Despite having no friends, family, or connections in Portland, Oregon, my husband and I decided to move there for his job. Before our move, we spent two days exploring the city to see if we liked it enough to live there. After an easy discussion, we decided that yes, we could see ourselves living here and went for it.
One week after arriving in our temporary housing, we found out I was pregnant with our first baby.
We were thrilled. While having a baby in a new city with no network would present challenges, we focused on the positive side of this big new adventure. Would we have changed our minds about the move had we known I’d be pregnant right upon arriving in our new city? No, and here’s why.
After graduating from college, I moved to New York City, along with what felt like 100 of my closest friends. It was an easy move. I ended up staying for nine years. At the beginning of my NYC adventure, I thought I’d be a lifer–how could life in any other city compare to this? I didn’t think anything would be as exciting or filled with as much opportunity. Plus, I had so many friends, and I was only a four-hour drive from my family.
But things change. I went from thinking I’d live there forever to feeling desperate to try something new. Half of me felt like I would stay because I had no alternate plan, and the other half was ready to go somewhere totally new. My husband felt the same way. When he got accepted into a program that would move us to San Francisco, Barcelona, and eventually Portland, we jumped at the chance.
While having a baby in a new city with no network would present challenges, we focused on the positive side of this big new adventure. Would we have changed our minds about the move had we known I’d be pregnant right upon arriving in our new city? No, and here’s why.
Portland would be our third new city where we didn’t know anyone, though the first one with a baby on the way. Fortunately, I like a challenge, and this was another one we’d work through—both the positives and negatives.
We’ve now been in Portland for 15 months, six of those with our baby. I do miss being near friends and family and sometimes think about what life would be like if we had stayed on the East Coast. But then, I think about all that we would have missed out on if we hadn’t taken the leap. It hasn’t all been easy, but it is worth it.
While moving with a new baby on the way is hard, here is why I don’t regret our decision.
It pushed us out of our comfort zone
Comfort zones are lovely and all, but I do believe we learn and grow by getting uncomfortable. Some may argue that being pregnant and having a child is uncomfortable enough, and I won’t disagree. But by going on this parenting adventure in a new city, I’ve had to push myself in new ways. When I think back to the final years I spent in New York, I remember feeling very stuck in a routine I no longer wanted.
Now it feels like every day is an adventure. I’ve grown from leaving behind comfort and familiarity while navigating pregnancy and parenthood in a new place.
I’ve learned to depend on myself (and my husband)
During pregnancy and these early months of parenting, we’ve learned to be incredibly self-sufficient. I know when I need help and will ask for it, but I also depend on myself and my husband a lot. I believe it has made us stronger as parents, individuals, and partners.
We get to make our own parenting decisions
Before my parents or in-laws get offended by this one, I will say that I don’t think they would be overbearing if we all lived in the same city. However, by living far from family, we do have the luxury of making our own parenting decisions. I seek out advice and guidance when I want it, but being on the opposite coast of our family gives us the chance to focus on what we want for our small family unit.
It only gets harder as they get older
I’m so glad we were able to live in California and Europe before kids, and I’m also glad we get to experience starting a family in Portland.
I can’t speak from experience as this is our first child, but it seems like if we want to live in different places, it will get more challenging the older they get. We made this move before we had to consider switching daycare/schools, and once our child is older, we’ll have to think about how it will impact her leaving her friends behind. At this point in our lives, it’s fairly easy to jump at new opportunities.
It’s a chance to experience new things
When we moved across the country, we experienced a bit of culture shock—in a really positive way. Having grown up on the East Coast, this was our first time experiencing the West Coast way of living. The energy is different, and the pace is slower. Work-life balance leans more towards the life side of things, and there’s a focus on being outside experiencing nature and less on material things.
I feel fortunate that my child and I get to experience this lifestyle firsthand. I hope that I can bring some of this West Coast mentality with me if we one day move back to the East Coast.
We know that nothing is permanent
I have days where I question our decision. On those days, I remind myself that nothing is permanent. If we decide to, we can work on a move to the East Coast to be close to friends and family. We don’t feel ready for that yet and are still enjoying this exploration, so I remind myself that in a year or in five years if we want to, we can always move again.
The positives and negatives of this experience can guide our future choices
As a glass-half-full girl, I focus on the positives of our move. But there are less fun parts of the experience. Though most of my friends also moved out of New York, there are clusters of them living in other big cities, raising their kids just miles apart. Sometimes it feels like we are out here on our own little Pacific Northwest island, isolated from everyone else.
Since this is our first child, we don’t know any other way of being, but I do imagine having grandparents able to easily pop by and help would be nice, as would watching my child grow up with my best friends’ kids. It is hard to move away and feel like we’re missing out on both big life events as well as the every day simple hangouts.
I’ve accepted that this is our reality right now. My child will make her own friends, as I make mine. And maybe we won’t have many date nights for a while, but it’s not forever (babysitters are expensive!).
Having this experience has given me a wide perspective. I can see the positives and negatives of our living situation and can use everything I’ve learned and gone through to guide future choices we make for our family, whether we decide to move closer to friends and family or stay put.