Why Start Over?

I’ve always wondered about those couples that move across the country for each other. Maybe they’re different than me, but I don’t think I could ever do that.

Wherever you grow up, you have a solid base of friends and family. Wherever you go, you have to start over, from scratch. It takes years to rebuild any kind of meaningful relationships. So all you have is your new husband, or wife, and their friends. It isn’t quite the same, is it?

When I think about the way I want to live my life, I want the people that I know and care about now to be in it later. Don’t you?

What do you think? Will I be changing my mind?





25 responses to “Why Start Over?”

  1. Todd Avatar

    It depends on a number of factors. Obviously quality of life plays a part, and one’s support network for friends and family plays a part. That said, it isn’t everything. I’ve made 2 huge geographic and lifestyle changes in my life and have no regrets because of the massive positive changes.

    10 years ago Sage, my son, and I gave away everything we owned and moved 1,000 miles away to a yurt in the woods. There were a few family members there but no job (and no electricity or running water for that matter). What there *was* was a lifestyle that cost $300 USD/month and enabled us both to stay home with our then 5 month old baby. Neither of us worked for more than 10 hours/week for 2 years.

    5 years ago, not liking the direction of US politics and also the apparent insanity of many of its residents, we moved over 1,000 miles again, this time to Toronto. When we got here I only had one acquaintance, and Sage had never even visited the city. A few years later and we have built what I would consider our strongest support network anywhere I’ve lived.

    My own family is completely nuts. Disconnecting myself from them and moving away from where they live (I haven’t spoken to most of them in nearly 20 years) was one of the most positive changes I’ve made in my life hands down.

  2. Rob Avatar

    I would imagine the kind of people that would uproot like that might not have many family or friends in their life… I’m down to 7 family members in the whole UK now…! I have more in Canada! See you soon 😉

  3. Mike Billeter Avatar

    I couldn’t tell if you were just thinking about why or why not people move in general or if you are actually moving, but I think my thoughts are pretty applicable to both. I sort of view it all as a matter of how your life has been spent. I’ve moved six times now and enjoy every move and the opportunities each one can bring. On the flip side, my family has managed to be near or in the same city as me, so I haven’t had to deal a lot with losing the solid base of family (just a relatively solid base of friends here and there). It’s definitely not an easy thing to do, but I think you’d be pleasantly surprised by the opportunities and changes that moving brings about. Of course, that’s easy for me to say. I’m the one that enjoys moving. Either way, I wish you luck if you have to make a move somewhere. My advice is to seek out your passions and connect with those who share those passions. Oh, and don’t forget to drop an email, tweet, or actual hand-written letter to the friends you have to leave behind. It’s nice to keep those connections if you do end up leaving friends and family behind.

  4. Nico Avatar

    I was gonna write about how these days it’s easier to overcome distance and stuff, but it all comes down to one thing: if you have to try hard to justify such a move, then maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.

  5. Christine Prefontaine Avatar

    “When I think about the way I want to live my life, I want the people that I know and care about now to be in it later.”

    Absolutely. It’s important to know that about yourself. A person’s family and community is especially crucial when children arrive. I had my son soon after arriving in a different country — with a husband who was always working and no family or close friends. It was a very lonely and difficult experience that caught me by surprise. I was so excited to have a baby; I did not understand the impact of a lack of social support. Took me a good four or five years to meet the wonderful people who became my close network.

  6. Roxy Avatar

    This post resonates with me.

    My mom is the oldest of 11 and I have 20 cousins. We are an extremely close family. All of my family lives in the hills of Western PA/MD.

    During grad school I moved to SF to do my practicum. My mom moved with me and one of my cousins visited for a summer, so I at least had them.

    I made really good friends with some co-workers. SF is a beautiful, fun city.

    I lasted 2 years and decided to move back to the east coast because of this issue. I missed weekend get-togethers at my grandparents house around the fire, telling stories, teasing each other, making jokes. And I’m only 27! No kids, husband, etc.

    I now live in Baltimore – about a 3 hour drive from my family. This summer I made it to our family reunion for the first time in 4 years.

    The biggest thing about living near family is the resources they can share with you. I decided to do a side project to earn extra income building websites. I was able to build a site for my aunt’s store (see link) and am working on an in-law’s nutrition store website. I wouldn’t have had the established relationships to do this with anyone in SF.

    The established relationships, trust, and resources your family and community bring is something to cherish and think carefully before you totally run away from them 🙂

  7. Joel Avatar

    2 years ago I left my family and friends and moved 3000km interstate to be with my girlfriend. It was hard work, and i thought long and hard about it, but in the end it wasn’t really a decision at all. I thought about the pros and cons of both situations, but it always came back to the fact that i couldn’t stand being apart from this girl any longer.

