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should we move North?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
hmmm...this is an interesting possibility...

My dp is a teacher who for a variety of reasons beyond her control (mostly budget cuts) has been unable to find a permanent job since graduating from teacher's college 5 years ago. She is currently a fabulous SAHM to our 2 you & 5 yo & homeschools our 5 yo, an arrangement that seems to work well for all of us....except me. I am in a job that I really dislike, and have been there for 8.5 years. As the sole breadwinner I have to work, and it could be worse, but I am really dissatisfied with the job and would love to have more time with our girls and time to pursue other career paths.

So...we have just learned of a very interesting job opportunity for dp. A full-time teaching job, well paid, good benefits, housing & travel included etc. The catch (sort of...) is that it is in a remote northern community in our home province. A 14 hour drive north, at minimum, from where we live now. A much colder, snowier place than we live now, too, lol!

But it's also in a very very beautiful place, in a very different cultural context (First Nations) that would be an incredible learning opportunity for our girls and us. And dp would LOVE to be teaching in a classroom again, especially in such a new and different environment. And I would love to be freed up to work on my writing, spend more time with my girls, experience a new environment.

And we had just been starting to think about moving closer to my aging parents and having more family support around us....we are currently 7 hours away from most family. It would involve leaving our homeschooling & parenting community, our religious community & taking our girls away from their friends.
So hmmm....what would you do?? Curious to hear MDC views....we are also consulting with our religious community as well as family, of course
post #2 of 20
What would you do? Is there a job opportunity for you as well, or would you be a SAHP? Would that make you happy, whatever it is?

If the finances work for you, I think it could be a fabulous opportunity. I have always wanted to go North for a few years, just for the experience and even went so far as to applying with Northern Stores when I was younger (though I never persued it). I've known several people who have lived in the North, mainly the Yukon, and they loved it.

Could you plan on going for a year or two and see how it goes?
post #3 of 20
Do it!
post #4 of 20
If you are open to relocation, then it sounds like a fabulous opportunity. I would consider a few things though.

Do you agree on whether this would be an indefinite relocation or long-term or relatively short-term (less than 2 or 3 years)? What are your career opportunities up North? If/When you move back south, will you be able to re-enter the workforce easily? I'm guessing it may be difficult, if you haven't been able to find a different position in almost 9 years.

Does anyone in your family have special needs that will be difficult to serve in the North? Will you get financial support for moving expenses and return visits with family? If not, what is the broadband service, since you will likely rely on internet, Skype, Facebook etc. to keep in touch with friends and family (are you doing this already?). Have you crunched all the numbers, including cost of living adjustments (higher/lower housing costs, food expenses, travel expenses, etc.)?

Have you visited the community? Do you have insight into the local politics? Small communities can have vicious politics and long-standing feuding - or they can be wonderfully supportive, caring places. I've known people who have encountered both. The first drove one family out, and they suffered financially because they broke their contract but they felt they had no choice.

If relocation is something you've been considering, I'd encourage you to do it while your children are so young. It gets harder when they are older - and by the time they are teens, it can feel almost impossible (it isn't, but it is more difficult).
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the input and great questions! I will continue to think out loud here & share a few more details.

-at this point we are considering a temporary relocation only 1-2 years max, after which would either a) return to our current town or b) move closer to our family in a different town.

-I would be looking to be a SAHP and to continue to build my writing, blogging, freelancing and possibly consulting in my field etc. I doubt very much that there would be other job opportunities in this area, though I could be wrong. But I'm okay with that.

-I can get a leave from my job for up to 5 years that would allow me to return later. In terms of being able to find a job when I return, to be honest, I haven't looked in any serious way for a different job over the last 9 years, mostly because I've been reaping the benefits of mat leave, medical benefits etc. for my family and have only just now been in a position to really want to look around. But I also find it very hard psychologically to make that leap, so I think this would really help--I don't plan to return. Also, there are many opportunities for consulting with my job, and this is something I could do from any location. I am basically looking to make a complete career change, so I don't think this is a bad way to launch that. Also, as we are homeschooling, we plan on having one of us home for a while.

-In terms of special needs, this is something we need to consider. We are all physically healthy, but have recently been looking into counselling for dd1 for anxiety, and speech therapy for dd2, both of which are much more available where we live now, so we would need to think about whether we were willing to put off getting help.

-We will get financial support for moving, professional movers to help us pack & move, shipping for our groceries, and internet is paid for by the employer. Housing is also provided at no cost. The employer would also cover 3 trips home per year to visit family. We do use skype already, though we would want to use it more, I think! So if we were to sell or rent our current home, we would be able to save quite a bit of money each year that we were there.

-We have not visited the community....if we decide to do this in a year or two, we could visit our friends first, which I think would be good for us as well as for our kids to have an idea of what we are thinking about & to get a better sense of what it is we are considering....

