Here’s why I think moving closer to your family isn’t always the right decision

I know this may not be a popular opinion, but I’m sharing my story in the hopes that I’m not
Relationships

I know this may not be a popular opinion, but I’m sharing my story in the hopes that I’m not alone. Three years ago I moved interstate to be closer to my daughter and her two children – that move was the biggest mistake I ever made. I love my daughter and her husband and I completely adore my grandchildren, but giving up my life, my friends, and my home was something I should have thought more carefully about.

My daughter and I have always been close. Annie is beautiful, smart, and a wonderful mother. Her husband Steve and I get along like old friends; he felt like part of the family from the moment she introduced us and I knew almost instantly he would be the man she married. We lived in Melbourne then, where Annie was born and raised, and for four years everything was fine.

Annie and Steve married and a year later they had my granddaughter Isabelle. Steve’s parents live in Perth so it was up to me to take on most of the grand parenting tasks, which I loved doing. I visited most days and took care of Isabelle when Annie and Steve had to work late or couldn’t get out of social engagements. Soon their little boy Thomas came along and I embraced the opportunity to help out more, picking Isabelle up from day care and babysitting Tom whenever they needed.

I absolutely loved every minute of it and was so proud to see Annie and Steve flourish as parents. When Steve was offered a job in Brisbane it was clear they couldn’t turn down the opportunity. It meant a pay rise and a chance to grow his career. Annie was looking at heading back to work as a teacher now the kids were a bit older so it seemed like the perfect time for both of them.

I was heartbroken they were moving so far away, but offered all my support and encouragement. I knew it was the right choice for them and although we were all sad, we promised lots of visits back and forth between us.

When they left, I felt like there was a hole in my life and I missed them every day. Thankfully I had friends and a lively social life to fill the void they left behind. I was busy with my part-time job as an office assistant, going out to eat with my dearest and oldest friends, attending my monthly book club meetings, and working on my garden which I had spent 10 years turning from a bare lawn into a lush display of plants and flowers.

I loved my life but I missed my family so much. When Annie off-handedly suggested I move to Brisbane to be closer to them, I had to admit – it was something I’d been thinking about for months. The decision between being close to Annie and the kids and leaving my whole life behind in Melbourne was something I was struggling with.

It didn’t take long to convince me to take the plunge though. I was getting ready to retire and once Annie told me how much she missed having me close by and how often Isabelle and Tom asked after me, I decided to make it final. I was planning on renting my house and buying something small in Brisbane, but Annie and Steve told me the housing market was set for a sharp decline and suggested I sell up while I could still get a good price for it. And so I did.

I sold my house and a lot of my furniture and possessions, packed up what was left and made the journey to Brisbane to start my new life.

For the first few months everything seemed like old times. I helped take care of the kids after school and sometimes dropped them off in the morning when Annie and Steve had early meetings. I caught up with them on weekends and we spent time exploring the city and nearby beaches.

As the months rolled on though I noticed things began to change… Annie and Steve had less time to catch up on the weekend and afternoons were quickly over, with one of them picking up the kids and racing home to get dinner ready and put them to bed.

I also noticed my babysitting duties had become less of a favour and more of a demand. Both Annie and Steve seem to assume I’m happy to drop everything and take care of the kids whenever they need. While I am of course happy to take care of them, I believe in boundaries and want to be asked to help rather than ordered.

Creating any kind of social life has also been difficult for me. I’ve volunteer for the RSPCA and have joined local community centres but have struggled to make any close friends. The few friends I do have here are understandably busy with their own lives and family most of the time. I miss my old friends dearly and although we talk and email frequently it’s not the same.

Over the past few months I have spent less and less time with my family. The kids are in school and kindergarten now so their weekends are filled with playdates and birthday parties. Annie and Steve are so busy and tired most of the time, we sometimes go two weeks without seeing each other.

I sometimes wonder why I gave it all up. Why did I sell my home and leave my friends, my job, and my whole life behind? I thought living close to Annie and the kids would bring me never-ending happiness, but the reality is, I left my full and fun life behind for a rather empty one.

