Management/Lean Consulting would be in demand in this industry.
posted by gryphonlover at 3:43 PM on September 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I appreciate the relationship advice even though I wasn't directly asking for that. Keep it coming. I still would like advice on concrete steps and hearing similar stories/experiences.

To clarify: No "decision" has been made yet. She has her heart set, but she respects that I am not convinced and has also said that she wants me to land the first job that I'm happy with such that we don't end up in a situation where I resent her for pulling me over when I don't have a job I'm happy with lined up.

We're still in the discussion phase, and it's obvious to me that her increasing dissatisfaction with her work situation is driving her urgency. I have always been open to moving back to SoCal, but wanted to feel secure enough to do so. We are misaligned as to what the security means and at what timeframe.

Perhaps another way to think about my question is that my assertions of not wanting to move because of the things I am concerned about (e.g. can't find a good job that pays well, career trajectory is messed up, housing prices, commute) is.......acknowledged, but also not taken seriously because I have not done any meaningful research on the issue. I owe her at least that and am looking for steps I can take to help myself get beyond the reflexive "no."
posted by Karaage at 5:05 PM on September 18, 2019

If she is the one who wants the move so badly, why isn't it her responsibility to do the research?
posted by crazy with stars at 5:24 PM on September 18, 2019

If she is the one who wants the move so badly, why isn't it her responsibility to do the research?

I think he's talking about his career opportunities.
posted by bluedaisy at 5:38 PM on September 18, 2019

Response by poster: If she is the one who wants the move so badly, why isn't it her responsibility to do the research?

A significant step to get me convinced this is a viable thing for us to do is for me to be sufficiently satisfied that there's demand for my skillset at a financial level I am comfortable with. That has to be my responsibility.
posted by Karaage at 6:49 PM on September 18, 2019

If your wife is seriously unhappy with her job, she should start looking for a new one where you already live and have a professional network.

This question is almost a mirror image of kilohertz's recent questions. And honestly, the same principles apply: there are good reasons to stay where you are, and the person who wants to uproot everything seems to be treating moving away from their problems as the only solution to their dissatisfaction. There are many things that can be done to improve a crappy job situation that don't involve that level of destruction and risk.

You should take your wife's desire seriously, yes. But she should also take your desire to not jeopardize everything you've built up seriously. If she's not taking steps to address her issues with her job, then I think tackling the communication and priority issues is actually the first step. If you're researching for a move you clearly hate the thought of, she should be researching better jobs in your local area.
posted by Ahniya at 10:04 PM on September 19, 2019

To clarify: you don't owe her getting over your reflexive no. BOTH of you owe each other a functional relationship. That includes her listening to your concerns even though she disagrees. You've said outright that you don't feel she's taking you seriously because you haven't done enough work to earn that. That's BS.

This dynamic where she really wants something and you start trying to convince yourself into going along instead of her actually addressing your reasonable concerns is not healthy.
posted by Ahniya at 10:07 PM on September 19, 2019

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