Something that Jason and I have discussed for years (and years and years) is where we might eventually "settle down." As a military brat turned active duty member turned military spouse, the very idea is so foreign to me that I have to put it in quotations. For real. I try to imagine staying in one place for, well, ever and my brain just freezes right up. How do you decide where your "forever home" is? Do you pick by location? Job opportunities alone? The weather? The housing market, nearby family, or (ha ha) no nearby family? Do you ask for recommendations on Facebook? (I may or may not have done that. Ahem.) What makes an area the "right" place?
We haven't lived in as many places as a lot of military families. We first met each other in Texas during technical training school. After a few months there, we moved to the panhandle of Florida and spent a mind-boggling 7.5 years there. From Florida we moved here to Germany. This summer (at our 7 year mark) we will move on to another location. With only 5 years left, it could well be our last move. Or not. Who knows. Such is the life of the military family. Believe it or not, you get used to it. Sorta.
We've been thinking about this next move a lot, though. Like I said, Jason has only five years left until retirement. It is not outside the realm of possibility that our next duty station could be our last. For awhile we talked about how we'd like to go somewhere "new". Maybe somewhere in Texas or Arizona or New Mexico, all places that are close (-ish) to my dad and in an area of the country that neither of us has ever seen. Maybe somewhere in the Mid-West just so that I could show Jason and the boys the beauty of living in the middle of cornfields. (Yes, there is a beauty to it. You just have to look at it the right way.) Or maybe somewhere in Virginia where we could try living in a place central to the bulk of our family. We looked at it from lots of different angles. There wasn't much that we didn't consider.
One day a few weekends ago we were talking about all this (again) and looking up housing in different areas. We were looking at what we would be able to afford in all the possible areas, trying to plan for any eventuality. (Yes, it's an exercise in futility but when you have no real way to plan something as big as a trans-Atlantic move you will do just about anything to distract yourself.) Mid-conversation I started looking up homes in our old stomping grounds in Florida. After the third house with a pool that I found inside of our budget I said, "Why can't we just go home?"
It was said half-way joking, but there it was. Home. Jason, who has always wanted to return to Florida, was quick to point out my use of the word. It was interesting; prior to that moment, the only place I had ever referred to as "home" was my grandparents house. It's the only constant "home" I've ever known.
So we started to talk. The pros: We love the area. We can afford the area. The schools for the kids are awesome. Hey, look! A nearby college has the degree plan I want. We know the area backwards and forwards. The weather is fantastic. The views are gorgeous. There is sun (oh, the sun!) nearly all-year-round. Um...the beaches. The beaches some more. And did I mention the beaches?
The cons: Yeah, not so many. We still haven't come up with any real cons. None that count anyway.
Perhaps the most important thing is that this is an area we can see ourselves settling in. With Jason's retirement and Samuel's graduation five short years away, this is a good thing. It would be nice to get Samuel into a place and let him finish out his schooling there. It would be nicer still to have that place be somewhere we intended to stay, cementing the fact that it was now "home" for all of us. Maybe then he will choose to settle down there as well, and his three younger brothers after him, allowing us all to stay in one area. You know, like a normal family. The very idea boggles the mind.
So Jason has dropped his name to a few people, hoping that the right opening will come up at the right time. We'll have our fingers and toes crossed for the next three months, hoping that "home" will be our destination come this summer. If it isn't, we'll be fine. But it would be so awesome if it was.
Ever pondered the same questions? How do you intend to make this decision? Or how did you? Feel free to leave a comment!