We’re 39 and 41 with no kids and no possibility of this happening, so schooling is not a factor to consider for us. We’re currently located in a reasonably sized city in Canada, which is suburban but diverse and which does not have a whole lot of stuff to do, but Toronto is only an hour away if we want to see concerts or live theatre. We’re pretty quiet anyhow and are happy to stay in, have a fire, watch Netflix, have dinner with friends, etc.
The job is based in the US with the option of choosing from several southeast and Gulf coast states to have as our home. There’s a lot of travel with the job (up to 80% of the time), going from store to store. We can relocate anywhere within that district so we have lots of choices. Of course, all the travelling would make it more difficult to make friends and get to know anyone in our new city/town.
Our parents are all in reasonable health and have other adult children living locally. So we’re not abandoning anyone or desperately needed to care for our parents.
Pete and I are considering Nashville for a number of reasons – mainly because we would love the live music and Opry when we’re at home and able to have a night out. Also we’re only a 10-11 hour drive from home in Canada. We’re a little hesitant about the political climate in some areas (the Trump supporters, intolerant religious types), but we’re not letting that hold us back. We figure that we’re better suited to being in or near a metropolitan area rather than a small town in order to better avoid potential issues that might come with being outsiders, liberals, and foreign. Plus, with all the travel, a townhouse/condo/apartment would be our best option for a low maintenance home.
As for myself, for the past 11 years I’ve run a very small business that I would have no trouble walking away from or working remotely with in a lesser capacity. Should we relocate, the plan would be for me to travel with Pete more often than not, at least for the longer trips. I’ve always wanted to do more traveling, and I would love exploring the cities and towns he visits.
I’ve been reading your column for a number of years now, and I recall that you have experience with moving across the country and living internationally. I took a look back through your archives and noticed your parents also have experience living abroad. I’m wondering your thoughts on doing this as an adult and how you (and/or your parents) felt about it. Or if how you felt about it was different than you might have expected to feel before actually making the move. — Contemplating a Move to the US
Yes, my parents spent 40 years living abroad – they moved overseas immediately following their wedding and didn’t move back to the states until they retired. I spent my whole childhood overseas (except for summers in the Midwest), and have lived in the states now since I was 17. Fourteen years ago, when I was 30, I moved from Chicago to New York to be with my now-husband, Drew, closing the gap in our long-distance relationship. My roots are pretty solidly planted in NYC now and, having seen a lot of the US, I’m not sure I could find another place where I’d feel as comfortable and happy living and raising a family. Part of that is what you alluded to – “the Trump supporters, intolerant religious types,” who, you know, account for a big percentage of our population unfortunately. Another part is that I hate driving—-I hate cars and traffic and parking—-and in NYC, with all the public transportation options we have, owning a car is not something I ever have to worry about again.
So, how is all of this relevant to you? I know exactly what I need in a home and exactly what would be a deal-breaker for me, and these are things you need to know about yourself as you and your husband decide whether to move to the US, and, if so, where to move within the country. And then you need to do some research into the different areas that are an option for your next home and see if they’re a match for you. If living among Trump supporters and religiously-intolerant people is a dealbreaker for you, and your choice of locales is limited to several southeast and Gulf coast states, you are right to wonder whether you’ll find a town that is a good fit. Staying in or very close to metropolitan areas would be a good move here. Venturing too far from them could prove really painful. And also, keep in mind that in a job where there will be travel up to 80% of the time, all of it around the southeast of the US, you and Pete are 100% going to be in places where you’ll be relieved you don’t live full-time. It’s a beautiful part of the country and you’ll no doubt find things of interest on your travels, but it’s also a part of the country that can be eye-opening in ways you aren’t used to as a Canadian. All things to consider!
As for making friends in a new place and dealing with potential culture shock, these issues would also be helped along by relocating to a more liberal area in the very conservative region you’re looking to move to in the US. In more liberal metropolitan areas – even ones in red states – you’ll find like-minded people doing a lot of the same activities you do in Canada; our cultures really aren’t *that* different, although I’m remembering how our former Canadian neighbors, who lived here in Brooklyn for a couple years, always complained about how rude Americans are (which seemed rude itself, but I digress) and stressed-out and work-obsessed. You might find these things to be true, too, and that could be difficult to live with.
I guess the best tip I can give you or anyone contemplating a big move is to have an exit strategy, so if you get where you’re going and you absolutely hate it, even after a trial period, you can leave. I did this when I moved to NYC from Chicago. Initially, I only brought myself, my two cats, and a couple suitcases. I left all the rest of my belongings in storage in Chicago, and it was only after five months, when I decided for sure I was going to stay, that I arranged for movers to deliver my stuff. That’s just one example of giving myself a strategy to make a fairly easy exit if I was really unhappy in New York. There will be other strategies for you, and you should think about them carefully and take whatever pre-move steps you need to to ready them in the event you need to use them. Good luck!! (And, also, really: Do your research in these areas your husband’s job could take you. Places that voted overwhelmingly for Trump are probably not where you want to put down roots based on what you’ve shared in your note, just saying).