Author Topic: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?  (Read 1995 times)

waltworks

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How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« on: September 21, 2018, 08:45:49 AM »
We live in a pretty awesome place (ski resort) that we carefully selected based on outdoor opportunities, school quality, climate, etc. We like it a lot. We're pretty tightly connected to the local community (currently a "small town" if only counting year-round residents) and we have a great (albeit super expensive) house with a basement apartment that makes us basically FIRE (though I still work part time because I enjoy it).

The problem is that our area has gotten really, really popular. There are something like 20,000 year round residents but construction is underway on housing for at least another 20,000 within a 10 mile radius. Traffic in the last 5 years has gone from negligible to really congested (we ride our bikes so it doesn't affect us too much, but when we do need to drive somewhere it can be a nightmare). The schools are bursting at the seams with kids but due to a failed bond issue (essentially angry voters reacting to the overdevelopment that has been approved) there are no funds to build more facilities anytime soon. Lift lines get longer and longer, though we can mostly avoid the worst days with our flexible schedule.

So, we're thinking about moving. We have some destinations in mind that would be great but we worry that the kids won't take it well (they are 6 and 4). We'd also have to start over making adult friends, of course, but I've found that to be pretty easy to do when you have school age children.

If you've moved with young elementary age kids, how did it go? If you could *choose* to move or not (we aren't constrained by jobs or particularly by RE prices since we live in a super expensive place) in our situation, would you? Would you wait and see how bad the crowds get but also let the kids get even more connected to their friends and school, or read the writing on the wall and move now?

Advice, personal stories, face punches are all appreciated.

-W

ixtap

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2018, 08:54:38 AM »
It really depends on the kids, but yours are in the "kids are resilient" age group and will be about until the oldest is a tween.

PathtoFIRE

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2018, 09:13:22 AM »
We've struggled with whether to move, and gave ourselves a self-imposed deadline of before the oldest starts 5th grade, with our rationale being that this would give him 1 year in the new elementary school to make friends before starting middle school. He's in fourth grade now, so we've got less than a year to do it, and it's looking less and less likely. Both my wife and I moved multiple times during childhood, and while I think we turned out alright, we wanted to avoid that for our kids. However, the converse is that I think an argument could be made that there are just as many negatives to keeping your kids in the same community with the same kids and friends for their first 18 years.

Just to stir things up a bit, I often question why my wife and I, and everyone around us, seem to place such a high priority on the kids. My parent's certainly made some decisions with my brother and I in mind, but I guarantee they probably never had such in-depth discussions weighing all the pros and cons. Education is important to us, and we've got our kids in one of the top public school districts in the state, and this is one of the major reasons we live where we live. But then I look at where my parents moved us right before I started high school, and they clearly did not concern themselves TOO much with that.

So I understand your dilemma, it's similar to ours, and while I haven't figured out how to move past it, I also feel like maybe even asking this question of ourselves is really a mistake.

reeshau

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2018, 10:07:05 AM »
Just to stir things up a bit, I often question why my wife and I, and everyone around us, seem to place such a high priority on the kids.

It's a first world problem, for sure.  Or a fourth level problem, if you follow the model in Factfulness.

We just relocated to Ireland, and our son is starting Kindergarten.  There are a number of factors that are scoping our return to the US, but one of them is to allow him enough time to develop friends and settle in to our return home (not the same city we left) before hormones and anxiety kick in.  We are expecting 5 years or less--not necessarily bounded by our son's development, but I'd say it's compatible with other factors, including taxes, aging parents, etc.

PhantomJedi

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2018, 11:26:43 AM »
As someone who moved around a lot as a kid, I'd say it really depends on the kid. It was hard for me because I suck at making friends and talking to people, but my younger sibling who's more outgoing adjusted much more easily. YMMV.

Laserjet3051

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2018, 12:57:48 PM »
If your going to move, I'd do it now while the kids are still young; 4 and 6 is really young and they should readily adapt. As they get older is becomes incrementally harder. Try moving when both are in high school that is a recipe for catastrophe. Just my 2 cents.

