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Could you just pack it up and move to Paris?

Categories: Bad Parenting


In the movie Revolutionary Road, Kate Winslet’s character grabs onto the idea of just packing up and moving the family to Paris as a way of escaping the stifling social bonds and deep unhappiness she and her husband feel.  It’s the 1950’s and she’s willing—excited, even—to work full time so as to give her husband time and space to find out what he really wants in life.

It’s a fascinating premise, one that a lot of us can identify with.  I won’t tell you what happens if you haven’t already seen the film, but instead I invite you to think about your own life.  I’ve packed up kids and moved them from one end of the country to the other, twice.  I’ve sold everything I owned except what could fit in my car, and moved to another country.  So for me, the idea of moving to a really foreign country (mine was Canada, not so far away or exotic), is enticing.  It could even be an actual possibility.

But not everyone is mobile like that.  There are family ties.  Jobs.  Economic burdens.  Not everyone can really wrap themselves around the idea of selling everything, moving to another country (maybe even one where you don’t know the language!), and hoping that the six months’ or a year’s worth of living expenses you saved up will be enough to get you by until you find something else.

But, obvious immigration issues aside, would you?

As early marrieds in their twenties, before having kids, my parents had the chance to spend a few weeks in Europe traveling with friends.  I could never understand why they bought drapes instead.  They never made it to Europe.  And I never knew why.  Maybe it just wasn’t important.  Not everyone has wanderlust, and we all have different priorities.  (And the drapes were long gone before I came around, so I don’t think it was really about the drapes for them.)

But for centuries, families have been packing up their stuff and moving around. We evolved as a nomadic people.  It’s in our blood, somewhere in there anyway.  And while maybe it doesn’t make good economic sense to move so far away, away from everything you know, it could be a wonderful experience for kids.  Kids adapt well. They make friends and learn new customs quickly. They pick up languages fast (better than we do). For them, such an experience would shape the rest of their lives.  For us, well, picking up and moving far away forces us to think about what’s really important.  Not just materially, but with everything.  With what’s inside us.

And this is why I feel inspired by the idea.  I’m not sure whether it’s just a dream or whether it may ever become a reality, but yes. Yes, I would pick up and move to Paris.

Would you?

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10 comments so far...

  • Is this a trick question?

    OF COURSE I WOULD. Or Miami–South Beach, specifically.

    Maybe it’s my age (41) or, most likely, how I have always been, but I dream of picking up (with my kids and maybe my husband) and starting over in an exotic locale all the time. I have taken them to Paris, Sydney Vienna and Dublin and I think they would do just fine anywhere.

    But all of my responsibilites tie me down to suburban CT.

    Very interesting question and now I will be thinking about it all night!

    Thanks, cc21

    cc21  |  February 18th, 2009 at 9:45 pm

  • 6 months to a year’s living expenses saved up… YEAH, RIGHT. Our savings account is barely in the four digits, and that’s the emergency fund. We owe $100,000 more on our house than it is currently worth. (Thanks, housing market.)

    Other than that, I would totally do it. We can always find jobs. It would be an adventure.

    Robyn  |  February 19th, 2009 at 10:14 am

  • Never. My husband has this kind of fantasy. I hate it. I’m much more risk-adverse than him. I also can’t do my job everywhere, and I love my work/don’t want to stop working. I also love my house, don’t want to sell and don’t want to trust others to take care of it for X amount of time.

    What would we do with the animals?? All our stuff? This is just not something I am open to.

    My husband also knows that I don’t want to do this. We try to focus on the more near-term goals to offset his wanderlust… I don’t know how long that will work though!

    spacegeek  |  February 19th, 2009 at 12:27 pm

  • I think about this all the time. If we didn’t have kids, we might actually do it. However, my husband moved around all his life with his father in the military. He put down roots here faster than me and as much as he likes to travel, he always wants to come home.

    Lisse  |  February 19th, 2009 at 7:11 pm

  • in. a. heartbeat.

    gretchen  |  February 20th, 2009 at 7:48 pm

  • Not at this point in my life. I see many opportunities for me here in USA. If i felt that there is nothing left, then I would consider moving to another country.

    vera babayeva  |  February 21st, 2009 at 10:48 am

  • Absolutely!

    Michele  |  February 21st, 2009 at 5:26 pm

  • I would move to Paris! I really wanted to see the movie as I felt from the trailers it would strike a chord with me. I married very young to someone in the military so obviously we did move a lot. What i have witnessed in the last 22 yrs since I first married, divorced aftter 16 yrs, was childless and then had a child at 37 and became a single parent is that SO MANY people put their life on hold…they stay trapped in a box, afraid to dream anymore, afraid to live, afraid to reach into the core of who they are and step outside the box and be authentic to their soul! Does that mean throwing responsibilites aside? No…We make choices and we do need to honor the commitment but so many are trapped by fear…and where does that leave you? Fast forward my life 40 yrs and I refuse to be the person who is wishing I would have done this, should have done that. Live life NOW….it doesn’t have to be as drastic as moving to Paris but use your best crystal at dinner tonight, dance in the rain, have a play date with your child and JUST LIVE IN THE MOMENT. As I type this, I feel compelled to share that I am the girl next door, the one that appears very conservative on some things but my heart soars with the opportunities and desires before me, risks I will take to enrich my life and my daughter’s, skinned knees from picking myself up and trying again but all the while knowing I am going to Paris!

    MilehighMama  |  February 21st, 2009 at 7:37 pm

  • Been there, done that, had a surprisingly difficult time. We moved to London when our oldest was not quite 2 and moved back recently and had our second. We moved on a whim - we’d lived there before sans kids, as expats, earning generous salaries, travelling almost every weekend, trying out all the new pubs and restaurants, la la. We came back, I got my M.A., had a kid and we decided to go back to try it out again.

    This time, economy was tighter so no expat lovelies, just a regular localized salary for my husband and no job for me as I settled the kid in, got her started in nursery school,, found a nanny and then got a part-time job. On paper it all looked good but my salary went almost entirely towards childcare, other expenses kept piling up, we didn’t really have any family or friends in the immediate vicinity, we were paying taxes through our noses in both countries (this is very important to check out, especially if you own property in the States), no car so public transport everywhere in a town where stations were built in the 19th century so no elevators or escalators in many of them, everything ridiculously expensive…gah. I was tired and not having very much fun. When we learned I was pregnant with the second, we chucked it all and came back. Best decision I’ve ever made.

    So, in a nutshell, think very carefully before giving up a secure and stable existence when the kids are young. Unless the company is paying to relocate you, it’s very tough to start from scratch with kids in tow. Even though my husband and I both grew up all over the world, it was still tough for us. We may try again once they’re older (now they’re 4 and 1).

    globalinternational  |  March 2nd, 2009 at 3:40 pm

  • Karen,

    My husband and I actually did this…only it was a move to Dublin. We took our three sons there when they were 6, 9, and 12. We planned to stay a year and actually lived there for four. We had NO safety net….no cushy corporate transfer, no friends, no jobs, nothing. But we really wanted to do this for ourselves, our kids, and our family. It was incredibly enriching and liberating to escape the daily cycle of suburban American life, and to be part of a new culture, bumbling about and learning a ton. I highly recommend it.

    Jules Pieri  |  April 28th, 2009 at 1:58 pm