We moved away from family in Northern Illinois right after we married. My husband was recruited into an international company and sent to North Carolina, and we were glad. We wanted to establish our own home and family without family interference. We both had some difficulties with our families growing up, and we wanted a fresh start.
Our two daughters were born in North Carolina. We loved it there.
But we missed grandparents and parents.
By then, we had been married several years and were solidly established in our marriage and parenting style. We felt that we would not cave in if the family made excessive demands or was critical of us.
So when the opportunity arose to move back to Northern Illinois, we took it.
Yes, we saved some money by moving home. Those 1000 mile drives home every summer were expensive. And as grandparents got older, sicker, and eventually died, we would have been travelling back and forth to say goodbye to them and attend their funerals.
I agree with the "free babysitting." We usually preferred teenaged sitters to our parents, but every once in a while, we did drop the girls off at Grandma and Grandpa's house It was nice.
We were lucky that our city in Northern Illinois has some of the cheapest homes in the entire country, so our house was cheaper than what we had in North Carolina, even though our property taxes are three times as much.
But--one thing that we failed to consider that cost us a FORTUNE--we failed to correctly assess the situation with the schools in our city. Oh, my, do we ever regret this!
When we first thought about moving back, we read about a pending lawsuit with the public schools in our city, but we ignored it, thinking that it was just some little blip.
Boy, were we ever wrong! It turned into a major deseg/discrimination lawsuit that put our public schools in so much debt that they will probably never recover. More importantly, the lawsuit and all the social experimenting that resulted from the lawsuit resulted in massive departure from the public schools by all the intelligent middle-class people in the city. Several private schools that had limped along for decades suddenly swelled and had to build new buildings to accomodate the hundreds of new applicants, and of course, this meant increased tuition at these schools. Several thousand children in our city of 150,000 are homeschooled.
We ended up sending our children to an expensive (ten thousand dollars a year tuition per child, more in high school) private prep school. It was and is the best school in the city, and we know that because our daughters tried some of other private religious schools and discovered that the prep school was several YEARS ahead of these religious schools.
We and our daughters loved the school, but oh, golly molly, it was expensive, and my husband and I saved nothing during those years of paying tuition. We had nothing saved for college, and we have virtually nothing saved for retirement. Our home is in sad need of repairs and we have no money and we don't have time to do it ourselves as we both work full-time plus call to try to pay off all the debts that we've incurred since moving home.
*So my advice to you is to scrupulously examine the school situation in whatever town you are considering moving to. If the public schools are a mess, then DO NOT MOVE THERE! * Even if you don't plan to send your children to public schools, I can tell you that tuition at the private or parochial schools will be more expensive because of the demand that exists for spots in those school due to a bad public school situation.
Another regret that my husband and I have about moving home has to do with our children's sport, figure skating. It's kind of involved for those of you who know nothing about figure skating. I'll try to simplify it, and perhaps the principle applies to other sports and recreational activities that your children might be involved with.
There are two "pathways" to figure skating in the U.S.---Competitive and Recreational. Competitive is much more expensive.
We moved to a city in Northern Illinois that did not offer Recreational figure skating opportunities. It was all about Competitive figure skating. So we ended up paying a lot more because our children had to do the Competitive skating and we had to pay for the Recreational skating separately. (This is a gross simplification.) We also faced a lot of scorn because we actually wanted our children to do recreational skating, and we led a lot of other parents into recreational skating! There was always a controversy and often, we were right in the thick of it. This caused strife, grief, headaches, stomachaches, sleepless nights, and lots of tears. Skating is without doubt one of the most political sports in the country!
When it comes to synchronized skating, our family's passion, our city was anti-synchro. The coaches actually told students that they wouldn't coach them if they got involved with synchronized skating. Grrrr! So for seven years, we ended up commuting 65 miles one way into Chicago so our daughters could skate on a team. This was not cheap. And once again, there was still more controversy as I worked feverishly to try to get synchronized skating established in our city so that future children would not have to commute to enjoy this wonderful sport.
*So here's my other suggestion to you--examine scrupulously whatever hobbies/sports/arts/parks, etc. are available in the city that you are considering moving to and make sure these things are available on YOUR TERMS. * Of course, recreational pursuits are not vital to your happiness and family joy, but they sure are nice!