-In terms of local politics this is a great question. Also we are a same-sex couple which could potentially present added challenges. Overall my sense is that this is not likely to be a major issue given that we will already be outsiders to the culture etc. According to our friends there is a close-knit network among teachers that come from the South....but hard to know about this really, and it is an excellent point.

-The school board that we are looking into serves 8 different (all very remote) communities. We are leaning heavily towards community N, and here's why: Our neighbours, who are also good friends, and who also have a 5 yo daughter, are heading there this year. The wife of their family would be the VP of a local school. They have told us a lot about community N and what it would be like for kids, what it is like to live in etc. We understand that our kids would be able to attend school part-time for things like First Nations language & culture studies, phys ed. etc. It's a very small school with only 200 pupils in grades K-11. But of course job opportunities are less in this community too. Another community, community W, is the home community of my neighbour's spouse and has many other attractive features as well, so we might consider that as a
2nd option--it is much bigger, but also even further away (though at this point that doesn't seem like it would really matter).

Wow this is a novel! But helpful for me in terms of thinking things through
Another question for us is timing, though we don't have all the details. If something is available for next school year, should we take it? That would mean moving in July...yikes! Or we could wait until the following year which would give us a lot more time to move and deal with stuff before we relocate.

Yes I agree with relocation being easier when kids are young....we would only consider this opportunity while our kids are 10 & under.

Thanks for the help & insightful questions
post #6 of 20
I think it would be wonderful opportunity especially since the job opportunities are not great with the board here even for contract teachers. Are you mentally ready to move in July? Does your DP want to start teaching right away? Are you able to get leave on short notice?
post #7 of 20
Do you really like snow? Do you get out and do stuff in the cold? Do you take the kids sledding? Do you cross country ski?
post #8 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks mama to will--yes it's totally true about local job opportunities, as you know
I am definitely mentally ready to move in July--I think! And dp is ready to start teaching. As for the girls, though, especially our older daughter, I think she might benefit from a bit more time to adjust. And a year would be manageable for all of us & give us time to get our house in order to sell, etc.

eepster--yes we love snow The city we live in right now is known for it's snowy & cold winters. We all like to cross-country ski & go sledding a lot. We also love camping & canoeing & the outdoors.l
post #9 of 20
When I read your posts, it sounds to me like you really want to do it. There is a blissful quality to your posts. It sounds incredible. Do it!
post #10 of 20
I would definitely do it. My Dp and I would love to travel for work, and the North is def. a place we would love to go.
I know a couple people who have done it and they LOVED being and working up north. I also went to University with a few people from Nunavut and the stories they told about their home communities were very enticing.

I say go. If it were me I would want to go this year. But since you want to sell your home and all I say wait until next year. There will still be job opportunities then and your kids will still be young. You could also get your kids the help that they need and maybe take some training yourself to help them with their needs. Over they year help could do wonders for them. And there are resources out there to have be trained in methods to help your kids with their needs.
post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 
thanks Khanni, I think you are right...we are both pretty excited about this idea

colsxjack--it's true. I feel very eager to go right now, but in terms of selling our house, getting our kids ready etc, a year might be a better idea & more practical.
post #12 of 20
I Love the North.

I have worked all over the high Arctic, Yukon, NWT and Nunavut, and on the whole love the ppl.

That being said, I don't think I would move to just any community for the sake of a job.

In my opinion, some communities are much better than others.

If you would like to discuss which specific community you are considering, please feel free to send me a private message. I don't want to offend anyone by voicing my opinion too freely on a public message board.

post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks Charlene, I will PM you.

I also think that taking a year to decide will give us the chance to visit some possible communities & get a better idea--and yes definitely, this is more than a job, more of a lifestyle/life experience decision for us, so which community is definitely important--thanks!
post #14 of 20
We moved pretty much every 4 years when I was a kid...usually across the Atlantic. What this taught me is anything's possible! If you want it, I'd bet the house will get settled just fine by the Summer. I also think it sounds like you want to go...I'd do it this year. Why wait? Kids are flexible, and it's especially easy now that they can stay in touch with former friends via internet (I had to send letters!). And the benefits regarding moving, groceries and home visits sound EXCELLENT! Go for it! Sounds fabulous.
post #15 of 20
How exciting! I'd go for it ... and I'm in a same-sex marriage as well. I think you're right about already being outsiders, and I don't think it'd be a huge deal.
One big question though ... what is the escape plan, should it be unbearable for any of you? Hope for the best, plan for the worst. I'd suggest having some exit plan in your back pocket.
Sounds awesome!
post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 
good idea re: escape plan starling--I haven't really thought that through yet.

