Should I move? Is it time to leave my red state?

I live in a red state in the Midwest. It’s not ideal. I often feel like an outsider even though my family has lived here for generations. 

Sometimes people ask, “Why don’t you move?” Usually, I would respond, “because this is my home” but lately I’ve been wondering if a change might be good.

It’s just a thought – a fleeting one at that. 

I’ve been pretty staunch in telling people I’m not going anywhere. My family has been here since the mid-19th century (that’s a long time in the US) and I’m proud of that. Why would I want to go anywhere else?

But does this area today reflect my lifestyle, the things I believe in, and what I feel is important? Is there someplace that’s a better fit for my family?

I always say I want to make my home a better place. But is it worth the fight? 

My family immigrated from Germany long ago so, at some point, my ancestors decided it was time for a change and came to the US.

Is it time for a change again?

I’m really curious to get your thoughts. How do you feel about where you live? Would you move if you had the chance? Where would you go?

Also, where do you think I should go? What place is welcoming to a progressive couple in their 40s with a young child? I’d love to hear your suggestions. 

At this point, moving would be impossible financially speaking, but maybe it’s a thought I should keep in mind.


  1. Katydid says

    This advice is coming from a 2nd-generation American on all 4 grandparents (Ellis Island). I grew up a military brat moving every couple of years, then went to college and…joined the military and moved every couple of years. Wouldn’t trade that experience for anything, but realize what made me thrive wouldn’t work for everyone.

    If I were you, I would consider your support system. Your daughter is young. Ask yourself about extended family and friends. You don’t have to answer here, but think about how much time you spend around extended family. Is it once a year? Once a week?

    How about your medical team? How happy are you with them? (Again, don’t have to answer here.) Good medical people are not easy to find.

    Next, think about jobs. Your husband’s job is very portable; he can move to just about anyplace and get a job…but what about you?

    Some good things about blue states: in general, there’s more diversity, the schools are better, there are more opportunities for people (parks, libraries, social groups) and more choices in general.

  2. bruce85283 says

    You don’t owe your town anything in particular. I’d say your top priority should be your kid. Go to McDonalds and the local mall and look at people you don’t know. In say 10 years, are those the people whose values you want your kid to absorb? Kids pick up stuff from lots of adults, plus their friends parents. How long before some nice friendly kid introduces your kid to their evangelical parents, who might grill your kid on if they have yet been washed in a blood sacrifice to avoid hell, or however they phrase it?
    Maybe you can get jobs in Pittsburgh or Illinois or even a city on the north end of Ohio? Any of those might give your kid a more sensible environment. Maybe see which specific legislative districts have all blue officials? Not for political reasons but as a sign of local values more consistent with those you want to encourage.
    If you’re ever going to move, I think it might be easier before your kid is in a higher grade in school with lots of random friends.

  3. Bruce Fuentes says

    I live in NW WI. Our county trends blue, but that is because the city of Superior is in it. My wife’s family has lived on this property for 65 years. I am an East coast Boricua(Puerto Rican descent). My mother’s family is from poorer new England stock. I have never fit. As my wife is a community health doctor we are committed to hanging on. If and when we have to consider moving we will leave the country. As I have a 40 year old special needs son, and a 73 year old mother in law that makes things complicated, but we will do what we have to do.

  4. M. Currie says

    If it weren’t a huge move, and a radical uprooting for a kid, I’d suggest Vermont. Rural parts are difficult for a kid, with limited cultural and social opportunities, but the cities and environs are a lot better, and Vermonters tend, overall, to be tolerant and relaxed.
    I’m biased of course, but I think if there were a god it would be god’s country. You’d bump into him at the local co-op, stocking up on granola and hard cider.
    And of course jobs are limited, and the weather is loathsome, but we have to pay a little price, right?
    Seriously, I’d recommend Vermont if not for the kid. It would be a big uprooting.

  5. sonofrojblake says

    Katydid is absolutely on the money with the consideration of support network and healthcare being big considerations and bruce85282 is right about your kid being number one. Any big move is going to take you away from people who could step in if you need them. How comfortable are you with building a new support network somewhere else? If the answer’s not “very uncomfortable”, then the answer to the question in the title is “hell yeah”.

    I want to make my home a better place. But is it worth the fight?

    How likely are you to win the fight in a timescale that makes it worth it? Or at all? Be brutally realistic.

    Then there’s “Why would I want to go anywhere else?”, which comes just a half-dozen sentences after a really good answer: “I often feel like an outsider “. There are many, many answers I could give you why I’d want to go somewhere else if I were you, but those are your own words.

    How do you feel about where you live? Would you move if you had the chance? Where would you go?

    I love the UK. It’s beautiful and most civilised – no guns, free healthcare, good education, lovely countryside, history all over the place, friendly people (as long as you’re north of about Birmingham) – I love it. That said – it feels like quality of life here peaked about 2010 and has been on a steady slide since. Not coincidentally, that’s how long the Conservative party have been in office. Then again, after the nonsense of the last couple of months, their days are, I hope, numbered.

    I’ve had the chance to move. I have moved around this country a bit, and a few years ago I visited New Zealand, the only country I’ve ever been to that made me think “I could definitely live here”. The only reason I didn’t try is the fact my family – with whom I get on very well – are all in the north west UK, and they’re enchanted by four- and two-year old kids. I’d hate to deprive them all of each other.

