We so admire all the brave families we help relocate to NE Ohio. They leave behind everything and everyONE they know to start over again in a new town. After they are in their home, with kids settled in school, newcomers face the daunting task of jump starting their social lives. This can make even the most extroverted person feel like the shy new kid on the block. Meet Kristin Voos, who relocated to Cleveland in 2014 with her family, and took advantage of an Executive Arrangements connection to jump start a circle of friends in her new hometown.
Moving to a new place, where you don’t know anyone, can be daunting. What brought you to Cleveland and how did you decide to relocate?
My husband and I were both recruited by University Hospitals Health System. They were exploring a possible partnership with the Cleveland Browns (which has since become a done deal) and with James’ past experience working with NFL teams as an orthopedic surgeon he was an attractive candidate. I was recruited by UH’s Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital as a Neonatologist. We would only consider relocating to a city that had a world class NICU like Rainbow, so Cleveland instantly appealed to us.
We didn’t know a soul before we moved Cleveland. While I do miss being by family, I never thought I would have such close friends so quickly, ones who offered a support network for us, was a huge blessing! We thought we’d only be here a few years, but we love it here. My husband has been offered jobs elsewhere, but we are still here.
How did you make good friends so quickly?
As we were preparing to move into our new home in Shaker Heights, EA’s Claudia Fulton(former employee who directed Settling In Services) reached out to let me know that a friend of hers, Brooke Slater, who was moving onto our street. Since our children were similar ages, Claudia thought we might enjoy meeting each other as we were both new to the neighborhood. Chances are we might have met each other anyway, especially since we had moving trucks in our driveways on the same day, but having EA introduce us was helpful.
When I moved to Cleveland, I took two months off work to get my family settled in. In that time, I would go over to Brooke’s house and keep all the kids distracted while she unpacked. The next day, she’d do the same for me. We went back and forth like this for a couple of weeks and soon became fast friends. If I hadn’t met Brooke early on, it would have taken a lot longer for me to feel happy and settled here. She’s by far my best friend in Cleveland and probably one of the best friends I’ve ever had.
How else did you make friends in your new town?
The school where I enrolled my daughter in kindergarten paired us with a host family. Many schools do this, especially private schools, to ensure newcomers feel welcome. Our host family was so warm and friendly. They invited us to their home and introduced us to even more people. This group became another circle of friends for us and became a great referral source. I turned to them often with questions like “Where do you get your nails done?’ or ‘Who’s your dry cleaner?’’. Clevelanders are so kind, nice and inviting. They began including us in their lives. Since then, we’ve paid it forward as we have helped welcome other new families to Cleveland.
You shifted your career recently, can you tell us more about that?
I retired from clinical care this year, but I’m not fully retired. My youngest is almost in kindergarten and I just felt it was going too fast. My husband took over the role as Chair of Orthopedics at UH and since he didn’t relinquish any of his other responsibilities with the Cleveland Browns, including all the away games with the team, he has a lot on his plate. Without family nearby to help, it was hard for me to see patients as I was taking overnight, weekend and holiday calls for the hospital. With everything else going on in our lives, we decided it was a good time for me to take a break. I’m still doing research and special projects, just not clinical work right now. Which is another bonus about living in Cleveland. You can make this kind of choice without sacrificing a lot. I have friends in Boston and New York whose cost of living would never allow them this luxury. I appreciate that I do.
What did you find most helpful about the services Executive Arrangements provided to you during your transition year to Cleveland?
Before I moved to Cleveland, they showed me around the city and its neighborhoods. EA connected me to people here with kids the same age and who lived in neighborhoods I was considering to get a feel for where I might live. The EA staff was unbiased and open about everything. I got to know the personalities of the neighborhoods, where people with children live, and it all helped us pick the right spot for us. They provided me with many resources before our family relocated to give me a head start. EA helped fast forward our settling in many months with their sharing of information and connections. I don’t think we would have had the close friends we have now if it were solely up to us. My family is really being happy in Cleveland!
What else do you like about living in Cleveland?
There’s so much! The school systems, all the public parks for hiking, Playhouse Square, and the museums are really almost second to none! And then there’s the fact you can go skiing in just over two hours. You can be on the water in twenty minutes.
Another physician couple I know, who recently relocated to Cleveland from a bigger more expensive city, told me they had seen their kids more in the first six weeks living here than in the last six years! Their previous commute and crazy work schedules made their life hard. They were so enjoying an easier pace here.
The other thing we really like about Cleveland is how accessible everything is. My daughter and I saw ‘Hello Dolly’ in New York City, not realizing we would be offered tickets to see the same show in Cleveland. Literally 90% of the cast in Cleveland was the same cast on Broadway. So you can see an almost identical show her for far less money and hassle. Since Cleveland is one of the first stops for touring shows, the cast is fresh and amazing. By the time the show gets to smaller markets you loose half the original to replacement casts and understudies.
We also love the concert venues, even though it took us almost a year to get to many of them, we’ve now seen shows at Blossom Music Center, Jacobs Pavilion and The Q (now Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse). And, we have the Indians as well as the Browns. You don’t realize how many things Cleveland are here until you move and begin exploring. We lived in NYC for seven years and never went to concert. To get a ticket to Madison Square Garden was almost impossible.
The other thing I’ve come to appreciate is how philanthropic Cleveland is. We’re involved with so many more charities and go to many more events here than we ever did in other cities. And, I don’t know if it’s just because things are accessible here but being involved civically a great social outlet as well.
Cold you share your impression of Cleveland’s reputation outside of our region?
We’ve looked at other cities, my husband believes you have to at least take a look or else people quit asking and you will miss opportunities. In our recruitment visits to other places, we never had the help of a company like Executive Arrangements. When you are interviewing for a job, you can’t really ask all the questions you want to about the city because you wouldn’t be sure you’d be getting an honest answer from the recruiter. Having an outside firm like EA really helped give us confidence that what was shared was objective.
Any words of wisdom for those who are relocating to Cleveland?
James and I took the first month we were in town and explored the city constantly. We used Executive Arrangements list of suggestions and then augmented it with ideas we found online. We went out on a boat. We explored downtown. We went to different neighborhoods for dinner every week. It was fun to explore. I know from first hand experience how hectic the first month is. My recommendation is to take one day off a week and do something fun with your family. Go to a museum, spend time on the water, hike in a park. Taking time out to enjoy our new hometown really helped us fall in love with the city early versus spending the first months isolated with unpacking.
We got lucky. With some help and connections we made friends fast which makes a move so much easier. With friends you don’t feel alone. If you have kids you get connected to other parents quickly which helps. We worked at finding a church early on and got involved in the community. If you feel connected you will feel at home a lot sooner.
At Executive Arrangements, we help to acclimate new hires and their families into the community including connecting them to locals with common interests and backgrounds. If your organization needs help attracting, welcoming and educating top talent to the Cleveland/Akron region, we can help! Contact us at: [email protected]