When you are far away from home and your family, your perspective begins to change.
You have no choice but to become independent, and you finally learn what “family” really means. You use your vacation time to visit home instead of travel, and you learn to appreciate the little things. You second guess your choice to move away, and you feel lonely at times.
But, what I have learned over the past three and a half years of living away from my hometown is that your family stays with you. They may not be physically close to you, but they follow you wherever you go. And, friends can be family, too.
(Happy Birthday shout out to my mom!)
When I first started dating my husband, I made it clear that I never wanted to leave the state of Florida. Sure, living in other parts of the country or world sounded cool, but it just wasn’t something that I felt called to do. I grew up in Orlando, and as far as I was concerned, that was a good life for me.
There weren’t many seasons growing up in the Sunshine State, but there was sunshine. A lot of sunshine. Being so close to the coast quickly turned me into a beach lover, and I will always chose a tropical vacation over a weekend getaway in the mountains.
I loved living in Florida, and I never pictured myself enjoying life outside of that comfortable, Southern bubble.
When Scott was unexpectedly laid off from his job in 2011, I figured that things would change. We spent months and months searching for the right job for him in Florida, but nothing came around. We were stumped. That was the first time I realized that I would most likely be living away from family for quite a while.
We moved up to The Mitten in October 2012 after he accepted a job in Detroit. I was excited for him to be working again, but I wasn’t completely thrilled with the move, and I never went into living in Michigan with a permanent mindset.
Scott and I had a lot of great times in Detroit. We also had a lot of hard times. We met a handful of people that I would consider family, and if nothing else, I am grateful for the experience of living there because of it.
Fast forward to today, and I am writing this from our new apartment in Brooklyn, New York.
We absolutely love it here.
After Scott was laid off from work (again) and six months of searching for a new full-time job passed by without any luck, we wanted change. After going through the hardest thing we could have imagined in January, we needed change.
We spent months going through the pros and cons of living in different cities, including my hometown of Orlando. We literally made an Excel spreadsheet and broke every little detail down. Believe it or not, it would have actually cost us more to live back in Florida (with two car payments and less job opportunities) than it does here. Since that’s not the point of this post, I’ll spare you the details. It’s a calculated risk.
Moving on to why I’m writing this post … living far away from family is hard.
Scott and I have been on our own long enough that I have adjusted to the fact that I won’t see my family and childhood friends around the holidays or even on a regular basis. I can’t invite them over for dinner, I can’t catch up with them over brunch, and I can’t attend my niece or nephew’s sporting events on the weekends.
I am currently in the middle of packing for a trip home to Orlando, but I decided to take a break and write this post. It hit me this time … trips home are also hard.
Our time is always so rushed as we drive around to try and see everyone we can, and it becomes more stressful than I ever thought it would. I feel guilty if I spend time blogging, since my time in Florida should be spent outside and with loved ones.
This trip in particular is going to be (emotionally) hard for me because it’s for a work event, and I won’t have more than two half-days to spend with family. I can forget trying to meet up with friends, and I really should cut my family time short and get to work before I agreed to. But I don’t want to.
Living far from family and childhood friends is hard.
I am excited to be working in Orlando, but at the same time, it’s a bummer that I will be there unable to make our normal rounds. The good news is that some of our friends from Detroit will be in town working the event, too! I am really looking forward to that company and spending the week with them.
That said, Scott and I are happy with the decision that we made to move to New York City. We both had a distant dream of living here, so we figured if not now, when? We took a leap of faith in early April, and to be honest, it already feels like home … a new home.
In my perfect world, all of our families and close friends that we have met throughout the years and still keep in touch with today would live here. We have fallen for the Big Apple, and we can actually see ourselves raising a family right here in our apartment. I know … crazy, right? We have one tiny bathroom and zero extra space, but it’s that beautiful.
We’re only a short walk away from everything we need (quite literally), and we’re only a subway or train ride away from anything in New York City, including Manhattan.
