Find the No-Brainer Scenario: Where Should We Live?

In honor of my upcoming class about decision-making, I’m sharing some posts where I do real-life demos showing the No-Brainer Scenario in action…here’s the third post in the series. The class is geared toward business decisions, but this one is more of a life decision.

Joanna writes in with a dilemma about where to live:

I’m originally from the West Coast, but I moved to New York for college seven years ago. I didn’t like New York, but I met my partner here, and she’s been the best thing that’s ever come into my life. We tried moving out west a couple years ago, but my partner couldn’t take being away from her family. We did lots of talking, and I decided I’d move back to New York, because being with her was the most important thing for me.

I’ve been back in New York for two years now, and this place just isn’t good for my mental health. I’d like to move to the Pacific Northwest (specifically Portland), but I’m not sure my partner can do it. She wants to try, because she’s also getting tired of the city, and none of the possible living locations we’ve looked at in the Northeast really fit our needs and wants. But the prospect of not getting to see her family every week or two is scary for her.

When we add to that worries about how long it might take us both to find jobs, we both start feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. We’ve actually discussed the possibility of us breaking up, which is the last thing either of us would want.

This is so, so hard. But, there’s lots to work with here, so let’s see what kind of hope we can bring to the situation.

First things first

First off, I want to encourage both of you to make sure you’re grounded whenever you’re working on this issue, whether together or separately. Of course it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the different variables of making a move like this. Plus the complexity is doubled (at least) by virtue of the fact that you’re trying to meet two sets of needs.

Two different decisions

Part of why this issue feels unmanageable is that there are really two different decisions you need to make.

One decisions is where to live.

The other is how to make the move.

Both of them are big and important, so definitely take your time exploring and working on finding your No-Brainer Scenario for them.

Where to live?

When you’re dealing with an open-ended decision like finding what city you want to move to, it can be helpful to imagine your No-Brainer Location in the abstract.

What features do you want it to have? What activities do you need access to? What’s important to you in terms of how it looks/feels/sounds/smells?

Spend as much time as necessary getting clear on what you’re aiming for in a geographic location.

That list – your No-Brainer Location list – will serve as a checklist when you consider a specific location.

With that clarity, it might be easier to explore other Northeast locations that would fit your ideal (or close to it), which would also make it easier for your partner to visit family more often.

How do we move there?

Understandably, you’ve got some logistical concerns around finding work, and affording visits home.

For this decision, ask yourself:

What would make it a No-Brainer to pack up and move to a new location?

Here’s where you want to explore the concerns you have. But be sure to stay grounded while doing so.

The No-Brainer Scenario here might look something like:

  • We will have $x in savings as a cushion.
  • At least one of us will already have a job in the new city.
  • We’ll find a house-sitting job so that we don’t have to pay rent at first.

The idea is to get creative and make sure your needs are met, so that when you do move, you’re as comfortable with the process as possible.

Other things to explore

It sounds like you two have already agreed that you might give Portland a try. Since your partner is worried about not being able to visit family, I think it would be worth some time exploring the qualities she experiences by being with her family.

Of course there’s no true substitute, but perhaps by understanding what the qualities are, the two of you together could find other ways to bring those qualities to Portland (or wherever you decide to move). Just maybe that would mean that a couple visits a year (rather than a few visits a month) would be enough, at least until you’re bringing in more money.

The most important things to remember

Here’s what I want to leave you with.

  • This is a big decision, so be kind to yourselves and don’t rush.
  • When you start to feel overwhelmed, come back to your breathing and your bodies. Take a break and do something else for a while.
  • If things start to feel strained, remember that the two of you want to be together, and you’re willing to put in the effort to make it work (that’s huge!). Find ways to remember that you’re on the same team.
  • Get clear first, then be open to possibilities. You could even turn your No-Brainer Scenario into a Very Personal Ad for your move.

How about you?

Can you relate? What decisions are you working on and what makes them tricky for you? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

And if you’d like to have more of the ease and calm that come from being able to make clear decisions, check out my August 12 teleclass. Early bird discount ends tonight!

3 thoughts on “Find the No-Brainer Scenario: Where Should We Live?

  1. Lilly

    Portland -where I live – a lot of people want to move here, and many that come here end up unemployed (sadface). Mostly I hear this from graphics people, it’s a town very appealing to an artist type personality.

    Though this is a great town for self-employment. Say, if you can do business with the rest of the country electronically or by shipping product out. And we’re an ideal test market with tough-to-win-over consumers, so if your product does well here, it will probably do well in other areas.

    I recently decided to go back to my artistic roots and not persue a lot of side graphic projects that were dilluting my creative point-of-view. I work during the week at our food business, and then I paint on weekends. When I went to art school they did a number on me, making me feel like a filthy capitalist if I were to ever put anything before ‘my painting’. And I have put something big before my painting, for many years actually, and got in the habit of putting more and more in front of my painting. You know why? Because painting is lonely. Oh guess what I’m using your blog as a confessional, I’m so sorry.

    What was I saying?

  2. Jennifer Hofmann

    I love this strategy for deconstructing a sticky dilemma.

    Living in the NW myself and having East Coast family, my heart goes out to Joanna. One of the things I did was look for cities nearer to home that *feel* like and have the qualities of the Pacific Northwest. This strategy was helpful, although I haven’t made the move yet, because it helped me see options instead of the dreaded either/or proposition.

    Thanks for sharing your insights! Blessings to Joanna!
    .-= Jennifer Hofmann´s last blog ..The art of seeing and clearing your stuff =-.

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