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I have started a postdoc far away from home overseas, away from my family and with quite a large time difference. The original idea was for my wife to move over after obtaining a work visa, although this is appearing to be very difficult since the country I am in has an extremely slow process in granting work permits and many places are refusing to grant her one due to "legal reasons". The other option was to join right away as a family member, however there are two problems with that: 1. The pay isn't a huge amount to support us both and 2. Becoming a resident is such a slow process, she may have to wait up to a year before she can start working. That aspect of it is looking very glim at this point.

A couple months in and my mental health is suffering greatly (I have a long history of mental health that I have struggled with, but managed to obtain a PhD and get quite a good number of publications). I can cope in the short term, but I am concerned for my health. I always wanted to do some more research in the field I am interested in (physics), however I am pretty certain I won't be following the academic route forever. In my heart of hearts, it does not seem worth it to be this far away from family and struggling like this - it has become much more important that I thought.

Has anybody experienced this situation before? If it does not appear to have changed in the next couple of months (my wife doesn't get a job, my health doesn't improve), I would plan to give 1 months notice (as per contract) and return home, hoping I do not burn any bridges along the way. My PI already knows the trouble I have in relocating my wife over here, and he has even tried to help. Ultimately, I will be honest and give these reasons upfront because it is the right thing to do. On returning back home, I would plan to make the move into industry.

  • You might also consider doing your job search before quitting your postdoc, so that you will have a job lined up already when you leave. – littleO Jun 1 at 22:51
  • Absolutely, this would also be part of the plan. I have a very good relationship with my PhD advisor and co-supervisor who should be able to help me with references. – MTalz Jun 2 at 10:20
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This will get closed...

But You need to do what is best for you, your health, your wife and your family.

You seem to have thought it through and your PI will understand - may not be happy to loose you but will understand...

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I had a postdoc leave early for industry due to family-related reasons. He was nervous to tell me, but I understood that it was the right decision for him. I can’t promise your PI will also be understanding, but if they’re generally decent and compassionate I think they’ll understand.

As for burning bridges, if you’re leaving academia anyway, then what would you be doing with that bridge anyway? It’s unlikely that you’d get another chance at a postdoc after this, but that’s not what you want anyway. If you are hoping to get another postdoc some day then this would be a terrible plan.

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The most important things in life are your healthy, family etc.! Please do not think about giving them up just because somebody would think that "this is not okay". What good does an academic carreer do if you have to sacrifize your life for it?? I know some people (including many academics) who regret that they worked so much in their youth and neglected friends, family, their partners, their health. (Of course, most academics do not fall into this category.)

I realize that this answer is quite similar to the one of Solar Mike, but this is something which can not be said often enough. Don't care too much about other people, care about yourself! (Caring is meant here as in your question, I am not saying you should get egoistic)

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