On the Road Again?

"The old highway's a-callin'. Gotta move on."

So, awhile back I wrote about our urge to move back to Korea. B and I were missing it at the time and thinking about the risks and benefits of going back next year after Bebe is born. Well, we’re still thinking about it, still missing it, and still not loving where we’re living right now.

Just to get you a little up to speed, we left Korea in March of this year after living there for two years, came back to the US, and moved to eastern North Carolina in July after B got a job teaching English at a community college nearby.

If we didn’t have our little Bebe coming and if my belly weren’t rounding so pleasantly that all who behold me can’t help but coo, we probably definitely would be a lot more disgruntled in our present situation. B’s job is far from fulfilling and it’s hard for him to not compare his students now with his students in Korea. About 50% of his current students are openly scamming the government for student loans. When they do come to class, they behave like ridiculous fourteen-year-olds. The students who actually make an effort to learn have been so massively failed by the American public school system that much of B’s time with them is spent not in activities that could possibly give them a professional edge, but in trying to convince them that even if it sounds correct to write, “We is going to the store”, it is, in fact, very incorrect. A lot of the time they don’t believe him.

If you’d like to know the other thirty-four and a half reasons why we want to move somewhere else, I would be more than happy to tell you. I’d list them all here on the blog in David Letterman fashion, but I don’t think that’s what all the writing tip blogs have in mind when they instruct you to create lists to attract readers. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s more personal journal fodder.

SO. We have to decide in January if B is going to renew his contract for the 2012-2013 school year. Although we waffle on a weekly basis on what decision we’re going to make, most of the time we end conversations with the sentiment that we will leave, and then we make lists of what we can be doing now to make it happen.

Trust me, I know it’s risky. We WILL have an infant. I know. But here’s the thing: we may be naive, but our naivete is at least slightly informed. We’ve done a lot of stuff way more risky than this before (it’s hard to believe, but we have) and come out alive.

But we’re not set on Korea. We’re looking at about twenty-five other cities in America where we would like to live. City is the operative word here; not to knock rural life or anything as I know it has its merits, but B and I both have degrees and professional backgrounds that lend themselves better to more densely-populated areas. Plus we just like living around big hunks of concrete.

Now, here’s our top five list of cities we’re heavily investigating. That’s more like the lists they tell you to write, eh?

1. Chicago (Cue Sufjan Stevens) I mean, obviously. We lived there before, loved it, and miss it almost as much as we miss Seoul. I effing love Chicago.

The view from the front steps of the Art Institute, one of my favorite spaces ever

2. San Francisco I know my best friend Cameron would kind of want to kill us a little for moving there RIGHT after she left the Bay Area for Pasadena after living in Berkeley for nearly seven years, but how can you blame someone for wanting to be in San Francisco? And BART is not so bad.

San Francisco, California

3. Raleigh, North Carolina This one is kind of a no-brainer, too. Raleigh is the closest city to where we’re living now and would be an ideal move for us. It’s a beautiful city.

At the North Carolina Museum of Art

4. Minneapolis/ St. Paul, Minnesota Maybe we’re freaks because we like the idea of being frozen during the winter, but that’s probably just in retaliation against our southern childhoods when snow was legendary yet lackluster when it did make an appearance. Many of our fellow foreigner friends in Korea were from the Twin Cities, and whenever we waxed poetic about our Chicago days, they advised us to look into this area. If it’s good enough for Mary Tyler Moore, it’s good enough for me.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

5. Atlanta Whenever we go to Atlanta, B and I are always struck with how easily we could picture ourselves there. It’s a cool southern metropolis. And like Raleigh, it wouldn’t be a difficult move for us since it’s relatively close by.

Atlanta, Georgia

That’s our top five for now. Now, here’s your chance to be a cheerleader for your city/country and convince me of its awesomeness. And we’re not limited to the US. Maybe we’ll end up being real-life friends if I someday find myself there. :D



    1. For the Coke alone!

  2. I vote Chicago. Zach and I have a few friends who live in Chicago and it’s awesome. I also think Korea would be an awesome place to have a baby. I know quite a few couples (okay, three) who got pregnant while we were teaching there and decided to stay. Also, I traveled extensively through the Czech Republic a few years ago, and I’ve always thought about living there. Not necessarily in Prague because of the tourists, but maybe a slightly smaller city like Brno.

    I don’t think it’s risky for you guys to be thinking about moving. You’re going to have a baby, which means you’re going to need a lifestyle that’s a little more permanent (at least for a little while) and you want/deserve to be living somewhere you like :)

    1. We’ve thought about the Czech Republic. There are lots of English-teaching opportunities there. Plus we’d be in Europe and therefore able to cart the Bebe around and show her all the awesomeness that entails :)

  3. If you move to SF I can fly up for weekends!! Also, I like all the other cities and would be more than happy to come visit you there;) I am excited for you guys to be in a place that makes you happy :)

    1. Hehe Pasadena is on the long list so maybe no flying would be necessary :)

  4. One. Anyone who references Pee Wee in any way is OK in my book.
    Two. I grew up in Minnesota, in the ‘burbs of St. Paul. I moved away in 2005 and I miss it all the time. There are great things to see and do there, especially if you like outdoorsy stuff. Once my husband is out of the military, he knows full well that we will be moving back there – after years of moving all over the place, I’ve earned that much!
    Three. I do have a wicked soft spot for Chicago, though, too. Amazing city!

    Oh, sorry. My Midwestern is showing!

    1. Um, I wish I had a real, authentic Midwestern to show! :D Whenever I meet new people and they ask me where I’m from, I always lie and tell them I’m from Chicago, not Memphis. People always ask me what Memphis ever did to me to make me spurn it so, and I just tell them to Google Memphis crime statistics, local politics, and the Memphis City School System. Then they understand why I claim Chicago as my adopted hometown.

