Moving across the country while temporarily taking care of a relative
November 18, 2023 8:45 AM   Subscribe

A relative just found out yesterday that they will need to have major surgery sometime in April. They are going to need assistance for several weeks and I am the only relative with the capacity to take this on. I am going to have to fly across the country to stay with them temporarily, but my spouse and intended to be moving a few states away at the same time. How do I plan all this?

The complicating factor is that the relative is in the midwest, we're currently on the west coast and we're planning on moving to the mountain west. Being the caregiver for my relative is non-negotiable, so we need to figure out the move. If you were me, do you think it's better to move up the move date by a month or two and get things settled-ish at the new place before spending 4-6 with my relative or would it be better to delay the move by a few months (hoping our landlords will let us extend our lease a bit) and move after my relative has recovered?

I think the benefit of moving the move date up would be that I could travel to the new city with my spouse and look at houses together, but I might not be able to help as much with unpacking and settling in. The benefit of delaying the move would be that my spouse would have the support network of current friends to help out while I'm away, but they would purchase the house without me seeing it in person because I would be caring for my relative during the time period in which we would need to make an offer.

I'm aware that recovery from surgery may not go as smoothly as we expect and that home buying can have complications as well. I'm curious what recommendations the green has for me.
posted by shesbookish to Grab Bag (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If it were me, I'd choose move earlier. Housing is a huge decision that I'd want us to do together. If I had to leave my less social spouse who doesn't cook dinner on her own for a few weeks while I helped my relative, she'd manage with takeout and easy premade meals. I'd also have a little less on my mind while helping the relative, and that would be a huge blessing.
posted by advicepig at 8:58 AM on November 18 [13 favorites]

Best answer: I have moved many, many times, and cared for people after major surgeries, and I vote strongly in favor of moving first. You don't want to be torn between helping your relative and trying to have some input over a huge thing like a new house. Unpacking and settling in can, by and by large, wait a few weeks. If y'all pack with this plan in mind, your partner can have what they need to be comfortable without having to totally set up everything if they don't want to. And if the recovery does take longer, you're not up against the end of a lease with everything for the hypothetical move still undone, you're just figuring out logistics amongst yourselves.
posted by teremala at 9:03 AM on November 18 [10 favorites]

Best answer: A lot of this is up to your spouse, their skills and areas of confidence and your relationship with them. On paper, I agree that moving first makes sense. But moving first means that once you’re slightly settled, your spouse will have a long period of being alone in a new town, which can be extremely difficult. Moving second means that they would have local support while you are gone and they need to pack, but then again you will be absent for huge decisions like putting an offer on a house in the new town. Does your spouse understand the minutiae that you prioritize in a house, and do you trust them to weigh that equally? None of this is to dig at your relationship, by the way. People just have different skills and needs and ways of being together and taking that into consideration is important when making big life changes like this.

One possibility towards compromise: is there some room in the budget to hire temporary occasional at home help for your recovering relative, so that you can take a couple days here and there to visit your spouse in the new town? Or, can you take those days to scope out potential houses in person once your spouse has narrowed it down long distance?

Caretaking is extremely arduous no matter what, so you will want to have some extra help lined up if at all possible anyway. Depending on your relative’s recovery and their issue in the first place, they may be okay after some of the first intense periods with an attentive neighbor who can keep them company or a health aide who just comes for daytime visits rather than round the clock care. Making plans for this ahead of time and communicating with your relative about it can really help ease discomfort and make difficult transitions like this less so. Pull in the full village if at all possible - your neighbors and friends at home, any supports in the new town, your relative’s communities, and even your long distance family for jovial complaining and hemming and hawing.
posted by Mizu at 9:32 AM on November 18 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Voting for moving first. You can help with all the packing and get the minimum set apart for spouse to unpack and live on while you're gone. You can look together at houses, but sometimes the right house may or may not come along that fast. Even if you were together, would you immediately jump for a house, or would you research the neighborhood first? Wouldn't you at least do a temporary rent rather than jumping into something permanent? If something doesn't come along before you leave to assist your relative, spouse could be looking while you're gone. They may be able to narrow it down to two or three places that you could fly in to see in one day when your relative is post-surgery. Finding housing, getting set up at work, figuring out the city with routes and places to shop, will keep them occupied while you're away. It takes time for movers to bring in large items, and if they get to the point in your permanent housing where these things can be delivered, Skyping or some type of video call can help with furniture arrangements. Tape measures are your friends! I know of a woman who taped her new apartment having rented only on the strength of a video call, then measured her furniture and had everything placed by the movers. Boom. Done.
Me, I would opt to rent temporarily until we learn the area and meet some congenial people so we would know what area of town we'd want to be in.

However, is there a time frame in which the move has to be completed? If you don't have to be in New Place for work, you could talk to your landlord. Maybe just finding out if you could extend your lease until end of June would give you more breathing room. You could still be doing some packing and sorting, arrange a mover's date, research the area on google and check out the housing situation by internet and calling agents prior to leaving for your midwest caretaking.
posted by BlueHorse at 11:25 AM on November 18

Response by poster: Thank you to those who responded. My spouse and I talked it through and agreed to moving first seems to be the better plan for us. I do like that I can start packing and be part of the in-person house search process by doing it this way. Thanks again for the advice!
posted by shesbookish at 3:59 PM on November 21

« Older How to approach a dental problem   |   Thanksgiving vegetable side dish Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments