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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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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)

I'm going through the same thing right now at least from the urban to non urban perspective.I hate not being able to walk anywhere, so we're getting bikes. I hate every single grocery store I've been to here so I'm still looking for one that will not make me want to slit my wrists or cry in the produce department because where the fuck are the sun dried tomatoes? I hate that it seems like the only people who live around here are rednecks or meth heads and I'm not sure we'll ever make friends unless we have a steady supply of Sudafed or beef jerky.I totally understand, but dude, don't take a loss on your house. Seriously I know how much it sucks to feel the way you're feeling but it should get a little better soon, and then maybe a little more and a little more. And then if you still hate it in a few years, hopefully you can get a little equity out of the house and move back. The real estate market is not good for sellers at the moment.
August 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTB
My parents used to ask me if I would consider moving back to Ohio (from Santa Cruz, CA) and pointed out that I could afford a house in Ohio.

My response: yes, but then when you wake up, you are in Ohio.

My assvice: Take your time but don't compromise your quality of life for the next however many years just to follow someone else's dream. Lots of people don't own homes. If possible, rent a place that costs less than the mortgage of your current home and save/invest the rest...A wad of cash in the bank is just as good as a house becuase you can always have housing as long as you have some $$. :)
August 8, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterwen
PS I'm sorry, I really don't mean to be such a downer, but as someone who just moved, we spent several thousand dollars getting here, so even if we hated it we would have to stay for at least a little while. So maybe that's where my advice is coming from. Moving is a big freaking pain in the ass and it costs several month's worth of salary so for me, picking up and doing it again within six months wouldn't be an option.I really do hope you start acclimating soon. Or that you're able to move back if that's what you feel is a better option. It's a culture shock to do what you've done and it will take a while to adjust and I guess some people never do adjust to such a big change.
August 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterTB
I think maybe there's a time when you just have to do what's best for you. What is right for you? What do you value? What is it that you want most?

Have you thought about the things that drove you from Brooklyn? Was there anything besides the rising cost? Landlords you hated? Scary people mulling around outside your door? Things that remained broken even though you reported it & it wasn't your responsibility to fix?

Just thinking here. Not trying to create an anxiety attack.

I'd say do whatever you will be most happy with in the long run. Think about it. Talk about it with your hubby, your son, the people who know you best.

Because if you're miserable, and it is within your power to change that, then do it!

Maybe it would help to go back and read entries you wrote concerning the move and the reasons for the move, etc.

Just a thought. Or, several of them. ;)
August 8, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjes
I know people will probably hate me for saying this, but this post is EXACTLY how I felt after I had our baby! I mean, the feeling of regret and failure and being so overwhelmed with fear and sadness. It's taken me 10 months to reach a place where I am now actually enjoying it more and less panicked about the future. I still miss our old life a lot, wish we could just laze about and do what we want, when we want, but this is my new reality.

I don't think that will help you much tho! I know that with the baby, there IS no going back, but you do have that option. I guess you have to go with what your heart and gut tells you. But maybe give it just a little while longer in case you start to like it... maybe... HANG IN THERE HON!!!!
August 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKatie Kat
There's a big difference between learning to like where you live, and putting up with it. As one commenter said, "life's too short" etc, etc.
August 8, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermike
As someone who just moved across the country -- from New Jersey to Wisconsin -- I will say that it takes a LONG time to become comfortable in a new place.

If you really hate it and you're crying yourselves to sleep every night, then maybe you should leave. But if it's just the change and you feel strangely dissatisfied, give it some time. New Jersey can be great; it can also suck (I lived there my entire life until now). I'm sitting here in a beautiful house while my husband is at work and I'm frantically searching for a job in my field and absolutely cannot find one. It is awful. I hate it here, too, but I know I won't hate it in a few months (or at least I hope so). So I'm sticking it out.

