This past fall, I left academia. I walked away from a tenured position, and I took a job as a researcher with the Illinois State Board of Education. The reason is straightforward enough: my family all live in Southwest Michigan, and my wife's family all live in Central Indiana so taking a job in Chicago meant that we could live much, much closer to all of them. We've already enjoyed daytrips and lots of visitors.
I want to offer a few clarifications. First, I didn't change careers because I had become disillusioned with higher education. I loved being a professor, and I might do it again some day (if possible). Second, I didn't leave my job because of my employer--mostly. My colleagues at Georgia College were wonderful. I had several complaints about the local administrators, but generally, they were all doing their best. The University System of Georgia and the State of Georgia, on the other hand, suffered from many, many problems. I won't delineate them here, but suffice to say, the USG and the state are victims of their own politics. Still, this, by itself, was not enough to cause my exit. Finally, we didn't move because we didn't like Georgia. Milledgeville was a nice place to work, and we loved living in Athens. We will miss Athen's culture and all of the friends that we made in Georgia. Commuting nine hours a week wasn't sustainable, though, especially as the kids are getting older and more involved in extracurriculars. (Oh, the irony of moving to a major metropolitan area from a rural area to cut down on the commute!)
The transition was very difficult, but we are finally feeling settled and are happy. More updates to come.