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Why You Should Consider Moving Away From Your Grown Kids

Here's why that could be the best thing for you


The Bible quote, “to everything there is a season,” holds a special meaning for parents of adult children. When the kids have moved out and started lives of their own, it could be time to consider a dramatic change in your own next chapter — including moving away from them.

Reasons to Consider Moving Far From Your Kids

How outlandish is it to argue the prospect of relocating hundreds, even thousands, of miles from your children or grandchildren? The thought of it may leave you guilt-ridden, but there might be valid reasons to move away.

For example, you or your significant other may have been offered a great work opportunity out of state. Interesting or lucrative jobs don’t come easily in middle age, and these opportunities deserve strong consideration.

Or perhaps your finances have compelled you to examine living in either a more tax-friendly state or a country where your dollars can be further stretched. Alternatively, it’s possible that for years you’ve been itching for the chance to ditch your snow blower in the North and seek out a balmier climate. Or maybe you’ve fancied a particular dream destination to live in all of your life and the chance to act is now or never.

Questions to Answer Before Relocating

Before you put your house on the market and throw your snow boots into storage, it’s helpful to ponder these important considerations:

  • Will I be leaving an adult child who already has a strong support system in place including a spouse or significant other, with kids or siblings close by?
  • Can we or the children afford the annual cost of travel for frequent enough family visits?
  • Will we move close to an airport with direct flights that make family visits easy?
  • Are there grandchildren in the picture? Can I bear not watching them grow up?
  • Are my children likely to relocate on their own in the near future?
  • If we move away, what will happen when I eventually grow frail and need my children to advocate for me?

These are never easy questions to answer, especially since living close to our families is ingrained into our cultural fiber. In 2015, a Health and Retirement Study revealed that the typical adult lives 18 miles from his or her mother. And in an AARP study, 80 percent of adults age 45 and older revealed they believe it’s important to live near children and grandchildren.

Here’s a surprising notion: your children might be more comfortable with you moving away than you think. Although this subject might bring back the pangs of despair you felt when they left for college, don’t treat the situation like a second wave of the empty nest. Your adult children may actually embrace a little less micro-management in their lives. For a few of us who have been accused of helicopter parenting on occasion, relocating miles away might actually improve our relationship with them.

It’s also possible that your son or daughter (or their spouses) may require a job-related relocation of their own in the next few years.

So it might be time to shed your guilt.

Considering the Reality of a Move

If you’ve determined that moving away from your children is in the cards, is your image of the relocation an accurate one or a fantasy without basis in your true lifestyle?  You might picture yourself immersed in a newfound flurry of social activity in the new city; something you’ve always wished for. Yet instead of spending time with friends and participating in community service where you live now, do you actually spend most of your free time socializing with your children or babysitting the grandkids?

Also, if your adult children take you to doctor’s appointments and shopping now, how resilient is your ability to drive? Or will you need to rely on public transportation in your new location? These day-to-day realities can make the difference between a worthwhile move or a nightmare that will unravel you as soon as the honeymoon of the relocation is over.

Remember: There is usually a third act for most of us. Moving away from your adult children now, in your second act, might make sense if you consider moving closer to them in later years — if your health declines and you are no longer independent.

Embracing a New Life

Make sure you and your significant other are on the same page about all of this. Have a candid discussion with your adult children, too — they might actually embrace the idea. It wouldn’t hurt to seek out an opinion from someone who doesn’t have skin in the game (or stand to lose their built-in babysitter) — perhaps a friend who has moved away, your religious leader or a therapist.

If you decide that distancing yourself from your adult children makes sense, consider renting for a year instead of buying a home, just in case the surprising news of a first grandchild on the way changes your mind. Explore local opportunities in your new city where you can feel a sense of community quickly; joining a church or temple, or rallying for a great cause. There are national organizations like the United Way, for example, that fight for health and education in every community.

Be sure to build a travel fund that lets you budget for visits to see your kids or to buy them plane tickets so they can visit you throughout the year.

Most importantly, get tech-savvy. Weekly chats via Skype and FaceTime or frequent texts can be the next best thing to hugging your kids, whether you are in Athens or Albuquerque. No, it will never be the same as being face-to-face with your family, but it sure does help.

By Phyllis L. Cohen
Phyllis L. Cohen  has been an executive recruiter for Fortune 50 firms for over 25 years as well as a freelance writer specializing in how boomers navigate their careers.

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