How do you choose a home?

Anyone who sees us on a regular basis knows that Greg and I are hoarders of data and will investigate any problem from 872 angles. Some good friends of ours recently bought a new car without even mentioning to us that this was in the works. That is unfathomable in the Muthler household. When we buy a car, we test drive and test drive again. Greg makes Excel spreadsheets with car dimensions (really) and mpg ratings, and about 11 months and 124 conversations later, we buy a car.

When we moved to Austin, the decision was simple. Greg had a job offer, and we knew that we would be able to afford a house here. We figured we would try out Texas for a year or two and possibly move after that. Given that we stayed in Austin for 12 years, and now have two kids and a house full of stuff, the decision to move is heavier. We’re trying to decide between graduate programs in three cities, and by the time we leave, our friends will be so sick of hearing about it that they will load the moving truck for us.

Our priorities are:

1. Finding a place that will be better in terms of asthma and allergies because Eleanor has been on multiple medications for most of her life. Our whole family should be on allergy shots at this point because we all take daily medication.

2. Finding a program that is a good fit for me and also puts me in a good position career-wise.

3. Potentially choosing the place where we would settle long-term.

Hey, guess what? None of the cities is a perfect fit! One program that I think is a good fit and in a city we might like long-term is also probably going to be really bad for allergies. Another great program is in a city where we probably won’t stay long-term. And the program that doesn’t fit as well is in a city where we think we would like to stay.

Some of the programs are two years and some are only one. The two-year program would be better for work-life balance, but the one-year program allows us to get all of the long nights and weekends of studying out of the way. Some will require longer commutes. Some have scholarships attached. One is close to an office for Greg, which would allow him to see co-workers rather than working from home. I know some people enjoy working in their pajamas, but I really need human connectivity.

I know this isn’t a true problem, that we’re incredibly fortunate to have options and that the choice we make doesn’t have to be permanent. We can move again (if we don’t all kill each other in the process of this move). Greg and I tend to be super practical, to a problematic degree. Maybe we just choose the school I prefer and figure out the rest later. Have you had the privilege of choosing where you went? How did you decide?

6 thoughts on “How do you choose a home?

  1. When we chose to move to Austin(lisd), we looked at healthy cities & good school districts. We place a priority on the kids education and or happiness/healthiness. The greater Austin area & LISD worked for us, because both of our families were within a three hour drive.

    But what we used to decide may not be what works for everyone. While I wouldn’t want to purposefully move to a place with bad allergines, I’d take bad allergines if I had healthy living and a good school district. Place your priorities in order and make sure the most important are there if you can live with the rest.?

  2. We’re total movers and shakers, so we get this (except the long term settle part). The cool thing about living NOW is that there are road trips in reliable cars and airplane rides that won’t put you in the poorhouse. Thirty-plus years ago, that reality wasn’t practical.

    My husband has mentioned Austin as a possible touchdown place for us. I’m not against it (though it’s the only city in TX I’d consider), but I’m not sure I’d like to live somewhere with horrible congestion and no teaching jobs. It sounds a lot like LA.

    Choosing where to land your feet, especially with kids, can be challenging. But, what we learned is that kids are really resilient and some amount of discomfort and change is good for us all. It’s definitely a lot of work, but like you said, you can always move again. I love adventures, so I can’t wait to see what you choose (after those spreadsheets and such– we’re QUITE familiar with that method!).

  3. A year and a half ago, we had an agonizing decision between two jobs for my husband, both good, but that would lead us down such different lives in different states. We had a three year old at home and I was pregnant and it really felt like we were deciding everything about their childhoods. In a lot of ways we did decide that. It felt so hard. I do still think about the other life, as if my actual life was a choose your own adventure book and I could go back to page 15 and try out the other option. But of course I can’t. We chose. Our boys have a great life. No doubt they would have a very different great life in option not taken. Clearly I have no good advice. But I get it. I get feeling so lucky to have good options. And I get that it is really hard to choose not just for yourself, but for your kids. Good luck!!

  4. I hope you choose St. Louis. (Is that an option?)

    In all seriousness, I understand the angst. It feels like SO MUCH is at stake in a move like that. Wishing you luck as you… flip a coin?

  5. Brooke, St. Louis is, sadly, not an option. It would be great to move someplace where we know someone! The cities are coastal or close to it, partly because that is where Greg’s company has offices, and I attempted to find good schools that would allow him to be near work.

  6. We live in the DC area and ended up here strictly for business/work reasons. I like many things about it but am ready for a change, which isn’t coming anytime soon (for same business/work reasons). Anyway, I wouldn’t even consider this area if allergies are a serious problem. I never had seasonal allergies until I lived here, and it is now something I dread about spring.

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