5 Questions to Ask Your Partner Before Relocating

An illustration of a woman with a balanced mindset

Have you found the practice of your dreams? Could it be the practice of your partner’s dreams too?

If it is in a new town or state, what would it take for you and your family to make the move?

Before you hire the moving truck, make sure to consider what your family needs.

This really hit home for me recently when I was working with a dentist weighing buying a practice in a small town. She and the current owner were a great fit: their personalities meshed and they shared similar goals. Her husband grew up in a large city and was skeptical about the town – until he physically visited. Once there, he was welcomed by the current owner’s spouse. Together, they discussed schools, the job market, and the practice itself. That visit reassured him that the whole family could build a great life in the new town. As he said, “I did not think that I would even consider it, but as soon as I met the owner, saw the town, and realized what a great opportunity this was, I was sold!” My conversations with this spouse and other partners helped inspire the tips in this post. (See how one couple approached the decision as a team.)

First, approach any potential change as a team and visualize what it might mean for each of you. (Check out our guide to starting these conversations, organized by which phase of your career you are in.)

If you are an owner trying to hire or sell, you might want to take some time to pull together a resource list to help your potential new colleague make a well-informed decision. You could include links to local services, community organizations, even helpful Facebook groups. And don’t hesitate to “sell” your hometown a bit! Tell your prospective colleague or buyer why you like living there.

As you sit down with your family, be sure to have the following conversations about the new town.

1. What will this practice mean to your partner’s day-to-day work?

Your job satisfaction is why you are thinking about a move in the first place. But what about your partner’s career?

More and more people work from home these days, which might allow your partner to take their job with them. If they are able to do this, they may be able to have the “office” of their dreams – especially if you are looking at a practice in a small town with a lower cost of living

You and your partner may find new options that arise when you think outside the box.

A move may also allow your partner to fulfill a dream of being a stay-at-home parent. Take a good hard look at your financials and the cost of living – you may be surprised at how many options arise when you think outside the box. If this is intriguing, discuss whether the practice’s income potential might allow you to become a single-income family.

Maybe your partner wants to work in the practice. This can be a great option if they have the skills and interest.

Or perhaps your partner would need to find a new job nearby. If so, what types of jobs are available? Would they need new skills? Would the pay be adequate?

When having these conversations, take into account both of your dreams and best-case scenarios. Don’t forget about things like commute times and how your hours might line up, particularly as you plan for daycare pickup or family dinners. All these aspects can really affect quality of life and satisfaction – for both of you.

2. How do you spend your free time?

Both you and your partner should make sure your new area can support your preferred pastimes – or make plans to travel to them. Be realistic about how often you actually pursue certain activities. If you enjoy the theatre (or the beach, skiing, etc.) but only go a couple of times each year, it might make sense to live in a lower cost-of-living area and plan fabulous vacations around your interests.

Think about what you do regularly. Do you thrive on group fitness classes? Maybe your partner hasn’t missed a softball season since high school. How are the local bike or running paths? Is there a swimming pool? Make sure you and your partner are able to continue pursuing the extracurricular hobbies that make you happy.

Living in a lower cost-of-living area might mean you can take fabulous vacations.

Then make a list of your next home’s ideal amenities. Consider the physical space: perhaps a basement, room for a home gym, a dedicated guest room or office. Do you want a large backyard or a small one that does not require much maintenance? Do you want to walk to town (or work!), or do you prefer some distance from your neighbors? What kind of budget would it take to buy a house that fits all your criteria? What are you willing to compromise on?

3. What does the local community offer?

Even before you go to visit your new potential town, do a bit of online research to see what is nearby. What are the schools like? Does your preferred denomination have a local congregation? Which annual festivals or events sound like fun?

Then think about the types of services your family uses in a given year: hospitals, medical specialists, support groups, counselors, physical therapists, and so on.

Drive past all these resources to get a feel for the area. Visit the local library or community center. Arrange a meeting at the school. Attend a religious service or ask to meet the pastor for coffee. All these activities help the whole family begin to envision your new life.

If you or your partner thrives on being involved in the local community, explore these options, too. What types of volunteer opportunities exist? Can you continue to mentor children, help the elderly, or join conservation efforts? Local schools and churches can point you to the right organizations.

Finally, what is the local transit situation like? Is the area car dependent, or does public transit exist? What about bike paths or walkability? Be sure to consider how your family will get to work and school each day – especially if it is different than what you are used to.

4. How will the move affect the balance in your partnership?

Changes tend to trigger other changes. Perhaps you are buying a practice and expect your partner to help run the business. Maybe they will suddenly have a longer commute – or become a stay-at-home parent. How will you share childcare, cooking, keeping the house clean, and so on? What about the kids’ after-school activities? Who will stay home when you need a contractor’s services? If you are moving to a snowier climate, who will clear the driveway? Who will be responsible for mowing that nice big yard?

Be sure to discuss your expectations.

Think short-term, too. If you need to start your new dental role immediately, who handles the move? Does your partner have the flexibility to make all the arrangements and oversee the packing? Who will enroll the children in school, find a new pediatrician, and establish utility service?

5. What do the children need?

Children are very adaptable. But change can be scary, especially if they haven’t moved before. Involve them in the process and talk openly about what they can expect. Reassure them (and you!) that they will have a similar routine of school and activities, and they will make new friends.

Kids need reassurance that they can do their favorite things in a new town.

Ask what activities they want to continue – or which they might want to try. This could be sports, dance, Scouts, art, anything! Show them their school and any local amenities they may use, such as a local lake, pool, or playground.

Ask what they want in their new house, too. A backyard with space for a swing set? Their own room? A swimming pool? A pony? You may not be able to deliver on all their requests, but make them part of the conversation.

And don’t forget to investigate options for daycare, after school, and summer camps.

Don’t go it alone

Involve your partner in the decision, but also reach out to the experts.