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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
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Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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Monday
Aug072006

Questions, questions.

How can you tell if a place just isn’t right for you?

When do you decide you’ve had enough?

At what point do you tell yourself, I’ve given this a fair shake, and I don’t like it, and at least now I know?

We don’t like it here. We just don’t. It’s not the house. We love the house. It’s everything else.

We’re terrible homeowners. The constant deterioration of one’s home and the resulting need for regular maintenance fills us with panic. We resent the weekends being used up by trips to Home Depot or the nursery.

We’re farther from both our families. Our days of getting free babysitting from the grandparents are over. Henry misses them.

I never realized how much I would hate not being able to walk to something.

There’s so much else. But in the end what it comes down to is: it’s not Brooklyn. Which I knew, moving in! Didn’t I know that? Why am I so surprised? I suppose because I lived in the suburbs growing up, and thought I knew what I was getting myself into.

We’re thinking of returning to Brooklyn and renting. Finding a place we can afford in a good school district may actually be impossible for us, but we’re looking into it.

I feel like a failure. We will undoubtedly take a loss on this place. All I can think is, why did we move? Why did we listen to everyone else telling us we had to leave the city, and not to ourselves?

Or are we being premature? Should we tough it out? When do you really know something isn’t right?

Reader Comments (160)

Life's too short to stay somewhere you don't love if you don't have to...
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJustLinda
We just moved from Manhattan about 10 months ago to a very nice burb in Fairfield County, CT. The first three months were hard and long, the next three better, the next three worse, and now it's better again. I think it will probably take another year to really feel 'home' here, and there are probably things I will miss forever about the city, including diversity! great food! cultural entertainment! but I digress...

Will Henry start school soon? Will you have another baby soon and thus keenly feel the gratitude for the extra space and bedroom? Will you have made the tremendous effort of trying to find friends, befriending about 40-50 people to find the 2 or 3 with whom you really click? I wouldn't take the financial bath until you REALLY tried, fully tried your best, to make it what you thought it could be back when you lived in Brooklyn. That said, if you don't appreciate the burbs in the summer (which, to me, with children, is the point of them), your winter will probably suck, so might as well get your ass back to Brooklyn right now!!

Good luck.
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKatharine
Purely my thoughts, not fact by any means, but...

I think you know when it crosses your line, my line has nothing to do with it. So whatever your line is then it has to be crossed and then you can make your decision. My line is when my misery affects my family, my dh and my son. If it's that bad that I can't control it then it has to be changed.

So from my rules, applying your experience it sounds like you are ready to move back to Brooklyn.

Life is complicated and if you lose your shirt on the house, who cares, you will be poor and happy, much more important in my book than well realestated and miserable!
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLissy
I am going to echo what Ursula said (but in a different way, so that you will read it!)

We moved at least once every 3 years the entire time I was growing up. One of our moves was to Cape Cod, and my mother hated it. We pulled up stakes, looked to find a house back in our old town (our old house was amazingly, back up for sale!) and prepared to move.

What my mother wasn't prepared for was that as we got ready to move (having lived there nearly a year) she realized she wanted to stay. But it was too late, we moved. And she regretted it, 26+ years still saying that was the best place we ever lived.

Moral of this story: Give any place that you move a year. My mother taught me that, and I (an NYC ex-pat myself) live by it.

Good luck, Alice!
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterE
I don't know, Alice. Not that I even know you except to read your brilliant writing. But I wonder how much of your discontent is situational and really about the house and neighborhood, and how much is the amazingly brave struggle you are going through with kicking Effexor? Maybe you never do this, but I have been through stages in my life where I just had to get out of a situation RIGHT THIS MINUTE SO EVERYTHING WILL BE OK AGAIN, and then... tada! I got out and things were not ok again. Virtual hugs while you sort it out.
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDawn
I don't know about the 'when' part - but I do know that when you know - you know...and sometimes you just have to do it to really find out you were right all along. Look at it as a family experiment - and you learned something from it rather than a big loss. It's certainly NOT a failure situation if you confirmed some things about yourself, your family and what's important to you. THAT in my book is a HUGE success! Good Luck!
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTeresaLynn
Oh, what an awful, awful thing to go through and I would never wish it on anyone else.

We live in Ohio and never really liked it. We moved to Portland, OR a few years ago (where my hubby's fam is from). I must be the only person in the world to hate that city. I mean, I hated it. The people were snobbish and everything just felt 'wrong' to me. We argued 2-4 times a day for 3 mos. because life just wasn't working there (plus I had a toddler and was pregnant).

Someone told me that you have to give a place 6 months. We didn't. We gave up and came back to Ohio, to a life where our friends had moved on and things had really changed from what we missed (already, they had changed, and we hadn't!!).

I don't know the right answer for you. BUT, I do know that we've spent 6 years wondering what would have happened if we just would have tried to wait another 3 months (not that I had that long since I was so pregnant)....

Maybe it would be good to go back to visit for a week and then return to NJ with a fresh perspective.
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSarey
I've moved a lot. It's hard to find your niche in a new place. Sometimes you know right away it's not the right place for you [I lived in a small village in Switzerland for a year while my fiance lived in London, we saw each other not as much as we wanted to, which would have been every day.] and you get through it and go to the place that is the right place. One time it took me a year to figure out that I loved it, a year to enjoy loving it and a year to get ready to leave it and knowing that was the right thing to do even though I knew I would miss it. That was Bangkok. But I've always been only in charge of me. And I think that when you have a family, this makes a difference in deciding what feels right and what doesn't. And from the insight your son has exhibited through the stories on this blog, I am pretty sure you will be able to figure it out together.

