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Should I Relocate the Family for My Job or Stay for His Job?

by Ali Wenzke
Commuting to and from Texas isn't easy.

Violet must make a tough decision. After years of teaching in Texas as a tenured professor, the university wants Violet to return to teaching on a full-time basis. Returning to work full-time is not a simple choice and this isn’t just about the kids. Her husband, Hans, and their two young daughters live in New York, so changing her part-time status would require a major upheaval of the family. Hans also works in academia as a tenured professor in New York and moving around in the academic world isn’t easy. They need to decide whether to relocate the family to Texas for her career or stay in New York for his career.

Stay in New York for his career?

Stay in New York for his career?

Or, move to Texas for her career?

Or, move to Texas for her career?


As is always the case, Violet met the love of her life in New York right before the perfect job opportunity popped up in Texas. Violet and Hans continued dating long distance for three years until they got married. At that point, they took turns living back and forth between New York and Texas, making the most of academic sabbaticals to work in the same city. By the time their second child was born, Violet and Hans decided it was time to settle down. They chose to live in New York while Violet commuted three days a week to Texas. This family of four found a way to happily balance two careers across state lines.

Unfortunately, this schedule couldn’t work indefinitely. The university now needs Violet on a full-time basis. The university is also offering Hans a tenured position at their institution. Violet’s tenured position is a once in a lifetime opportunity and she loves her colleagues and her work. At the same time, Violet doesn’t know if she’s ready to take her family away from New York and to ask her husband to leave his job. It’s decision making time. But, wait. Now there’s another factor to consider. The university where Hans works does not want him to leave either. They offer Violet a long-term lectureship at his institution.  It isn’t a tenured position but it does give her family the chance to stay in New York. Time for a serious tête-à-tête.

To Relocate the Family or To Stay

How can the family happiness circle be at its fullest?

How can the family happiness circle be at its fullest?

Violet thinks of family happiness as a circle and she wants to see how she can get the fullest circle. Ultimately, Violet feels that professional happiness is more important to Hans than to her, although she recognizes the difficulty of measuring this happiness. If Hans goes to Texas, they can both be tenured professors, but the position for him in Texas would be less fulfilling. If they stay in New York, Hans would have tenure but Violet wouldn’t, so that’s less happiness for her.  If Hans would be happier professionally in New York, but Violet would be happier professionally in Texas, which happiness is greater?

The Final Decision

Violet and Hans spent years building a community in New York. With friends in New York and with kids in school, the pull of staying in New York feels stronger. Another factor in their decision is that Hans grew up in Germany. When Violet and Hans got married they discussed whether he would be okay with living in the U.S. forever. Violet knew she couldn’t live abroad in Germany, so far away from her family. Since Hans has already compromised on living in the U.S., Violet doesn’t feel like he should compromise on moving to Texas as well. While there are many things Violet and Hans love about Texas, it feels more foreign to their family than New York does. After many, many discussions, Violet and Hans decide to stay in New York and Violet leaves the position she loved in Texas.

The Aftermath

It’s been a year since Violet made her decision to leave the university in Texas and to take the long-term lectureship in New York. She now feels like she’s reached a level of happiness that she couldn’t achieve previously. Violet had never fully committed herself to New York because she always had one foot out the door. Now she is making more of an effort in her relationships, building a community for herself and her family and taking full advantage of everything New York has to offer. She doesn’t regret her decision to leave her tenured position in Texas. Violet feels satisfied with her career in New York, her husband is happy at work, and she finally feels at home somewhere. The family happiness circle is as its fullest.

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