While visiting our families, there was a comment made to us by my family as well as by my in-laws:
You need to move closer to us.
First things first, it is really tough living so far away from family (about 500 miles). I miss them like crazy and it does bother me that our son isn’t able to see his grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles on a more regular basis. We usually visit once per year and then correspond via telephone throughout the year.
I’m often asked about our secret to paying off debt. There is no secret, but one thing that has helped us tremendously is where we live. We enjoy a low cost of living and we have tons of free things to do that match our interests. We can afford to live here. We can’t afford to live where they live. At least not right now, and we especially couldn’t a few years ago when our monthly debt payments were so high.
I’ve been trying to write about this since yesterday. I get so far, and then I get stuck. I think to myself that living so far away is the best thing for our family. But wait – we miss our relatives so it can’t be the best thing. If you think too much into something like this it can drive you batty. I’m not sure what else to say except I hope that we are doing the right thing.
I think a lot of things in life boil down to that. You are just hoping you are doing the right thing, whatever that may be.
Hi Tricia, I have enjoyed following your blog.
I understand where you are coming from in regards to where you live, that it is more affordable, however, at some point perhaps you can reconsider moving closer to family. As a grandmother, I know I have more of a bond with grandchildren that live near me, than those grandchildren who live far away that I don’t get to see as often. It is regrettable but that is how it is. There are many things in life that you can’t put a dollar value on and I think that family and family relationships are one of those. I am telling you this not to make you feel “guilty”, but perhaps it will help you to see things a little more “clear”.
Maybe the reason you enjoy their company so much is because you live far away? I’ve always thought that the best thing a young couple can do to get a good start on their marriage is to move away from their relatives for a few years.
Why did you move so far away in the first place?
Several thoughts on this:
1) Do they ever come visit you? I think the “burden” of travel might fairly go both directions, even though it was your decision to move far away.
2) Certain things are more important in life than others, in the grand scheme of things. I agree with Beverly, and, like her, don’t want to come off as throwing a guilt trip at you, but support really evaluating this issue carefully. You can’t make up for lost time later in the life of your son to have a closer relationship with his extended family.
3) Perhaps it could be a goal once you are debt-free to move closer. As you said, at that point it might be financially more realistic or doable.
4) Ultimately you need to be independent too. If your rural area provides a lifestyle that is a high priority for your immediate family that you can’t get anywhere else, that might be a higher priority than being closer to extended family.
5) When you are debt-free, you could make it a priority to budget for more frequent trips, say, four times a year rather than just one.
I agree, Tricia, it’s a complicated issue!!!
I know exactly what you are talking about. We live 8 hours from my wife’s family and it’s even farther to my parents. I have two kids under 3 that they barely get to see too. We would love to live closer to family but our problem is that I work in a rather technical field and our family all tends to be in areas where there isn’t much of that type of industry. We keep telling them that they need to move closer to us because they are coming up on retirement and can go wherever they want.
Haven’t convinced them yet though. :o(
We are the same way! My family lives in another country over 16 hours away (and we’re getting ready to move further away next year), and the surviving members of my husband’s family (a couple brothers) live back in California. Sometimes I really wish I lived down the street….it’s tough! We all just try our hardest to visit each other….my Mom comes down a couple times a year and we go up at least once a year (gas is so expensive to drive and airfare it horrid)!
About 2 years ago my husband and I moved from Massachusetts (Boston area) to North Carolina (Raleigh/Triangle area) because we wanted a better standard of living and wanted to buy a house we could afford. This was one of the best decisions we have ever made. (We don’t have children so that didn’t become an issue for us.) We used to be in a lot of debt. Somewhere around 60K. Now we will be debt free some time this year, with just a mortgage left. I was very unhappy in MA and lived in a tiny very expensive apartment in a not so nice area and didn’t want many visitors. Now I have tons of room in a new home and I love to have family visit me. I love being frugal because it finally is a choice. I’m just really a better person to be around because I don’t feel like I am living in a financial prison. I’m so grateful for what I have now.
