Sunday, February 9, 2014

Commuting versus relocating

If you and your aviation family have ever had to make the decision of relocating versus commuting, what did you choose and why? 

We have been very lucky thus far, and have never had to move for Steve's job.  However, recent company announcements have put us in a position that I am calling "preparing for the worst, but still hope for the best." We are preparing ourselves for a relocation or commuting, even though we are "safe" where we are right now.  

That is why I am reaching out to all the pilots and pilot wives that read my blog.  If you ever had to make the choice of commuting or relocation, I need your feedback.  Why did you choose one over the other?

Ok, and if you did relocate...what made you choose one hub over the other?

Thanks in advance for your feedback!  

Joanna


21 comments:

  1. First of all, thanks for keeping this blog. As a wife of a pilot myself, I appreciate your perspective.

    My partner has worked for two regional airlines, and we've had serious discussions of relocating numerous times. Each time, we have concluded that the stability and good income from my job, in addition to proximity to our families, outweigh the option to relocate. With that said, we do not have children and that could change the dynamic in the future, especially if he is on reserve for a long period of time. Another factor was that we were anticipating a few realignments throughout the year, which turned out to be true. So even if we would've relocated, his based would've changed within six months. Best wishes to you if you have to weigh your options.

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    1. Thanks for your feedback. I do have a stable job, with a stable income, and this is somewhat of a factor. However, I have a general business degree, and I would like to think I would be able to find work.

      I understand you thoughts on relocation and base changes...and we are somewhat opposite. Steve likes to think he will retire with this company and we like to think the base move would be permanent...so, we are trying to do as much research as possible so that we are truly satisfied with our move.

      Thanks!

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  2. When hubby got hired on with Swa he said "don't worry I can commute for awhile." Awhile turned into years and over time I saw how miserable he was with commuting. The schedules weren't getting better and slowly he was spending less and less time at home. When he was home he was worried about the commute to get back to work. He felt cheated by spending the extra time to get to and from his work. He was miserable. I was miserable. The kids and I missed him a lot. And I know he missed us even more. We finally made the move to his base a few years ago and life is great! He was like a different person on his days off. He could relax and he loved being able to drive home at the end of his trips. He wasn't stressed out on that last leg wondering if he'd make it home. He hated being confined to an airline schedule to get home. He still has about a 90 minute drive to get home but it doesn't bother him in the least bit since he knows how horrible it was to commute and at least he knows he will get home. I was hesitant about leaving my home, friends and job but I am truly happy. It was the best decision for our family. My kids are young and it didn't effect them at all. I worried about having to start all over but it hasn't been hard in the least bit and this is now my home. This is where I was meant to be. I am happy to see my husband so happy too. I have no regrets except for the fact that we waited that long to do it. If I would have known how happy it would make all of us, I would have done it much sooner!

    ~Amanda

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  3. Hi Joanna,
    Unfortunately, I have a lot of experience on this subject. I probably could write a book! My hubby and are are both from Minneapolis, and that is where our families are as well.
    My husband-to-be commuted from ORD to MSP for a regional for about a year, then we got married and went to ORD to check it out, to shop for a place to live, and I hated it. He ended up being transferred a few months later to IAD, and I liked it out there and we moved. No more commuting for him. Then, 9/11 happened, and the regional he was working for swiftly went out of business. So we started over and he gets on at another regional...based in SLC. I go out to visit, I love it. We move to SLC, we live there for a year, he gets based in ORD again!!! UGH. I will not go to ORD. So we stay in SLC for three more years, and he is gone 5-6 days per week. Really bad. During this time I have our first child and suffer tremendously with post-partum depression and anxiety because I am doing everything alone 6 days a week with no family and only a few friends around. To add to that, I am not Mormon in a Mormon town, so I am totally out of the loop and feel like an outsider.
    Then, he gets on at DAL, based in Minneapolis. Yay! We move back to Minneapolis. We are actually living in our base! Uh, until, 9 months later when he gets based out of JFK/LGA. So, back to commuting because I can't take a 4 year old to live in New York right now while pregnant as well. Just too overwhelming. If we were newly married, I would. Hopefully he will get transferred back to MSP, but I am not holding my breath, it could be years.
    I would love to move out of Minneapolis, we have looked at homes in ATL and Florida. But at this point in my life, with young children, we have decided to be a commuter family because we want to our children to be near their extended families. When we are retired or even in our late fifties, we can move somewhere warm.
    Husband is REALLY tired of sleeping in a bunk bed at a crash pad. Sure wish we had that extra $250 a month that the crash pad costs. He is really tired of taking a bus/train/cab and then being in the air an extra 2.5 hours to come home or go out. But, it is just the only option right now. Life can be really lonely in a new town, or, it can be a really awesome adventure.
    I think the only way to know is to go to the city that you think may be your new base. Meet with a realtor, look at some homes, some communities, imagine yourself and your kids there. Then you will know if you should take on a new adventure or stay where you are.
    Hope this helps you even just a little. It's nice to have choices, but sometimes the choices can be so over whelming! Move/not move/commute... its rough! But you will make the right choice for you and your family!
    h

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    1. What an adventure you have been on! Thank you so much for sharing!!