I miss my friends and my garden and the community I had been a part of for my whole life. I think about selling my house and moving back to Melbourne but the move up here cost me so much money and I’m weary of dipping into my super and savings too much.

For now, I’m going to try to make the best of my situation. I love my family, so I’m going to focus on enjoying the time I do spend with them. I’ll also keep volunteering and joining in on community actives when I can.

If anyone out there has any advice, I’d love to hear it. I’m sure I’m not alone in this situation and am hoping there are other people who understand what I’m going through.

Have you had a similar experience to this writer? What advice would you offer her?

  1. Susie Dixon

    Totally agree with the writer. I’d never move to be closer to my kids. They come home to visit me, and although they don’t have children of their own yet, I can honestly say I won’t uproot. They grew up here, I’ve lived here for 30 years, I have friends who I adore and a comfortable life. I want the time I hope to spend with future grandchildren to be fun and quality, not necessarily quantity.

  2. Elaine Slaatte

    Did it and wish I hadn’t. Big regret, but will be moving to a senior apt. when it becomes available in Fl. We lose our identity moreless to try to fit into their expectations. It can be extremely detrimental in many ways…

  3. Klaus Vokie

    Never Is ! To travel to your Childrens and Grand Childrens Places ,If They Are Adults Is A Lot Better Than Living Next Door To Them . Even If They Only Live A Few Km’s Or Further Away !

  4. Dawn Watson

    I understand where you’re coming from but don’t have a solution. I suggest you stay where you are because in my experience as I got older my friends dropped away, or off the perch. I now only have one friend who isn’t doing too well healthwise. My family are still in close proximity and they drop in from time to time to check on me and leave off a child or two. I’m now almost 76 and am still totally independent. I could do without the hours of child minding but it is nice to see the great grandchildren.

  5. Dawn Watson

    I understand where you’re coming from but don’t have a solution. I suggest you stay where you are because in my experience as I got older my friends dropped away, or off the perch. I now only have one friend who isn’t doing too well healthwise. My family are still in close proximity and they drop in from time to time to check on me and leave off a child or two. I’m now almost 76 and am still totally independent. I could do without the hours of child minding but it is nice to see the great grandchildren.

  6. ONeill Helen

    So sorry to hear. Although different circumstances i so relate. I left my life of 20 years in Sydney to move to Brisbane. If i had the choice to make over i would NOT do it. I also understand the pull you feel to return to close and lifelong friends and the comfort they provide. As you say financial constraints play a huge role. Not so easy to top up the bank acct as we get older. I so wish u well.

    • Susan Gabriel  

      I assume Brisbane is a very big city, but that’s where you are both living, why don’t you attend one of the Starts at 60 coffeee mornings and get to know each other?

  7. ONeill Helen

    So sorry to hear. Although different circumstances i so relate. I left my life of 20 years in Sydney to move to Brisbane. If i had the choice to make over i would NOT do it. I also understand the pull you feel to return to close and lifelong friends and the comfort they provide. As you say financial constraints play a huge role. Not so easy to top up the bank acct as we get older. I so wish u well.

  8. Jan Dooley

    We sold up in Sydney to move to Adelaide for the sole purpose of being close to son and grand kids. Absolutely no regrets. The only advice I can offer is, that if you sell your home in Brisbane, In all likelihood you will have to live in an unfamiliar area with cheaper housing, far from your friends. This can be even more distressing than your current situation. Hang in there. Look for cheap flights to Melbourne and make several trips back before making a final decision.

  9. Jan Dooley

    We sold up in Sydney to move to Adelaide for the sole purpose of being close to son and grand kids. Absolutely no regrets. The only advice I can offer is, that if you sell your home in Brisbane, In all likelihood you will have to live in an unfamiliar area with cheaper housing, far from your friends. This can be even more distressing than your current situation. Hang in there. Look for cheap flights to Melbourne and make several trips back before making a final decision.

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