    Sure, i’m a long way away from my old friends and family, but i certainly wouldn’t say they’re no longer in my life. I’m still in contact with them regularly. I visit a few times a year, and they come visit here too. And making new friends and connections here has also been fun and exciting. It’s not always easy, and sometimes i get homesick, but i’ve never once thought about going back. It’s just not an option i would ever consider while my girlfriend is still here.

    Having said that, if you’d told me a few years ago that i would leave all my family and friends and move halfway across the country for a girl, i probably would’ve laughed at you. I didn’t think that would ever be me. But then you meet someone and something clicks, and it just makes sense.

  8. Mary Avatar

    Hmm…I think that you’re right if the ONLY reason why a person moves is for a significant other. If it’s not the only reason, then I really don’t see a problem with it.

    I decided it would be best for my career to move from Connecticut to Texas. Even though my boyfriend and I knew we didn’t like the idea of a long distance relationship…we did not push the both of us moving. After a while though, he started to realize that moving to Texas would be in his best interests. W

  9. CT Moore Avatar

    I agree with you. I’ve left twice, and came back as quick as I could. At the end of the day, the network you have with family, friends, and community you grew up with means so much more than the one you inherit through your career or build up online. The connections you grow up are part of you personality because you, well, grew up with them – they factored into your formative years. Everything else, it seems to me, is somewhat more shallow and less meaningful (as a rule, of course, not a universal principal).

  10. Whitney Avatar

    I’ve moved across he Country to be with my boyfriend, now Husband, while he was in Med School. At certain points in your life, after high school and after college, groups and communities gradually break up and move on. But now with the internet, I feel more connected with people all over than ever before. While I miss some of my college friends, I don’t have to tell them goodbye, just that I’ll see them later or online.

    I find that I sometimes long to live closer to people I know who live in Boston, or Canada, or San Francisco or wherever. But even if we moved to any of these locations, economics dictates that they wouldn’t necessarily live there forever, either.
    I do wish from time to time I live closer to our relatives, especially for the kids to be closer to cousins, but I love our house, our friends, and the real world community we’ve developed. It’s our adult sense of home, rather than nostalgia for the home of my childhood or that of my husband. We’re not chasing our past, we’re creating our own future, and one that our kids may choose to adopt or decide to go find their own.

    Part of it is creating your own sense of space, who you are, and where you feel most at home. Sometimes that’s where you grew up, and sometimes it’s not. I’ll never regret moving away from my home town- it’s changed my whole perspective on life I think for the better- it’s challenged what I think of as normal my assumptions.

    And it never hurts to go exploring for your sense of home by the side of someone you’re willing to follow anywhere- it’s the best adventure ever.

  11. Susan Murphy Avatar

    My Dad was in the military for 36 years. Therefore, for much of my childhood, our family was uprooted every few years. I frankly didn’t know anything different. Halfway through the 1st grade we moved from the Northwest Territories to B.C. I had never seen grass before, let alone gone to a school with more than 100 students.

    When I was 15 we moved from BC to Ontario. I was so angry at my parents for taking me away from all my friends that I didn’t speak to them for the entire drive across the country.

    “Uprooted” was a way of life for my family. I can’t speak for my Mom, but I can only imagine her reaction when, as a city girl from Toronto, her husband told her she’d be spending the next 3 years in a town in the Far North that was dark 24 hours a day all winter long.

    Moving around a lot has helped shape me. I was always the “new kid”, and as a result developed not only a thick skin but the ability to walk into a situation and get to know people quickly and well. Not a bad trait to have, considering I’m inherently shy. I am able to move easily from one situation to the next, am extremely adaptable and don’t put up a fight when things change on a dime. All of these characteristics are a result of uprooting often.

    Would I do it now? I think it depends on the situation and the opportunity, for sure. But keep in mind, I did all my uprooting in the days before the Internet. Now it’s so much easier to be apart from people and still maintain relationships.

    The good thing is, I know people all across the country. Using technology, I continually am reconnecting with childhood friends.

    So in the end – I think I’ve got the best of all worlds.

  12. steve garfield Avatar

    And then there’s the roads. It’s a comfortable feeling to know that you CAN get there from HERE by taking a different route. Boston is crazy, but there’s a feeling of familiarity that you have in a city that you’ve grown up in, an area too.

    I also feel comforatble in cities that I visit a lot, NYC and the SF area. I could easily see myself living in those cities for a longer period of time, but would always come back to Boston.

  13. trouble Avatar

    “Wherever you grow up, you have a solid base of friends and family.”