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2018, 12:59:26 PM »
We moved after my oldest finished first grade.  She adjusted without many problems - which is great, because then her 2nd grade teacher quit halfway through the year, and then in 4th grade the school moved her up to GT, so she was in a class with no kids that she knew.  We made a big effort the first year to keep in touch with her friends from the old town (an hour away), which helped with the transition, I think.  She did not have any really really close friends until 5th grade, when she finally found her tribe.  The kids in her elementary classes were nice acquaintances, but she didn't really "click" with any of them.

My stepdaughter moved to a different school when she went to 5th grade.  She made a lot of friends and seemed to have no issues.   There was a custody change the following summer, and she had to start 6th grade in yet another district.  She's had a little trouble adjusting, but she's slowly starting to make friends, and she'll be fine by the end of the semester.  We had been discussing moving to a different area within this school district to get a smaller, cheaper, home, but we decided that asking my stepdaughter to go to a 3rd school in 3 years was unfair.

I moved halfway through 4th grade.  I think it changed my personality a bit - I went from being one of the popular kids who knew everyone to a more reserved kid - but I am glad.  I like this me.

In hindsight, I don't regret any of those moves.

YummyRaisins

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2018, 07:35:58 PM »
No personal experience to speak of here as our kids were not yet in school when we moved (I moved schools in the 4th grade and as a fairly antisocial kid it wasn't great, but turned out ok in the end). However, it is something we are considering now as we are deciding where to settle in before our daughter begins kindergarten.

Your question got me thinking about conversations I've had with coworkers about difficulties their kids are having starting new grades in their schools (the kids are elementary school age). Friends they had in the previous grade were moved to other classes. Friends they do have in their new class aren't their friends anymore, which has their parents confused and frustrated. Kids in the new class aren't as friendly. In essence, it sounded to me like they were the same problems you might expect to have in a new school, but they'd never moved.

Conditions changes, it will challenge your kids, and there's only so much you can do about. Your kids are still young and therefor pretty resilient. If you think the location you're in now isn't where you'll want to be for the foreseeable future, I'd make the move.

It doesn't sound like you'd be miserable staying where you are, but then again, being content parents is probably one of the best things you can do for your kids. So do that.

Jesstache

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2018, 11:53:34 PM »
We lived in a very similar place (maybe even nearby) to where you are, based on your description.  We lived in Bend, OR and never planned to move.  We were on track to coast into FIRE there with a pretty cushy lifestyle in about 6 years when circumstances beyond our control changed all that and DH became jobless and I was a SAHM...  We planned to just cut back a bunch and get jobs for health care but then a recruiter contacted DH and basically we ended up moving with our 4 and 7 year olds to the Bay area this past summer for a job that would allow us to FAT FIRE in 4 years back to Bend. 

The 7 year old started 2nd grade and the 4, now 5 year old started Transitional Kindergarten (Public preschool-ish?) in their new school in August.  We signed them up for soccer and scouts before moving also and I honestly couldn't have imagined the transition going better than it has.  We've been here less than 3 months and the kids have as many or more friends than they did living in Bend and I've made some awesome friends already as well when it's always taken me a loooong time to develop friendships in the past.  We felt immediately welcomed into the community as a family and after less than 3 months, I can already tell it will be more difficult than I initially expected to leave here when our time is up.  This is surprising me, since I did not want to move but agreed because it just made sense financially.  We've asked the kids where they like living better so far and they're ALREADY torn and can't decide!

Our plan is to be moved back to Bend by the time our oldest starts Junior High (6th grade) because even though our kids will still have friends from living there previously and going back for frequent visits, I think anything later than that will be much more difficult on our oldest.  Junior High is a good cutoff, in my mind, as there will be multiple elementary schools combining into the junior high so there'll be a lot of new faces for everyone. 

Villanelle

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2018, 02:15:20 AM »
I was a military kid and am now surrounded by military families.  Kids of all ages are fine, but in general, the younger they are, the easier it is.  At those ages?  It's generally almost a non-issue.  The only move I remember being really hard for me as a kid was my last--before entering junior high. 

In your shoes I am pretty sure that I would take the moving of the kids out of the equation and then make the decision.  If you want to move and that's the thing holding you back, then I'd go ahead and move. 

