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).
***************Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram. If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.
Bittergaymark June 24, 2021, 10:46 am
I don’t think I’d move to the States right now from Canada. And I certainly wouldn’t move to a southern red state. I just wouldn’t. No way. No day.
Kate June 24, 2021, 1:28 pm
Yeah no, I would never.
Muffy June 24, 2021, 6:14 pm
Canadian here! And I would move to the US! I
Don’t pass up the opportunity to live somewhere warmer and cheaper! Especially a cool city like Nashville . And there are plenty of good people in the US you could find. You’ll regret it if you don’t especially just to stay in some suburb of Toronto.
Kate June 25, 2021, 7:13 am
Yeah but Muffy, have you lived in the US?
bloodymediocrity June 27, 2021, 7:03 pm
The US might be warmer, but once you factor in our “healthcare” it’s definitely not cheaper, and it gets more expensive every year.
Bittergaymark June 28, 2021, 11:05 am
Healthcare here in America is a grim joke. My insurance is so lousy they dispute damn near every trip I make to a doctor it seems. (My visits are shocking rare. Unhealthily so. I don’t even do annual physicals as its too much of a headache.). Hell —I just lost my appeal for them to pay for my vaccine. (I won’t get billed. But they are totally fucking over the provider of the shot.)
Stay in Canada. Only a fool would move to the US right now. We are truly on the brink of civil war. This failed state is soon going to implode, I suspect. Trump refusing to go away. And his followers are both idiotic and dangerously unhinged.
Things will NOT end well, I fear.
Kicia June 24, 2021, 11:18 am
My cousin and his wife are ultra liberal and a few years ago they moved from Boston to Chattanooga TN for a new job. So far, they really enjoy their new city and were actually able to buy a house there, something they probably wouldn’t have been able to do in Boston as two teachers. There are a lot of great cities in the Southeast and Gulf states so I wouldn’t discount them based on how the rest of the state votes.
Miel June 24, 2021, 11:53 am
As a Canadian who moved to Nashville for a few years…
It was a big transition with a definite culture shock. At first I thought “Canada and the US are so similar, it won’t be hard to adjust at all!”, but… there was a definite adjustment. The climate, the culture, the day-to-day life… It was right in the uncanny valley of “this looks so similar to home, and at the same time, everything is just off by a little bit”, and I must have been the very annoying friend who was constantly ranting about how “you guys are doing it wrong.” Because if I had moved to China I would have expected everything to be different, but moving to Nashville I just couldn’t wrap my head around what a PF Chang’s was.
Nashville is expanding a lot these days, and the city isn’t entirely keeping up. It’s in the strange situation of a democratic city in a republican state, so there are always conflicts about the city wanting an effective public transportation system and the state doing everything it can to stop it. And in the meantime, the traffic problem only gets worse. (Fill in here other problems about poor urban development and a city that is getting more popular every minute).
It’s also a fun city with a strong character. I miss the food, and I miss seeing randos trying to fit multiple guitars and keyboards in the overhead bins every time I flew into Nashville on Southwest.
Reading your letter, I have trouble staying objective. All I’m thinking is “No! Don’t do it! Don’t do it! The first time you’ll get a $2000 bill after insurance going to the ER, while a giant cockroach is flying in your living room, while it’s 104F outside, while your neighbor tells you how the Cheesecake Factory is peak gastronomy, you’ll regret all of it!” But that’s not objective, those are just my own weird memories.
I love my life in the Midwest now. And sometimes, I do miss some specific things from Nashville. But the South did not really agree with me. And I would have never left Canada if it wasn’t for my husband being American. We have it good up there.
Kate June 24, 2021, 1:31 pm
I lived in Virginia for a year and the heat in summer was… something else. And this was more than 20 years ago. Also, every time I opened the front door of the apartment, huge spiders would run in!!! There was a spider curled up in a crevice outside that looked like he was big enough to eat birds.
ron June 24, 2021, 12:30 pm
I’d consider a city with a large university and a generally progressive population. Atlanta and Austin, TX stand out. Perhaps Knoxville TN or Raleigh NC. If you can be that far north, Richmond, VA.
Debbie June 24, 2021, 8:32 pm
Nashville is a blue dot in a red state. And our nickname is Athens of the South because of the number of universities located here. You may have heard of Vanderbilt, Belmont and Tennessee State among others.
