A Disillusioned Philosopher needs some help!?...

I rarely post asking for help with personal problems but I have a situation that must be dealt with, and rather soon.

I live in New England. I was born and raised here. I have own a modern log home with my wife and our dog. I’m a psychology instructor at a small liberal arts college.

I met my wife in Graduate school in Arizona. It just so happens that she was from a small town not too far from where I grew up in New England - weird huh - now we have recently been approached with a predicament.

History: I have been working on a long term project with a man in Arizona. We are designing new form housing for the elderly, and AZ has one of the largest elderly housing ‘settlements’ in the USA, called SunCity. Recently I was asked if I wanted to become partner to a really nice business attached to Arizona State University. But I would have to move there.

My wife is all for it, I on the other hand may need some coaxing. The business side of things is very nice, but we are thinking about having a little phlosphr in the next couple years, and I am not so sure AZ is where we want to raise him or her.

I am not tenured at the school I am at but my opportunity for full prof. is very real and almost assured by now.

New Enlgand has some wonderfully endearing aspects to it. Autumn being the top of my list. But then again NE is getting quite crowded.

We own our own home here, it sits on a large parsel of land and is quite nice - designed by us - though we could have a nice home in AZ complete with Spanish Roofing tiles and a lap pool. But then we’d have scorpians and rattle snakes, to deal with. But we’d also have the grand canyon, and some of the best hiking in the US i.e Sedona, Payson, Oracle etc…etc…

What to do what to do? How about some of that vast doper acumen to help a disillusioned philosopher try and decide about moving across the country.

Wow - tough choices. I wish you luck.

It all depends what your risk/return balance is - if you think this business could make money with risk you are willing to gamble, then take the job, make the money and then move back to New England.

You need to ask yourself:

  • Do I want to be a tenured prof? Would this opportunity limit my ability to be tenured - yes, at this school, but maybe having this experience on your resume would enhance your potential at a different school.

  • What is the worst case scenario? Could you handle that? (a good exercise to go through when evaluating decisions)

There is plenty more, Phlosphr, but you get the idea - ultimately it is you and your wife’s choice, so you need to frame all of the different criteria that need to go into the decision, run some scenarios and check your gut with each one.

Best of luck.

Sorry i can’t be of too much help. I don’t think a decision like this is ever based on wholly rational arguments (but what decision is?), and your own feelings about living and being in a particular place are something that is pretty difficult to quantify or measure.

As a grad student who hopes to go into academia, and who is painfully aware of the limited college positions available right now, my first thought is to ask how promising is this project on which you are working and the job that you have been offered. Even if finances aren’t at the top of your list of criteria for a place to live, you don’t want to make such a big move and have it turn out to be financially ruinous.

And if you’re moving from a liberal arts college to a business attached to a large state university, then chances are that your actual work environment will change quite considerably. Do you like the teaching load, small classes, and face-to-face contact with students that tend to be such a part of the small liberal arts college? Would you miss that?

Good luck with your decision.

On a tangential note, i was wondering if you’ve read the book Magic Lands: Western Cityscapes and American Culture after 1940, by John Findlay? It deals with four different models of western city growth after WWII, and has a fascinating chapter on the birth and rise of Sun City as a community designed specifically for retirees. The other communities that Findlay examines are: Disneyland in Anaheim; Seattle and the World’s Fair; and the Stanford Industrial Park in Palo Alto.

Good book.

mhendo - I must say you bring a smile to my face. Yes of course I have read Findlay’s book. I reference it to my class when I cycle into teaching environmental psychology.

My sense is you are on the right path, you have a good attitude and I wish you the best of luck.

I am really considering making the move, as being attached to a large university has it’s good points. I will be able to publish much more than I would be allowed at a smaller school and the monetary reward for being attached to a larger university will be very nice. Teaching at the collegiate level takes tenacity and perseverance. You’ll be fine.

I am going to dinner with my inlaws tonight and my wife. Our conversation is certain to center around an impending move.

Perhaps I can help. I call myself a “reformed” physicist. My wife is older than me, and we started our family the year I graduated. We started with a bang, three kids, so I decided I needed more money than academia would provide. In the ensueing years, I have slowly mutated into a programmer. I have also migrated from the east coast to CO.

I miss thinking hard about cool things, (physics cool?!, shows you what a nerd I am!) but it sounds like you will still get to do that.

You need to ask yourself how much you enjoy the working style of a small college vs. a major research institution. You also have to ask yourself how many of your everyday activities would you miss. Going out for coffee you can do anywhere; whitewater kayaking is a little more difficult.

I’m in a rush, so I’ll be brief. Raising kids does seem different out here. Everything is more structured. Kids rarely seem to play a pick up game of baseball or football; it always seems to be as part of some organized event. Perhaps that is the difference between rural and suburban lifestyles, though.

I’m going to ignore the rational side of the discussion.

