Our family has moved from Pennsylvania to South Carolina in June of this Summer. You may wonder why we moved since we only moved to PA about 2 years and a couple months ago. Go here to this post where I shared about our move to PA.
Disclaimer: This post is no way intended to bash an area or pick on others. It’s mainly to inform others of some personal struggles we experienced through moving.
Why We Decided to Move from PA
In December 2019, my husband resigned from his job in Chicago and accepted a new job offer in PA. After moving, we realized that things were far different than expected; basically, things turned out differently than he (my husband) had hoped. Our family struggled in many ways since moving. We seemed to have been in sort of a limbo these past couple of years, trying to figure out how to adjust to the new. We’ve prayed, cried and pressed forward. Nothing seemed to have come together. I’m going to try to explain some of our struggles in their short versions as there’s so much that could be said about each one.
Relationships, REAL Connections & Family Struggles
Relationships & Real Connections – It’s said that people get to love where they live because of the relationships they build with others. Not so with us. Our entire family, has had very little real connections with others in the area since moving. I say very little because we’ve had at least one or two connected with us. Sadly, some has used Covid as a way to cover-up themselves for not building a relationship with us. I beg to defy. Here’s why.
- I’ve seen so many friends getting together with friends during Covid (once the restrictions let up a little). Others have told me personally that they were meeting with friends.
- Birthday parties for kids who our kids had played with were happing that they weren’t invited to.
- A group I’d joined a week prior to lockdown opened back up and didn’t invite me to the private meetings. When I inquired why, I was told that my kid was a little too old for the group now. It was a Moms of Preschoolers (MOPS) group. I had never heard of the group until we moved to PA. A few people here told me about going to MOPS so I could connect with other moms. My son was 4 at the time and my girls, 6 & 8. By the time I felt a little settled and ready to go, my little one had already turned 5 yet was not in school. The children’s ministry leader told me it was OK to still go even if my son was 5 and gave me the info I needed. I was super excited to get out and try to connect with others plus help my kids connect with others. He wasn’t in school so technically, he was still a “preschooler”. Unfortunately, we only went to the group meeting once and then Covid put everyone on lockdown.
Uninvited Back to Group Gathering
When they opened back up again sometime in May or June, I didn’t get an invite back until some of the other folks weren’t able to attended an event. Spots needed to be filled. I felt a little hurt. I felt left out. I felt that this place indeed is hard. I was trying and people were suddenly telling me my kids were too old for everything. When we moved here they had just turned 4, 6, and 8. I don’t know whose mindset is this but kids 4, 6 and 8 aren’t considered older kids. My 8 year old may be considered older to a 4 year old, I get that. But not a 5 and a 6 year old, they’re not that older than a kid who is 4. Yet suddenly, my three little kids were considered big. I felt so hurt by this.
As a new resident of the area and as a new-comer to the church we were attending (where MOPS was held), all I wanted to do was to build some connections. I was struggling and so were the kids. The girls wee homeschool at the time. We needed connection. We needed to feel like we belong and like we didn’t move just to feel neglected. We were missing our home, our church, our friends, familiar places, etc. back in Chicago. Unfortunately, some of the leaders didn’t think care to think about our feelings. All they saw was that my son had turned 5 and so I was no longer welcomed to the group.
Church – It has been one of the most disappointing of all. We frequently attended a church in the area because we thought it was better for us after evaluating the many we visited. Unfortunately, we didn’t make any connections there either. I can count on my fingers the few people who showed any form of interest to us:
- The Pastor was so nice and welcoming to us ALL the time. But the Pastor alone isn’t supposed to do all the work.
- The kids Sunday School teachers were also welcoming & helpful to us too.
- And there was one more family who embraced us.
- There were a couple of my husband’s co-workers who attended the same church. We didn’t see them often – we mainly saw them in the beginning when we first started visiting.
And that’s about all the few connections we had in church. We’d walk in and walk out like someone said as if it was “the movie theaters”. That is just sad considering the church is supposed to be the Body of Christ. You’re supposed to do life with those who are part of that body. You’re supposed to continue in fellowship and in prayer and be in one. If you don’t feel welcome or accepted that I’m not sure what is the point.
