“I want to live in the countryside, but my husband is a city boy at heart.”
“I want sun all year round, but my wife wants to stay near her family.”
These are the kinds of tricky situations that can occur when spouses want to live in different places.
And to be clear, we’re not suggesting you actually live apart! No, we’re talking about how the two of you can reach a decision together about where you want to live for the foreseeable future.
Here are the steps you should take to find a workable solution for you both.
Speak to a certified relationship counselor about this issue. Why? Because they have the training and experience to help you and your partner reach the best decision in terms of where you are going to live. You may want to try speaking to someone via RelationshipHero.com for practical advice that is tailored to your exact circumstances.
1. Communicate about it.
Before you do anything else, talk to each other. Not just once. Sit down a few times over the course of a month and discuss the situation and the potential outcomes.
Talk about your goals for the future and the locations you have in mind. Talk about the things that matter to you in terms of a home, a community, local amenities, and so on.
You could even create a pros and cons list to help organize your thoughts and understand each other’s point of view better.
2. Consider the finances.
What makes more sense to you in terms of finances? Which location is more suitable for your budget? Do you have different views in terms of what is and is not affordable—perhaps in terms of how much mortgage debt you each think is manageable or sensible to take on?
If the potential move is due to a better job opportunity, consider how important is it to each of you to have this extra income if it means compromising on other areas of your life.
3. Research the new location(s).
What is the new location—or new locations—that you are considering?
Find out all you can about them. Which neighborhood would you like to live in? What is close by? What are the real estate prices? How are you going to handle transportation? What does the location offer in terms of education, entertainment, and other things you might need?
Most importantly, why is the new location better than your current location or the location your spouse is suggesting?
4. Consider the pros and cons of the new location(s).
Firstly, talk about the advantages and downsides of staying where you currently are, regardless of what you want to do. After you’ve done that, consider the pros and cons of the new location or locations that you are considering.
How is the new location better than the current one for you personally, for your spouse, for your marriage, and for your kids (if you have them or plan to have them)?
If you both want to move, but to different locations, compare them in terms of their advantages and disadvantages. Consider your priorities and discuss the possible challenges of the choice you make.
5. Consider the life you’re used to.
Once you’ve dedicated some time to your new locations, go back to considering your current one. What does your current location have to offer? How would your life change if you relocated?
For instance, maybe you would have to switch jobs or your kids would have to change schools. Maybe you love your neighborhood, and you’ve made a lot of friends here, while you would have to learn a new language if you relocated. Now is the time to consider all the benefits of staying put and how your life will change if you don’t.
6. Think about your other loved ones.
You probably have friends and family at your current location. How are they going to handle the change, and can you maintain those relationships from your new location? Is it important for you to be close to some of these people (elderly parents or relatives, for instance)? Will they still be a significant part of your life if you move?
Maybe you have a family business with your parents, or they often babysit the kids. Don’t forget to consider your other loved ones because this change is not only going to affect you.
Keep in mind that you can make new friends in a new location as well, but don’t forget about your current relationships outside of the marriage.
7. Research each other’s locations.
You have already learned about the location that you want to move to, but what about the location that your spouse wants? Research that location too. Try to find out as much about this place as you probably have about the location you prefer.
Simply having a clearer idea of what your spouse’s location is like might help you form a clearer picture in your head of what it would be like to live there. This is important because it’s far easier to form a balanced opinion and decision if you’ve given each location equal consideration.
Consider their perspective and how this idea would be better for you and your marriage. Learn more about each other’s idea of a perfect home before deciding on anything. Seriously take into consideration living at each other’s choice of location before talking things out some more.
8. Talk about the advantages of each other’s location.
Once you both know a lot about each location, it’s time to try convincing each other if you’re still sticking to your decision. Let your partner know about all the advantages of moving to your choice of location. Let them tell you about the benefits of their choice of location. Then consider what would work best for you as a couple.
What makes most sense for you at this stage of your relationship?
9. Be open to making compromises.
Could you make some compromises so that you both get what you want? For instance, maybe you could consider a third location that’s somewhere in between what you both want. This is a good solution for some couples because you might be able to find a place that offers some of the things that are important to each of you.
Maybe you can live on the outskirts of a city with easy access to the countryside while being a short train ride into the center of town.
Perhaps you can find a location that provides quick transport links to your spouse’s family and friends while offering the lifestyle you want to enjoy.
You might even be able to find the type of property you’re looking for in the location your spouse prefers (e.g. a period property in mountain country).
10. Take a trip to the location(s).
It’s always a wise idea to visit the locations that you are considering. You don’t have to move right away, no matter what you decide. A nice compromise is to spend a few weeks at the location or the locations where you’re considering living. This way you can experience what it would be like to live there, at least for a while, and that might help you make the final decision.
11. Take your time with the decision.
You are not going to be able to find the optimal outcome right away. So, take your time with this decision before packing your bags.
Even when you think you have found the right location, let it sit with you both for a while. Don’t start looking for properties until a few weeks have passed. Just giving it this short amount of time can help you both mull things over—a process that will happen subconsciously as much as it does consciously.
When it’s time to start looking for somewhere to live, your gut will know for sure whether the decision you have made feels right or not. And it’s okay to change your mind. Sure, your spouse might be set on the idea, but if you have had a change of heart, you can go through this process again.
You may even find that taking these same steps will lead you to the same conclusion, but it might just mean you can come to accept and agree with the decision this time.
12. Consider a temporary move.
Another great compromise is choosing to make the move temporary. Move for a few months or a year and then revisit the conversation. Don’t make this a permanent choice by investing in a big house or something like that. Do a test run first by renting a place for a while.
You might discover that the reality of living in this location is better than you imagined. Or you might hate it. Either way, by agreeing to a temporary move, at least you can figure things out without making massive commitments.
13. Know that one of you might have to make sacrifices.
In the end, it’s likely that one of you won’t get to live where you want. That person will have to make a sacrifice. But that’s not uncommon. Sacrifices in a relationship don’t have to be a bad thing, and they don’t have to hang over you both like a dark cloud. They can be made, accepted, and moved past.
It may even be that part of your decision-making process is to ask who would handle making a sacrifice better. If you know that one person would hold onto the regret and resentment while the other would soon forget about it all, the best outcome for your relationship might be to go with the choice of the former spouse.
Still not sure how you and your partner will ever be able to reach a decision about where to live?
Speak to an experienced relationship expert about it. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours.
Relationship Hero is a website where you can connect with a certified relationship counselor via phone, video, or instant message.
They’ll be able to mediate discussions so that you can find the best solution for you as a couple going forward.