The list of restaurants, shows, shops, places to see, and things to do is endless.
We are certainly smitten about living in these surroundings, but bringing children into the picture just makes living far away from both Scott and I’s families even harder.
We can’t just pass them off to go stay at Grandma and Grandpa’s for the weekend, or call a family member to come over at a moment’s notice. I can’t see my own Grandma whenever I want, and I can’t attend family traditions that everyone else but me does.
Our families won’t be able to attend every soccer game, dance recital, or event in our children’s lives. That’s really sad to me. And yet, we chose to live states away. On purpose.
I know not everyone gets it, but living in – truly – the largest city in the United States is so exciting. It’s nice to take a step outside of the hustle by renting an apartment in Brooklyn, but it’s just as nice to know that the big city is always there waiting for us.
I know a big part of this city feeling like home to us already has to do with our friends here. Only a few were born in the Northeast, and everyone else came up here from Orlando “for a few years” and never left. New York City grabbed their hearts, too.
Life sure is changing, and quickly. Just six months ago, I was on the road to being a work-from-home mom, and now I’m interviewing for full-time jobs that will require a commute into Manhattan every day.
(I spent an entire day picking out interview clothes and polling friends about them. Thanks to this blog, my last real interview was in 2007!)
Scott and I moved here to pursue dreams, and we are confident that everything will fall into place when it’s supposed to. Looking back, it’s crazy to think that we were just about to gear up to drive a U-haul (with three pets in tow) just a month ago.
Life is never short of adventures or surprises, that’s for sure.
Well, I guess that’s it for now. I need to get back to packing, and I appreciate you making it through my rambles. In short, I miss being close to family and childhood friends, but I feel like we are exactly where we are supposed to be. We have received so much support through our decisions, and we are very grateful for that.
To my friends in Orlando that I won’t get to see this week (even though we are there working for twelve days) … I love and miss you more than you know!
See you from Florida!
Questions of the Day
• Have you ever voluntarily moved away from your family? What do you miss the most?
• If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Patricia @ Sweet and Strong
I can relate so much to this. I moved away from family right after I graduated college for a job opportunity. I met my husband a few months later and we have been here for six years. We have made so many friends, but it’s really hard when both of our families are from out of state, Christmas is basically a crazy stressful time just trying to visit everyone. And it’s really hard not having my closest girlfriends nearby. But that’s what makes visiting and visitors that much more exciting.
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Yes! It always makes it a little easier when people come visit. You get days to spend with them instead of just a lunch here or there 😉
I’m so with you on this! My move was unexpected. Went to grad school out of state, economy was no good and I snatched up the first job i could find in my field which was in the same state as my school. Met my long term boyfriend and six years later…. I’m still here. I’m an only child and going home is exciting, stressful and downright depressing all at once. It’s so hard. Love my bubble and friends in my current state…. job isn’t quite what i thought it would be and I miss a couple of things from home a lot…. (specifically a barn I used to ride at for years before moving. Heartbroken I left it behind, everything else i can adapt to). Still a lot of great reasons to stay where I am. This post helped me feel less isolated tonight, thank you. I just got home from another trip back and I feel very raw. This was soothing.
Wow, I can’t believe but to say that I got quite emotional while reading this! I’m very close with my family but have never lived more than a two hour drive away from them. One of my best friends moved across the country last year and she went through a lot of these same emotions. I believe that everything happens for a reason and that the heartache of living so far is temporary. Maybe it’s in the cards for you to move back to Orlando eventually, after you’ve accomplished everything the rest of the country has to offer you! You never know. People usually return to their roots after adventuring off into the world 🙂
We have a goal to at least end up in the Southeast eventually. That’s where we see ourselves buying a house. We shall see!
This was beautifully written! Life changes so quickly and sometimes you never even know what will happen. I can say that just looking back 6 months I have had several unexpected changes and they all turned out well but at the time it seemed scary. Enjoy your time in Florida and I am sure your family is very proud/happy for you to be making such a big change in your life!
