Should you pack up your life to move closer to your kids?

Someone once told me it gets easier as your kids get older, but I wouldn’t say that’s exactly true… I

Someone once told me it gets easier as your kids get older, but I wouldn’t say that’s exactly true…

I have two wonderful girls, who at 32 and 28, are well and truly grown up now and living their lives independently.

Both my girls left home when they were 20 to travel the world and find adventure and they eventually ended up settling in different cities in Australia, while I stayed here in Adelaide.

My youngest is in Perth now, while my oldest has made a home in Brisbane and although I am so happy they have their own lives, I miss them more than I ever thought possible and am agonising over whether or not I should move to be closer to them.

My husband and I divorced years ago so it’s just me at home now. I have a busy work and social life and love my local community, but it feels like there’s a big hole in my life where my girls should be.

I’ve discussed the idea of moving closer to them and they both love the idea, but say they worry about me leaving everything behind. The truth is I worry about that too…

It would be amazing to live closer to them, but will I just be filling one hole and creating another? Over the years I’ve formed wonderful friendships with my colleagues and have worked really hard to cement my place at my school where I’ve been a teacher for 20 years.

I’m scared that I’ll leave it all behind and move to a new city where the only people I know are my girls — not to mention the fact that I’ll have to choose between moving to one city and not the other.

A big driver behind this whole idea is the fact that both of them are settled in long-term relationships and are starting to think about marriage and children.

I want to be closer to my grandchildren and be around to help my girls raise them. Isn’t that what most parents dream about?

I’ve heard horror stories before about people who packed up everything to move closer to their children only to find that they didn’t get to spend much time with them at all and ended up more lonely than ever.

Their kids were so busy with their own lives and trying to manage work, raising kids and having their own social life that they only ended up seeing each other once every couple of weeks.

While I know my girls would make sure we spent time together, I’m also conscious of the fact they need to be able to do the things they’ve always enjoyed and not feel obliged to spend time with me.

On the other hand, I’m wondering if I should just try to make the most of it as it is and resign myself flying to visit them a few times a year.

Right now, I’m just not happy and feel like I’m living in limbo.

If anyone out there as any advice or has been in a similar situation, I’d love to hear it.

I know I need to make a change, I just don’t know what that change is yet.

Do you have any advice for this reader? Have you been in a similar situation?

  1. Dotty  

    Think seriously about it , although your in the same country flights are a good option , that’s when you are able and of course can afford it, your children have got there own agendas and do they really want their oldies around , yes it’s nice to see you ( sometimes but on their terms ) , so I would definitely think twice , we gave up everything to come here , and it can be very lonely , no friends etc, that’s a big downside

    • Lynne  

      I too agree. It is a hard decision to make. My husband and i moved from Perth to Melbourne 5 years ago, as my daughter was due to have her first child., leaving two sons behind. I also agree that they love to see you (on their terms) and have their own agendas and social life. We felt isolated initially, and you certainly have to make your own life.
      You can be at a stage where you feel taken for granted. I go regularly to see my two grandchildren in Perth, time and money permitting.

  2. Stay where you are for a bit longer, and just travel to see them. You can get such cheap flights at the moment. My husband & I moved over from NZ last October to be with our children , 2 daughters in Melbourne & a son in Perth . Our son has plans to move back to melbourne by the end of the year as his wife’s family is in Melbourne also. 2 grandchildren 1 who is 18 and a little 3 month old, and maybe more to come. We thought about this move for a very long time. For us we think it was the right time and our girls love us being here, but we do still miss nz and our friends over there. I think you will know when its the right time to move , in the meantime enjoy your own friends and social life and go and see your girls as much as you can .

  3. It is difficult when your family spread out, mine are all in far places. I wouldn’t contemplate moving to be closer. Their circumstances may change and just as you settle in they move on, one of mine has lived in three different cities in the last 10 years. You may find if you are closeby you may actually see them less as they can ‘catch up anytime’ and go and do other things, if your visits are an occasional thing then they make the effort and put aside other things to be with you. Stay put and visit when you can.

    • Ann  

      Stay put & visit when you are able. The visits become very special. I’m in the same situation.

  4. Sue Musry  

    We are in the very process of deciding to make the big move. In our case there is one grandchild, and one on the way, and our son is quite keen for us to go and live near them. I am interested to hear more stories of people who have made the big move, particularly success stories?

    • Noala Paterson  

      I agree. The time has to be right. We moved from Qld to Melbourne to be close to 4 of our 6 (3 each) and chose a retirement village for our new home. The village was a good decision with a lot of friendly people who have helped us settle in to our new surroundings. We also belo g to an international organization with a strong Melbourne membership which we are now a part of. We miss our Qld family & friends but we have a spare room so have had quite a few visitors who have enjoyed a holiday in Melbourne and we have been able to go back at least once a year. It is important that you can have an independent life without the children as well. Then the times you have with them are a bonus. It has worked well for us so far.

