Relocation paralysis by analysis
hi all –
This is my first post, though I have been a subscriber and lurker for some time. I'm not shy in the real world, but for some reason am shy online. I would appreciate any thoughts y'all have on my situation, because I am in an agony of indecision right now.
My husband and I, and our 2 kids (8 and 10) live in one of the most affluent coastal communities of southern california. We are here by luck and happenstance – I grew up here, and have benefited from my family's long-ago real estate purchases which keep property taxes down, etc. We have spent the past four years educating ourselves on the many threads of the 3 E's – both coming to it from our own professional interests. Our current family income will not allow us to stay here, and we don't see how we can move forward with our plans for creating more resilience in our lives. If we stay, I need to abandon my stay-at-home-mom gig and find full-time work, which moves us further away from how we want to live, and where we want to put our time/energy. We strongly desire to get out of so cal and to a place with more like-minded people… like many of you, we feel completely alone in what we see and anticipate among our community and peers.
To that end, we have put time into finding a place to relocate to – a small town in another western state with a lot of small farming going on, with a growing organic interest as well as likeminded people who see what is going on in the world. We were able to purchase a small home there last year, which we have rented out (and is almost covering the mortgagte etc.) We are teetering on the edge of putting our house on the market (the local market just increased about 20%, and we see that as a gift that likely won't last long.)
There are two things holding us back from committing to a move. I spin both through my head over and over, and am stuck in paralysis and emotion. First, there are no jobs where we want to go. It is a magical place, kept small and slow by this fact. Those who are there either have created their own gig, or have slowly lost their wealth, some now living "hand to mouth". A new friend there called me yesterday – to emphasize that we need to have a backup plan, after watching many there fail at finding jobs or establishing a livelihood that sustains them. On the other hand, we are tired of living around wealthy people, and people so close to the wealth (like us) that it's hard not to focus on what we don't have, instead of what we do.
Second, as Chris and others have emphasized, our relationships are an important part of our wealth. My entire family lives here. My parents are in their late seventies, and will only need more help as time goes by. My sons' cousins are the same age, and live 5 minutes away. My husband's entire family lives about an hour away. I have a very connected community here, comprised of people I have known since childhood, since college, a great network of other parents, my parents' friends, etc. Very nice, down to earth people, in reality. It's just that, none of them seem to look behind the very compelling matrix in which we live… professional success, over-committed kids, lovely homes like something out of a magazine, perfect weather, etc.
Our parents are heartbroken that we plan to leave. Begging us to reconsider, in part because we don't yet know how we can make $. Selling our house will ease the transition greatly, but is capital that should be protected rather than slowly spent down. We bring a side job with us, but not sure it can develop into anythin more. If we rent our house here, preserving a way to come back to So cal, we will not have the cash flow to make the necessary upgrades to the home in the new place – energy efficiency, garden, elk fence, etc.
How does one reconcile leaving their network of loved ones (who have a different worldview), for a new place with people who seem to hold similar values, but the relationships are untested? How does one justify taking their kids out of a stellar school system for a place with weaker schools, but also not the materialism and uber-success-driven competition in our current environment? If anyone has been through anything similar, I would greatly appreciate your thoughts.
I recognize we are so fortunate to have choices that so many others don't. However, the hour is growing late, and this indecision is wearing me down.
for being so long-winded!
I can relate to many of the points you make.. just have no answers myself. I live in a very analogous East Coast wealthy suburb. It brings my mother to tears whenever I talk about my desire to relocate myself and my family (in my case outside the US). My brother lives nearby and has never taken the red pill. As an MBA, my Dad kind of understands my points, but he remains vaguely hopeful (how about that Tea Party!). My daughter will be going to college in the US soon. It's complicated.
My best hope at present is to work two pathways in parallel… developing a bolt hole somewhere in South America without actually moving there unless/until things become intolerable here in the US.
Jim H, to develop two pathways. That is what we have been doing this past year, but I find that I don't exist in dual realities that well. Or perhaps the daily existence in the red pill/blue pill reality is what is wearing me down.
I have an MBA too. I actually attended my b-school reunion recently. Made our plans seem even more surreal, as my classmates are mostly on that big city/corporate path where you dream of what you will some day do in retirement, but make so many sacrifices (family time etc) in the meantime to chase your dreams of affluence.
