Several times a month I am tickled to receive a thoughtful query from an Em for Marvelous reader. I have a somewhat disappointing response rate – which makes me sad every time I think about it – but when life does allow, I love to respond, because figuring out life together is one of my very favorite things.
I recently had a conversation over email about moving away from family that begged to be shared with the group, and Leslie was gracious to agree. Listen in, and I look forward to hearing what you think in the comments!
My name is Leslie, and I’ve read your blog for a few years now. It’s always a delight to read your thoughtful posts with the many questions/issues/topics that are relevant to me and my family (i.e. the practical handlings of two working parents… #preach). I am sure it takes a considerable amount of time, but for myself, it is truly much enjoyed and much appreciated!
I currently live in Texas with my husband and two boys (4 and 2). We are both in the medical field and are looking at a move in the next two years for further training purposes. One location we have thrown into the hat of possibilities is – you guessed it – North Carolina.
From what I’ve gathered, you and your husband moved away from both of your families to NC. Our move would involve a similar situation, as my entire family and my husband’s parents also live in our current city (though neither of us were born/raised here).
My question for you is simply – was it worth it? I hope that doesn’t sound rude or intrusive, we are just very seriously weighing our possibilities, and NC has come up as a pretty ideal spot location-wise for us to consider – the biggest “negative” being that our families are here. My husband’s parents may consider following us, but we would be moving away from my entire family and I’m just wondering if you have any thoughts on the ramifications of moving away from parents in particular.
Obviously no two situations are identical and each family has their own unique situations to consider, but I guess I just would love to know if the positives of your move have, in your opinion, outweighed the negative, and what the thought process may have been for y’all to consider the move and all it entailed.
Here was my initial response:
Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful email, and for your insightful question. Clearly a woman after my own heart!
First, I wanted to make sure you’ve seen this post from the archives where I talk about the choice to move away from family. And also, this one where I talk about the benefits of establishing our household away from family and some of the complications of having family nearby. (And also, separate from the family question, this post with a few things I love about North Carolina.)
I do think one significant difference between your situation and ours is that we moved away several years before having children. In that way, you have the benefit of knowing what life with kids and with family nearby looks like right now – something which we did not. So you have a lot of good data to use in your decision. In your shoes, I’d be asking myself questions like:
— How often do we see our family right now?
— Do we have, or do we hope to have, regular traditions together that add to our life, like Sunday family dinners?
— Do we enjoy spending time with our family? Do they mesh with our immediate family culture and support our parenting decisions? Or do we love them, but find spending a lot of time with them stressful?
— How much practical help does family currently provide? (i.e. Do they provide childcare? Watch the kids for date nights? Help with pick ups or drop offs?) Were we to move, would we be financially or practically able to fill in these responsibilities, or would it cause a lot of stress?
— What is our financial and practical ability for our parents to travel to see us and us to travel to see our parents? Now and in the future, as kids and parents age?
— And then there are the really big questions: What is our vision for our life/kids/family culture, and how does extended family fit into that? What might our parents’ aging process look like and how might proximity play into that? Are we okay with seeing our parents much less often than we might if we were to live nearby? This post, which I link to in one of the posts above, is not an answer, but certainly provides some food for thought.
Since you asked: yes, for us moving away from family was worth it. We love the life we have built here and think it was a good choice for our family. That doesn’t mean it’s sometimes hard, or that there aren’t more questions to consider in the future, but we feel peaceful and grateful with how things have played out so far.
I hope this helps, or at least gives you some things to think about :) Thank you again for reading and for your thoughtful question!
And then Leslie replied:
Thank you for the thoughtful reply! I had not yet read those posts from your archives. Food for thought, indeed.
I appreciate the questions you posed as things you might consider. In the back of my mind, I have contemplated similar questions, I think, and it’s helpful to actually bring them to the forefront. Having never lived close to any extended family growing up, it’s honestly difficult to know what living close to family long-term might be like, but that’s important to consider. And that Tail End article…could send you into a YOLO frenzy on just the right day.
Obviously kids do not always end up in the same location as their parents, but another thing I’m contemplating centers around the idea that wherever my kids spend a good portion of their growing-up years, is more or less going to feel like home to them. And, in general, kids are probably more likely to go to college in-state, which typically ends up being where they find first jobs, spouses, and settle down themselves. Although that’s far in the future, contemplating our decision in light of what impact it might have on our kids’ lives long-term is definitely thought-provoking.
Anyway, I really do appreciate you taking the time to respond to my email. I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer and please enjoy a bite of biscuit next time for me.
Leslie was politely wrappings things up but I couldn’t help but respond:
Leslie! Have you been reading my mail?! John and I were JUST having a conversation about this last week! We were at our daughter’s swim meet, and the opposing team was honoring their seniors… all of whom were going to schools in the Triangle. This is extremely common here, and truly something that delights me. Between NC State, UNC, Duke, Elon, App State, Wake Forest, and then schools like UNC Charlotte, UNC Wilmington, Davidson, etc. moving a little farther out – there’s something for everyone and it very much seems like the culture here is to stay close for college.
This is SO different from where I grow up in New England, and specifically Connecticut, where the state schools are not particularly prestigious or plentiful and most of the students who can either go elsewhere in New England or even farther afield. Selfishly, I love the idea that our children have a very good chance of staying somewhat local for college, because you’re absolutely right – it makes it more likely that they’ll settle nearby long-term, too. Because despite not living near my parents, I very much want to live near my children :)
Now, readers, I turn it over to you! What would you add? Have you moved away from family? Have you moved closer to family? Have you always lived near family? If you have children, do you think about where they might settle? I would truly love to hear from you, and I’m sure Leslie would, too :)
P.S. This is a different style of post! Would love to hear if you liked it!