But, you know, I totally feel where you're coming from.
August 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAriella
Sorry, I'm going to be the wet blanket. I don't think 3 months is long enough to try. You should stick around at least a year. And, though I don't know your financial situation, obviously, it seems financially irresponsible to take a loss on this house without really giving it a real try. Stop going to Home Depot unless it is truly necessary. Spend your weekends instead exploring the area and seeing what it has to offer instead of making lists of what it doesn't.
August 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKUchick
I wouldn't think just popping back into Bklyn and renting is going to be the soltion. Didn't you have a condo there? When's the last time you rented?

Renting with kids is a huge trial.In the begining I had no big plans to move to the 'burbs with my kids. We had moved from a rental we loved and lived in for 5yrs when our 1st was born(we tried a less trndy area to save on rent) It was hell-so we moved again-even worse. We rented under the dictates of two evil landlords, who felt they could shut do construction, use posion, shut stuff down and a variety of terrifing shit when they wanted, yet making me wait weeks to get other stuff fixed, it was downright dangerous.

Finally we just bought a house way the hell out. There is much to be said for the autonomy and privacy of 'burb home ownership.

So while I'm all for moving out of situation that isn't for you, just take your time and chose carefully so you don't wind up just moving again.

August 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLB
Is this the part where we give the assvice?

I'll just tell you a story. Ignore if you like.

3.5 years ago I moved to Seattle. It was my first big move and it took me over a year to adjust (I hated it the whole first year) because all I'd ever known were the sleepy suburbs of Pittsburgh. 2 years later I went through a horrendous breakup. Everyone told me "Move back home! What do you have out there? We're all here and we love you. Come home!" So I went home. 3 days in I knew I couldn't live in Pittsburgh again, at least not at this stage of my life. I considered other cities, like DC, but less than two months later, I was back in Seattle.

I have no idea what the point of this story is, other than adjusting to a move can take a lot of time, but if it's not right? It's not right. And it's your life and you can do whatever you want to make yourself happy, no matter how "insane" it might sound to other people. (Other people suck, what do they know anyone?)

Good luck!
August 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNoelle
No wonder you want to move, it seems like all you can focus on is the negative! Suck it up and try to see the good things that surround you. Get out of your house. Really try to see what your new town has to offer. Stop spending so much time focusing on what you no longer have. Besides, it isn't like you have to buy plane tickets or ride in the car for 12+ hours to get back to all that stuff you miss so much. You can still see your family and experience all the culture you love, you just can't do it every day. Give your new surroundings a chance. If you still don't like your new surroundings after your child has started school and you have had a chance to settle in more THEN you can think about moving back. Try to see this situation as a chance to learn new things about yourself, like how you don't have to depend on others to help you out or how you are quite capable of entertaining and educating yourself and your child without the resources of the city or how your love and appreciation of your friends and family can deepen when you aren't involved in the every day drama.
August 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterML
I think you know.

We moved out of the city (San Francisco) to the suburbs for two years. I thought I would grow to be ok with it. I did not.

We moved back two weeks before I was due with our first child.

We won't make that mistake again (the suburbs, that is. the child was a good decision.).
August 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterPhc
You have not lived there long enough. It takes at least 6 months and more like a year to adjust to a move. And brooklyn won't be the same as when you left. it's changed, you've changed, life is moving on.

I'm sure this is not what you want to hear.
August 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnita
I've lived in five wildly different places ranging from rural Texas to Manhattan in the last 15 years, and I can tell you that in almost every case I was initially pretty unhappy and lonely. It took me at least six months to feel comfortable and at least a year to really feel at home. It may very well be that Brooklyn is your true home. But I think it may minimize the financial and emotional upheaval involved to wait a bit before packing up and heading back. A year really is not a long time in the grand scheme of things. I like the idea of setting a deadline. It might make sense for you and your family to say "OK, we don't like it here and we anticipate moving away in June" (or whenever you set your deadline). Then you have the ability to make some long-range plans and budget your finances and energy accordingly. Plus, if/when you leave, you can leave with the knowledge that you gave it a fair try and that your true preference is to rent in a city you love rather than own in a city you don't, rather than being a reaction to the initial loneliness and nostalgia that come with big dislocating changes.
August 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLiz
Meanwhile, I think my comments have stopped coming because the number continues to read "41"--and then I doublecheck them and WHOA. So many.