      Also, I would shimmy a Pee Wee reference into every post I wrote if I were clever enough to do it seamlessly. HE RULZ.

  5. cafengocmy · · Reply

    Would you rather your child grow up in Korea with or in the USA? I think that is the essential question.

    1. A very good question, indeed! I think there are incredible merits and disadvantages to both. Right now, Korea is kind of a worst-case scenario, though, for if we can’t find anything worth taking in the US (although I hate to give it that negative connotation because it wouldn’t be terrible to live there at all). We will basically move wherever the best opportunity arises.

      My attitude about the whole thing is that no matter where we are, as long as the three of us are together, we will always be OK. My husband is my best friend and this little baby we’ll have is the best thing that ever happened to me.

  6. Pretty awesome top five. I’m partial to Chicago, having lived there/here most of my life. I was very close to moving to NYC at one time and finally decided to stay in Chicago. Couldn’t see trading THAT for this. Good luck in the decision making.

    1. That’s right, you live in Naperville. When I was growing up and my family went on vacation to Chicago, we sometimes stayed in Naperville because my parents liked the hotels there and you could take the Metra into the city. I would love to live there or in Evanston.

  7. I vote Atlanta!! It was amazing living there. I have lived in eight states and it was the best !!!

  8. oh or minnesota I loved living there too!

    1. You are a little trekker! :D

  9. I loved Chicago when I visited twice. But it would be pretty cold for me. I live in Austin and it’s the oasis in Texas as far as culture, liberal thinking, healthy/delicious foods, and outdoor activities.

    1. We went on our honeymoon in Austin and loved it. It’s on our long list of places we wouldn’t mind moving to. Plus there seems to be lots of employment opportunities there that we could see ourselves in.

  10. I just think out of the stix will be better wherever it is. I am in SC, precisely four miles past where you give up hope. (Trust me. One of my posts will feature this quote in detail.)

    We moved here from Queens, NY, after my late husband spent a lifetime in Brooklyn and 7 years in Miami. (Please do not ask for the psychosis which made us move to where BFE makes fun of us.)

    If I absolutely had to choose, I would go with CA. Reason: No snow.

    1. Believe it or not, I don’t mind the snow very much…it’s just the driving in it that gives me hives. When we lived in Chicago we took the bus and the trains all through the winter just so we wouldn’t have to dig our car out.

      NYC would be good, but the cost of living seems to be so high that I don’t know if we could swing it. But it would be great simply because of the culture that the Beebs would be exposed to, although I suppose you could say the same thing of nearly every place in the world as long as you presented it to the kiddie in a certain way.

  11. Chicago or Atlanta. Naturally, I am partial to the South. But this July I made my children pause on the steps of the Art Institute in Chicago because it is also one of my favorite views. Unfortunately, they were so enthralled with the lion statues, I was the only one enjoying the view. I loved your picture of it on the post! Captures it perfectly.

    1. Love those lions! Over the holidays, they are dressed up in Santa hats; I have to admit it’s pretty cute. I used to have a big tote bag that I loved with the lions on it, but then one day before we were married, my husband decided that it would be a good idea to carry a leaking car battery around in it to take it to the repair shop. Both items were ruined and as you can see I never got over it.

  12. San Francisco, definitely! That’swere I want to end up (though my husband currently disagrees). Then we can hang out all the time!

  13. hiddenconnections · · Reply

    Hey Emily, thanks for your comment and all the likes you’ve given my blog!

    As I read this, all I was thinking was DON’T MOVE BACK TO KOREA. My wife and I are desperate to escape this place and more or less convinced that we won’t be able to for years because of the job situation in America. I know you say it’s your last backup plan, but it shouldn’t even be on the table. The place is good for cheap health care, but that’s about it, and I shudder to think of what it’s going to do to our son if we stay here for too long. You might consider Somalia instead.

    Nonetheless, congratulations on having a baby and making it back to glorious America!

    1. Thanks for your advice! None of our foreigner friends who are there have kids so sometimes I wonder whether their encouragements for us to return are 100% reasonable. I may email you to get more of an idea about what exactly we’d be dealing with if we brought the baby over. You’ve written before that except for healthcare everything for kids in Korea is ridiculously overpriced, but I think there’s more to it than just that.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  14. Wow! Everyone has an opinion here. I don’t know . . . how long do you plan to stay? Are schools for Bebe an issue? Cost of living? Employment opportunities? If I know you . . . you’ll weigh it all out and make a well-informed and sensible choice. The only thing I have to say is, if you don’t like where you are, it’s best to be moving on.

    1. Ah, all such good questions :) How long? Hopefully indefinitely; it *just* occurred to us that we’re not 23 anymore and it would be good to FINALLY settle down somewhere, although that’s just an ideal. School/education for the Beebs is a major issue, as is cost of living and employment opportunities. We’re at a moment of peace about what we’re going to do; I have a lot of faith in the pair of us together making the right choice.

  15. San Francisco all the way! I was born and raised in the Bay Area. I’ve lived in New York, currently live in Virginia, have visited Alaska… But San Francisco trumps all. Even New York. BORING.

    Everything you could possibly want is available in SF. I don’t know how to explain it, but anything you can think of, you can probably find in the city. But I have to say, Cali is one of the most expensive places to live. Good luck with whatever you decide!

    1. Thanks. As long as there’s good public transit and things worth getting to via that public transit, I think I’ll be happy :)

  16. Wow. There’s almost too much to get into via our transit systems. I used to love riding Muni and the trains. Tons to do. Great public transportation.

  17. I could probably convince you that our city is the opposite of awesome.

    1. Where do you live?

Now you can hold the magic talking stick.

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