People are meant to move. We’ve been doing it for tens of thousands of years. Chasing mammoths across the tundra, chasing shiny pebbles down frigid mountain streams, chasing native people out of their homelands. Somewhere in all that traveling we learned to grow plants in rows and gather cattle into groups and squint into the same sunset vista day after day, year after year. But nobody writes hero stories about folks who stay put instead of hitting the trail. People crave new adventures, and so we must wander.
Except. The act of moving is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad business. Trust me. Last August, the wife and I climbed into our Toyotas with two young ‘uns and two cats to move 2,400 miles, two time zones and one huge cultural shift—from the Bible Belt to the Pacific Northwest. We shadowed the Oregon Trail for a piece, but we did not die of dysentery.
In fact, nine months after the move, we are better than we were before. Emotionally stronger, more willing to try new experiences, more physically active, more curious about the wider world. Which is the whole point of all those thousands of years of chasing. The greener grass.
This isn’t a nuts and bolts guide for how to move across the country; you’ll find that here. Rather, it’s about how to help all of the humans (and sometimes pets!) involved in the move make it through to the other side.
When you’re job hunting or throwing darts at a map, best to exchange a one-horse town for a two-horse town. No place is perfect, but some places are closer to perfect than others. A nearby ocean, or warmer weather, or legal weed—whatever your version of the good life happens to be—will ease the burden of saying goodbye to all that you know.
Point is, don’t take a job as CEO of Sandy Dirt Enterprises if it means your family will have to scrape out a bleak existence in Hobbled Bronco, Oklahoma. Better to float through middle management in Pleasant Breezes, California. After all, you’re not simply escaping your former home—you’re hoping to find a better place to call home, at least until it’s time to go wandering again.
A small, illustrative detail: About a week after we arrived in Seattle, I went to the library to get a card. The woman at the counter told me I could check out 50 materials at a time. Fifty! My eyes became watery with amazement. I was already loopy from gazing at the delightful scenery and partaking in the functioning mass transit. Truly I say to you, a better existence awaits.
Master Your Schedule
Once you’ve settled on a destination, there’s the matter of deciding when to leave and how to get where you’re going. Careful people send a scout ahead, usually the spouse with the new job, to learn the lay of the land—and to make sure the gig is a keeper. The trailing…