Now is the Time. Memphis is the Place.

Guest Post: Checking the Boxes & Choosing Memphis by Erin Kelly

Is Memphis the right choice for my family?

Our family is no stranger to moves.  

The Kellys at Cincinnati Zoo Lights.

We’ve joked that we’ve been doing a tour of the Midwest.  My husband and I both have roots in the North, his being in Minnesota and mine in Wisconsin. We met in Wisconsin while completing our undergraduate degrees. We then moved to South Bend, Indiana for his PhD program where our family grew by one, an (awesome) daughter who is now approaching two (which I heard can be a less awesome age).  Then a little bit further south to Oxford, Ohio for a post doc at Miami University.  All along the way I have been working as a medical social worker and/or in the aging field.  As our grand finale of our tour of the Midwest, I always thought we’d return home, that we would always be a Midwest family with hardworking roots grounded in family and service to others.  That is in fact, what the Midwest is known for.  I was missing family, wanting something that felt like home, and a foundation to raise our daughter.  Reality is, life isn’t always what you thought it was going to be, but, it can be so much more.  

I’ll be the first to say . . . I never thought that ‘more’ would be Memphis.

While I would love to say we chose Memphis, sometimes in life, things choose you.  The timing and position were right when my husband received an offer for a faculty position at Rhodes College, but I had so many questions about whether or not the place would be right for our family.  As a social worker and researcher in the aging and medical field, would there be something for me to do?  Would it be a good place to raise our daughter?  Did it have the ‘Midwestern’ things I longed for so deeply – a sense of family, home, and service?  As I mentioned, I am no stranger to moves. I am also no stranger to the trap that is ‘Google Search’.  I’ve learned in my past that if I Google, ‘Is (insert city I am moving to) safe?’ you are bound to find the click bait articles of how terrifying it is or how perfect it is.  Neither paint a real life picture of what it is like to be a resident in that place.  

If I have learned anything, it is the people living the every day lives will give you the real story.  I needed to reach out to Memphians.  

On one of our outings in a group we started in Oxford called, “Little Explorers.” It was to get kiddos outside in nature and having fun! We love all things outdoors and are so excited about Shelby Farms Park and the Greenline!

I threw out all stops.  We reached out to the faculty at Rhodes that my husband interviewed with, I stalked contacted friends on Facebook and LinkedIn for their connections in Memphis, I reached out to experts in my field, (I fell into the Google trap!), and I came across Choose901.  I decided to ignore the ‘Google Trap’ and listen to the Memphians. They answered my questions, they listened to my concerns, and they were living the life.

In all that digging I found that the short answer to all of my questions was ‘yes’. Opportunities are plentiful in both research and medical social work, ranging from positions with local hospitals to hospice to the 10,000+ non-profits registered in the area. Talk about a commitment to service (another point I wanted to check off my list)!  Memphis is bursting at the seams with people that want to give back. Everyone I spoke with talked about a ‘grit and grind’ mentality.  I read a lot about how the city is perceived to be getting better, but I loved that Choose901 placed a focus on what already makes it great!  

The Kelly Crew at Rhinegeist, our favorite brewery in Cincinnati. Can’t wait to explore the breweries and food in Memphis!

While initially I felt like Memphis chose us, we have chosen Memphis for so many reasons. Our daughter will be exposed to culture and a volunteer mentality (it is the volunteer state!), my husband landed his dream job at a quality institution, and I get to explore opportunity in a city that is so giving of itself that the options seem endless to me.  We are excited to plant roots and see what Memphis has to offer, but also what our family has to offer Memphis.  We owe it so much already!  

The Kelly family arrives in Memphis this summer. You can follow their journey on Instagram @ kelly_party_of_3.

Cover photo by Audrey Turner Photography.

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