      Congratulations on your pregnancy!

      Joanna

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  4. We've done it both ways. Currently we're in somewhat of a similar situation to you. We live 2 hours from my hometown. DH happens to be based here and we do have extended family here, although this is neither of our hometowns. Obviously both have pros and con. Recently I've come to the conclusion that the bottom line is whether you see your nuclear family as the ultimate or the ultimate as being part of your greater extended family. It's great to live in base and have DH way more accessible and be able to lean on each other more. And in the same breath, it's nice for the kids to know other family members. Personally, I think the bottom line is which of those suits your/ how you see your family better.

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    1. Yes, we are in like situations. I do think that our ultimate as our nuclear family. Of course extended family is important too...and I guess it is good that we can fly for "free" so that we can visit (or at least have the option to visit)

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    2. Gotcha:)! Then based on that response, I'd say probably moving to/ living in base would be the right way to go for you guys. I know our current situation is very lucky right now, but of course, I too, always think about the "what if's" Totally no right or wrong. Obviously you love all of your family, but in our situation it's just were you put the "emphasis."

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  5. I was hoping this wouldn't get to you guys :( We have commuted (for 2 airlines) and now live in base for the 3rd. It helps that living in base for us is where we both grew up, but we moved here before he got based here (before we even knew he was going to switch jobs!). For us I would say live where you want to and commute. If you want to live in a city he could be based in so much the better!

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    1. well, it isn't gotten to us yet...but we are thinking it is really just a matter of time. I want the announcement to come that the base is closing, and then any hard decisions are made for us.

      That is the thing about living where we want...our community is wonderful and I love it. But, wouldn't we be able to love another community just the same?

      That is great that your story ended the way it did...the best of both worlds! :)

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    2. I don't know much (integration, fences) that happened with the merger but CLE-ORD wouldn't be bad. DH used to do that when he was at XJT

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  6. I think you already know, but we live out of base and my husband commutes. It's not ideal at all, but his base is not somewhere either of us really want to live permanently and it's important for me to have a lot of support in the form of friends and family relatively nearby, which we wouldn't have if we moved to his base. Recently we decided to buy a small house at his base for him instead of wasting money on rent, so hopefully that'll help make living out of base more pleasant for him. I always say never say never, but as of now, we have no plans to make his base our permanent home.

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    1. I have thought of you guys in all this. I have mentioned the possibility of Steve buying property near a base too...but he doesn't like that idea.

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  7. My husband commutes right now, but in the past we have lived in base. We chose to have him commute because it allowed me more flexibility during my own job search (I ultimately found a job in a city that he's not based in). For the most part we look at it as a blessing that we can be so flexible about where we live, as long as we're near a major airport. The toughest part about it is when the commute flights get oversold and he has to leave a day early or stay a day longer, and honestly that's been wearing on me lately as we are expecting our first child. We definitely see the benefits to living in base and are not opposed to going back to that someday, even if it limits my job options or requires us to live farther away from family. I wish you the best as you make your decision! I know how tough it is!

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    1. Congratulations on expecting your first!

      Thanks for your feedback!

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  8. I was a regional pilot in MI living in base. I met my wife and got married there. A couple years later, an opportunity came up to go to a major based at San Fran so we took it. From living in base, she was used to me doing only 1, 2, or 3 day (max) trips. Now for newhire training I was leaving her with no answer of when I would be able to come back - this would depend on how soon the airline could enter me in CASS in order to jumpseat. I flew out on a Sunday to show up to a Monday newhire class. Luckily by Friday we were in CASS so I jumpseated on a redeye Friday night, got to MI Sat morning, and then flew back out Sunday late afternoon. This was all for barely 31 hours at home. I could see right away that this long a commute would not work.

    However, she was finishing up her degree in MI and I was a newhire so I commuted to SFO. Her degree was finishing in August that year and that's when our lease was over. We had a surprise moment when she found out she was pregnant in June. The commute was getting brutal, the worst part was flying a full day and taking the redeye home. Landing at 7 am on a day off! Even a short nap could not make up for how tired I felt throughout the day. Day 1 off was completely wasted. I knew I couldn't do this for too long, and with a baby coming, the wife and I agreed we'd move to California. At the time, San Fran was the real big base whereas LA was a much smaller one. We went with San Fran and took the plunge.