  5. Janet Saxton  

    I was in a similar position and my 37 year old son lived in WA for the past 9 years and with his family and I lived in Brisbane. As I am single and I thought life was just too short, I decided to relocate to Perth a couple of months ago to see more of him and the grandchildren and be more involved in their lives. It is the best thing I have ever done. It brings me so much joy to spend time with him, his new partner and my grandchildren. I am finding it challenging to secure the right sort of job at 62 however it is definitely not impossible. I do miss my sister and close friends but I too had this great hole in my life that only my son and grandchildren could fill and don’t regret the move at all.

  6. marilyn flynn  

    stay where you are. As someone else said, they may move later for work purposes. What are you going to do? Follow them around Australia? I’m sure a lot of children say they would love their parents to move closer- probably for free child minding!

    • Ester Peregi  

      I would not move for us alder people is hard to change.


  7. Suzanne  

    I recently moved from the Sunshine Coast to Sydney – I am in a granny flat at the back of my son and his family. I moved for two reasons – no work on the Coast and to be nearer the grandchildren. I love being near them and helping out, and the little ones now know who I am PROPERLY! Have been here a few weeks and while there are some drawbacks, the main feeling is one of happiness. I don’t know if I will stay here forever, still have things I want to do for ME, but the little ones will know me well by then.

    • I was a big part of my grandsons’ lives in the early years. There is a closeness there that will never be replaced. They still play pirates, which I used to do with them all the time. We’d roar through my house, my mother would say don’t be childish, I said I’m childlike. Teach them fun things, and they won’t forget who played with them.

  8. Frank  

    same as for deciding to retire to another location – visit first – get a feel for it – and see how long you like it there

    will they invite you to stay with them ? – will you be welcomed as an added pleasure – or seen as a hindrance and a nuisance ?

    if you leave your existing community to be – only – with them – how do you think they feel if you suddenly parachute in and sit there like – OK now I expect you to provide all my entertainment and companionship ?

    unless they see you as a benefit – e.g. free childcare 6 days a week – chances are you’re likely to be seen as a problem they don’t want.

    visit first – stay with them – and wait for the feeling – do they say ‘gee you should stay more often !’ – or – are there long awkward silences – where they don’t quite know how to tell you – that you’re getting in their way – and they can’t wait for you to leave.

  9. Jeanette Grant  

    My advice would be to move to either the Sunshine Coast or the Gold Coast. Buy a nice big apartment and make new friends, join groups, and settle in to a new life. You will then be able to sit back and wait for them to come to you. Young people, and those with children always love to take their families to coastal areas where the weather is warm and the sea is blue. They will come to you without doubt and meantime you will have your good friends flying up for visits also. Make a new independent life for yourself but make it in a coastal area with warm weather and blue skies. Just make sure you have enough room for them to stay. Good luck.

  10. I moved away from my family. I moved back to Victoria when my marriage ended. I had a daughter, son-in-law and grandson live with me for a while which was wonderful. I was on hand to help when babies arrives, was with my mother at the end, and then moved back to the town I left 40 years ago. When I first moved to the Bellarine I found it hard to make friends, I was too old for a lot of things and too young for Senior Cits, it’s hard to start again in a place as big as Geelong when you’re in your 50’s.
    I’m home now, there are people here who love and care for me and I am deeply involved in the community. My mum’s friends mother me and ask if I’m behaving! I have wonderful people I can call on in an emergency, or ring someone and say let’s go exploring. I am passionate about our very small town, spend a lot of time spruiking it’s history and activities. One daughter comes to visit, she loves this place as much as I do, some are in Qld and I don’t see a lot of them but we talk so it’s great.
    Don’t make life choices based on your children, it’s time to live your life for you.

  11. If one lives in Perth, and the other in Brisbane, where are you going to move to be closer to them? Alice Springs? If you move to either city you run the risk of being accused of picking favourites. What then? I also note that you want to be closer, not that either of your daughters have asked you to be closer. We are lucky that one of our children still lives in Adelaide. The others live in Geraldton and Hobart. We ring and Skype each other, and occasionaly we fly to either destination for a holiday. The daughter in Adelaide is busy with her life and work and we see her maybe once a fortnight, but she and my wife talk often on the phone. Stay here, live your life, and commute occasionaly.

  12. Rhonda  

    My husband and I were always going to move by the sea or a big country town. When the time came, both our son and Daughter-in-law were horrified that we would move too far away from them. My parents moved an hour away when my sons were at High School and it became a visit, rather than spending more day to day life with them – which is what we decided we wanted for our grandchildren. We live 5 minutes away from them. It’s been 3 years and not one regret. We love being on hand to just hang out, or have the children with us. One unexpected “bonus”, I was diagnosed with breast cancer 18 months ago, with loads of complications – I still can’t manage to look after myself entirely. Being near family (my other son and his wife live 15 minutes away) was amazing with the help and support I got, both physically and mentally, from them all. Whilst we didn’t move interstate, it has been a different lifestyle than we imagined, I’m so pleased we decided, after a lengthy process, that our relationship with our grandchildren and children was more important than our desire to live by the sea. For us, it was the best decision on so many levels. I understand what a tough decision you have, perhaps ultimately, you need to just go with your gut instinct.

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