Someone said, in order to make connections you have to join a small group? Join a small group to feel welcome? I don’t think so. They were missing the point. This was not about small groups but about welcoming a family who started coming to your church. Small groups would be something that could come along later.
Friendships & Feeling Left Out – So many times our family would long for authentic friendships. We would long to talk with others, plan activities and get togethers. We’d long to laugh with others and just have a little fun connection but that didn’t happen. My husband has tried to invite others in hopes that overtime, we’d build a good relationship. Well, it didn’t work out. People weren’t interested to pursue it.
Our kids felt so left out of things. Although our kids were homeschooled, that didn’t mean that they couldn’t make connections. The few they made, some didn’t even bother to invite them out to their parties and others weren’t interested in coming to their parties. Every year, I’d hope they would have enough friends to come to their birthdays, it didn’t happen. Yet, said connections would invite our kids to play when it was convenient for them.
When we went to homeschool group meets, the kids didn’t feel like they fit in. The groups weren’t diverse. Our kids just felt a little out of place, to be honest. I know this because depending on what the event was and how close it was to interacting, they didn’t want to stay long. Later, they would express to me how awkward things felt for them. Most of the kids were a lot smaller than our now 10 & 8 year old girls.
Diversity – Um, I don’t know if I have words to explain this one. One of the things we wanted for our kids was for them to be among others of different diversities. The more diverse a place is the more you can experience the different cultures within that place and learn from one another. Also, it helps one not to feel alone. The area we moved to is not very diverse at all and the kids struggled with that. That’s not something we dealt with in Chicago, so it was a little disappointing.
To see the delight on the kids faces when they saw someone who looked like them was interesting. We’d go to a simple place like Walmart, just 10 minutes away. The kids would come up to me and say, “Mom, I see a brown-skinned person”. Or we’d go to Ohio right across the border, just about 1/2 an hour away, and they’d say, “I see so many brown-skinned people over here”. It came as a shock to me every time they said that. Like, “Huh? Even little you can recognize that too?” That was saying a lot about the area we moved to. Ah, my heart for our kids:( To Clarify This – Seeing so many brown-skinned people is not a negative on their part. They were simply comparing one area to the next and feeling happy that they finally saw others that looked like them.
Activities – When we first moved, I asked about 20 moms about things to do in the area. Everyone told me there weren’t much. You have to drive a ways out and those things weren’t free either. As parents, we want our kids to learn, develop skills, explore and sometimes that comes in the form of outdoor activities. The closets things were a little park behind our house, a little creek down the street, and the libraries. There’s were literally nothing else. I’m not kidding. Zoo, Museums, indoor parks etc. are all ways out. It was not practical to take our kids to these places frequently. It was not practical, considering the long drives coupled with the high fees involved each time. As a mom of small children I didn’t need that; I needed close, convenient, and low to no cost activities for us to enjoy.
Kids Dentists – We’ve never experienced this before. Wow! Kids Dentist appointments were hard to come by. There were just not that many kids or family dentists in the area. When you finally found one, your appointment got scheduled for months out. And . . . .They don’t care if your kid has an emergency dental problem. You just have to wait on them. And here’s the worst part, it’s like you have no choice but to go back to that same practice since there were so few of them.
I still remember that first kids dentist appointment in PA, around the summer of 2019. My husband had tried to get in months earlier that year. I remember getting to the dentist, realizing a couple kids had cavities, and feeling like if they had only gotten us in much earlier we could have avoided a cavity or two. The dentist didn’t even seem to care about that explanation – it didn’t phase her at all.
Moreover, the kids were treated roughly. The second dentist appoint, she didn’t want the parents in the room. All other kids dentist we’d been too, allowed us to go in. Not so with this one. Our kids mentioned how she spoke to them roughly and said things like, “do you want me to fix your teeth or not” if they squirmed a little. Oh, come one. Don’t we all (adults too) squirm when we go to the dentist? What did she expect from the kids?