I, too, live in Southern California. So I know what you are talking about.
I think the first thing to remember is: get a game plan.
"Begin with the end in mind," as the late Dr. Stephen R. Covey would say. Then start figuring out what steps will get you there. What are the requirements to get to where I want to be? What do I need to do, and what will it take, to meet those requirements? This likely is going to be a plan of at least a few years' undertaking. Luckily, it's not likely that an economic collapse could happen anytime in the next few years.
(Yes, there is a chance that an economic collapse could happen anytime soon – there is always a chance for that. But I am in the Long Descent camp. I believe things will get tighter, harder, and progressively more difficult. There will be financial crises and economic slumps, etc. But it's also possible to see not just problems with the economy, but a "retreat to the core", where rural areas like the place you descrbe become even worse in terms of jobs, where they turn into places like Hale County, Alabama where 1 in 4 adults of working age is on government disability. – or even the situation in the Inland Empire, where people might downsize into condos and apartments in Los Angeles and Orange Counties in order to be closer to the better job market after being foreclosed on. So we just don't know for sure. But we still have to plan.)
So, back to the idea about getting a game plan. Figure out where you want to be, then plan for it.
I believe global warming and population growth and depletion of aquifers and over-use of reservoirs and decreased flow for the Colorado River will make large parts of the Southwest hotter and drier. I want to be where there is good soil, plenty of rain, a large distance from nuclear power plants (unlike the eastern United States), lots of forested land, hydro-electricity. I want a sturdy, well-insulated home, at least a few acres, fresh water, and both a semi-rural existence and proximity to hospitals and educational institutions. I want escape routes, the ability to live near and trade with neighboring farmers, etc.
So this is my game plan: We spend a few more years in Southern California. My wife gets her RN license in a couple of years. She'll work for a hospital, get at least a couple of years of good job experience. Then we look into relocating so our kids will be able to grow up closer to nature rather than in the cookie-cutter suburbs of Southern California, where rivers are lined with concrete, beaches are groomed with trucks, and there's no way to build resiliency in an area where over 20 million people live in a radius covered by a 2 hour drive.
She can get a job with a local hospital in the Pacific Northwest (or in a lot of places, depending on state requirements to meet) and earn decent income, have health insurance and benefits. I can follow her anywhere, since I can work remotely in IT for a wide variety of companies – maybe even for the same company I work for, since about 1 in 5 of our companies' employees already work remotely. So we'll have at least one gig to start and very likely two, already waiting wherever we go.
I hope this helps.
Lmcdel — I wish I had good suggestions for you. Your critical problem is income in the new location. A small city outside California might be a good compromise, but you already have a second house as a complication. As Poet said, water is critical and western Oregon and Washington have plenty. Your current thinking puts you way ahead of most.
Poet — That is an excellent relocation plan. Coming from you, I'm not surprised.
After living in my new location for over a year and a half, I would like to recommend my community as a possible relocation spot. Yes – it is in California and you will still have to deal with the problems of California. But as an overall spot (and we researched and investigated the whole country), we are very pleased and continually surprised by how well this place fits into our long term goals of resilient living and community engagement.
Our location is situated in the Sierra Foothills and the main towns are Grass Valley and Nevada City.
The Quick Summary: Moderate Climate (can grow just about anything), plentiful rainfall (ave 45-53"/yr, large amount of agricultural heritage and every expanding sustainable farms and young people taking up farming. It has a great school system (both public and support for homeschooling) and a huge variety of arts and community activities throughout the year. There is a vibrant and growing community of folks concerned about the 3Es and meeting people who are concerned about what the future has in store for us is easy. Population is not too huge and properties don't seem to be out of reach for building a nice homestead (we are renting a home with a shared 10 acre piece of land where we are building our temporary homestead). Another plus is that we are just over an hour away from the Sacramento Airport – which is a Southwest airlines hub. Easy for all our family to catch a flight from San Diego to visit. And only a 8.5 hour drive by car. There have been many more visits from family to this new location than when we lived in Colorado. So staying connected is very much possible to family in southern California.
