Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Between a rock & a hard place

I'm so glad that M & I started talking more about our future plans, and seriously exploring the option of moving to Seattle. It's been a very complex discussion that's spanned *lots* of conversations. And, we are definitely not yet at a decision. It has, however, brought us closer & raised the fact that we rarely make time for these deeper conversations, and talk instead about transportation for the kids, and meals, and errands/chores. We need to make more time for the bigger conversations, and it's now a priority for us. It's important for our relationship, but it's also important to make sure we're not just cruising along on autopilot, but checking in on critical paths (work, family, location, kids - and, the serious topics of parenting, etc.)

So, what have we netted out with so far? Well, I've had a lot of time to think about the topic for myself, & I very much want to move back to Seattle. It was more of an idea when this first started, but things have come together in my mind & now there's very little question on where I stand on the issue. Here's the list of pros & cons that I've thought of so far (and, not in a prioritized format, but I do actually have a decision matrix with weighting attached. ;-))


  1. Close to family. My parents live a couple of hours away, and my sister lives about three hours away. My mom is also now retired, and has a much more flexible schedule for helping out. Not on the spur of the moment (no one is going to be showing up for dinner unexpectedly), but with planned time, for sure. M & I rarely get time away for a long weekend, and we really, really need more of this. 
  2. Cost of living, generally. This one is more nuanced, because you may argue that salaries are also lower, but in our experience, we had more disposable income in Seattle. Significantly more. 
  3. No state tax. Given our income levels, this is a big pro. 
  4. We are familiar with the area. M & I lived there around 15 years each, and the kids lived there for the first 5-6 years. 
  5. We have a house. It's 40% (from our original purchase price) paid for. It's now worth more, of course, but just looking at the mortgage. Context - we bought for $1M, it's worth about $1.5M. Staying in our school district in California will require us to buy a house at $2.5M or higher. There is nothing on the market below that price point. 
  6. We have friends & a network in the area.
  7. The job market, while not Silicon Valley, is good. 
  8. Close to our vacation house (3-4 hours), making it a place we can go for long weekends again.
  9. A less "intense" place - from the traffic, to the schools, to the general pressure of living in general. I find that I'm anxious often, and where we live now is a very "high stress" place. High stress jobs are the rule, rather than the exception. I find that parents are also very intense with their kids - in schools & sports. I believe in pushing your kids, but in moderation, and childhood is part fun & part work. I'm a bit in the minority here.


  1. The weather. Not going to lie, it will be a big adjustment for us. The boys are outside every day, for long periods of time. Also, my lupus has been in a great place since we moved. I think the weather has contributed (as well as other lifestyle changes I've made).
  2. Our house in Seattle is near a freeway. They did a bunch of work to make the sound better, but I haven't been inside of it & would need to vet this out. Sleep is a critical part of keeping my illness in check.
  3. By far the biggest one, hands down. M loves his job. We both have jobs that have vested stock, and for every year we stay, it gets harder to leave. But, money aside, he truly loves it & feels like it's his dream job. And, he's not ready to walk away from that job.

Where does this leave us? Still in conversation, as #3 on the cons is a huge factor for M. When it comes to timing, I think summer of 2017 is the perfect time for us to move. Our lease is up at our existing rental, our tenants lease is also up, and Sam is starting middle school. Sam is our child who will need more adjustment & time to make new friends. Nick will be going into 5th grade, and I think will do well making new friends. I worry that each year we wait will make it harder for Sam.

I can't work at my job much longer, so regardless of where we net at, I need an exit strategy. It's very challenging, because if I quit while we still live in California, it makes it that much harder for us to have stability with housing, etc & we really can't afford just to live on M's salary, unless it was for a short period of time. If we move to Seattle, we need significantly less money to make our budget work. (More on that in a separate post). 

That's the current update, but another post on the differences in our budget coming up shortly. Have you ever moved? How did you & your family approach the decision?


  1. It is a tough decision but overall it seems Seattle is a better fit. The big con factor is M loves his job. But I'm sure another job would line up for him. I think just the cost of housing where you are would be a huge factor in not staying. Those prices are insane.

    1. It is absolutely insane. I think at this point, it's less about whether we can afford it, and more that I just don't want to buy into a lifestyle that requires so much. :-(

  2. Our family motto is "you go where the work is". Hubs and I would have preferred to settle in VA but that's not how the job situation worked out. I am glad we ended up in PA as opposed to metro NJ/NY where we were before PA(don't like big cities, noise, traffic, crowds and that Jersey attitude that was everywhere)though.....it could have been a lot worse than were we are now.

    We did move 16 years ago when the kids were young(9, 7 and 4)from one area of PA(a rural/vacation area)to another more suburban area for 2 reasons-1, Hubs commute was cut in half, and 2, the kids were in a much better school district and had better opportunities to form friendships/have experiences that would enrich them. I would have preferred to stay in the rural area of PA. Sometimes you have to sacrifice what you want for what is best for your kids....that's part of being a mature grownup parent.

    Since you have/had jobs in both WA and CA, this moving to where the work is, isn't an issue for you. Seems everything adding to your quality of life would be in WA, except for M not wanting to relocate to a new company as he is more fullfilled in his current career. Is he prepared to keep your family from a better situation overall by refusing to leave his job? Or can he work remotely and commute sporadically to this current position if you move out of state?

    Besides that job thing, the whole CA ridiculous housing cost issue would be my sticking point....especially if housing costs keeps one from funding college/spending on positive enrichment for your kids.
    Plus the lifestyle pressure on my kids where you are now sounds like a CA deal breaker. I'd worry about the emotional and mental health of my kids from having to deal with those peers.

    It's a tough call but keep talking. Maybe you'll get M to come around.

    1. I'm with you, it's the housing pricing that's really pushed me over the edge & made it a no go option to stay. We shall see how M's feelings evolve over time on this one. :-)

  3. I moved back to my home province when my child was 9 and never looked back. For me, the advantages of being near family were unbeatable. Even with worse weather! I thought I would end up under-employed but I found a professional job in 18 months...a long stretch to live on savings, but ultimately worth it.

    1. Sounds like it was a fantastic decision, weather aside. ;-)

  4. Tough decision, but it sure seems like the quality of your life, whole families life, would make WA a smart move. Who's to ay M wouldn't end up liking a new job just as much. Easy for outsiders to say, though. I wish you luck in finding the right path for your family.

    1. Super tough decision, and yes, at this point, it's really coming down to M's job vs lots of other factors. Hard to balance all of those factors.