Moving cross country was a huge, eye-opening experience for me. I spent 36 years living in Northeast Ohio, and the economy had to really take a dump before I realized that I could leave. Since moving to Seattle, with Diana's help, I've learned that moving isn't all that hard.
That said, I've spent a lot of time thinking lately about where I want to live. Going back "home" last week brought that conversation to the front of my mind, and we've been actively talking about it. There are pros and cons, but there really are three places we could live.
The first and most obviously place is to continue living in Seattle. The pro side of this is the entire reason we moved here: There's a ton of career potential. Even if I decide that Microsoft is not ideal, there is so much work here, and so many possibilities, that it's hard to get your head around it all. There's a lot to do for people in my line of work. And if that weren't enough, the scenery is lovely.
There are some negatives, one of the biggest ones being weather. Replacing snow with a long rainy season is a lateral move, and I miss hot summers. I also struggle socially. We've made a few close friends here and there, and admittedly things are different anyway with Simon, but I just don't feel like we have the deep connections we used to have. I also can't deal with the cost of houses here. Yeah, the salaries are higher, but I can't see sinking $400k into 2,000 square feet.
The second potential location is, and I have to grit my teeth when I say it, is Cleveland. Yes, Ohio sucks for its politics, its idiot voters, its taxes and its weather from December to March. Above all, it sucks for its economy. It just doesn't have the breadth of opportunities that a great many other cities have. I don't care much for being forced to jump around between jobs.
But despite all of my hating for it, there is one, indisputable thing about it. Cleveland is where we have our closest, richest relationships with people. We've been back twice, and both times we were running all over the place trying to see as many people as we could, and it wasn't enough time. It's also a driving trip to many of our favorite amusement parks. And hey, we'd have somewhere to live (which is actually a source of growing resentment).
There's a third consideration, too. Central Florida. The first plus is the weather. June to September can be a little tough, but it's summer-like the rest of the year. It might rain every day, but you get sun with that. It's not cold and wet for months on end, and that's important to me. We have a small group of friends down there, and some family. All of our friends tend to visit there at least once a year. I hear there are theme parks there. Housing is crazy cheap. Insane cheap. Career opportunities in my line of work are a little hit and miss, but still better than most places. And maybe, just maybe, Diana could work her way back into a place where she can use that Equity card.
The flip side is that it's a lot like starting over, and I'm not sure how comfortable I am moving to a place where earnings will likely be lower, and I'm still paying another mortgage. I also have virtually no professional network there. Schools are an unknown, too, and that's going to matter in a few years.
The important thing here is that we realize that we can go where we feel we'll be happiest. That sounds obvious when you say it out loud, but honestly, it's something I never spent much time thinking about. Options. Lots of options.