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08/11/2022

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moved

I did move, rather late in my career. I was not determined to move. In fact, I was at the sort of place that it is hard to move out of ... a typical 4 year state college. I was living my life believing that I might be there the rest of my working life. I moved for a number of reasons: a really good opportunity came up, my department and the college were going in a new direction (a direction that was not good for me or philosophy), the newly hired senior administrators were unpleasant people, and my personal life had changed in ways that made a big move possible. It all worked out! So, consider moving, but also make a point of making your current job enjoyable. I saw too many colleagues set of moving, and never getting the chance. They got increasingly bitter, and became lousy colleagues.

Moving on

I am in the exact same position as the OP. I teach at a school in the South and am just sick of living here for a lot of reasons. Disliking where I live has only been exacerbated by sweeping budget cuts and years of no pay raises at my university.

Long story short, I am actively looking for a new job this year - either inside or outside academia - and plan on this being my last year. Or, if I find something mid-year, then I will be out sooner!

When I first got my tt job, I was so happy to have a position that it outweighed my dislike for the location. However, since I got tenure a couple of years ago, that is no longer sustainable for me, especially as the situation at my university continues to deteriorate. I am fully committed to a change and it is very energizing to explore the wider world of work and to dream about living somewhere new that is more in line with my values and lifestyle. The idea of spending the rest of my working years in the South is rather soul-crushing. Also, time with family and living in a place that greatly adds to your overall quality of life are worth the change I think. I’ve seen way too many faculty resign themselves to a fate of life in exile.

I highly recommend “Leaving Academia” by Christopher Catarine. I’m planning to devote 40% of my work week this year to job searching, essentially the two days I’m not teaching, I will be doing informational interviews and applying for jobs.

rural and resigned

Similarly to OP, I love my colleagues and my students, my job is great in many ways... but I don't like the (rural) location. My solution has been to lean into the perks-- no good restaurants where I live (which is something I miss a lot), so I indulge in fancy ingredients and do more cooking. Since I don't spend as much going out, I use my breaks to travel more. And I try to remember that the house we were able to afford would have been wildly out of budget anywhere else, so I spend time making it cozy and nice and have taken up gardening. Basically, try to lean into the positives as much as I can without denying the existence of the negatives.

Lastly, I think (perhaps incorrectly) that I'd be at least as unhappy if not more so were I to move to a fabulous location with a really stressful job. Having a chill department, highly doable teaching, and a relatively pleasant day-to-day work life is worth a lot, given that it's where (rightly or wrongly) most of my time is spent.

I hope that helps, OP. There are no easy answers here!

Happy now

Not sure if this will be helpful, but I was in OP's situation - good colleagues and good students, but in a place that was far from family, really hard politically, going to be especially bad because of climate change, and where I just didn't enjoy being outside (I love being outside!). I ended up leaving for another job the year I went up for tenure, and it's been really eye-opening to realize what it feels like to have the dread and sadness that lurked underneath everything else just be gone. Where I live makes so much of a difference to my happiness, and knowing what I know now, I'd advise my past self to move even if it had meant leaving academia. I hope you figure out something that makes you happy!

Lauren

I have lived in a variety of different places across the globe, with pretty much every weather and geographical extreme, and have been decently happy in each of those places. I agree with Rural but Resigned above--leaning in to what is good about a place helps a lot. In the very cold rural mountain town I once lived in, I cultivated indoor hobbies, tried skiing, built close relationships with my neighbors, and enjoyed that I didn't have to have a car. In the very hot and humid city I used to live in, I went to a lot of museums, enjoyed the diverse food scene, and appreciated the lower cost of living. In addition, avoiding dwelling on what you don't like about the place helps, too. I now live in a city that is ideal for outdoor activities but the cost of living is ridiculous, so I focus on the lovely climate and all the hiking and biking I can do rather than the fact that the traffic is terrible and my rent is obscene.

And, if you can, find ways to make the things you can't avoid more pleasant--several of my colleagues with very long commutes listen to audio books, for instance, and one who doesn't like cities chose the long commute to live in a more rural-ish exburb. In terms of weather, I bought good-quality winter gear in the very cold location, and rented an apartment with good air conditioning in the hot and humid place, and both of those things helped me a lot. (I know they sound small, but they made the extreme weather conditions bearable for me.)

The other two things you mention, though--distance from family and options for your spouse--seem more difficult to navigate, and the calculation might change if this is undermining your spouse's quality of life.

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