Aww I’m so sorry you do live so far from them. I can’t even imagine how hard that is. I am glad to hear you are settling into life in NYC and enjoying it! I feel it would have been so much harder if you weren’t feeling like NYC was the place for you, too. I have no doubt you and Scott will have a great life in NYC and get jobs asap. Try to enjoy all the time you DO have in Orlando.
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I know exactly what you mean!! I have never been more than a 45 minuted drive from my family. Then 12 years ago I met my husband. Which took me 6 hours from my family. It’s hard! They never can attend my kiddos games, plays, or birthday celebrations. I feel left out a lot. But that has just made me and my husband that much closer. Life has a funny way of putting you right where you need to be.
NY is lucky to have you! Enjoy your time in Florida 🙂
After I graduated from college my husband (then fiance) and I move to another state. We currently live 4.5 hours from my family and 6.5 hours from my inlaws. I was never particularly close with my family, but it is really hard on my husband. Especially since his sister had a baby last year. We really can’t be there for everything and it’s hard to pick and choose what to be present for. Also, since our families live semi close if we visit one the other assumes we should visit too, but they are far enough apart to make that hard to fit in. Especially if it is a weekend trip. Three years in and we still don’t have it figured out. Maybe it will get easier, but maybe it will always be hard.
Amanda @ Exploring Life & Things
I can’t imagine how hard it would be being away from family. I only live about an hour-ish away from my family and I really like the distance. Away from home, but close enough. Even though I’m still pretty close, I know exactly how you feel about trips home being stressful sometimes. There’s so many family and friends to see, favorite places that I want to visit, and also just a little bit of relaxing I want to do that always makes the trips fly by.
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Susie @ Suzlyfe
This is part of the reason that it is so hard for us to make our decision about fellowship for Alex. We really like Chicago, he loves his program, but it is just so far from family. Especially as we are starting to try to have a family.
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Olena @ candies & crunches
My parents, my brother and I moved from Ukraine to Canada almost 11 years ago leaving everything we knew behind. It was scary (more so for my parents) and exciting. Fast forward to today. It’s certainly hard not to see our family, and I so far went only twice back, but there’s always Skype and we’ve built our new lives here. I wouldn’t change a thing. 🙂
How Running Makes Us Happy, But Happiness Makes Us Better Runners: https://candiesandcrunches.com/2016/05/04/how-running-makes-us-happy-but-happiness-makes-us-better-runners/
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Alyssa @ renaissancerunnergirl
Glad you’re loving life here in NYC. It’s not for everyone, but when you fall in love with it, you start to imagine a life you could never have before. There’s no place like it. And when it becomes home, it’s magic.
I can totally relate even though I’m only about a five hour drive from my hometown (Pittsburgh). My husband and I plan to move back before starting our family but when my dad passed away last summer we feel the need to be closer to my family sooner- coordinating finding jobs for two people and the timing of everything is bound to be stressful but I believe that everything works out in it’s own way, for you guys as well. Enjoy your time in FL <3
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Ashley @ A Lady Goes West
Well you know how much I relate to this one, Heather. I applaud your courage to find new surroundings. And know that your friends and family back home will always love you, no matter where you live. 🙂
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Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment
I joined my boyfriend in Austin two years ago. Moving across country was definitely an adjustment. I still miss an impromptu dinner and celebrating the holidays.
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I have to chime in and say your are lucky to have someplace that you consider your “home”. I moved 6 times (which included 2 high schools) growing up so I don’t have any particular place I really miss going to where all family is. My parents and siblings now live in a city I never lived in. I’m sure NYC will feel more like home over time.