AccidentalMiser

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2018, 06:40:17 AM »
We live in a pretty awesome place (ski resort) that we carefully selected based on outdoor opportunities, school quality, climate, etc. We like it a lot. We're pretty tightly connected to the local community (currently a "small town" if only counting year-round residents) and we have a great (albeit super expensive) house with a basement apartment that makes us basically FIRE (though I still work part time because I enjoy it).

The problem is that our area has gotten really, really popular. There are something like 20,000 year round residents but construction is underway on housing for at least another 20,000 within a 10 mile radius. Traffic in the last 5 years has gone from negligible to really congested (we ride our bikes so it doesn't affect us too much, but when we do need to drive somewhere it can be a nightmare). The schools are bursting at the seams with kids but due to a failed bond issue (essentially angry voters reacting to the overdevelopment that has been approved) there are no funds to build more facilities anytime soon. Lift lines get longer and longer, though we can mostly avoid the worst days with our flexible schedule.

So, we're thinking about moving. We have some destinations in mind that would be great but we worry that the kids won't take it well (they are 6 and 4). We'd also have to start over making adult friends, of course, but I've found that to be pretty easy to do when you have school age children.

If you've moved with young elementary age kids, how did it go? If you could *choose* to move or not (we aren't constrained by jobs or particularly by RE prices since we live in a super expensive place) in our situation, would you? Would you wait and see how bad the crowds get but also let the kids get even more connected to their friends and school, or read the writing on the wall and move now?

Advice, personal stories, face punches are all appreciated.

-W

If they were 14 and 16, I'd say stay.  At 4 and 6, I'm pretty sure they'll be just fine if you move.  By two weeks after, they'll have forgotten all about their past lives.  I know I did.  My parents divorced when I was 6.  As traumatic as that was, none of the trauma was related to moving somewhere else.

waltworks

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2018, 04:25:29 PM »
I'm probably overthinking it. And yes, this is obviously a (rich person) 1st world problem.

I'm somewhat reassured that our kids will be perfectly happy (after being unhappy for a few weeks) in any number of other cool places.

If I were more of a homeschooler type, honestly, I might just take the family on a permanent road trip. That's a whole different can of worms, though. It's more likely we'll just do a family sabbatical or something when the kids are teenagers (if they're interested) and travel the world for a bit.

-W

Paul der Krake

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2018, 04:43:40 PM »
In expat circles, the unspoken rule is to not move your children in the last 2-3 years before graduation, as they need to crush that shit to go to a good college and make the parents proud.

Outside of that delicate window, move as much as you want. But only in the summer between two school years, you don't want to be mistaken for a refugee or something.

oldladystache

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2018, 06:04:51 PM »
70 years ago my parents sold the motel in the desert and my dad moved back into the city to work in the factory and live with Grandma while Mom and Brother and I (the baby) stayed so Brother could finish his first grade year,

When he found out a few years ago why they stayed, his immediate reaction was "I wish they hadn't done that." Turns out he hated that school.

It all depends.

ASW

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2018, 09:19:43 AM »
My 6-year-old daughter has lived in 4 states and went to a different school each year for pre-school, pre-k, K, and now 1st grade.  There's anxiety before and after every move, but it fades in a couple of months.  I also have a 4-year-old son who is (so far) totally unfazed by the moving.  I think the duration of disruption depends on the kid, but I also think a little adversity is not the worst thing in the world.  We all benefit from getting out of our comfort zone from time to time.

bernardnb

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #15 on: September 24, 2018, 12:59:34 PM »
I'll echo what other have said, at that age it likely doesn't matter.

One thing I'll add from my personal experience moving as a kid is that I greatly preferred moving in the middle of a school year versus over the summer. 

I moved in the middle of 6th grade and it was great.  I'm not the most out going person, but immediately meeting so many kids made it easy to make friends.  Plus with being the "new kid" others were curious and would come to me.

The next time I moved was during the summer before my freshman year of high school.  It was terrible.  It was much harder to meet people.