Miss MJ June 24, 2021, 12:54 pm
Life long liberal and gulf state resident here. 100% go to a major city. That’s non-negotiable. Even the , be prepared for red legislatures to hold the state and city back as much as they can.
I’d stay away from Alabama and Mississippi, as even in the major cities, those states in my experience are super red. Atlanta would be good and you can fly anywhere from there. If that’s too much, Savannah is nice. New Orleans (where I spend half my time) is a great gulf coast city in a red state. Maybe Austin? Nashville is probably okay, but Tennessee is not really in a gulf coast state. (Not sure how strict you have to be with that.) Neither is Georgia for that matter, though it’s closer. If you’re really stuck with literal gulf coast states – Austin, maybe Houston or Dallas (iffy because, well Texas). For Louisiana, Néw Orleans, only. Baton Rouge and birth Louisiana are very res. For Florida, North Florida is super red. (Beautiful, but backward as all get out, even in Pensacola, Jacksonville and Tallahassee in my experience.) South Florida is it’s own thing. Maybe parts of Central Florida? Orlando?
Anyway, good luck! You can find your people anywhere, but the above places will get you a larger pool.
Peggy June 24, 2021, 12:58 pm
Good suggestions and things to consider in Wendy’s and others responses. Lots to ponder in this decision. As a Western Canadian and liberal type, I would really be concerned about all the guns and shootings and gun violence. That alone would likely keep me from moving.
anonymousse June 24, 2021, 1:39 pm
Just the heat alone would make me say really think about this.
Vathena June 24, 2021, 2:12 pm
It sounds like you’re putting a lot of thought into this, LW – I don’t have a lot to add except, health insurance! Even with amazing health insurance, you’re still not going to have anything like the deal you’ve got going up there in Canada. Really dig in to what your husband’s insurance premiums will cost (because he’ll also have to cover you) and what it will cover. Health insurance and healthcare in general is a big expense in the US, and insurance can be a massive pain to deal with.
If it were me and I already had a pretty good life in Canada, I wouldn’t consider moving to the US due to healthcare policy and gun violence alone, but that’s speaking through my lens as a parent to a young kid. If it were just my husband and me, that might be different. Agree with Wendy that if you decide go for it, you should have an exit strategy in mind.
LisforLeslie June 24, 2021, 2:34 pm
Do not move to the north of Florida, the farther north you are in that state, the more south you are. Naples, on the west coast of the state might be worth looking into. It’s not overly metropolitan, but it’s pretty and it’s got a decent cost of living. I mean, the whole state is a mess of crazy, but Naples is pretty calm.
If you truly have your pick, then research locations based on flights that your husband will need to manage. Atlanta is a huge hub and they run pretty well, but that security line can be a bitch. Pick a place where he won’t have to always get a connecting flight or drive an extra hour to a different airport (Rhode Island T.F. Green I’m looking at you).
Dear Wendy June 24, 2021, 2:37 pm
Two southern cities that I’ve loved visiting are Charleston, SC and Memphis TN. I cannot ever imagine living in SC, but I could see actually being happy in Memphis. We met great people there – liberal, smart, interesting, civic-minded people – who seemed very happy there. That’s all I’ve got though. I visit my parents 2-3 times a year in the Ozarks and feel culture shock every time I go and I lived there for six years during my college and immediate post-college time. Honestly, sometimes it feels like it’s a different planet.
Copa June 25, 2021, 8:38 am
I say do it. You can always move back home if it’s not for you. I’d pick a major city, but that’s a personal preference.
I may be making a leap here, but I’m assuming this is a good job with good pay, benefits, insurance, etc. My family lived in Asia when I was a tween and teen and my dad’s company covered a lot for us that expats in other fields or positions may have worried about.
Helen June 25, 2021, 8:58 am
I live outside of Atlanta. Atlanta is more liberal and diverse than Nashville. Some of the suburbs here are a good mix, but go farther than 30 mins out & you’re in God’s country
Janelle Taylor June 25, 2021, 9:14 am
I’m originally from Northern Minnesota. Moved to Houston in the 80’s. It was a huge culture shock. It took a couple of years to adjust but once I did I loved it. People there were friendly and I found a lot of like-minded people to hang out with. There are definitely pockets of liberal people and I just steered away from others. The traffic is horrendous though. You didn’t look at the number of miles you were traveling but the amount of time it would take you to get anywhere. Usually an hour or more.
