Inside: Secretly (or not so secretly) wondering if you’ll regret moving closer to family? Here’s why moving back home to be near family was the best decision we ever made, plus what to consider before you do the same.
Five and a half years ago our family made the move from sunny Southern California to the rainy Pacific Northwest. The plan was years in the making and so many things didn’t go as planned, but moving to be near family was the best decision we ever made and we’d do it all over again.
Living Close to Family Was Always the Dream
I’m part of a family of 5. My parents had my sister first and then two years and one month later came by brother and two years and one month later came me…the surprise.
My siblings called me ‘accident baby’. Yeah, that didn’t leave any scars. Oddly we are nearly exactly evenly spaced.
Growing up we fought as normal siblings do, but as we got older we learned to really enjoy, appreciate, and genuinely like each other.
My sister and I shared a room for all of childhood, so I thought I’d be happy when she left for college. It turned out having my own room wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and I missed her a lot.
As life went on, she moved to the other side of the country as she continued her schooling and got married. My brother and I stayed in California when moved into our professional careers.
My sister and I often talked about the grand plan to all live near each other again someday. It was always the end goal even when it sometimes felt like it was never going to happen.
Living far apart became sadder as we started our families. My sister had 2 little kids when she and her husband made the move from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest.
About a year later my parents made the move up as well. I was 8 months pregnant with my second kiddo at the time. I was devastated that they’d be living near each other without me.
How We Made Moving to Be Near Family a Possibility
So what did I do with that sadness? I conjured up ways to try and make the move work for us. A year and a half later, we made the move up with our 3-year-old and 1-year-old in tow.
It wasn’t an easy move for us. My husband’s career was very much centered where we’d lived, so moving meant a big job change for him. It took quite a bit of searching to find the right fit for his work.
Even with the stress of that, we never regretted making the move though. Finally, after so many years of dreaming of enjoying Sundays meals together, we were able to.
Another year later my aunt and uncle relocated. And another couple of years later my brother and his family moved here too.
For many people, moving back home to be near family would mean moving back to the area they grew up. In our case, it meant we all relocated to a new state and city that none of us had lived in before.
And in case you are wondering, we are ok with the rain and only occasionally miss the California sunshine.
I don’t know how many people we told we were moving gave us weird looks and said ‘uhhh you know it rains there like a lot, right?’. I actually miss the food more than the sun.
4 Benefits of Moving Closer to Family
There are so many wonderful benefits to moving to be near family that I won’t be able to put it all into words, but here are a few of the things we most enjoy.
1. Free babysitting
Who doesn’t love to have a nana or an aunt available to watch your kiddos for free 99? Our kids love getting time with other family members and it lets us have less expensive date nights or help if we need it.
Moving to be near family definitely gave us more resources for when we need to go out of town, have doctor appointments, or simply need a break.
2. Holidays & vacations
It’s so nice to not have to travel to be with family during the holidays. We all live within about a fifteen-minute radius of each other so going to each other’s houses isn’t a big deal.
After living in Southern California for so long, it’s nice to be able to avoid traffic.
It’s simplified our holidays and helped us to be able to focus on what’s most important, which is our traditions and spending time together.
We enjoy each other’s company so much that we vacation together every summer. It’s helped us to have a more relaxing vacation with trading and sharing duties. We’re able to get more of a break than we would otherwise.
3. Simplifies our stuff
Since we live in such close proximity to each other, it makes it really easy to share things. Our kids get hand me down clothes from each other. No one needs to buy new baby gear.
We share tools and equipment which saves us all money and keeps us from having too much clutter. Sometimes we swap meals which simplifies cooking that week.
Life is so much simpler when you share.
Above all the conveniences of moving to be near family, our proximity has allowed us to strengthen our relationships. There simply isn’t a way to replicate actual face to face time together.
A few weeks after we moved here my mom and I ran into my sister at our local JoAnns store. For the first time in so many years, we could actually run into each other places!
It was a lovely realization of how moving gave us new opportunities to see each other planned and unplanned.
Growing closer in my relationship with my parents, siblings, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, nieces, nephews, aunt, uncle, and grandmother has been priceless.
Giving my kids the gift of being able to develop their relationships with family members has been invaluable.
My kids get to grow up with cousins who are almost like siblings to them. They love each other fiercely and I wouldn’t trade anything for that.
Intentional living for me meant moving to be near family. This was a goal my husband and I had discussed very early on in our relationship.