We kept that dental practice it was a good place (despite said dentist) and realized we could request another dentist within that same. We’ve done just that since. The new dentist is such a charm. She’s not from PA – and that in itself is another explanation. She’s so much more gentle with kids and she allows parents into the room.
Diets – Our diets Have. Changed. So. Much. We were a family whose diets were heavily made up of fruits, vegetables, and mostly organic foods. Not so there. I can’t tell you how many times our family have “grieved” eating real food. One of daughters tummy aches elevated because of the change. We tried to do the best but some days it felt very depressing. There’s an Aldi and a Walmart close enough but they’re not varied enough in the type and quality of products we needed. There was a Giant Eagle too but the prices were a little too high. Any kind of health food store was a drive away.
Did we shop Aldi and Walmart in Chicago too? Yes, we did. But only for certain foods; the rest we shopped for at other local stores. It was easier to find heathy food choices there.
When it comes to diets, you shouldn’t just take it lightly and eat whatever. It can be either positive or negative to your health and your lifestyle. Frozen foods won’t cut it for us.
I grew up eating real, organic foods from my parents and other relatives gardens. It’s all I knew. I’ll always cherish that. We didn’t buy all the junk that’s on the market today. As a homemaker now, I’ve tried to bring in as much fresh as possible for our own family. In Illinois, we regularly got an “are you vegan” question because we consumed so much fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, things went downhill when we moved. Grocery and getting the foods we needed were a real struggle.
Grocery Budget – First of all, our grocery bills doubled instantly. We were surprised that even Aldi and Walmart here were more expensive than in Chicago. As an example, in Illinois, my total Aldi bill would run somewhere between on $125 to $200. That’s for a full cart, sometimes two carts. On occasion, it would be a little over $200 if I added a few “splurged” on items to the cart. Not so in PA. A quarter of cart of the same items costed over $200. Say what? My husband and I Could. Not. Believe It!
Milk – Do you know how much a gallon of milk is there? Almost $5! Almost $5! That’s not a double typo! Do you know how much it is in Illinois? Under $3, around $2:75. And on occasion you can get a sale for even less.
The first couple of times we shopped grocery in PA, we though surely the costs were a mistake. After we realized that they weren’t a mistake, we simply cringed every time we went back to buy grocery. My husband was in totally disbelief of the prices of things there.
Monthly Bills – Our bills have skyrocketed since moving. Our electricity went from $200 a month to over $700. The Water bill went from $60 for 3 months to over $300. Grocery budget wasn’t cutting it anymore. Any kind of extra curricular activities we enrolled the kids in to have them feel some kind of normalcy costed over $400 (total) for all the kids every 2 months.
Personal Pursuits – Unfortunately, our own personal desires took a back seat. I was a blogging mom for years before moving. I loved sharing ideas with others and occasionally working with companies too. It was like my little side “thing” that I enjoyed doing. There were seasons when I’ve had to take a break from it and that was OK. I’d pick up again when the time felt right.
But for many reasons, I just couldn’t seem to get my blog going here – I couldn’t seem to pick it back up this entire time here. The very things I’d blog about weren’t thriving anymore.
- My house was in constant disarray because of our no storage situation
- Our activities were few and far between
- Church was a disappointing search
- Our family was struggling
- Things were falling apart.
You just can’t give off the best to others if you can’t get it together. Sadly, no one really understood and even wanted to listen for an explanation as to why that was failing.
Depression – One of our family members struggled hard with depression since our move. The sleepless nights, the worry, the trying to figure out how to make it here has been a rough time. That’s all I’d say on this topic.
It Just Was Not Working
The bottom like is that PA wasn’t working for our family. We felt stuck. We understand that moving to any place will be different. We knew that even before moving there. We just didn’t realize how different it would be and how much it would affect our family in some negative ways. We didn’t expect our family to feel like we went backwards, to not thrive and to be lonely. But that’s exactly what happened.
