The XX Factor

Relocating for the Recession: Part Two

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 serialized excerpts of emails from readers who were kind enough to share with us their stories of the recession and mobility.

“I have quite a history with living overseas due to economic circumstances. My mother raised three children with no outside support and only a high-school education. My siblings and I all earned scholarships and college degrees from reputable schools (the first in our family), but none of us have earned more than $30,000 per year. Living overseas was the only feasible way I could support my brother’s education and my mother’s bills. I worked for seven years as a teacher in Korea, as an actor in the Philippines for one year, and for several months teaching in Japan as well. I recently decided to attend law school and have returned to the U.S. for the first time in 8 years, but now I have to go back to work in Japan in order to make my mother’s mortgage payments; she was laid off last year; my sister last week. Korea’s exchange rate has bottomed out so badly that I would need to double my paycheck there just to make the same amount in dollars as I did 15 months ago. My sister has followed work from Chicago to North Carolina to Arizona. I have followed work from Seoul to Manila to Tokyo and back again. Almost all of my extended family has dispersed in order to find work which barely puts them above the poverty line, if at all. -John

“My husband and I are actually stuck in a place we don’t like because of the recession. We’re both originally from Maryland, and when we graduated from college there three years ago we decided to strike out. I got a job in New York and he got one way out in New Jersey, so we settled in a New Jersey suburb. Our jobs are okay, but we hate New Jersey and miss Maryland. We had planned to stay in our current jobs for about 2 years to get some experience under our belts, then start looking for jobs in DC. Right after we hit year 2, the economy went into free fall mode, and now there are no jobs to be had. We might be able to get one back in DC, but can’t survive on one of our incomes. I know that we’re lucky to have jobs, especially because more than 20 percent of the workforce at my company has been laid off, but to look at the foreseeable future in a place that we don’t like that’s a four-hour drive away from our families and friends is really bleak.”-Marie

“I have been looking for a job in Atlanta, GA (my hometown) for months now. I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta, went to the University of Georgia, got a job in Atlanta and moved 25 miles away from my entire family. Next week I am moving to Baltimore, MD. It is the only place that was actually hiring. It was a horrible decision. I had to choose a job over my family, all my friends, and my boyfriend who has a great job in Atlanta and can’t even consider moving anytime soon. In this economy, though, I had to take the job. It was an increase in salary for essentially the same job I was doing. And I didn’t know if anything would present itself in Atlanta. So this Southern girl is packing up and moving above the Mason-Dixon line to Maryland where I know no one. It was economic stability versus people, and in these times unfortunately I had to go with the job.”-Jennifer