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Will Trade Husband for Food

view of parking lot from cheap apartment in Michigan

Cheap, no scenic view

In late 2006, my husband, Michael, found a wonderful opportunity with a small company in Texas. He’d been job shopping because he knew he might be cut in the next round of layoffs at his current high-tech company. By mutual agreement, we decided to make the leap, leaving our home of ten years, the state where I was born, and the children and grandchildren. We had no way to know I’d live in Texas alone in the near future.

The first clue that this would be an exciting move should have been when our home sold, in a slow market, before the sign was up. A for sale sign was still flat on its face in the yard when the realtor called and said he had an offer, and the buyer wanted to close in thirty days. Michael was already working in Texas, and I was attempting to handle the moving preparations alone.

During the ten years we’d been in our Arizona home, we’d also lost three of our parents. Their belongings came to us to be given to family or recycled in some fashion. Some things got stored for the children. Now, there wasn’t going to be time to do the clean-out I planned. We were pushed into an urgent house-hunt in Texas. Temporary housing wasn’t an option due to a one-size-fits-all dollar limit the company paid for relocation.

In spite of the stressful move, the Texas Hill Country proved to be beautiful, and the people friendly. We felt like we’d stepped back twenty years, even though we moved to Austin, a reasonably large town. People talked to each other and walked the neighborhood in the evenings. We’d forgotten how that felt after living in a big city with ultra-heightened security for a decade, but our enjoyment was short-lived. The economic decline closed the doors of the company that moved us to Texas.

Fortunately, Michael possessed very marketable IT skills and although, we were disappointed; we didn’t go into panic mode–yet. We brushed up his master resume, created new resumes for various jobs, and started the job hunt. He got an offer immediately with a local consulting company, but our joy was short-lived. He got laid off for the second time in four months when the consulting work fell off. This time jobs were slim locally, and we were still waiting for a job offer four months later.

Along the way, we reluctantly expanded the job search nationwide. After all, eating and paying the mortgage were important. After moving from Arizona, our savings was already depleted–a situation that wasn’t helped by finding out that we bought a house with hidden problems that ate money. However, moving to find work isn’t an easy decision. We started by making a list of the problems and the priorities.

In the end, Michael took a job in Michigan, and we decided I’d stay in Texas. We hadn’t owned our house long enough to sell it in the “credit crash” market. We also had experience living through extended separation from the five years Michael worked as a road-warrior. Plus, we were hesitant to invest in moving until he’d spent some time in the job. After all, he took a job in an area that was going down like a rock.

I literally traded my husband for food and a roof over our head. Although those things are important, I wasn’t thrilled to have him 2,000 miles away. My health is unpredictable, and our house, vehicles, pets, and yard, aren’t a small job to maintain alone. Trading him for food and a roof over our head meant a lot more really physical labor that’s tough to handle with arthritis and an autoimmune disorder. The reduction in cooking and laundry didn’t offset all that. The new job meant a lot of other changes too.

Michael could only come home once a month, because we had to pay for every trip from Michigan to Texas (no employer help), which meant that his weekends home were all work to catch up anything I couldn’t do. In addition, he had to rent a small apartment in Michigan. That meant adjusting the budget to pay for two places. Nevertheless, we were better off than we were on unemployment, in spite of the number of soups and sandwiches we had to eat to stay within budget. The job worked out great, but we still decided against relocating to Michigan.

The Michigan economy was very unstable, and that meant no job opportunities in the event of yet another layoff. In addition, neither of us have lived in that type of climate, and there are a lot of things to learn, from how to dress, to car maintenance, to driving on ice. After I visited and Michael spent a winter there, we also had concerns that my health couldn’t handle the extreme cold. Therefore, Michael stayed until the local economy improved enough that he could find a stable job in Texas and came home.

Someday I’ll write more about how much more interesting it became when his sister lost her home and had to move in with me, while he was in Michigan, and . . .

card table and two metal chairs in apartment

Living Cheaply and Simply

living room with desk, boxes, chair and small tv

It fit in the truck or it didn't go

Permanent link to this article: http://apennyandchange.pennyleisch.com/2012/01/27/trading-husband-for-food/