FireHiker

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #16 on: September 25, 2018, 04:07:48 PM »
I think at 4 and 6 I wouldn't be afraid to move them. My younger kids are 6 and 8 currently. If we could move to our dream location now (we can't; I have a 17 year old to put through college first, starting in a year...) we would. As it is, in 5 years when they're going into 6th and 8th, we will look very carefully at our big picture and decide if we're moving then. I will not move them any later than that though. I certainly knew people who moved in high school, but I'd prefer not to do that to my kids. Most of them were just fine though, so I wouldn't overthink it too much! Well, yes, *I* probably would, but you shouldn't. ;)

letsdoit

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #17 on: September 26, 2018, 09:09:19 AM »
psychologist friend states that moving kids during middle school can count as a trauma

ASW

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #18 on: September 30, 2018, 02:12:28 PM »
psychologist friend states that moving kids during middle school can count as a trauma

This seems like a pretty low bar for trauma.

letsdoit

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #19 on: October 01, 2018, 08:29:18 AM »
true but some ppl take it in diff ways, i.e., there are ppl w no PTSD sx that grew up in Rwanda during genocide and the opposite is true: relatively little things can affect others

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #20 on: October 01, 2018, 08:48:00 AM »
Weve moved several times during my kids childhood. No easy formulas or answers. Yes to the post above about it depending how gregarious a person is (my kid = very), and yes to being careful about time of year.

One community we moved to completely shuts down May-Sept of each year. Man, tough arriving during that season! But others really get going those months -a very social season! So Id look at where one is moving to and decide on the arrival timing accordingly.

The other piece Id pay most attention to is depth of relationships. Moving away from a relative or school buddy one is emotionally fused with can be devastating. Moving *to* these, or away from the absence of these, can be no problem.

That relates to pets, too... Some regions its very hard to locate pet-permitting housing (owning or renting) so if the family has a pet, make sure keeping it will be viable.

And make sure the kids can bring their most important things with them. Pre-move is a great time to declutter, but the kids should have their most special objects in the new place.

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #21 on: October 01, 2018, 09:38:51 AM »
I have two kids (now 11 & 12) & we moved when one was going into 1st & one into 2nd grade. The one going into 2nd grade had a tight knit group of neighborhood friends & has a quieter/more introverted personality. Now, 5 years later, he still struggles with finding his friends "group". The 11 year old, on the other hand, has done exceptionally well & I think enjoys the area/community now much more than before.

I would strongly advise against moving the kids in middle school or beyond if possible, because I think it varies so much by child & style. That said, at the ages you're discussing, I don't think it's an issue.

elaine amj

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #22 on: October 01, 2018, 09:46:04 AM »
I switched schools in my last year of elementary school. I wasn't hugely close to anyone in my previous school although I was happy enough there. I was a very odd duck in my new school and while I was friendly with most, was basically an outsider the rest of the year.

I did OK in my first year of high school after that and slowly made some closer friends. Then I got moved again. I was NOT happy about it (obviously making friends was a struggle for me) and fought with my parents for some time. It turned out to be an awesome move for me and I ended up making lifelong friends and had a very very happy time in the new school.

I spend a lot of time with my teen kids training them on how to develop friendships. Both have lived on the same street all their lives but have had their own struggles (on and off) with making friends.

For every happy story, there is a sad one. For every sad story, there is a happy one. Seems to me like you just don't know until you know.

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joonifloofeefloo

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #23 on: October 01, 2018, 12:28:02 PM »
Quote
Both have lived on the same street all their lives but have had their own struggles (on and off) with making friends.

Wanted to mention in mine and forgot...I lived in the same spot until I left home at 17: same family, same house, same street, same neighbours, same church, one school k-7, one 8-10...and had no friends until age 14/15 (then two friendships that were kind of great and kind of toxic).

So staying put, even immersed with people, doesnt necessarily result in having or keeping friendships. I did much better as an adult, moving around and finding other quirky, mobile, independent, relatively solitary, expat types. Our current community is absolutely dreamy in terms of friendship opportunities for my kid...and he wouldnt have had that except that wed moved here :)

ditheca

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #24 on: October 02, 2018, 03:12:17 PM »
We moved 2000 miles with three kids grades K-4.