My neighborhood is filled with people from all parts of the country. A lot of people move here for financial reasons alone. I know people who moved here without getting jobs first.
You have to find out what is right for you. You don’t have to stay in one place forever.
Of course your family would love for you to be closer. But, you have to consider how much time and effort (and expense) is involved in all of those family get togethers. If you decide to become a two income family then it would probably not be a problem, and would well be worth the effort. There are pros and cons in each situation. I know from personal experience that you can save a lot of money by living in the country away from family members, especially when your child is young. However, with my kids, there came a point when the rural life was NOT furthering their education and they needed to be in a more competitive school district. There is not a lot for kids to do in the country when they become teenagers and that alone is a consideration. At some point you may want to be in an area with more school activities for your son to participate in. Give it some thought!
I know how you feel. Most of my family is in another country, and it costs $1000 in plane tickets alone for me to go there. It isn’t realistic for me to move there or for them to move here. It is a tough situation. Like the commentors above, I do want to point out that once you are debt free, you will have more choices and can make the decision based on something other than money.
Wow this sounds like your writing about me and my family. (are you my twin)
I too visit my family once a year and talk on the phone the rest of the time.
We couldn’t afford to live there, as the cost of living is off the chart. Here where we live life is affordable and lots of free things to do that we enjoy.
We, too, live 11 hours away from the bulk of our family, and for the most part, it has been good for our marriage and family not to be so close to the daily “drama.”
Yet, my kids could have benefitted from living closer to their cousins and learning to deal with drama at an esrlier age.
It will be easier on your son, if you do make this move, to make it before he gets too far into elementary school. It will only get harder later.
I agree with earlier posts that this can’t be a purely financial decision, but being debt free will remove a big hurdle, allowing you to focus on the intangibles.
Trisha, Some suggestions: In a few years, your son can go visit by himself and maybe stay for awhile with his cousins or grandparents (or all of them taking turns!) and really get to know them. Or maybe you could drive him there and someone else could come visit you and drive him back later. Do you have a webcam? Maybe that would be a way to maintain more of a relationship with his extended family? Just be sure he is always supervised (webcams can be exploited by sexual predators). Our world is a much smaller place with all the technology nowadays.
For most of my life, my family lived within 70 miles of me. After my grandparents passed away, my dad, step mom, and siblings decided to move to Florida. They said that cost of living forced them to move. Now we are lucky if we get to see them every other year because of the airfare and gas prices. (We are in California) They have asked us to move in with them several times but we won’t do it. We are happy where we are at.
Rob – where we live now is familiar to us since we went to college here. We did live with family for a short period of time and were going to attempt to make it work by them in the city. But we couldn’t make it work. Even with my husband’s good job at the time, we were struggling financially big time. We weren’t even paying rent!
I also was suffering from postpartum depression. I don’t talk about it much, but it was another reason we moved.
This sounds familiar. I’ve been debating moving back to my home town to be with family, as well, for a number of years now. For us, the main issue has been that the metro area we live in now has plenty of jobs in our fields, while the small town my wife and I grew up in has very few jobs available, while the cost of living is very similar.
It wasn’t the best situation for my kids to grow up hardly ever spending any time with their grandparents, but they seem to have weathered it and become well-adjusted adults.
Oh I hear ya! We get that from my inlaws occasionally too. We were just there over the weekend and had two of the relatives tell us that we should move back closer to them… We lived there 8 years after we got married, but decided 14 years ago to move closer to my family because my mom had been ill. I’ll never move back. I like living here and do not have any plans to move… but it never fails that one of hubby’s relatives always asks when we’ll be moving back!
I live really far from my family, too. I hope this doesn’t sound too absurdly geeky, but I’ve found that a social network site can be really helpful. Multiply.com is the best in my opinion — more for grownups, with great privacy and the ability to really fine-tune who sees what. We end up posting mostly the same stuff we’d send in emails, but it’s nicer having a “conversation” on the site than receiving endless reply-all email responses.