Jen @ Chase the Red Grape
it certainly is tough and not easy but I know that the big move we made in August was the best thing we ever did. Perth is just perfect for David and I and we are happier here than we could have ever imagined! But moving from Scotland to Australia is huge… And I try not to focus on the fact that I won’t see my parents again until September 2017… Thank goodness we live in the age of Skype!!
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My husband and I moved to Chicago from Minneapolis last year after he got laid off. (In the span of six months, my grandma died, he got laid off, we got married, and we moved to a different city.) I can totally relate to this post. I miss seeing my family in Minneapolis (and my husband’s in Ohio), and as we plan to start a family in the near future, it’s so hard to think about our kids seeing our families only sporadically. I also miss my friends like crazy; they really are my family too. It takes so much time and energy to make close friends! But we’re working to make it feel like home here, and it sounds like you guys are doing the same!
Krystal // The Krystal Diaries
Living here is the best! It’s hard not to enjoy the convenience of it all. I’ve never moved away from NY but my parents and brother moved to FL a few years ago and it’s hard on me sometimes. I don’t have as much vacation time as I would like to fly down to visit them. I do love NY but now I would love to move to FL so I can be closer to me family.
Yesss!! It’s so hard moving away from family. I completely stress out when we plan trips home because I want to see everybody but then my time spent with them always feels rushed. I won’t get to attend my nieces or nephews ballet recitals, sporting events or pre-k graduations and they won’t be able to do the same for my daughter. My fiance is a football coach so we move quite a bit. The place we’re in now I don’t love and it makes me miss home that much more. The place we were in before I loved but the opportunities weren’t there. Moving is hard and being away from family is hard, but that’s the beauty of life, right?
I highly relate to this sentiment. I moved to Utah from Florida away from all of my friends and family about 2 years ago. I miss them dearly. I look forward to times when I can visit home, and eventually my husband and I will be thinking about having kids. I want them to know my parents who are so far away, but Florida isn’t where I feel most at home in terms of surroundings– I want to be on the West coast ultimately. I understand your dilemma– I’m right there with you!
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I grew up in Florida as well lived there my whole life until about 5 yrs ago. I followed my boyfriend to Louisiana to try something new he was offered a job too good to pass up. The first year was brutal. Holidays are stressful now because everyone is not in the same place anymore. We are talking about marriage but now he has better opportunity out west. I don’t do well with cold weather although I would like to see different seasons and have a white Christmas for once. I’m scared of moving and started over all over against being even further away from family. He has family out there but Ideally I would love to be close to my family again but I also want to spend my life with this man. I need some advice!!!
Moving your entire life away from what you know is really hard. I totally understand how lonely you can feel while being far away from your family. You definitely don’t have an easy decision to make! The way I see it is this opportunity out west seems scary, but it can also be an adventure! You just have to remember that moving isn’t permanent. Life for us in Orlando, then Detroit, and even now in New York isn’t forever. Worst case scenario, if you absolutely hate it, you can always move back home! When we decided to move to NY, we figured that we won’t always have the opportunity to just pack our lives up and do so. We have a dream of moving back home-ish one day, but we don’t know when that will be. For now, we are enjoying were life is taking us!
Best of luck to you! xo
It’s so nice and reassuring to find out that everyone feels the same. So good to know that it’s ok to have that bitter-sweet feeling of being in a place you love and having life you love but feeling crap and missing home at the same time. I moved from Switzerland to Australia two years ago. I graduated from high-school and flew to Australia a month after to go and live with my Australian boyfriend.
I am so beyond happy with him but sometimes it’s just so hard to be far away from home. I am super super close from my grandparents and I have 5 siblings ( 3 of which are only 2, 12 and 13 year old. I feel a little guilty sometimes to let them grow up without being able to see their big sister every week.
I guess it’s all just part of the adventure. So difficult dealing with those mixed emotions when you are still at a point in your life where you are figuring yourself out.
