It's a nice place to work, but do I want to live there?
December 27, 2006 9:43 PM   Subscribe

It's a nice place to work, but do I want to live there? I'm seeking advice, stories, etc. on an issue I've been struggling with for some time now on whether it's worthwhile to keep a good job that's far away from where I grew up. It's kind of a work vs. family issue, although I'm talking about "family" in the extended sense of cousins, parents, etc, as opposed to spouse 'n' kids. Of course, this is a very individual topic, and of course, there is ...

This is probably something that many of us have dealt with, as not everyone is fortunate enough to find a job in their home town (especially since many of you, dear readers, are in the scientific/academic/techincal/artistic fields). Now, I'm not opposed to leaving home, and in fact I think it's a good thing to venture out into the world, especially when young. But I've been out in the world for quite some time now, and in fact I've been away from my home town for so long that my friends and family regularly forget to update me on such major events like births and divorces. I also find that I miss being around my old friends, and my grandmother's not getting any younger, and now that I've got kids of my own it sure would be nice to take advantage of my parent's offer of free childcare.

Problem is, I've got a great job here on the other side of the country, where I teach in a nice college with great colleagues. If I go back to my home town I might have to take a job teaching at a CC or at a high school, which I've done before, but still it would be a loss of prestige (not a problem for me) and of money (ouch!). So, I don't really want to do that, but I don't really want to be the distant cousin who only comes by once a year or so.

Is anyone else dealing with a similar issue? I'd be particularly interested in hearing from someone who took the lower-status job in order to be closer to home, and in hearing about how that worked out.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Instead of your hometown, maybe a few hours away?
posted by JujuB at 9:57 PM on December 27, 2006

My husband and I did something similar about a year ago. We were living in D.C and decided (somewhat involuntarily) to move to my husband's hometown with our two kids. We were leaving okay jobs, but the attraction was the lower cost of living and shorter commute. I've been able to stay home with my kids for the last 18 months, which I would not have been able to do in D.C. Unfortunately, now that I am looking for work, I'm having trouble because this is a small, rural town.

But it's been wonderful to be near my in-laws. They babysit, take my son to concerts when I'm busy, and are just generally there when we want a family dinner. Also, my husbands father is in poor health, so I'm glad we can see him every week, and help out my mother-in-law. We had spent the last 8 years farther from home, so we feel we've seen other parts of the country and are ready to come home.

I'm really glad we did this. The job situation isn't great for us. But we love being near family, and being back in a small town.
posted by saffry at 10:00 PM on December 27, 2006

Before I was married and right after I graduated I moved to another state and hated it. As soon as the lease was up on my apartment I moved back to my home state. Now I'm in a position where I commute an hour to work each day and I'm an hour from the town where my parents and sister live (in opposite directions of course) and I've found that to be do-able. I can still go to my parents' house and visit on the weekend, and while the commute isn't ideal it isn't killer either. I bet if you aim for a job within a two hour radius of your parents' hometown you'll be able to find something.

On the other hand, if it just won't work financially, maybe you can start making use of your email, your webcam, and your night-and-weekend minutes to keep in touch. I've found that even though I live closer to my family now there are still weeks where we won't talk because I'm too still requires that effort. If you really put forth the effort to keep in contact with everyone maybe you won't have to move.
posted by christinetheslp at 5:47 AM on December 28, 2006

I did something similar. My clients are all over the country, so I moved back home. There's a lower cost of living here, but there are fewer amenities. Eating out is cheaper, but the food isn't as good. Grocery shopping for specialty items is a challenge. If I had to get a local job, it would be a severe pay cut. I feel like I miss out on the person-to-person networking I had in the city, and I feel like I've lost a lot of my friendships there.

That being said, I really love the lack of rush hour traffic and the lower cost of living.

Maybe my expectations were too great, but the promise of free childcare and better relationships with extended family didn't pan out as well as I had hoped, but that could just be my family.

I'd just be aware of feeling too nostalgic and idealistic. Moving home will have it's own challenges. And some might say you can never really go home.
posted by kat at 6:16 AM on December 28, 2006

I have found that the ONLY things that make where you grew up worth more are the network and shared history. Both of these are created and expanded daily, regardless of where you are.

Why shouldn't you expand to new areas? Do you really think that there are no good people there? No good friends to be made?

They are literally everywhere. With work, in a few years time you'll have a good network in the new place, and build your own history and legend. How do you think your ancestors settled what is now your home town? They sure as hell didn't do it staying home.

I say, keep your connections to the past, but don't be trapped by them. Our noses point forward for a good reason.... they make a great hood ornament to set our course forward. Explore!
posted by FauxScot at 6:25 AM on December 28, 2006 [1 favorite]

Currently we (spouse and one child) have been on the opposite coast for over 1 year, and have gone through (and am still going through) all the adjustments that means, including a nice pay increase but a noticed decrease in keeping up with what the extended family is up to. I find myself wondering how much longer we can do this as my parents are increasingly being taken care of by older siblings.

Difficult situation, yes. But the increase in experience/pay/work satisfaction is paying off nicely. :)
posted by scooterdog at 4:36 PM on December 28, 2006

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