Wednesday 19 January 2011

Moving to the US - would you do it?

You may recall last year I mentioned that we were considering moving. Many plans were put forward and shelved. Initially it was to live by the sea and let husband do a weekly commute. Then it was live by the sea and let husband do a daily commute. Personally I wanted to move to the sea and run a tea shop so that I'd have an excuse to eat a lot of cake. We spent weekends driving all over the country, visiting seaside villages and market towns. We nosied around plenty of houses and read up on schools up and down the country.

But all of the plans came to nothing. Because no matter what, it kept coming back to one thing. We need my husband at home more. The boys need their dad. He needs to not be so exhausted from his commute and his job that he just wants to lie on the sofa in a coma all weekend. I need to not be a single parent 90% of the year.

So another option presented itself. Move to Seattle in the USA so the husband could be close to his office (20 min commute vs 1.5 hours) and less international travel. Better work life balance (in theory).

When I mention this to people, most people react the same way: Go for it! I'd love to live in the US.

But would you? If it meant starting from scratch with no friends, no support network, no family, no job (for me), finding schools, finding a home, living with a culture foreign to both of us, raising American children, watching American football instead of rugby, not being able to buy decent pork sausages....

These are some of the things I will be considering when we head over to Seattle in just over two weeks time to 'suss out the joint'.

The pros are there too. A hopefully less tired, more available husband and father, a better quality of life, beautiful scenery, all the first world slickness and optimism that comes with the USA, the chance for me to become whatever I want to be and do whatever I want to do, the opportunity to meet new friends, and a whole new adventure.

I feel as though I am sitting precariously on a set of weighing scales just waiting to see which way they'll tilt. Which would way would you want them to go?


Muddling Along said...

Crickey that's a hard one - personally I'd find starting out in new country without support from friends and family terribly hard BUT then there is the benefit of experiencing a new place and having my other half around more

I guess you'll either love it or loathe it out there and hopefully that'll make things easier

nappy valley girl said... probably know what I'm going to say. I have no regrets about moving here - it's been a wonderful adventure for the whole family. Yes, the initial few months after the move were pretty hard - and your children are older than mine were, so I guess it will be more of a wrench for them. But on the whole it is an easy place to live and a fascinating country.

I guess what it comes down to, though, is whether you want to do it in the long term. I think emigrating somewhere for the forseeable future is different from going for a few years. You have to really consider whether you can leave your life behind for good. I think I'm always slightly cushioned by the fact that I know I'm going back.

Jen Walshaw said...

I would want to move and have my man about more. Life is too short not to spend it with the people you love and for all the money in the world it isnt worth it. With MadDad by my side I can do anything

Curry Queen said...

I'm not clear from what you wrote whether this would be a permanent move or not? Assuming you would have the opportunity to come back eventually,I would go like a shot. You still have school age kids, so that's how you will make friends. Americans are much more open and welcoming than us frigid Brits anyway and your 'cute' accent will stand you in good stead! Your quality of life sounds as though it would improve hugely....

This Mid 30s Life said...

A tough decision and one that only you and your husband can make together.

For what it's worth, my husband was offered a UK posting (we're from Sydney) which he really wanted to take. I absolutely did NOT want to move. I loved my work, the kids were happy and they see their cousins / grandparents etc all the time. We had lived in the UK ten years ago and felt that we could tick that box.

But I couldn't let him turn down the opportunity just for me. So we did it. The last few months in Sydney were pretty miserable, I had to resign from my job and I felt sick all the time. Just did not want to move! But it's not forever and that made the decision easier.

The move itself was not a good experience but that's bc so much went wrong - but when it's out of your hands you just have to go with the flow. I always said that once we were settled we'd be happy, bc we just need to be together. Well it took a few months but we are completely settled now.

I do miss Australia, and it's a shame that it's a 23 hour flight. But this was the right decision.

Sorry such a long comment!
Good luck!

Expat mum said...

I have written two columns at the Expat Focus web site (in the left side bar) about things to consider before making the big move. The articles include quotes from other people so it's not just my views.
Emmigrating permanently is a HUGE decision.
One thing to remember here (USA) is that most people only get a few weeks off per year, so that might affect the time your husband has with you. You should also factor in expenses. The UK seems expensive, but the health care costs here are ridiculous and they're not all covered by employers.
I would say your main consideration would be swapping time with your extended family for time with your husband. Seattle is a long way from England and the flights aren't cheap.

Home Office Mum said...

muddling along mummy - it is a hard one. A real sliding doors moment.

nappy valley - that's the thing, for us I reckon it would be permanent so there is very little cushion

TheMadHouse - if I could be really convinced that he would be around more I would just go for it, but I am not convinced. His commute would lessen but would his working hours?