    Aside from assuming some things about families (my parents are the first in their families to live in the state I was born in, and have very few living relatives), and friends (some people don’t have a lot of close friends from childhood -I didn’t really make any till a few in high school and college).

    But also you are assuming people move from where they grow up. Most of my friends from high school, and I’d say about 75% of the people I know moved away from the area they grew up in to go to college, and many of them never moved back. So many of us have circles of friends scattered in many places. But many of my friends from when I grew up are no longer back there either.

    so the choices aren’t always as huge as giving up all your past for another person.

  14. Chris Avatar

    In short, starting over is a game changer. Here are the reasons I can think of:

    1. Quality of life.

    2. A lot of friends had already left town, which made me wonder if I wasn’t missing out, and if I could doing it myself. It’s easier to do when you’re not tied down, but “tied down” is a state of mind; mortgage, kids, family, a solid base of friends, coffee shop, neigbourhood, furniture, houseplants, when does it stop?

    3. You can always change your mind and go home, and being the prodigal son has its own rewards.

    4. Good friends, much like good family, aren’t easily lost.

    5. Having global experience can raise your worth in the eyes of others (a lot of people live vicariously through my adventures), and helps to open your mind.

    6. The world is a lot smaller than you realize, and as cheesy as it sounds, technology is playing a large part in shortening distances.

    Of course, if your social network is what is fueling your business then moving could easily be considered economic suicide, or it could be considered an excuse for point 2.

    Rephrase your question to “Why switch from a PC to a Mac?” and it sounds rather naive.

    As for the effort required to start over, I can tell you from my own personal experience that with a well executed plan you can quickly surpass your previous position in life.

    My wife and I decided that it would be interesting to live in a place where others usually only come for vacation. In our case we chose Banff, Alberta, in the heart of a national park, a skier’s and hiker’s paradise. We moved from Montreal QC.

    We told everyone at Christmas, and had moved by March, but it was a well thought out and well executed plan that took nine months to prepare. We knew what the job opportunities would be and when to beat others trying to do the same (after spring breaks, before schools are out).

    My wife was working in a better job within a week and I was happily self employed until I got a dream job within the first few months. I’m now at the top of my game with an elite few in my town. The quality of my work never changed, but people seem to appreciate it a lot more out here, and it isn’t a rat race.

    As for the quality of life? My asthma disappeared instantly, I lost 20 pounds and 18 months later haven’t put them back on. I ski twice a week in the winter, I hike every week in the summer. My work week is only 35 hours over four days and I have not had a feeling of dream once going to work, nor have I used a sick day, or even a vacation day up until this week and I’m literally surrounded by nature every day (deer, elk, forest and river that acts as a frozen shortcut in the winter), plus I work for an arts institution instead of a bank now, and so I’m also surrounded by culture, and inspiration.

    In short, starting over is a game changer.

    I still talk to my friends and family on the phone, twitter, MSN, email, facebook, skype and flickr. I also visit Montreal a few times a year, and friends and family regularly come out and visit us. We’ve also already built up some very close and intimate friendships in the past year and a half, and better yet are more involved in the community than we’ve ever been in our lives. I’m not saying it is like this for everyone, but it happens enough to make it worthwhile.

  15. Brandon Avatar

    People move because they’ve always moved. Or they move because they’ve never moved before. You can’t pin it down one way or the other.

    I see a person moving across country, for whatever reason, as one who’s willing to take risks. Maybe sometimes they’re well thought out. Maybe others less so.

    The notion that you’re leaving friends behind for a place where you have none is scarcity thinking — and I’d hope for more from an author on building trust-based relationships! It suggests you won’t, can’t, shouldn’t try to build relationships elsewhere. When the only reason you have the friends where you are is because…you started there.

    I’ve lived in Missouri, Kansas, southern California three times, North Carolina, and Oregon. Loved a little bit about each place. Have friends everywhere now. Sure, I’m ready to settle down for my kids. But I don’t feel I’ve sold myself out for those moves; in fact, just the opposite. I’ve got great friendships in each of those areas.

    And people are only as far away as we make it seem.

  16. Dave Delaney Avatar

    I don’t know if you caught it from the trackback Julien, but I blogged about your post.


    What do you think?

  17. Jeremy Avatar

    Moving abroad is a wonderful experience. It taught me so much, from beating my fears, to becoming more open minded.

    I have made 3 oversea “big-moves” in the last 10 years, and I would move tomorrow if I wasn’t so happy here. As scary as it might seem, there’s nothing that can beat the excitement of moving to another place (another country in my case). Some people are attached to a certain place, while others are more independant. I have learned so much, experienced different cultures, and seen so many things that I feel I would have missed something if I had not done it.