    Once we were in California, my life got better. I was able to do day trips and 2-days, so I was always home on a calendar day basis. The only downside to the California move is it took us away from our families in the east coast. Our airline had a very small base (a pseudo base really) at JFK and I hoped one day to get that and go back.

    Fast forward to 2.5 weeks *before* the baby is suppose to come and I'm in Orlando on a 24 hr layover. I wakeup to a phone call from her that she is in too much pain and going to the hospital. It's approximately 10am on the east coast and I weigh my options. The nonstop morning flight had left so all I could do was operate my original flight back to San Fran that evening. I suppose I could have called out of the trip but even then, it would mean having to connect through major hubs like Dallas, Chicago, etc, and there were storms all over wreaking havoc. So over the phone we both decided I'd stick with my flight and land in San Fran at 10pm and take a cab to the hospital. Luckily, her mother (my inlaw) was there and was at the hospital with her.

    Long story short, thanks to Gods plans for us, my flight landed early and I took a cab to the hospital in downtown San Fran and was there by 1020pm. Everything started happening quickly then and the baby was born at 1am. So, I was there for his birth. Had I been commuting I could have missed his birth.

    I was happy living in base with a baby and my wife/I. But once the baby came, we started to see how lonely it felt because all the family was on the east coast. Due to the new rest rules, our airline officially opened up a New York/Newark base and gave me shot to get back to the east coast. It wouldn't have been MI (my inlaws) or PA (my parents) but New Jersey would be close enough as far as family is concerned. I took the new base and transferred. For California, I had only signed a 12 month lease so we stayed 14 months and moved to NJ. Now we are much closer to family, and I'm much happier.

    So that's basically my story. Obviously it wasn't fun to move twice in 14 months but it has been worth it. I must admit a huge factor allowing us to move is the wife having graduated college and then followed by the baby a couple months later meant that she choose to stay home and therefore didn't have a job. That was one less thing in the equation for us to look at.

    Continued.....

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  9. [ran out of space, so continued]........................

    I don't know how you guys commute with a new baby at home. I understand life situation (wife job, house/mortgage, families, kids, schools) always dictate this decision. I just know I'm not built for commuting. The worry, the stress, everything! And even in the short 6 months I did commute, I had just about every horror story possible. Over lake Michigan I had an emergency divert to nearest suitable airport which meant I ended up at Grand Rapids.... and yes I had a checkin at San Fran later that day. (Long story short, I did make it that evening only 10 minutes after my checkin). Or another time when I was told at 2am that I got the last seat in the back on a MSP redeye, they took my overnight bag at the bottom of the jetbridge and threw it in the belly while I hurried to my seat in the back..... only to find that the seat was already taken. With the jumpseat already occupied, I am removed from the airplane due to no seats. Of course, my bag still goes to MSP. So here I am at San Fran at 2am with no change of clothes, no toothpaste, toothbrush, nothing. I took a nap at the airport in the uniform and then took a 7am nonstop to MI.

    I don't think there was any single straw that broke the camels back. It was just a bunch of factors that played into our decisions. I (not my wife) used to live in NJ in the 90s so I do feel like I came back to a distant home.

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    1. Glad you made it home for your child's birth! I know of a commuting pilot that missed the birth of his second child...sucks!

      Thanks for your thorough response...I really appreciate all the feedback!

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  10. My husband has commuted for the past 10 years, its really all I know. When he was in the regionals we were at base but just by chance and we didn't have kids so it didn't seem important to us at the time. When I was pregnant with #1 we decided I needed to be close to family for when he is gone and he has commuted ever since. I know it is stressful on him but it works. Last week he drove home from Harrisburg from a weekend layover and then it snowed and he almost didn't get back. Stress...but it works OK and I have a good support system with family. He has enough seniority now that his schedules are pretty good, even with commuting... Where his base is neither of us would ever want to live so that decision is made for us. Good luck!

    Jodi

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  11. Hi Joanna, new to the page, but so glad i found it. We talk about this a lot at our house as Brian has been commuting for the last ten years. It is easily the most stressful part of his trips and sadly we have lost many evenings together on the front and the end of a trip. We dont have children yet but going to start trying this fall. One of the major reasons we havent already moved like the other woman have said is my job. I am now to the point like you with a general business degree thinking about moving within drivng distance of base makes great sense for Brian and if I can find something comporable to now would make moving so ideal. But with so many changes among the regionals right now and Brian hoping for his hire to a major who knows where homebase would even be. So we are waiting til luck makes the draw for us with his job or with mine.

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