    But goodness me, New Zealand seems to me like paradise. In many ways, like England, just… better. OK, every now and then all the buildings fall down, but it’s a small price to pay.

    I’ve said it before: I don’t understand why anyone who has a choice would even visit the USA, much less actually choose to live there if they had ANY alternative. My mother would move to Canada in a heartbeat if it didn’t mean she’d be far from her grandsons. NZ is great. If you don’t mind a language barrier, there are over a dozen countries in mainland Europe that offer a great standard of living. Get back to your roots in Germany, go to determinedly and proudly secular France. Pick one. I don’t think you’d regret it.

  6. txpiper says

    You wouldn’t necessarily have to move a long distance to find significantly different lifestyle framework. It might be a matter of changing from rural to urban, or vice versa.
    Moving is always a major hassle, and as expensive one now.

  7. blf says

    Despite being someone who moved from the States to Europe (EU) a long time ago (I now live in S.France), I don’t have any advice per se on the decision. In my case, I had graduated from University, would be moving a sensible country with an assured & well-paid job in a known company, no medical problems (excepting poor eyesight), and being single, “family” wasn’t a significant concern. All of that is so different from your case (as I understand it) that I don’t think I can “translate” (so-to-speak), so I won’t even try. One other factor in my decision is I am a dual-passport holder (dual-national of both the States and the EU country I moved to), eliminating a lot of paperwork / permissions; another was, similar to you, “political” dissatisfaction with the then-perceived trend in the States (albeit that wasn’t a major concern in my case, and the timing of my predictions was inaccurate).

    Having said all that, in my opinion, it’s worth considering. Having some money (savings?) available will help because you will, initially at last (maybe for some years), find “Europe” more expensive that the States. It both is and isn’t, the issue is things are different in Europe and what is inexpensive / acceptable / common on one continent isn’t necessarily on the other continent. Also, you will still have to file USAian Federal Tax Returns (albeit there may be little-to-nothing to pay); the States, almost uniquely, taxes worldwide income despite residence, etc.; i.e. where the income was earned.

    On the other hand, many EU countries have excellent, often low-cost, healthcare, childcare, and educational systems, as well, of course, as different cultures, cuisines, attitudes, arts & literature, primary languages, etc. And then there is the (often fabulous) train system, allowing frequent, often fast, often inexpensive, travel both intra- and inter-country. (Crossing borders without an EU-country passport or residence-card can be tricky, albeit some of the paperwork will probably include obtaining a residence-card, so that need not be a particularly Big Deal.)

    All of the above is very general, each county is different (whether or not in the EU, the EU is not a monolithic block). Research is strongly recommended! There are “advisors” (for hire) for all stages of the process, and you will very probably have to hire some (perhaps especially to assist with the paperwork, locating / moving-into your first home, important details like bank accounts, etc.), so research / budget for that.

  8. moarscienceplz says

    The view from 20,000 feet is that if you want a more progressive USA, we need to have a lot of progressives voting and working for progressive causes in every state. Also, in reality every state is actually a purple state. The percentages of progressives vs. conservatives are always within a few points of each other. So, that viewpoint says you must stay. It also says that people you would agree with and feel comfortable with are sprinkled all over your neighborhood. You just need to connect with them. Are there any groups that meet at your local library that sound interesting to you? Have you checked into Is there a city council member or a county commissioner that seems even slightly sympathetic to your views? If so, email them and tell them what you think about a topic. Do this just a few times and I can practically guarantee they will invite you to participate in some progressive operation.
    If you come to the conclusion that you simply must leave, then leave. No one would fault you for that. But, I hope you really give your state a chance to prove that it does hold a lot of people of goodwill, and that you could make life better for them, as well as for your own family, if you joined up with them.

  9. Katydid says

    Burlington, VT, has a population of about 40k, and a college right there, so there’s a lot of young energy and things like dance and art lessons for children. If you wanted to move, that might be an option.

    Or do as moarscienceplz says, and stay where you are and make it better, if you are up to it. There’s a lot to say for staying put, where you know the schools, the neighbors, the extended family. That is always an option. (In case it isn’t obvious, I’m being sincere and not snarky.)

  10. Ridana says

    I grew up in what would become Gym Jordan’s home territory and escaped to CA once I got out of college. 🙂 But I’d wanted out for a long time, yearning for real mountains (and ended up in the flattest part of the state! At least I can see mountains here.). I’ve never regretted leaving.

    But you seem to still mostly like it there, or it wouldn’t be a quandary for you. I think others have given better advice, but I say stand your ground, as long as you still feel it’s yours, and put more energy into finding your allies than your enemies. I don’t think OH is unredeemable yet, but it will be if all the progressives flee the state.

  11. Katydid says

    Would I move? We’ve been contemplating just that because we’re looking down the barrel at retirement. I moved to this state at the end of high school, then went away for college and the military, and then came back. My kids were born and raised here. Being in a “coastal EEEEELEEEEEETE” area, we get a lot for the taxes we pay and there’s a diversity of people. I can go snow skiing in the mountains, to the beach, or to several major cities with an hour’s drive. There are world-class universities and hospitals all around. There are a lot of jobs in all kinds of fields.

    But it’s crowded and the public transportation is really limited.

    What are your thoughts after reading all of ours?

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