I have also lived in Southwest Florida the Fort Myers area. While that was beautiful it really is a place to retire to not to be working and trying to make friends there. Every time I would reach out to make friends the people were already retired and doing things during the day when I was working. I didn’t feel like I fit there.
I currently live in Dallas and I would call Dallas more generic than anything. I didn’t realize it was going to be so different from Houston. I have found some like-minded people here. As a matter fact when I was going into the office there was a whole group of us that were liberal and I’m not even sure who the Trump supporters were because they did not speak up. I guess it was the people that would just walk away when we were talking negatively about him.
I am currently moving to Austin. I have found people there to be very friendly very outgoing very accepting . I’m looking forward to the move to a city that has more of a Texas culture. It is a smaller city and easy to get around. Traffic is still kind of crazy but not like Houston.
No matter where you move in the south and gulf coast the culture shock is going to be huge. It will take some time to adjust and only work out if you are willing to be open to change. I was so miserable the first two years in Houston because I wasn’t willing to change. Once I did I absolutely loved living there.
I wish you good luck in whatever you decide!
JuniorB June 25, 2021, 4:07 pm
I’ve lived in Florida (Pensacola, St Pete/Tampa), Atlanta, Ann Arbor MI, and Hudson Valley NY (but with lots of time in Brooklyn and Queens to visit family). If you can get past the south’s summer heat/humidity (but would enjoy the mild winters) and U.S. healthcare costs, then you should take the plunge if you have a lot of location options. While U.S. gun violence is alarming, it’s a very rare experience for people who are lucky enough to be able to choose their own neighborhood. Plenty of liberal-leaning places to live in: Nashville, Atlanta, Savannah, Austin. I know fellow libs in Pensacola and Tampa who love their hometowns.
Sara June 25, 2021, 10:22 pm
I might be naive but I think with liberal minded people moving to the south will be a catalyst to leading to states going from red to purple. It will take time but this is the first step.
On a side note, as someone who has traveled a great deal for work. I have had to visit several red states and worked with great people and had many awesome experiences. It may be hard at first but there are many ways to meet new people (especially through meetup groups, volunteering, or even through your husbands coworkers).
Redgirl June 27, 2021, 2:05 pm
I’ll also chime in about health care. Make sure your husband’s new job has an excellent health insurance plan AND that his new salary will allow you to cover the additional health care costs. For example, I have one of the best health insurance plans (my friends are envious) and I still pay:
* $200 a month in premiums for me and my son
* $400 a year deductible—expenses I have to pay out of pocket before my insurance kicks in
* $20 per visit to see my regular doctor, $40 for a specialist, $75 for urgent care, and I think $150 for an emergency room visit (not sure what the fee is if I need an ambulance, but it would be extra).
* Prescription drug copays—varies depending on what the medicine is and whether it’s generic or name brand. Currently I’m paying about $60 a month for a few generic medications.
Again, I have an EXCELLENT health care plan that many of my friends envy. My boyfriend, for instance, has a $1500 deductible. So please research your husband’s health care plan and what it will truly cost you, and factor that into your budget. If his job does not include health insurance, I’d urge you to reconsider the move, because uninsured people can and do go bankrupt if they have an unexpected health crisis.
Beyond that I second what others have said. Find an urban area, preferably with a university, and you’ll be able to find like-minded folks. I moved from liberal MA to red-state Arizona a long time ago. I live in the Phoenix metro area and there are plenty of liberal folks here. But it was a huge culture shock and it took me a long time to truly be happy here.
Peggy June 27, 2021, 4:00 pm
A note on health care, as a Canadian whose family member was hit and/killed by a drunk driver in Florida. My sister was in the trauma unit for 10 days. before she died. Her care would have cost over 500,000 and more if she had been well enough to have the surgeries she would have needed. Fortunately my Brother-in-law and my sister had excellent insurance. Accident and Travel.
We were surprised to learn, that unlike Canada, there was not a govt. mandated amount of liability insurance that people have to carry. This guy had 10,000 coverage, a joke in the circumstances. I guess people sue.
The hospital admin people followed us around ,literally demanding we bring cheques/money, to the office .
A Dr. asked what we thought of the care she received. I said that it was excellent, but at home ,in a horrific and stressful situation, we would not have to think of or worry about about money. He said, well if she had no insurance,we would still treat her. Yes, but she would be in incredible debt on top of dealing with her health and injuries.
This may not directly apply, but it does give you an idea of the difference in the health system.