Curry Queen - probably permanent, which is what makes it harder. But hopefully you're right about making friends more easily - it's taken me 7 years in the UK!

The mids 30s life - thanks for sharing your experience. I think any move is hard. If you're not convinced by it, it's even harder

MTFF said...

Having emigrated myself I can say with absolute confidence that although it was difficult at first, I ABSOLUTELY would not want to go back to England now although I do occasionally miss things about my home culture and enjoy going back to visit friends and family. It is true that your husband will have less holiday time - you need to negotiate that up front, and you should look carefully at costs like healthcare, schooling, saving for college etc. and factor that into your cost of living. On the other hand, Seattle is a fabulous city, you'll find West Coasters really friendly and welcoming and you will also find other expats in the USA who will understand how to make a cuppa etc. The other thing is that life can really open up for YOU - in the USA opportunity abounds and once your work permit comes through you can do all sorts of things. America is much more open to entrepreneurship, people changing their lives and careers and you'll be in just the right place to do that.
You will miss your extended family and old friends and odd things from your culture that you didn't necessarily appreciate when you lived there.
Things you won't miss are appalling customer service, the 'Ooh, no, you can't do THAT' type of attitude, small island mentality
Sorry this is a big ramble, but if you're feeling like you're running out of options in the UK, this might be just the big jump you need. And although you say it will be a permanent move, nothing is ever really permanent. You can change anything if you really want to- nobody will die! xo

Home Office Mum said...

Thanks MTFF - you are right on many fronts. we used to live in the US. And when we moved here from there I found the UK really negative and pessimistic. Now I guess I've got used to it. We don't have much family in the UK which is why I imagine a move there would be permanent because we don't have a big family pull back here (although the boys would miss their granny). But we do have friends and a culture that we are from (well technically i'm South African but it's closer to British than American). re opportunities, I know you're right and I do need something new for me. It's still hard though

MTFF said...

Yes, it's always hard to decide on a big change, but I think it might be harder to stay stuck. I know I wouldn't want to stay in the UK at the moment. It certainly doesn't look like things are going to get any more cheerful there (eek!) GOOD LUCK and have fun when you come over to have a look!

Iota said...

It IS tough to start out in a new place, but I think half the battle is knowing that in advance.

Have you tried imagining yourself if 5 years time, or 10 years time, in both situations? How does that feel? If you're in England, do you think "I wish I'd had the balls to try Seattle"? If you're in Seattle, do you think "oh, if only we'd stayed in England". Of course you can't know, because there are so many uncertainties, but I sometimes find it a useful exercise.

I'm a believer in living life bravely, and not shying away from something because it's hard. I know you are too. I think you might find it easier to throw yourself into things in a new place, and that is always rewarding.

Might be useful to write a list of all the things you feel you would lose if you left England. In your case, it must feel different to many people making these decisions, given that your family and roots aren't in England anyway (have I got that right?)

I know someone in Seattle who would be a good contact if that would help. She moved here 3 years ago, missed Seattle like heck, and they've gone back. She is at a different stage of life (her two boys are college kids), but she would be a good person to get you started. Let me know if you'd like to be put in touch, but you'd have to promise not to tell her about my blog!

Sam said...

The most important thing in the world to me is my little family unit and so if I were faced with the choice, I'd go for the move. More family time can only be a good thing for everybody. Best of luck!

A Modern Mother said...

Yes! We do this all the time. You'll find a group of people you will like. Think of all the travel. Whistler (skiing) is just a short drive,. Do it!

Metropolitan Mum said...

I'd do it if your gut feeling tells you it's right. We are doing it all the time, too. Who knows, we might meet on the other side one day...

Home Office Mum said...

Iota - thanks for the offer of a contact. May well take you up on it

SAm - family is the most important. It's whether a move like this will REALLY make a difference to how much time we get to spend together.

A modern mother and Metropolitan mum - the adventure and travel is appealing....

Helen@Soft Leather Baby Shoes said...

I think I'd be more than a little bit tempted to go. A fresh start with no bagage and endless opportunities, sounds great!


I would say go for it. If your thinking about whether you should or not, you can always try it and if it works fine, if it doesn't you can return back to the UK. If you never try it you will never know. I absolutely love living in the US and have been here 4 years now. My boys were aged 10 and 13 when we moved here and life for them is so much more positive than what it was in the UK. Yes it is a scary hard decision to make, you just need to way up the pros and cons, good luck with deciding.

Anonymous said...

I'm so pleased I've found this site. I may be facing the same prospect, have twins who will soon be 3.....feeling very mixed. So any advice on what works, how to find friends, YIKES I should feel excited right? I want to but if it does happen I'll feel quite scared, how sad is that at nearly 40!!