By: Michelle Sandlin
Published in the Houston Chronicle
Many people spend their entire career relocating from one city to the next. This is especially true for those connected to the oil and gas industry.
Since Houston is known as the Energy Capital of the World, a large number of people within that industry find themselves moving here not once, but possibly multiple times.
This has been the case for Leslie Sjurseth, a Realtor with Boulevard Realty. Since 1982, she has accompanied her husband on five international assignments through his employment in the oil industry. At the end of each one, the Sjurseths have moved back to Houston, which they consider to be their home.
Their most recent move back to Houston was a year ago, after living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Sjurseth said that even for people whose careers take them all over the world, that sometimes the most challenging move can be the one back home.
“Each move brought different challenges for me, because I was in different stages of my life, from being a newlywed, to having young children, to having kids in college, and then being an empty nester,” explained Sjurseth. “For three of my moves, I had to give up my businesses, which was really difficult, because I had worked very hard on them. Then, I had to start all over again when I came back.”
She added, “I kept going away and coming back, while life here moved on. Everybody thinks that you can just come back and that everything will be good, and nothing will have changed, but in reality, you have changed, and so has everything around you.”
Like many career expats, Sjurseth has enjoyed the opportunities that she has had to live and travel throughout the world, and be exposed to many different cultures. She draws upon those experiences when assisting her relocation clients today.
“Moving taught me a lot about moving. I’ve met people from different areas and cultures, and that has really helped me to be open to helping people with their moves and getting settled, and to quickly pick up on their needs before they even realize what they are. They are going through a tough situation, I am able to walk them through it. So, it’s not just helping them to find a house and relocate, but helping them on a personal level, because I feel their pain,” said Sjurseth.
Many times, even if a person has lived in Houston before, Sjurseth said that their wants, needs, and lifestyle might have changed dramatically. At the same time, the city that they are returning to, while familiar, has changed too.
This means that the real estate market might be very different from the one that they remember. That is why Sjurseth said that she spends time reeducating her returning clients about the current market.
“The dynamics of various areas change, so even if someone has lived here before and they want to move back to the same area, it’s important to sit down and talk to them about how the areas have changed. We discuss what the schools are like, and what their needs are now, because they might be different than they were when they lived here before,”said Sjurseth.
She added that reeducation about the market is also important because many of her relocation clients tend to stay fairly mobile. So, when talking to them about purchasing a home in a particular area, she also discusses the potential for resale in the event that they have to move again in a relatively short period of time.
Even if someone thinks that they are moving to Houston for the long-term, Sjurseth knows from personal experience that things can change at any time.
“I always ask my clients who move a lot, whether they are looking at a home as an investment, or whether it is going to be their forever home. I tell them to really think about what’s best for them and for their lifestyle based on where they are now,” Sjurseth said.
As for overcoming the challenges of moving back to Houston after being overseas, Sjurseth said that she encourages her clients to give themselves time to adjust to and embrace their new life here. While it might not be totally different than the one that they remember, she reminds them that it won’t be the same either.
She said, “My favorite phrase that I tell people is that they have to sink or swim. Whether you are moving overseas or moving back home, you just have to get up, and get going, and keep swimming, and everything will just start to fall into place.”