In fact, when we first moved there, so many of the people we met wondered why we left Chicago to come there. Their very own words and reaction, not ours. Well, I don’t think they were helping our case. But either way, these were people we met by the wayside, the UPS driver, the person who came to things at our house, the restaurant worker who was also a transplant, the café shop owner who was from another state, the salon employee who struggled too, etc. Those who wanted us there, of course wouldn’t have told us the real issues.
Others Have Similar Feelings
I’ve had others who have moved here for years confirmed to me how difficult it is to adjust to the area. Now you’re probably wondering then how are they still here. Let’s go back up to relationships, culture, and church. Because a lot of them have other family and relationships in that area. I kid you not, so many of expressed how they only stayed for those reasons.
I’ve had a neighbor (native to PA) mentioned that they’ve thought of moving so many times, yet they are staying because they have family close by. They have family’s support, grandparents to watch their kids so they can go on dates, and they often had get togethers and family vacations together. That made all the difference to them.
Please Understand This
My husband had a great job in Chicago; he was thriving, the school was thriving, his family was content and happy where they were in Illinois. We had family, friends, church, things to do, places to go, diversity, etc. We loved our city.
We moved to help a school that needed it. But when moving to help others throws your family apart, then I think at some point you have to reconsider that move. There was never that “awwww” moment that others seem to have when they move. It was more about the job than about us as a family. I mean, if that was the case, then why ask us to come? Why do that to our family? Why say the area is just like our old area when it’s not? We knew it wouldn’t be “just like” as mentioned to my husband but we at least expected some familiarity.
God Calls Missionaries
God calls missionaries to unfamiliar places. I wrestled with that thought because when missionaries go out of the United States, things are certainly going to be different for them. So I tried to put myself in their shoes. Yet, I knew we didn’t come here for mission work in that sense. My husband got a job at a Christian College and that was the extent of it. Yes, he’d be bringing in kids to the college who would hopefully get the right training to go out and do great things for the Lord. But if you (yes him too) and your own family are struggling behind the scenes then something must be wrong.
There’s so many details I won’t go into because not everything needs to be said over the internet. Just know this. We HAD to make a quick change for the health and benefit of our family unit.
Others Refused to Understand Our Decision to Move
When we moved there to PA for the job, we didn’t expect our family to “not be a family”. We didn’t expect work to benefit and everyone else to go backwards. Unfortunately, some people in the area pretended that they don’t get that. They didn’t want to understand why we were moving because after all, it seemed like everything was OK. The co-workers saw that my husband was helping the school he now worked at and made some great changes for the benefit of the school. Others in our neighborhood saw that we had a pretty house set-up on the outside. No one actually knew the inward struggles our family faced. If anyone started to sound a little negative about something, it was dismissed by others. Like so many folks thought the area was the best place to be ever.
It’s like they were saying, “I don’t see what the problem is here”. You know what the problem was? It was not our original home. So while it may work for you it may not work for someone else. No one knew about our spiritual needs, our financial needs, our emotional needs, etc. Only our family knew the deep struggles of their heart. ‘m sorry. Now that I’m writing this it just got to me. If a family tells me something is not working out for them and they need to make a change, who am I to question? God instituted the family and there’s something about helping your household before going to build a fort out in the world.
So a job might be thriving but what is the point if the family is failing? Doesn’t anybody get that? It doesn’t seem so to many there. I do believe that they have allowed pride to make them think that it should work for everyone. When a family feels moving to another place has really taken a toll on everyone or everything they have built, they should make a change. It doesn’t matter if the move was to the country, city, or the best spot on the planet! If it’s not working for family life, it’s just not working.
Moving to SC
Anyways, I do hope you truly understand why we are moving and don’t hold it against us if you are from the area. You may love it. Your family may be here. Your friends may be here. You may have real relationships. Your finances may be thriving. Your kids may be thriving. Your family may find that despite the few negatives that come your way, overall you are doing just fine. That is great! But when another family struggles in this area, don’t force them to stay. They have to do what is best for them too just like you are doing.
She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness (Proverbs 31:27).