A further update from yesterday--we talked to our friend who is just back from her interview for the VP job....she is still waiting to hear what will happen. Depending on where she ends up, we will decide accordingly...I think we are leaning towards going to the same town as they're in, so that we will at least know someone.
post #17 of 20
i think taking a year to move is playing it safe.

but knowing me i would go NOW. cant imagine waiting for a whole year. i know you said your older dd might need the time but considering all the things you all will be gaining - to me it seems like a waste of time waiting IF i could go in july.

one thing that stands out for me is aging parents. i would give anything to move closer to my aging mom. for me it is emotionally heart wrenching to be so far away from her and not really have the option of moving closer.

there is a beauty in remoteness. just imagine the kind of education your children would be getting. just for that - First Nation language and culture, i would not want to miss a day. 5 is teh perfect age to start that. are you first nation yourself? if i was that would be doubly important to me. if not, just the fact of a second language would be fabulous.

it seems you are being handed this job on a golden platter. you even have fall back plans. i would go NOW and not waste a single minute. seeing teh housing market here if you live in a 'wanted' neighbourhood, the house could go with teh snap of the finger.

gosh girl!!! remoteness and writing!!!! how can you resist that?!!!!
post #18 of 20
I'm still trying to figure out which province you live in that you're "North" now and still have space to go 8 hours further "North"! (Labrador?!)

We've recently moved "South" from the NWT, and would love to go back. You sound like you enjoy the outdoors, which, as we always tell people, is the main prerequisite for living in the North. It can be an awful, cold, isolated, dark, depressing place, but somehow, if you can get outside and enjoy it, it's sort of magical. Some of my favorite memories are of skijoring with the dogs, them with lights on their collars, us with headlights on, alone on a lake with Northern Lights above. Pretty amazing. Never mind the opportunities to learn!

I substitute taught in the North, with my plain old BA and no B.Ed. If you were wanting/needing a bit of out of the home work periodically, you could always get yourself on the sub list. We also found that the opportunities in the North are pretty amazing. I danced with a professional dance company (I'm a decent dancer, but no dance company in the south would even look twoce at me), worked for a racing yard (had only ever harnessed our own two dogs for skijoring and never even been on a sled!), got involved in the local outdoor adventure scene, etc.

Re: services for your kids - are you sure they aren't available? Granted, they are likely not consistently available in your potential community, but there is likely a visiting therapist who rotates through and/or funding to get you to your closest center to access things.

My only concern would be socially. Our experience in the North is that the long term residents are like a steel wall. Try all you like to throw yourself at them or to drill in to their tight social groups, but you will have basically no success. They will be polite, but you will get nowhere. I think it's simply a self-protection thing - they don't want to spend time and energy getting to know someone who isn't going to be there long term. The Southerners up for shorter stays are definitely more open to friendship, and we made some wonderful friends, but if you don't hit it off with people x,y,z, you're sort of srewed as they're the only options! (or, you're screwed because they leave two weeks after you meet them!)
We did, eventually, develop some wonderful relationships with long-term residents and with more transient folk as well, and really miss them, but that first year, for me, was pretty bleak.

Also, I sort of hesitate to mention this, but earlier is probably better for you kids. I don't think I'd want my kids in the North between the ages of 12/13 and 18, unless they were super, super involved in sports or something. Drugs, heavy drinking, sex (teen pregnancy off the charts! Whoa!), high school drop out rates, lots of families in trouble, high incidence of FASD (which means high incidence of kids with little impulse control and little thought to consequences), lots of hanging out with not much to do, it all turns in to a not super healthy scene. There are some awesome kids too, and some awesome kids within the groups of kids practicing unhealthy activities, but I think I'd rather that sort of thing be at the perifery of my child's life, not the center.

Look at that last bit making things sound not too great. Sorry. I would still go though, and I would go for next school year too. Jump in! Have fun! I'm sure you'll love it, especially if you get outside (get some mukluks!) and are persistent with the friend scene.
post #19 of 20
Originally Posted by selkat View Post
I'm still trying to figure out which province you live in that you're "North" now and still have space to go 8 hours further "North"! (Labrador?!)


Not the OP, but just wanted to point out that the western provinces are *huge*. In Alberta, for example, everything north of Edmonton is considered 'north'. I'm currently about 5 hours north of Edmonton (so 7-8 north of Calgary and I'd guess 10 -12 from the border) but could drive about 8 hours further north before hitting the border to the Territories.

I guess it depends on how you define 'north', but here we get partial northern allowance because we're north of the 55th parallel, and like I said, there's a lot more of Alberta beyond us!

post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 
thanks for the input everyone!

Selkat--your perspective is helpful--at this point we were only considering going either this year or next year for a maximum of 2 (or maybe 3) years, in part for some of the issues you mention--we have other friends who've lived in the North who had raised this with us as well.
Also interesting to hear your take on the social situation, which is a very good point...

I think one of my biggest hesitations at this point is the social impact on my daughter who at 5 already has a lot of friends that she really cares about. We moved to a different part of the city 2 years ago and that already affected her, she was concerned about being farther away from friends even though we've made an effort to maintain those relationships. That and the distance from family are the two things that really bother me....
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