    Friends come and go, no matter where, and I slowly built a network of friends around the globe. And for family… well I’m building my own, although I still talk to parents, sisters, etc, through facebook, msn and phone. As much as I love them, I can’t restrict my life just to be around them. It’s all a matter of subjectivity I guess…

  18. Carson Avatar

    And then there’s the roads. It’s a comfortable feeling to know that you CAN get there from HERE by taking a different route. Boston is crazy, but there’s a feeling of familiarity that you have in a city that you’ve grown up in, an area too.

    I also feel comforatble in cities that I visit a lot, NYC and the SF area. I could easily see myself living in those cities for a longer period of time, but would always come back to Boston.; And then there’s the roads. It’s a comfortable feeling to know that you CAN get there from HERE by taking a different route. Boston is crazy, but there’s a feeling of familiarity that you have in a city that you’ve grown up in, an area too.

    I also feel comforatble in cities that I visit a lot, NYC and the SF area. I could easily see myself living in those cities for a longer period of time, but would always come back to Boston.;;

  19. Tracy Lee Carroll Avatar

    That is a great question. Honestly, I moved to New Hampshire from New York and the move was far harder than I had ever imagined. I moved with my then 9 year old daughter and 11 year old son. I was totally focused on how the move would affect them and not even a thought as to what it would mean to me.

    All in all, the move was good. The kids grew and thanked me for it. The cost of living here is infinitesimally more affordable and I am able to live better on less. But… What have I traded for that? I gave up my network. I gave up the town I grew up in and all the people and business connections I knew and loved. I moved to a place where the culture and human climate is different and have never really, totally fit in. I’m okay with that, but I really miss “home”.

    It’s been almost 13 years and I have done well to establish myself here, but it isn’t the same. I still find myself homesick for a place that no longer really exists and for many years, I felt like the woman without a country.

    My advice would be that if you are thinking of making a radical change in location, think really hard on all the ramifications of the decision. There are a lot of little things that you probably won’t think of until after the fact. for me, it was and sometimes is still, a difficult thing. But it can have its advantages as well. Keep your mind and thought process open.

  20. Julien Avatar

    @tracy, this is a great comment.

    i think you’re maybe a lot like me– i haven’t made that move but i can feel everything you’re coming from.

    do you think you’ll ever feel at home there?

  21. Tracy Lee Carroll Avatar

    It’s funny… There are days I do and I know I have made my connections here, but I think my feeling that this is “home” is more because this is where my children call home, not that it is my home. I still call Westchester County “home” to me.

    It is a complex dichotomy and changes often depending on the situation and moment.

  22. Steve Avatar

    Being single (never married) at 42, I think I might jump at the chance to relocate for the right person.

    I live in NYC (not always an easy place to live) and often feel like I’ve stuck it our here for the exact reason you mention (being close to family and friends). NYC can sometimes be exhausting, frustrating, expensive, status-obsessed, etc. and I’ve often wondered if I might be happier somewhere else. My family is great, and so are my friends, but friends scatter and change over time (raising families, moving to suburbs, etc.). I’m regularly making new friends, but it gets harder to make really close connections with people in this busy, crowded city as you get older.

    I’ve had many relationships but still haven’t met the “right” woman, and part of me wonders if that also has to do with living in NYC. Values, priorities, and lifestyle choices here (and probably other big cities) are different from other places, and I always seem to connect with people who came from somewhere else.

    So, I’m sticking around for the moment, but the thought of leaving is always in the back of my head.

  23. Andrea Hill Avatar

    I see it the other way: why NOT extend your reach?

    I’ve had two large moves as an adult: from Edmonton, AB to Columbus, OH in 2001, and from Columbus to Denver, CO last year.

    I keep in touch with folks via phone, email and Facebook. Nothing replaces meeting and getting to know folks in person, and now I have several places I refer to as “home” when telling a story. They say “whereever you go, there you are” and I agree completely, but my personal experiences are augmented because of the different places I’ve lived.

  24. Marc Avatar

    Are we moving away from or toward opportunity.
    If Man never moved we would still be a little tribe somewhere in the middle of Tibet.
    Who will be the first to move to the moon ….mars etc etc….Without the Pioneering spirit we would implode…

  25. Kevin Avatar

    Every day I wake up I go to school on the same road I have for the past 12 years, see the same people I’ve seen, and drive home the same way. I’m only 17 and yet I cannot stand it. It’s like playing a videogame and being stuck in one small part of the map for the entirety of the game. Maybe it’s a mindset thing, but I want to explore, see more, and just get out of the same boring cycle and same boring place that I’ve lived in for so long. It’s not that I’m anti-social and stuff, but I’m not a very attached person. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go, and I just enjoy the people I know while they’re there, because they’ll always have to leave sometime.

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