Anyway, I just want to say thank you for writing about the situation and that you for getting so many people engaged and to share their feelings. Helps getting back up when you are down. 🙂
Hi Aline! Of course — living far away from family is very bittersweet. We really love where we are right now, but say the only thing our lives here are missing is our close friends and family from home. I can’t imagine being across the world! What an amazing experience! It’s definitely a struggle missing my niece and nephew grow up, and it’s crazy how fast time flies by! Thanks so much for readying. <3
Ah thanks so much for writing this! It helps to know you’re not alone in making these big decisions and hearing the pros and cons of each. I’m currently in a place where I’m trying to decide between two different jobs which are in two completely different states, Ohio (where I’ve grown up with my family) or Montana (with the added pro of being in such a wild beautiful place). It is difficult but this blog has given me things to think about and ya know…If it’s not working out, I can always move back. Thanks for sharing and hope you had a great visit in Florida!
Wow, just what I needed to read today. I moved from Michigan to California with my fiancé just over a year ago with my 6 year old daughter. I had numerous connections and family back there and am now trying to cope without any. I love everything about Cali except for the fact that I feel so alone at times it’s hard to enjoy. I absolutely love my child and being with her but….. mommy needs a brake. That combined with missing family and friends stresses me out a little. Any suggestions for a healthy balance?
Michigan is my hometown and it’s my dream to move to California! I am 33 now and after living in Chicago for 8 years, Austin for 2, we came back to Michigan and bought a house……now we regret it.
We are wanting to move away once we figure things out but California is so big, I wouldn’t know where to begin! We both work from home. 🙂
I’ve never wrote on a blog before so I hope someone here can tell me that I have the best of both world.
I left home ( Canada) after highschool to learn Spanish in Dominican republic. I loved it so much I stayed 9 years. My jobs were seasonal so I always managed to go home at least 2 months.
I would have constant visit to.
I met my husband there in Dominican republic. He is Spanish. After 2 years there , we decided to move to Spain.
I’m currently living in Mallorca. Beautiful island. Life is really easy here.
I work in the same field and I have 5 months off time.
I go home to Canada mid November to mid January. Then back again for 2 week s end of March before I start working again.
Yet I miss my family so much. Especially when I come back from my 2 months stay.
I feel so lonely when I come back to Mallorca. And worst I don’t work so my head is constantly thinking if I need to go back there for ever.
I’m just so afraid because I do love Mallorca. I have many good friends here and I love my job.
My husband is my rock and he would not be happy in Canada. It’s way to cold. And expensive.
I want to start a family and I wonder if that could help me detached myself from my parents.
I sometimes feel I’m still stuck to my mom.
They also visit every year for 3 weeks.
Any advice on how I can stop anxiety from taking over my head.!!
Thank you for this article! I moved from Argentina to the treasure coast 4 months ago to live with my husband and even though i know it was the right choice, I miss my parents and my friends SO much, specially my parents. I’m an only child and we were always very close and lived together until I moved out. And my friends have been my friends for over 10 years so it is a hard adjustment for me. I also have the dream of living in NYC so your post hit home so hard!! I just hope that it gets better in time as I haven’t been able to make friends yet and hope that life takes us where we need to be.
Do you worry about the connection between your kids and their grandparetns and other family members?
I just came across this post and it helped me to have someone on the same page. I currently live 8 hour drive from home (in the UK) and have just been home visiting family for the past 10 days. I’ve come back with so many mixed feelings and emotions! This always happens. I find it hard to get any sense of clarity mainly because I don’t think we even know what we want. we are so conflicted which makes it’s hard to get clarity. We currently live away from home because of my husbands work (there aren’t many jobs in Devon and Cornwall in his field) my husband is also from the same place as me so understand my feelings. I often feel in limbo like we’re in temporary mode. Im constantly feeling like I don’t belong. On the one hand it would be nice to be closer to home with my family and siblings and I don’t want my baby (11 months) to miss out on spending time with her grandparents and cousins and the countryside where we live is so lovely that it’s def where we would like to be eventually. However, we do like to have a bit of an adventure too. It’s very difficult. I find that’s it’s often very frustrating going home because my family (who have my mum on hand to look afte their little ones) really don’t understand. As you said Heather When we go home is a manic rush to see everyone we end up staying in around 5 houses and with the little one it’s exhausting.