That is the quick and dirty description of our community. So far it is living up to expectations but as with anything – things can change and morph and one needs to be adaptable. In selecting the Grass Valley area we tried to analyze and include variations and morphing (climate change (water is key), reduction of goods and services, quality of life issues) and still found that if things move in a negative direction, we would still be OK. It would still be a livable location.
Hope this long message is helpful to everyone reading and I welcome you to come visit the area if you get a chance. I am open to answer any questions folks might have.
Another thought is consolidation.
If you can't stand to leave for another state because you are so close to family, and between you and your parents, there are two homes, of which one has at least 3 bedrooms… Then spend a trial six months living into the larger home as a family. You only need 2 bedrooms (maybe 3 if the kids are of opposite gender) – and your parents can have a 3rd bedroom. Then, rent the other home for income.
You are a stay-at-home mother but your kids go to school, right? By all being in one household, maybe the kids can come home after school to spend time with your parents, so you can got out to earn income outside the home or work from home doing a home business or as a remote worker. That's also income potential.
I’ve read and re-read your post to better absorb all the factors that are pulling at you and your family. I must say that I really admire your ability to express yourself so well. Your thoughtfulness and maturity shine through all that you write.
First of all, I have experienced some of the elements of what you’re going through or thinking about…tearing up roots, going off into unknown communities, being responsible for children and parents, having an education that equipped me to earn good money but wanting to have a traditional anchoring role as homemaker, having concerns about being prepared for unknowns and wanting my family to be resilient and able to cope.
Now I’m at an age that’s past all that. I’ve seen life unfold for myself and for family and friends over the decades. Choices that end well and some that do not. I've lived in various areas of the country. My current community is one that I didn’t even know about 20 years ago and yet I’m now deeply and happily connected with it. I interact with good friends who live standard middle class lives (nicely furnished houses, manicured lawns, vacations) and with good friends who live in a culture of self-sufficiency (1800s lifestyles with food in the garden & on the hoof, DIY skills, wide support group). I feel affection for them all but I do feel that the more self-sufficient friends, as a group, will be far more resilient if/when things take a extraordinary turn on the larger stage. Yet they too are vulnerable.
While Chris’s forum is about concerns related to an dramatic economic shift, I also follow a forum more concerned with medical epidemics that could be close to the horizon. I consider both scenarios to be distinct possibilities. I also would put cyber warfare on the list of things that might upset the applecart. All are more likely today than they were 30 years ago. So where does security lie? It’s a question you’re thinking about and more and more people are thinking about it too. Where should one live? How can we make the best choices for the future?
With that as background, my thoughts for you would be something like this. Can you find a middle ground for a while, perhaps by selling your current home and moving into something you can rent for a year or two in order to keep your options open? In the meantime, is there a place you can use to do gardening and hone your gardening skills? Groups you can join to learn more about farming/canning/machine repairs/DIY skills? Is it possible that you feel unsure about having already purchased a property that, it turns out, doesn’t measure up to all that you need from it? Is there a community within a day’s drive of your family that might offer more chances for both employment and a resilient lifestyle? Can you give yourself more choices?
Trust your instincts. There may be a reason that you feel indecision and tension. You have a good head on your shoulders and you and your husband will figure this all out.
You have my sincere, heartfelt wishes for all to go well for you!
I would suggest that the most important thing is for you to get really clear about what YOU think could be coming down the line. Everyone has a somewhat different take on this, Poet (writing above) is in the long descent camp, I'm in the camp that sees a fair chance of a financial systems collapse tipping into a civilizational one. What we think doesn't really matter; it's your own viewpoint that should drive your decision making. You've obviously done a lot of homework on this topic and will have formed some conclusions.
In our case we did move, just over 2 years ago. We moved from the city to a rural area and I have set up large vege gardens, an orchard and instead of going to work in the morning I milk the cow. I can tell you this has not been a small change in lifestyle. We had to balance loosing 1 income against developing the property. We do still have one income however.
As Chris says time is our greatest asset. It's a huge amount of work building up a property – and a steep learning curve too. And it's so much more easily accomplished within a smoothly functioning society.
One last thought to finish – if you do relocate you'll be creating a base that might help support family further down the track.