First, we made sure to explain/convince the children that the move was going to be a Good Thing for the family.  Our oldest didn't want to leave behind his friends.  We promised him he could call as often as he wanted, and continue to play games with them online. Turns out it wasn't a big deal of course, he only thought about them once or twice a year.  But since he didn't know that, addressing it was part of The Plan.

My boys decided to drive the moving truck cross country with me, while my daughter and wife flew.  They still remember the trucking songs they invented during the trip, and have some nostalgia whenever we pass a truck stop.

The new neighborhood was amazingly better; roving bands of kids knock on the door at all hours asking if they can come out and play.  Sometimes they don't want to go play, of course, but having the option is pretty nice.  School system turned out to be superior; two of my kids got to take Chinese immersion classes which they loved.  Then they all got in to the local magnet school which they also love.

As a child my family moved every 4-6 years, and there were a few awkward moments trying to find my new cliques.  Popular hobbies help kids get settled faster.  In my youth it was sports and Magic cards.  Nowadays it seems to be bey blades, pokemon cards, and computer games.

diapasoun

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #25 on: October 02, 2018, 04:56:36 PM »
One thing you may want to pay attention to isn't the age, but the place you're moving to. When my parents moved us to larger schools where the kids didn't automatically know everyone else in the grade, it was a lot easier to find friends. When they moved us to a small school where all the kids had known everyone else since kindergarten? I felt like "the new kid" for nine years. Add in a mid-year move where I was a sudden addition to an class that already gelled, and it was rough.

Obviously YMMV -- I'm also a bit of a weirdo who doesn't really fit in well in a small rural area -- but that was my experience.

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #26 on: October 02, 2018, 06:29:31 PM »
We moved 2000 miles with three kids grades K-4.

First, we made sure to explain/convince the children that the move was going to be a Good Thing for the family.  Our oldest didn't want to leave behind his friends.  We promised him he could call as often as he wanted, and continue to play games with them online. Turns out it wasn't a big deal of course, he only thought about them once or twice a year.  But since he didn't know that, addressing it was part of The Plan.

My boys decided to drive the moving truck cross country with me, while my daughter and wife flew.  They still remember the trucking songs they invented during the trip, and have some nostalgia whenever we pass a truck stop.

The new neighborhood was amazingly better; roving bands of kids knock on the door at all hours asking if they can come out and play.  Sometimes they don't want to go play, of course, but having the option is pretty nice.  School system turned out to be superior; two of my kids got to take Chinese immersion classes which they loved.  Then they all got in to the local magnet school which they also love.

As a child my family moved every 4-6 years, and there were a few awkward moments trying to find my new cliques.  Popular hobbies help kids get settled faster.  In my youth it was sports and Magic cards.  Nowadays it seems to be bey blades, pokemon cards, and computer games.

Can report, Magic cards are still a hit among a certain segment. ;-) Our middle schoolers have a Magic club at school, and it's quite a connection. Oh, and still sports. Soccer, for sure

galliver

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Re: How bad is it to move your kids once they're in school?
« Reply #27 on: October 02, 2018, 09:15:50 PM »
My parents moved 4 times during the 20 yrs they had kids in school. I moved twice: before 3rd grade and before 11th. For my sisters it was mid-2nd/5th before 3rd/6th, and before 10th (/just graduated). The last move was a little unique bc it was a move back to where we used to live and had family friends. Still, sister picked a school based on course offerings and didn't know anyone going in.

The 5th&6th grade moves were tough on that sister...she didn't make friends easily as a kid and had lost her bff (they did keep in touch, visit, but it's not the same).

The 2nd/3rd grade moves for me and sister were totally fine. Maybe scary up front, but old buds were replaced with new ones pretty quickly.

HS moves are obviously kinda crummy on principle. I made good new friends eventually and got additional opportunities class-wise, but ended up in the wrong level math, skipped US lit, had to take Health with sophomores. It just...jumbled things.

So, from my experience...a few moves is very different from 3 moves/year or something. Kid social circles can change every couple years anyway...even moving in HS isn't life ending, although I'd avoid it.

In elementary school it's pretty safe, esp if your kid isn't extremely close to One Friend. Even if they are, they will probably be just fine in time, but don't take their pain lightly and be supportive.