Thank you for all the perspectives. It does help to hear that we haven't been here long enough. So many people I meet here seem to like it right away, and get all puzzled when I asked them how long it took to adjust.

And yes, I'm focusing on the negative right now. Today. Actually, yesterday. Not all the time, promise.
August 8, 2006 | Unregistered Commenteralice
Always go with your gut instinct. To hell with what everyone else says. I'm sure you miss home and are feeling down, but have you though about the positives?
August 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBella
I would say give it a year. I think it is the rare place that you love right off the bat. It took me about a year to adjust to living in Austin, even though everybody went on about how great it was (and eventually, it was), less time to adjust to living in New York (but that was an easy one because you see it on TV all the time, so you sort of know what you’re getting in to), but now we are thinking of moving to London and I'm betting that it will take at least a year to become fully acclimated. And the suburbs after Brooklyn are kind of like another country, no?
August 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKidKate
There was a whole article in the Real Estate section of the Times a few months ago about people who moved from the City to the 'burbs and then moved back to the City -- some within less than a year, despite all the transaction costs. I am sure you will find some kindred spirits and possibly some inspiration here...

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/08/realestate/08cov.html?ex=1155182400&en=974fc66fc2446998&ei=5070
August 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLawyerish
Move back, homegirl. Life is too short and occassionally crappy to restrict yourself to a living arrangement you and your loved ones aren't completely content with. Home is where you're supposed to be at peace and if you're not, well, move.

I'd also recommend renting the house to another family rather than selling it for a loss. The family pays your mortgage, equity builds over time, you move back to happy-town, birds chirp, choirs sing, etc., etc., blah blah blah. Gosh, it all sounds so simple when I type it.
August 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJason
So does Typepad's comment numeration mess-up inhibit your amazing psychic ability to guess exactly how many comments you're getting, Alice?
August 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLisa V
Change is difficult and a huge change is overwhelming. Moving from the city to the burbs is like a whole different planet. I personally don't like the burbs. I like city living and I like small town living but never the burbs. So saying I wll offer a little assvice my mother told me. It takes a year to meet the kind of people you would really like for friends. The people who want to be your best friend right away have time for you because they don't have any other friends. The people you want to know have full lives already and want time to get to see you before adding you to their lives. So give yourself some time. Also even if you move back, it will not be the same. You will not be living in the same space, with the same neighbors, etc. It too will seems somewhat alien. That has been my experience and I have done a lot of moving in my life. Best of luck and whatever you decide - it will be the right decision for you at this time. Trust yourself.
August 8, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercarosgram
Be glad you've got the option of moving and a spouse who feels as you do.

Before we were married my ex talked me into moving 1,000 miles from home with the promise that it'd only be for 3 or 4 years. That was in 1981... He waited until after we were married to inform me that he had no intention of ever moving back. And now I'm still here because I promised my children I would stay until the youngest was finished high school (two more years). It feels like home now, but it took many, many years and a divorce that allowed me to live life as I want to for that to happen.

Give it a bit more time. Then, if you're still unhappy, rent the new house, try living back in Brooklyn and see how it goes. At least you're both on the same page on this. You are not a failure. You are a woman whose family is trying different living situations on for size and like some more than others. And you are pretty and funny no matter where you live!
August 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterDawn
Lisa, my psychic skills involve knowing exactly how many comments I *will* get. Oh, and I know. I know.
August 8, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterlisa
Hmm. Finslippy's comment is attributed to Lisa...? Typepad is really wonky today!
August 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBeth
Are you sure this isn't your depression talking?

If you do move back to Brooklyn, will you still have financial worries? Will you have enough space? Will you be able to find a good school for Henry? Will you truly be happy or will you just be swapping one set of problems for another?

As Buckaroo Banzai once said: wherever you go, there you are.

August 8, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterlyndey

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