Funnily enough we use to live in Florida Heather for 5 years but moved back to the UK when we had our little girl to be a bit closer.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s really hard to be present and enjoy where you are if you are constantly looking forward so it’s best to just live in moment and have fluid goals. Because we don’t know where we go next we are going to make the most of being here (we’ve been in newcastle 4 years now) and buy a house before our next adventure. We have made so many lovely mummy friends who I see every week and explored the area fully. I find that my siblings rely on family and often don’t find out about opportunities right on their doorstep. It’s makes you very strong, independent and able to handle a lot. Claire xx
your article is exactly what I was looking for and what I needed.
I moved 2 years ago from Italy to California to study English and I met an amazing man that soon became my husband.
At the beginning I was thrilled to live in San Francisco, very happy to have found the love of my life but soon I realized how much I missed and still miss my family in Italy.
As you said many times I think this is the right place for me but living far can be very painful. My family in Italy is amazing, we Facetime twice a week and text every day but it’s hard to be together for every special occasion.
However, I’ve learned one very important thing, the value of family, something that I used to take for granted when I lived in Italy.
My family is always there for me, they have always supported me and I’m so blessed to have them in my life, I wouldn’t be able to live here if it wasn’t for them.
I just happened to find this post after I googled – moving away from family. My fiancé (marrying in 2 weeks!) just got offered a job in DC – we fell in love with the city last summer when I worked there for the summer. All my family is in California and his is in Texas. We knew we wanted adventure and my future career (finishing a phd in history ) is more likely to grow in DC / east coast. My family is very sad about us leaving and not very supportive because of their feelings. As I was laying in bed and feeling really sad about leaving my family more than 10 mins away for the first in 31 years I instantly got sad. The move is occurring in 3 months – and I am so excited for this new opportunity but so sad about leaving my family. We’ve helped raise my niece and not seeing her every day breaks my heart . And knowing they won’t be at our children’s events like you mentioned hits hard! I am so glad I read this post. I connected so much to this ! And made me realize it’s ok to be sad and miss my family while still following our dreams and starting our own adventure 🙂 so thank you for writing this !
You have a very privileged upbringing and life. So, you have it alot easier than most and i can’t extend sympathy to you and your ‘plight’. I mean seriously, rich middle class attractive white girl with a successful career and handsome boyfriend!?? You wouldn’t know how it feels for people from less privileged positions who have to live on there own or go through hardships in life because of financial issues. People like you have it so easy in life. It’s laid out on a plate. Of course you would get over things, because you have it easy! Shane.
Mary Kay Musyt
Today I purposefully Googled “How to cope with being far away from family” and your post came up. It was refreshing and bitter sweet to read. My husband and I just moved from Central New York to Southwestern Ohio. Both of our families are in our hometown of Scranton PA, they use to be two hours away now closer to nine. We came out here for a new job for him and I found something in my field which worked out beautifully. We weren’t able to go home for Thanksgiving but I can’t wait for Christmas. We will only have two full days with them but I plan on enjoying every second of it. Its nice to read in the post and comments that it does get a little easier. I still feel so new to the area, its hard making friends. And eventually we want to start a family. Being so far from my mom during a time like that makes me anxious. Just nice to read that I’m not alone in feeling this way. Thank you for sharing your story.
I’m awake in bed with anxiety at my mum’s house in Florida on the second to last night am here after three glorious weeks with my family (I live in England). My mum lives alone here with my brother close by and it kills us every time we say goodbye. I’ve been crying about it for the last couple of days. I love living in the UK with my husband but I just want my family in one place. Even if it’s just the same country. This is miserable.