It didn’t come without sacrifice or without effort. It took years of planning for it to happen.
We had dreams of raising our kids together, babysitting each other’s kids, and enjoying family dinners all together. We’d imagined spending time together during the holidays without having to get on a plane.
It was hard to fathom being able to be there for each other in under 20 minutes when needed, but we’ve been able to enjoy all of that for over five years now.
Is It Always Better to Be Close to Family?
So, should I move closer to my parents? Maybe.
It surprised me to read that the typical American lives within 18 miles of their mom (NY times). I realize it’s not an option for everyone to move as close to family as we have, nor would it even be advisable in some cases.
Here are 4 questions to consider first:
- Do you and your spouse get along well with the family you are looking to move near?
- Do you and your family members have healthy boundaries?
- Are there any co-dependency issues?
- What do you and your spouse feel is the best option for your family?
No one wants to uproot their life only to find that they regret moving closer to family. It can damage relationships and cause hurt feelings if you don’t carefully think through your decision.
Living close to family does provide many benefits that we’ve been able to enjoy, but it is not the right answer for everyone. Carefully consider the relationships and dynamics in your family.
For some people, moving away from family is the healthiest decision. Have open conversations with your spouse and be honest about any potential concerns.
We’re fortunate to have healthy relationships and boundaries in my family. We can live close while still allowing space and autonomy.
Simple living and intentional living will look different for each person. This has been a wonderful part of my journey to live more simply.
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Thank you for sharing this. My husband and I live in Hawaii and are planning on moving back to Arizona to be near my parents. We have three kids and we’re so torn. We’ve developed an INCREDIBLE community here and I’m scared that we’ll be lonely and we’d be giving up on so many opportunities. But family comes first and that bond that my three babies will develop with their grandparents is priceless. Your words gave me hope. Thank you.
I’m so glad you found it helpful, Jess. Best of luck on your move. I know the transitions can be tough, but for us it’s been more than worth it 🙂
This is what exactly what I needed to hear you can’t put a price on family !
Back story : my husband and I left our hometown and moved 4.5 hours away so he could start his ER physician career he is very successful here but over the years and as we get closer to having children it’s gloomier and gloomier as to what the future can hold here without family . Even tho my husband will be taking a 25 percent pay cut to move back and that’s hard to swallow I know life is much richer with the people who love you the most and vice versa ! The human in me panics at the less salary but it’s still a great salary and change can be scary but I know I’ll never look back once we move!! Thanks for sharing !
Sounds like fun adventures are headed your way, Cate! It was a major adjustment work wise for my husband, but even with that we still wouldn’t have traded it. Totally worth it :).
Loved this list of why to move closer, not further, to family.
As a single, no children, fifty y.o. gal, I miss my family, immensely. Prior to the pandemic onset, I was back in college, post graduate. Healthcare. I rent a tiny 1 bedroom on Long Island, NY. Everything is expensive and I just can no longer handle the attitudes, here. Having lived in Denver, Boston, Ft. Lauderdale…I am a tad hesitant to move to Upstate NY, slower, colder…Yet, without those who we can count on, vise versa, weather, arts, money…All inconsequential. Thanks again.
Hi Georgia, very similar situation. Over 50, single, living on LI. Tired of “attitudes”. Thinking of moving. What did you end up doing? Best, Pat
Hi so for us I’m the grandma. We are a close family. My husband and I have 4 children ages 29-21. 2 boys and 2 girls. Our world shattered when our oldest daughter moved with her husband and our 2 granddaughter 9 hours away. They lived 10 minutes away and we saw each other often. I was able to help out and since my mom lives with us she helped often too. It was our joy. We had so many wonderful times together. When they moved for a better job my whole world came crashing down. I’m so close to those little baby girls. Now my husband and I r trying to decide whether we should move closer to them. It’s a hard move we have lived in our home 24 years. We don’t like the heat and they moved to North Carolina. We just don’t know what to do we are so heartbroken.
I’m so sorry, Marla. That’s tough!
wonderful article- still wondering if we should move to another metro to be closer to family with 4 kids ans 2 careers. Immensely painful, not sure what future holds… Thinking and praying about it!
Thank you for sharing!
You’re welcome! I’m glad you enjoyed it.