DON’T LEAVE NEW ENGLAND!!! I grew up there, worked there, went to UVM, and I’ve lived in 5 of the 6 NE states. For some odd reason, I now live in southern California. I know that’s a ways from AZ, but I think I can relate.

Things I miss:

As you said, “Fall.” 'nuff said.
Also, spring and winter come to mind.
Hiking in the above mentioned seasons.

I can’t really describe why I miss NE so much, but even after a year of SoCal, I still can’t seem to get comfortable out here. Winter has been very difficult without snow. It is a huge change in lifestyles as well as scenery. Life is just different out here. It’s not all bad, but make sure you are ready to be completely immersed in a new culture. Sorry this is so choppy, but I’m late for a meeting.

Good luck with whatever you choose to do.


Can you take a sabattical or something from the school in New England, have someone house sit for you or rent the homestead, and give AZ a year? Then you have some time before you close the door to your quaint New England life completely?

I consider tanookie’s suggestion brilliant, but, that’s not what I popped in to say. What I came to say was, you may not need to entirely give up the change of seasons, depending on circumstanes. Arizona has some substantial foothills. You may have seen photos of the Grand Canyon coated in snow. It is a good distance from Phoenix, but there are closer ranges of hills. So, seasonal weather wouldn’t necessarily have to be a thing of the past, were you to move there.

The other thing that occured to me is the culture. Aside from the southwest cowboy thing, the politics there are polar opposites to what you’re used to, here in New England. I expect you’re aware of that, to some degree, but I don’t know if you can fully appreciate the difference unless you’ve spent some time there, talking to “just folks”. Not the professors at the school, but the guys behind the counters at the gas station, the convenience store, the dry cleaners, etc.

If, by some odd chance, you happen to be one of the few conservatives in New England, you might consider that a good thing. If not, it could be trying. Something my sister, who has lived there for years, and considers politics a hobby, said may give you some feel for it; she said, “John McCain is the most liberal politician Arizona has produced. Goldwater is still considered moderate, here.” YMMV

Dude, you’re missing the whole point of living in SoCal. Winter without snow is the antithesis of difficult.

As for what the OP should do…I second tanookie.

Actually I have taken sabbatical out in AZ before. We are working on a brand new urban development plan, with real cutting edge stuff like Enclosed freeways, stacked highways, smog reducing changeovers for urban living. ASU likes the firm my possible-partner has, and likes what I have done with several of his newer designs. We would be funded by a mellon foundation and ASU. Grad students in Architecture and environmental psychology would be workingh with us, and we would subcontract out all over the country, whilst having moving, hands on classrooms. It is a very good idea. But I need to get over the non-New England aspects of living in the desert southwest.

We would not sell our home, We’d sub-let it to someone on a 9 month basis and summer in CT…

Well, here’s my advice. I live in the southwest, and it is completely different from what you’re used to. You won’t be able to walk a block or so and find a Starbucks. Try driving about 30 minutes or more. It isn’t near as crowded, and “The big town” will have about 1 million people in it. Depending on where you go, you may or may not have seasons, but you’ll be able to be outdoors for most of the year.
I wouldn’t move out of the SW because of the wide spaces… I don’t like being crowded, and if I have to drive a little farther, so be it.

I’d say that since you don’t have a family yet, the decision isn’t that complicated. A place is just a place. If you would enjoy the work that is being offered to you, then the cost benefit of a sabitical isn’t bad at all.

BTW, if you are going to be working with ASU, I’d love a little recomendation into the Philosophy department next fall :wink:

Most of my moves have been voluntary & most have involved changed geography. I grew up in Pennsylvania & moved in two hops to Alabama where I went to college. I missed the hilly geography of Pennsylvania & the long springs & autumns. I liked the “greenness” of Alabama (very lush) & the nearby Gulf of Mexico but I hated the moist heat.

After graduation, I moved (indirectly again) to Kansas where I lived for nearly five years. Kansas is flat & comparitively barren but I had made good friends there. The grassland changes color with the seasons & is interesting to watch. Returning to Alabama to visit my parents I was always reminded of how I missed the lush vegatation.

I now live in Colorado & love the mountains & the raw beauty. The lifestyle is urban. We’ve got good friends here but absolutely no family. My parents & sisters live more than a day’s drive from here (still scattered over Dixie) while my wife’s are in the midwest.

I bring all this up to point out that there’s good & bad to every move - something lost & something gained. Living far from my family is difficult but I love the landscape of Colorado and the job situation is much more stable here - at least compared to their area.

I make many of my decisions based on my potential income - my moves have all been to increase and/or assure my pay. As the sole income for a family of five, it’s a major consideration.

I love AZ, I’ve got a vacation planned to Sedonna this summer.

Ahh yes Belrix!! I got engaged in Sedona. Atop Cathedral Rock as a matter of Fact. To be honest, it is a deciding factor for us moving out there… We both love the wide open range, and the way it makes out thoughts move. We are not giving up the house in CT either, we took way too long designing it and funding it.

Thank you for the insights.