My wife plans to graduate in a few months. I have 1-2 years left before I defend and graduate. I'd like to move away with my wife so we can stay together.

My work is entirely on a computer, so working remotely is entirely feasible. I have my own funding, so I do not need to stay in order to TA for pay.

I typically meet once every 1-2 weeks with my primary advisor and "secondary advisor" (a research scientist who also mentors me and who frequently works more closely with me than my advisor). When I first began working with my primary advisor, I mentioned that I may need to work remotely for my final year. He said he didn't like the idea in general, but that he understands that life happens, and that we'd figure it out when the time came.

The time has come, though I wouldn't move away for another two months.

How should I breach the topic with my advisor(s)?

This question is extremely relevant, but differs in that it asks this question for "extensive periods", whereas I'm asking about working remotely permanently. Several answers for that question involve staying away for progressively longer periods of time, but I'd prefer to not pay two rents.

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    I'm not sure what kind of answer you are looking for other than to ask him directly at your next meeting. Mar 15 '17 at 17:46
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    Oh it's not a good idea! That's why it's a comment. Mar 15 '17 at 18:38
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    @jvriesem It is a little concerning that you put yourself into this situation (your wife looking for a job, presumably interviewing, and getting an offer all before you had this conversation with your advisor). At this point it sounds like you are in the situation to inform your advisor that you are moving (not ask permission). I'd suggest emailing and asking to have an urgent phone call. Mar 15 '17 at 18:54
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    @Karl I think you are misinterpreting something in my comment. I said it is too late to ask for permission since the OP has already gone down this rabbit hole and it is instead time to inform his advisor. However, the "third party" is of no interest to the advisor (he works with students, not a student's spouse) and he can reasonably tell the OP that he is not willing to work with a student remotely. It would be no different in any other employment situation. You can't force your employer to be willing to let you move while retaining employment. Mar 15 '17 at 20:30
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    @Karl His spouse can certainly make job decisions. This one potentially ends his however. I would never force my employer into this situation unless I was 100% prepared to quit (especially on such short notice!!!). I would have definitely discussed this with my advisor before my wife went on the job market. Communication works wonders. Mar 15 '17 at 20:57

Bring this up directly and immediately.

You mentioned in the comments that your advisor is out of town for a week but your wife must respond to the offer in a week. This doesn't leave you much choice, so email him immediately and ask to have an urgent phone call.

Tell him openly about the situation and get his feedback. It is up to you whether to frame it as asking for permission or informing him of your decision.

However, you have to be prepared that he will not be willing to work with you remotely. You are putting your advisor in a potentially difficult position without much time to discuss it and basically giving him an ultimatum. I would have had an involved discussion about this before my spouse went on the job market (informing him that your spouse will be looking for a job and that you will be moving away if she gets an offer).

  • 1
    Would you mention the topic of the conversation in the email, or be vague in the email?
    – jvriesem
    Mar 16 '17 at 4:20

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