Husband and I were distance for over 3 years while I moved state to state for work, while he finished up his masters and worked his first few years in NY (our home state).
We both knew we didn’t want to return home (or him stay there), so we decided about a year into our relationship that as long as DH was interested in where I was moving, he would “come to me” after I had been living there about 6 months to make sure I even liked it. We have very similar needs in a city, so it actually worked out for us. As in, if I didn’t like something, chances are he wouldn’t either.
I had been in FL for a year before I decided it was a place I saw myself being for at least a few more years. DH moved down, proposed to me a month in and now we are here! He DID apply for a lot of jobs before moving down though just to see what the market was like (he’s healthcare so it was actually not too bad, and you said you guys have flexible jobs, so that’s always a perk!), what pay was like etc before he pulled the trigger.
We are happily here in FL, but I don’t think it’s my “forever” home. I think I have a few moves in me before children, but if not, I could actually be very happy here. I wouldn’t focus TOO much on being stressed over whether it’s “forever”, because honestly your needs in a location could change. Your wants could change. The needs of a family (If you have one) could change it. I would focus on finding a place that works for both of you in most areas, with some compromise of course. I would heavily, heavily recommend finding jobs before moving.
In short, a few things I made as a “rule”:
-You have to try living here six months before you decide you “hate” it. In my experience, it takes around six months to really get into a routine and determine how a place is. You can also cycle thorugh a few seasons to see traffic patterns, etc.
-If it becomes too hard for you to find work that you enjoy, we need to move/find middle ground
-If we decide to have children and the area doesn’t provide a good environment for that, we need to move
As for whether or not you should BOTH relocate to a new area? I don’t know. TBH, I think it depends on the couple. My husband had never left home before, so him moving down here was huge. I think the fact I had been here a year (even though we moved across the city to a completely different area) really helped his peace of mind. I looked at apartments for us, introduced him to my friends, knew the area, etc. It was a lot of stress removed for him. Me? I would move ANYWHERE and try ANYTHING once. I personally don’t find moving stressful, but I’ve also done it alone 6 times in just a few years. The first time was REALLY hard, but my husband now tells me he would be excited to move again. If you guys have both moved a lot, I don’t think this would be a big deal. You’re without kids (yea?), this is the time to do this stuff.
The pro is that if you hate something, you can always leave. That’s also why I wouldn’t focus on “forever”. That’s almost impossible to obtain, most people relocate at least once, if not much more.
All in all though, you mention “SO”. My husband was once my SO when he moved down here to be with me. I’m not saying you need to be married to do this together, but keep in mind that if things don’t work out in the new city, you don’t want to be in a place just because of the other person. You want to live in a place you both like. This goes for married or not married. God forbid things don’t work out, you don’t want to be living in the middle of nowhere and angry that you moved all this way just for one person. I know it sounds romantic to a lot of people to move to a place they hate (I actually have plenty of friends who have done this), but it grows resentment REAL fast, even if you stay together.
My vote? Assuming you are both cool with moving (I don’t know you guys), I would get jobs (BOTH of you, no sharing money until you’re married) in a new place and start a new adventure. Make lots of friends individually and have a kick ass time together.