I wish you the best in deciding what that is and making it happen. Because, ultimately, only you [and your family] know.
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKara Melissa
Hi, Alice --

I just want to comment on the "good school district" thing. I'm not from NY, so I don't know about the system there, but I am a teacher and I think that city schools can be good esp. with a lot of parent involvement.

I bet you'll solve the school problem if you go back.

Good luck.
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkathleen
Well, you know what's right for you.My big sister who is oh-so wised and has lived all over the place says it takes 6 months to give something a "fair shake". I have found that to be true.Living too far for free babysitting is a crime.
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAngela
thank you for moving to NJ for me - everytime I think about moving out of this hot nasty city I read something like this and I know why i can't.

I am sorry. There are apartments for sale in my building, but I am in Manhattan at the upper end of CP. no, I am not a realtor... take care, new york and brooklyn misses you too.
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterChris
I moved to CA when I was pregnanat, but never acclimated until my son was in school and we found a church we liked,and established connections. You may be right about needing to move back, but do yourself a favor and don't dig yourself a financial hole. If there is a lot of work to be done in the house, give yourself this school year and get the major cosmetic stuff done so you don't take a bath, or at least not as much of one. The market has slowed tremendously and the better your home looks, the better it will sell when the time comes.
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterrose
I've realized that if you are that unhappy then make a change. Remember that nothing is ever permanent and eventually things will just fall into place.

That said, check your email soon, because I've got a little something for you.
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterHeather B.
I think you have to trust your gut, but I will say that it took me OVER a year to feel totally comfortable in my Oregon town, and more like TWO to feel like it was "home." I wish you luck whatever you decide.
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterwavybrains
Life is too fucking short. Live where you want.
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered Commentersonnet
I spent a year and a half trying to get used to a new city. I did get used to it, sometimes I even enjoyed it, sometimes I loved it. Ultimately, though? It was never home, and the minute my now husband agreed to come with me, I high-tailed it out of there.

I'm sure Brooklyn will welcome you back with open arms.
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBethany
Chiming in on the home ownership v. renting thing. Home ownership is a way of protecting yourself against rising inflation that would tend to push the cost of living upward. If you rent for the next 30 years, you'll likely be paying astronomically more per month than you do today. If you buy a home (assuming a 30 year fixed interest mortgage) you'll be paying the same amount. Your home will likely be worth much more than it is today, so that is an investment in and of itself. Plus, you won't be paying rent anymore. Very different than renting, IMO. Not necessarily an answer to your question, more of a response to a couple comments above.

Good luck with the decision!!
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah
This may sound like assvice because I'm not a homeowner or parent, so perhaps I'm coming from a selfish place, but:

Almost anything can be undone.

A house, a car, a job, school, a marriage, a move, whatever. Almost anything can be undone. Life is designed that way for a reason, I guess. Whenever I think I've done something irreversibly stupid I remember this and it makes me feel better. It's not permanent, and it can be undone. So do what makes you all feel happiest and best.
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMG
When I was 24 I moved from NY to Tucson, Arizona. I felt like I had stepped into another realm. After about 6 months I started appreciating what I had there versus what I didn't have.

I've moved across country and back again 7 times in the last 9 years (with kids now!)and I always find that it takes me about 6 months to hit my stride.

We bought a house south of DC in 2002, sold it in 2004 and moved to Tucson (again!)It took me several months to get into a groove in Tucson even though I had lived there before and had wonderful memories and friends.

In May we sold the house in Tucson and relocated to eastern North Carolina. Our third home purchase in 4 years- and it still doesn't get any easier. Our kids inheritance currently lives in a cash register in aisle 4 at Home Depot.

We hate North Carolina. It is everything we aren't and we can't leave (Thanks, Marine Corps!)It's only been two months and I am frantically waiting for the 6 month mark to pass so I can see if it gets better.

At least you have the ability to choose. I'd give anything for that.
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterveg4me
Go with your gut. We have been in our house for over six years and we are going to lose money when we sell it (if it ever sells). Waiting to move doesn't guarantee you making any money. Do what feels right.
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterfoodmomiac
This isn't a decision of right and wrong. It's just pluses and minuses. Good and bad to any decision. Don't beat yourself up.

I have found that new homes start to feel like home after three years. Something settles around then, and I find new things to love about it.
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterveronica
I agree with the posters who say to give it time. I'd say give it one year. You are in shock - something of a culture shock if you had moved to another country. This is perfectly normal but also not a good time to make a decision. I've moved house 6 times in my life and moved country 3 times. It's always horrible at first. It might very well be that NJ is not for you (I detested Indiana, even after 4 years), but the first 3-6 months will be bad no matter where you are. Give it time if you can.
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterdinka
All I can really speak to is the homeowners thing - I think that does ease, as long as some huge structural defect doesn't appear. You realize that some things are going to stay wonky, and that no one is going to beat you up for them because you own the house and no one can dock your deposit for burn marks in the carpet or whatever. And for me anyway, that's when I started to like the owning part.

So if that's the main factor, I might give it until the Spring 2007 market to see if it eases. Can't say about all the other things - I've lived in places I knew were wrong and moved, but it was an extremely personal decision.
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterShandra
Give it at least a year to start getting over the shock, and then a couple more years to really like the place. Don't give in to the panicked urge to move back NOW, RIGHT NOW... If you do, my guess is that you'll always wonder if you'd have liked it fine if you'd just stuck it out a little longer. (If you've been there 18 months and still detest everything about being there, you have my blessing to leave.)
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSaartje
You got off the couch and played in the game. Don't EVEN be ashamed of that. At least your life isn't about - what if? what if? Everyone makes mistakes - it's what you do with 'em that matters... Listen to your heart and go with it. It's just money, for chrissakes.
August 7, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterPegomh

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