(Here’s What to Do Instead)
When I was a little girl, we left the only home I’d ever known in New Orleans and moved hundreds of miles away to Mississippi.
I was six years old, and I remember being very sad about leaving home and very anxious about the change.
A mere six months later, we moved again, out of a rental and into the home across the street from it. I lived there for almost nine years, until my parents divorced and my mom and dad moved to separate homes. From there, I moved a total of four more times before I ever graduated high school.
My husband and I got married young, which has some bonuses but also a whole lot of negatives, mostly in the financial department. We were ignorant about a lot of things where money was concerned, but we were also just trying to survive the day-to-day life of two college-aged kids with two kids of their own. We used student loans to pay for a lot back then, and we moved multiple times when leases were up, summer arrived and we wanted to move in with our family so we wouldn’t have to pay rent.
Our first real house was a wonderful little home. It was brand spanking new, and we were two proud, albeit slightly naïve, people in our young twenties. We quickly realized that the neighborhood was awful and the property values were plummeting. So we sold the home after two years, barely breaking even.
The same year we sold our home we bought a new one in a nice golf course neighborhood that happened to be the same neighborhood my husband had grown up in. He was thrilled to live there, and buy his own golf cart, and join the country club. But what we didn’t know was that it was 2007, and the market was about to bottom the heck out. We’d bought at the top. You can imagine what happened when we went to sell it.
Here’s the thing. We didn’t have to sell our house. It was a good neighborhood, we had plenty of room even after having two more kids, it had a great backyard and we were relatively happy. In fact, by 2011, I was the happiest I’d been in years. I loved our little house, our big family, and our life.
What I Didn’t Love Was My Past
We were living in an area surrounded by vestiges of my past. There were awful memories associated with the area we lived in. Not only that, so much of the town had changed from the time of my husband’s childhood to the time we’d moved into that house. Even he felt like his home town just wasn’t home anymore.
Having lived the decade before that in our college town for a couple of years (which is the town where we now live), I had fond memories of our time there. It was where we’d started our little family, where my husband had gotten his first job, and where we’d been a “normal” couple and not the couple who “got married because they had a child.”
I begged my husband to let us moved back here because, just like when we’d bought our first house and then our second, I thought moving would make me happy. I’d temporarily forgotten about how I’d always wished I’d lived right by my grandparents, as my kids were getting to do, or how I’d always hoped my children would live in just one home, like my husband had. And because my powers of persuasion are unusually good–and because he didn’t understand how hard it was to move–Clayford agreed, so in 2012, we packed our bags and moved two and a half hours away from home.
But guess what? Moving didn’t solve my problems.
Because moving to a new city cannot make you happy.
Here are six solid reasons why:
1. Moving items from your old house to your new house is a pain- especially when you’re moving to a new city.
Does this need to be explained? Shouldn’t this be first? Moving is a pain! It is time-consuming to move items out of your home and equally time-consuming to buy new ones. Pushing couches out of small spaces (Pivot!), taking down bed frames, maneuvering mattresses, and dealing with all the stuff you’ve been hoarding in the attic is a nightmare.
2. Paying for a new home is super expensive, and home values vary depending on location.
You are likely up-sizing, not downsizing when you’re moving. And while this is definitely a seller’s market and you might make some money, the flip side is that it’s a seller’s market, and you’ll pay top dollar for your new house, too. Factor in closing costs, down payments, etc. and you could be out of pocket big time.
3. Even downsizing has its drawbacks, even in a new place.
You don’t need that big closet until its gone, and you realize there was a reason why you had it. That dining room seemed pointless until your kids left the house and returned for Thanksgiving with a new family. Those high cabinets felt ridiculous until you now had nowhere to store your blender and the Moscow mule glasses you only pull out for company. Downsizing seems like a good idea until its not.
Those are all practical reasons not to move, but these reasons are just as important, if not more.
4. The older you get the harder it is to make friends.
According to The New York Times article, “Why Is It Hard to Make Friends Over 30?” by Alex Williams, people in midlife tend to gravitate towards old friends instead of attempting to make new ones. While you may find things in common with other moms in the new town you’re moving to, chances are there will be many people there with established friendships, and, let’s face it, grown ups can be just as cliquey as kids.
5. Most children do not want to leave the comfort of their childhood home.
I feel this on a personal level, and now I’m living it again with my college-aged daughter. We’ve lived in our current home for almost a decade now, and we love it, but it definitely isn’t baby or elder-friendly. The house has two sets of wooden stairs that we’ve all accidentally slid down once or twice now, and the laundry room is downstairs, away from the main part of the house. The driveway is also downstairs, which means we have to park our cars down and walk up, or park on the street to the chagrin of our neighborhood. I’m feeling the itch to move, but at the same time, I remember the love I had for my childhood home and the depression I felt leaving it behind. I’d give anything to walk through that house now, but without my parents married and living there, it wouldn’t be the same. I totally understand why my daughter wants to hold on to that, especially now that she’s leaving for college.
6. Moving Will Not Fix Whatever Feels Broken Inside You
Running sometimes feels like our best option, right? But as the saying goes, “Wherever you go, there you are.” I learned this the hard way. I really thought running away from our home near family was the “right” thing to cure my unhappiness. I thought it would fix my dissatisfaction with life. I’ve run from lots of things in life: jobs, people, places, and I’m here to tell you, wherever you go, there you are. Whatever isn’t working in your life, often isn’t working because of you. You have to fix what’s inside of you before you can change your circumstances. Get counseling, seek therapy, read, journal, talk it out. If you’re a believer, pray and ask God to reveal to you what’s missing. Only then can you find true peace.
I know it’s tempting to want to move. We believe moving will fix the things in our life that are making us unhappy. But they won’t. Often times, they will only make things worse, because now on top of the move that didn’t make you happy, there’s a whole lot of regret. And in addition, once you’ve moved and your kids have gotten settled, they will likely never want to move again.
So what should you do instead?
Make the choice to find out your reason for wanting to move.
If your motives are pure or you have no choice about the move, okay, but if you’re moving to find happiness or fix something, please reconsider before it’s too late.