Number Crunching Life Choices

“They’re offering me a job in the US,” he said.  My wanderlust choir harmonised in the background.

And so began our jarringly brief consideration of the pros and cons of an international move.  We have never been ones to allow the dust to settle on us, and we were in the seventh house, in the third city since we got married, when this came up.  Just a year prior, we had toyed with the idea of selling our house, buying a boat and sailing around the world.  We had seriously considered this a viable option.  So, the possibility of an international move wasn’t as confronting as you might think.  We’d talked about the potential for many years, but somehow, this time it was more immediate, more certain, more urgent.

But transposing our lives from the complacency and predictability we had grown into, to the other side of the world, with no friends, no family, and no support structures was still daunting.

Not taking the position would not have meant an untimely death for his career, but it would have locked him into a dead end.  Years of doing the same old daily grind till retirement, or changing companies or careers, were the alternative.  The CEO has never been good at doing the same old same old.  This is a man who doesn’t keep his keys in the same place two days in a row, so getting stuck in the daily grind was never going to be easy on him.  Weighing up whether, once he’d met all the challenges of work, I could live with him, bored and unfulfilled, barely registered as a conscious decision.  The scales were heavily tipped, a bored CEO does not a fun companion make.

But there were ageing parents, siblings and their families, friends, and community to consider.  And this was not just about the two of us any more.  We needed to account for how the children would manage the change.  This would be a Herculean task for two kids who like and rely on predictability, who count on certainty at home to deal with the fickleness of life.  We were asking them to surrender an established network of friends, a school they loved (even if I didn’t always), regular encounters with extended family, visits to the familiar and beloved local attractions.  We had spent nine years establishing our base, making friends, building our nest.  Life had fallen into the easy groove of repeated familiar actions.  The days when I autopiloted my way to school, work, grandparents’ homes, far outweighed the days of considered, deliberate acts.  It was a comfortable life.

On the ledger of pros and cons, the losses outnumbered the gains.  On every logical measure, it was a bad time to move.  Departing from parents who were getting older, from siblings going through their own enormous trials, separating children from stability during those already tumultuous teen and pre-teen years, all sat leaden at the pit of my stomach.  But number crunching is not the basis on which to make grand, emotional, life changing decisions.

What gave my heart wings, aside from my own itchy feet and vagabond nature, was the opportunities it presented for our children.  We had long talked of them pursuing dreams in other places, we had encouraged both boys to look beyond their current horizons, and had fuelled their imaginations with sorties to other lands.  We could not now, excise those options by cloistering them in the familiar.

Two years, intense homesickness, new friendships, new routines, and new understandings on, this has been a good move.

14 Comments on “Number Crunching Life Choices”

    • Thanks Janelle! Moving around does become so much more complicated with kids, but it’s an adventure. And once they’re settled in, it’s always fun sharing those experiences with them. Well done on your big moves — I suspect homesickness can be even worse when you don’t have kids to distract you.

  1. At times it is that funny feeling in the tummy that urges you to take the plunge even when logic screams otherwise. Glad it worked out well for you 🙂

  2. This was very well written and engaging. I hate numbers so I’m all for the following your heart approach…though as I say that, I am undeniably stuck in a comfortable routine similar to the one you describe.

    • Thank you! It’s rather too easy to fall into that comfortable routine, isn’t it? And so very hard to get up out of it. Not that comfortable routines are bad, but they do tend to harbour some latent complacency that sneaks up on you when you’re not looking.

  3. We moved from Utah to Massachusetts when I was six months pregnant with our twins. In Utah, I have a small horde of family. I have one sister in Massachusetts who is two hours away. Cost of living was lower in Utah. Everything was familiar. Although we had lived in NJ & NY, neither of us had lived in Massachusetts.

    But we up & moved anyway. Followed my husband’s dream job, bought a house, & are settling in. Things have been rocky – the dream job did layoffs after a year & suddenly we were scrambling. But we have found a community here that, while not family, is very much the weird family we have chosen for ourselves. It’s been rough – but it was a good move.

    I’m glad that after two years, you feel your move was a good one as well.

    • Moving away from family and established community is always so hard. And recreating that in some meaningful way in a new place, even harder. How wonderful that you were able to find a supportive community in Utah. And yeah, those dream jobs have an annoying tendency to turn frightening. I hope work things move in the right direction for you soon.

  4. My youngest was not quite a year old when we moved from Southern California to Southern England. Since then we have kept it up. Singapore, Australia, Hawaii, Northern California, New Mexico…
    The way to live – that’s for sure.

  5. I can’t imagine the bravery required to move so far with children! I am so very chicken. I love the way you pieced your decision together for us. Your stories always have such a movement to them. Well done!

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