The XX Factor

Relocating for the Recession: Part One

Double X’s Emily Bazelon has been writing an ongoing “recessionitis” series on how the recession is affecting family, work, and life. At the end of her last piece , she asked readers whether they’d been forced to move homes, cities, or even countries because of the economic downturn. She’ll be posting her piece with the results next week, but there were too many moving stories to include in one article. So this week, the On-Ramp will be running seriali al zed excerpts of emails from readers who were kind enough to share with us their stories of the recession and mobility.

“I am a native New Yorker and marketing and communications executive. I was recruited in 2001 to go to Hong Kong to work for a huge multinational agency. It was right about the time the dot-com bubble started to burst in the U.S. and I figured it would take a while to hit Asia. It did take a while, and in 2003 I left that position to study Chinese and picked up work as a newspaper copy editor in Taiwan. Until recently I was the country manager for the Taipei office of a different multi-national communications consultancy. Several months back, on an optimistic bender (I had a few interviews lined up) , I decided it was high time to give New York another try. Well, I’ve been back in the city for four months now. Those opportunities all went away. Have had very few leads of value. Now, this 15-year P.R. and communications veteran is going to go BACK to Taiwan and work as an English teacher (something I had dabbled in previously) because at least it’s a paycheck. I will also be able to join my fiancee there. We had applied for a K-1 fiancée visa for her to come here, marry me and for us to start a life in New York. But of course that was just a silly dream. If I don’t have a job, I can’t get her the visa. I wouldn’t even be able to support myself, let alone her for a while, in the U.S. anyway”-Jon

“Until 3 weeks ago I had lived in Delaware all my life. I moved to Maryland, away from my family and my fiancé, in order to accept a job. It’s just a retail position, but it seems like a godsend to me now. I had been working for a temp agency since July of last year, quite happily filling office positions throughout New Castle County. Then, a few days before Christmas, my last assignment ended. I waited a week or two for a call about a new assignment that never came. I stopped calling the agency after about a month, thinking that I had pestered them enough, and that if they couldn’t find work for me I’d have to find it for myself. I went through the newspapers, online job search engines, Craigslist; every resource you could imagine, and I couldn’t find a job anywhere. I put in an average of three applications/resumes each day for months. I am so lucky that my wonderful fiancé, Jeff, was willing to help me pay my bills while I tried to find work. By March I began to believe that there was no work in Delaware. That’s when I went to visit my cousin in Maryland and began to pepper my resume throughout the Gaithersburg area. Within a week I had a job interview, and within two weeks I had a job. Jeff and I absolutely hate being apart, but we’re getting married in September and we both need to have a steady income in order to pay for the wedding.”-Sarah

“I am a 25-year-old college grad living and working in Ukraine on United States Government-funded technical assistance projects. My job security seems high and the income tax-free nature of my compensation makes my salary very good. After being in the region doing this kind of work for the last three years, my long-time girlfriend finally laid down the law. I must return to the U.S. if this were going to continue to work (yes she is a very very patient person). I was all set to move back to New York, and take any job I could find while I waited to get into law school. Then the economy tanked. Now there is no way I can support myself living in New York. I could burn through my hard earned savings, but I will need every penny of it and more for my law degree. No, your last article hasn’t deterred me from following my dream. My position is too good to give up in this economy. So instead of moving back, I have accepted a new posting and will be moving to Paraguay in a few months after my project here closes. My girlfriend has managed to survive the first round of layoffs at her firm. She has very little work experience and rightly doesn’t think now is the time to drop out of the job market to move with me to Paraguay. So it seems the job market in New York is just good enough to keep her there, but bad enough to keep me from getting back. After a recent trip to visit her, she has finally decided that this won’t continue to work long distance. In any other economy, I could pick up, move, and try my luck in New York, but not in the worst economy in my entire lifetime. While my bank account and job prospects seem like they are still in the year 2007, my emotional state is closer to the Dow the day Bear Sterns went under. “-Ryan