I feel exactly like Marla Holmes in so many ways. We moved back to CA 5 years ago, from IL where we lived for 25 years, to help our adult son with anxiety and the eternal sunshine has helped him improve. But it broke my heart to leave our other adult son but he wanted to stay behind and he is now getting married, bought a house in IL and I am heartbroken that I am missing out on his life milestones, especially if a baby may come along. We are seriously considering moving back to the awful weather to share in our son’s life. I am torn between the weather and my son’s anxiety. None of us like the heat, nor the freezing temps, but my heart is yearning to return. Juliana you made it work for you and your family to give up the beautiful sunshine for gloomy weather because being close to family outweighed the weather. I want to follow my heart. There is a saying I read that says “home is where your heart is yearning”.
Thank you so much for this post. We are considering a move back to my hometown in west Michigan after I moved away (single, childless) at 22 years old, now almost 15 years ago. With 3 kids and a husband who have only ever lived in warm climates (Georgia first and now we’ve been in Los Angeles for 7 years) I am afraid we will be thrown into a version of ourselves and our little nuclear family that we don’t recognize. We love our life here day to day, but the kids are getting older and the grandparents are heartbroken to be missing both the big moments and everyday moments. And most recently we realized we have been prioritizing this area we live in, sunshine and doctors we love over those memories and moments. We don’t have family here and our friendships are starting to feel hollow. It’s an agonizing decision. Especially since the boundaries you mentioned would need some work at the outset.
Thanks again for this post. It definitely helps with some perspective!
I hear you Marla, I am moving into very hot weather to be with my son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren. I live on my own in a town with no family ties. I kept asking what is the right decision to make when my son reminded me what is the reason to move and the reason was family. I’m scared, but how can it be a mistake if it’s being with my family?
My husband and myself are 71 and live in Staten Island, NY between our two sons. One lives with his girlfriend in Bklyn. the other lives in NJ with his wife and two boys, one has autism. We would like to see our boys more often and think about moving to Bklyn. where I grew up and have a lot of friends or NJ where I know we could help out with the grandkids and build a closer relationship. Then I think maybe just stay where we are in the middle, give up on getting closer yet not putting too much distance between either one.
Wow I am so glad that I have found this site! Reading what other people are going through makes me feel less alone. Its comforting to know there are people out there going through very similar things as myself. I am living in Melbourne Australia currently where I have lived for 3 years. All of my family is back in Canada now. My sister and her husband were living in Germany for a few years but just returned to Canada this year. Now that they are settled there and around family I am feeling a major pull to return and start my life there. I am nearing 30 and so I am thinking if I want to start a family I would want to do that near my family so we can be involved in each others lives. But I love the weather and lifestyle in Australia though and the beach!
I have booked a flight back home to Canada in two weeks for a visit but I am considering I may possibly stay there. It is exciting but I also feel so devastated to be potentially leaving Australia that I cry when I think about it. I also think about seeing my family and being involved in their lives again and that’s when it seems like a good idea. Thank you everyone for sharing it really makes me feel better and not alone in this tough life decision!
My husband, young children and I are making the move from Melbourne to Perth on the opposite side of Australia to be closer to his family. Like you we are moving to a new state neither of us have lived! One sister moved to Perth, the other sister followed and later his mum joined them. Covid and closed (state!)borders meant we didn’t see most of his family for 2 and a half years. We didn’t get to meet our 4 nephews and them our younger daughter until they were all well into toddlerhood. My family lives near Sydney, but I’m an only child and only have my dad now. I’m torn at the idea of moving even further from him but it’s easier to fly dad across for visits & better than living in Melbourne where we have no family at all. I still have my reservations, as I’ve never lived close to my husbands family and have no friends in Perth. It is a bit scary starting over yet again!
We moved to our dream home on the water in Traverse City Michigan. We always made frends but she became sick so it was not easy this time. I lost her and have become so lonely here. Many tourist friends and family vistors are now older or have died so I also have very lttile company anymore.
I have tried for 5 years to make new friends but at 68 it is not like when younger. I have folks I can say hi to and talk to when going out but not like real frends or family. None will visit even invited. Many of the nicest people are older couples and not very accepting of a single man which I can understennd in ths world. I have been so torn thinking about the hardships of moving closer to those loved ones who are still left down state. Maybe it will be too late if waiing too much longer. More have died this year.
If I move I will lose the beauty and this home on the water I will never be able to financilly replace again growng older so my decsion is so torn. I know I will not see them alot but will see everyone more ofter or for special functions not feeling so alone like I do here. I’m like that movie. I’m here alone in paradise but I don’t even have a Wilson.