Moving Out of Town for Your Spouse’s Job

The following is a staff writer post from Libby Balke. She’s an amazing writer, work-at-home mother of two, and has been married almost 8 years. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Libby or Crystal.

We’d been married 14 months when I got an unexpected phone call that would change the course of my life – and my husband’s life – forever. I was sitting at my desk at a backwoods TV station in the South, getting ready to produce the 5:30pm news, when my phone rang; I didn’t recognize the number on the caller ID, but since it was my work line, I picked up nonetheless. It was a news director at a TV station hundreds of miles away, asking if I’d be interested in interviewing for a job for which I hadn’t even applied. Turns out, I was – and within four weeks, my husband and I were packing up our tiny apartment and moving out of town for the second time in a year.

Moving out of town – or, even more, out of state – can be a heartrending experience. There are the nuts-and-bolts of the move itself: things like selling your house or getting out of a 12-month lease just 7 months in; cancelling your cable and Internet service; switching up your cell phone mobile and insurance agents; rolling over your 401(k) and other investments… the list goes on. But then there are the more emotional tasks associated with a major move: telling one boss you’re leaving for greener pastures; saying good-bye to friends; preparing yourself for the adjustment to a new city, a new routine, a new life. And when you’re moving out of town not because you have a new job, but because your spouse has an opportunity that’s too good to pass up, the emotions revolving around the big move grow exponentially.

If You’re The Spouse With The New Job…

When I got the unexpected, unsolicited job offer in a different state just over a year into my marriage, I had strong reservations. My husband – who, less than a year before had given up his dreams of playing in the NFL after a catastrophic knee injury his senior year in college knocked him off his feet… and off the draft boards – had just settled in to a job in law enforcement. He was only five months into that career when I got the call about the job out of state; I worried that asking him to pick up and move (again) would be selfish.

Before I could even talk to my husband about moving out of town, I had to have a serious conversation with myself about my motives:

  • Could I have the same professional opportunities by remaining in our current location? The answer was an unequivocal “no.” In the field of journalism, the only way to move up is to, quite literally, move on.
  • Where did I see myself in five years, professionally? At the time, I thought I was in journalism for the long haul, so my answer was probably something like, “A senior-level producer in a major television market.”
  • Where did I see myself in five years, personally? Even a year into my marriage, I knew – without a doubt – that motherhood wasn’t far on our horizon. I planned to be a mother within five years, if not sooner, and knew I’d want to be living closer to family than our current location allowed.
  • Was the financial gain afforded by the new job enough to offset the very real possibility that my husband may face a period of unemployment in our new city?  This was a tougher question, because at the time, my husband was making more than I was – even though my job required a college degree while his did not. The new job, though, represented a more than 25% raise for me without a dramatic increase in cost of living.
  • What was my gut feeling about moving out of town? The state where my job offer originated was also where my husband and I met while in college. In other words, we had ties to this state – even if our families didn’t live there – and, in a way, it felt a little bit like going home. This was a strong, strong pull on my heart.

Once I realized that I really wanted to make this move, it was time to talk to my husband about whether it fit into his plans.

If You’re The Spouse Being Asked To Move…

Because I hadn’t applied for this job in the first place, it caught my husband even more off guard than me. It came so far out of left field for him that, until I had a contract in writing, waiting for my signature, I don’t think he truly believed it was legitimate.

Once he accepted that this was really happening, he found himself at a crossroads. He’d just been accepted into a special training program with his department, and he knew that if he left know, it may be years before he got a similar opportunity elsewhere in law enforcement. (He was right – it was another 3.5 years before he was able to attend an equivalent program with his new job.) He had also endured a painful job search – rife with rejection he’d never before experienced – when we’d first arrived in town, and wasn’t too eager to start all over again.

But – and here is where I am truly blessed – that moving out of town was my only option to grow as a professional. He had heard me grumbling over my current work situation, and knew how unhappy – and, more importantly, how unfulfilled – I was on the job. He was able to put his ego on hold in order to evaluate what was best for us instead of simply for him; he had the foresight, even as we were navigating the newlywed years, to know that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Things To Remember

In the end, we decided together that moving out of town was in both of our best interests. Almost seven years later, I can say, without a doubt, that we made the right choice. But I took a lot away from the experience, including these lessons:

  • You’ve got to make the decision together. While your spouse may feel one way while you feel another, deciding to move to a new place is a lot like deciding to have a baby: you can’t do it (successfully, I should add) if one person isn’t interested, willing, or ready.
  • Let your partner come to his conclusion in his own time. This may be dicey if you have a potential employer breathing down your throat to sign a contract, but if you try to rush him into a decision, he may not have time to way all his options and emotions… and end up resenting the move down the road.
  • Don’t just think about the here and now. After our move, I vowed I’d never pack up and relocate ever again. Between all the work and preparation that goes into moving out of town to the emotional baggage that comes with it, you must have a clear idea that you’re going to like where you’re going, even if you’re only basing that on instinct.

Have you ever asked your spouse to move out of town for your new job? How did it work out?

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6 thoughts on “Moving Out of Town for Your Spouse’s Job

  1. I think sometimes when things are perfect you could just carry on forever doing one thing. Sometimes change is a good thing, and occassion like this are always a good test of the strength of a relationship.

  2. Libby,
    I’m wondering what other obstacles arise if you’re in a long-term relationship but have yet to wed. What do you think, Libby?

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military money

  3. No – we live in the biggest city in NZ and where the majority of the opportunities are. As a fellow journalist, I know how important it is to be where the jobs are. We would both consider moving to the capital for while as we both love that city, though, and that would be a close second for work opportunities.

    We have been talking a lot about the future as T doesn’t really know what he wants to do next. If he decides to rejoin the army, that may entail relocating, so that will involve a lot of discussion and thought.
    eemusings recently posted..Adventures in the kitchen: The blueberry editionMy Profile

  4. This is such a difficult and personal topic to tackle. I’ve been asked before to take jobs out of town, but I always had turned them down because I could never bring myself to up-root my family and move on. If you’re a couple that is willing to jump in feet first together, then that’s great. But I would caution to anyone where one spouse is not fully committed to think strongly about how this might affect their relationship later.
    MMD @ IRA vs 401k Central recently posted..Taking Full Advantage of Your 401k Employer Match and Getting Free Money!My Profile

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