As the new year approaches, we’re all probably looking to make some life changes. Maybe you just want to eat more vegetables, or maybe you’re thinking bigger. Your income isn’t cutting it anymore, and it’s time to move on from your job. You really want to pursue another academic degree. Or maybe it’s time for you to relocate, and you’re asking yourself, “where should I live?”
Moving to a new city is one of the hardest things to do. Uprooting your life and starting another one comes with a mixture of feelings: part of you might feel optimism for opening a new chapter in your life while another part of you may feel like you’ve quit or failed. Regardless of whether you get a job in a new place or just need a change from the same old shit, there comes a time when you have no choice but to relocate.ADVERTISINGAds by Teads
Timing a move is tricky. You’ll be hesitant to leave behind the life you’ve built for yourself in your current city, the relationships you’ve forged while living there, and the job it took you forever to get. On the other hand, you’d hate to miss out on new opportunities because you dragged your feet. No one can tell you when it’s time to seek greener pastures, but we can provide some signs that it might be time to go. Sometimes a change of scenery is just what you need. Here are 10 signs you should think about moving to a new city.
Your Passion Lives Elsewhere
It is really easy to bargain with yourself when it comes to your dreams. No matter which way you cut it, the television industry lives in Los Angeles and New York, web start-ups congregate in San Francisco, and oil men reside in Texas. Though it is possible to be a huge fish in a smaller pond (just ask some of the best filmmakers in New Orleans and Austin), it isn’t necessarily the best move. If there is a better place to be to do what you love, whether it be composing sonnets or catching trophy winning trout, it might be time to find your Mecca. We all know that the Internet has put careers within reach of people working remotely, but be real about what you’re giving up if you don’t live where the action is. Yes, you can design apps in your shack in rural North Dakota, but is that giving you the best chance at success?
You Haven’t Lived Anywhere Else
You don’t know if you don’t try. Though this sounds like the sort of thing your mother would say in an attempt to get you to join marching band or math club, it’s still good advice. There are people out there (we all know at least a few of them) who know deep down that they want to live their entire life in their hometown. There are also those people who graduate college and decide that they’ll live out their days in their college town. There’s nothing wrong with a decision like this, but if you aren’t absolutely sure where you want to spend your life, it can’t hurt to try something new. The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t like it and opt to move back. If you move back, at least you’ll be able to replace “What if?” with “I tried it and it sucked.”
There’s Some Place You’ve Always Wanted to Live
When I moved to New York City, a friend said to me, “You know, there are New York people, there are L.A. people, and there are career people.” I often find myself thinking about how right he was. One of the most annoying parts of living in New York City is listening to people who “just love New York,” and believe that it is “the greatest city in the world.” I like to think I’m a “career person,” in that I could make rural Minnesota work if I had to. The point is, if there’s a place that you love, why not live there? We’ve all met some older person who constantly sings the praises of their favorite city and has never spent a meaningful amount of time there. They love London or Paris or Beijing so much, yet they’ve only been once or twice. If there is a place you want nothing more than to spend your time in, why aren’t you there? Regardless of your concept of the afterlife, you likely don’t believe you’ll be spending it in San Francisco or Seattle, so if that’s where you want to be, hop to it.
Your Goals Have Changed
In a society where we pour years of study and thousands of dollars into our chosen fields, it almost feels like a sin to abandon your path. Never mind that you likely chose your career at eighteen years old. Think about the other things you liked when you were eighteen. Do you like any of the foods, bands, or clothes you were into back then? For those of you who aren’t yet eighteen, think back to when you were twelve to get an accurate picture of what I’m talking about. Unless you suffer a worse case of arrested development than Buster Bluth, the answer is likely no. What reason do you have to stay a veterinarian now that you are a decade removed from that transformational experience you had rescuing a cat from a tree as a teenager? If you decide that what you really want to do (this year) is handcraft scented candles, then by all means go to the best city for candle crafting and give it your best shot. If you go back to being a veterinarian, at least you’ll have cool stories to tell about that one year you spent crafting candles.
You Hate the Weather
If you absolutely hate the cold, can’t stand the heat, or can’t bear the wind, why are you still putting up with it? I can’t count the number of times someone from L.A. has moaned to me how much they “miss seasons.” If you’ve ever spent a winter in a Northeastern city, between the chattering teeth and strings of curse words, you’ll hear people swear they are moving before next winter. Obviously, there are probably higher priorities when choosing where to live than the climate, but if it will make you happier, why not at least consider whether weather might further your life satisfaction? Now consider it three times fast.
Someone You Care About Is There
No one likes long distance relationships. That’s why most of them end with one party hooking up with a fellow graduate student, co-worker, or cult member. That doesn’t mean they can’t work, but by definition, they aren’t ideal. If you work for a multi-national corporation with campuses in every major city or you work from home, it might be time to consider moving where your partner needs to be to succeed. If they get into the best graduate school, lands their dream job, or have a burning desire to start a deep sea fishing business, why not try it with them? You can collect unemployment in any state, dawg.
You’re Ready To Start A Family
The last thing most young people want to think about is starting a family. Anyway, if you’ve graduated college, you’re going to see a few couples move to the suburbs and take on mortgages in the next year or so. If you’re an artist type or super career-driven, you’ll tend to associate this with giving up or failure. Just a heads up: when you visit the people that make this choice and you see their huge houses and their happy children, you won’t feel like it’s them who failed. I’m not here to tell you that if you don’t start a family you’ll end up an empty husk on the corporate ladder. All I’m saying is if you’re feeling it’s time to pull the “house and two kids” card, no one is going to fault you for it. In fact, your friends who are still downing beer by the pitcher and having one-night stands might even be a little bit jealous.
You Realize You Were Running Away
Living in New York, every three months or so, you help pack a U-Haul for someone moving back to where they grew up. Even in our constantly changing world, 60% of people stay in the same state where they were born in, and it’s okay to join them. You’ll meet a fair number of people who realize, after some time spent in distant locales, that they were always running away from something, and that it’s time to go home. The fear of stagnation motivates many people to up and leave their hometown and try something else. Sometimes the drive to escape parents, ex-girlfriends, or slacker friends who hang out at the gas station leads them to pack up their parents’ station wagon and head elsewhere. For many people, there comes a time to return after they’ve gained knowledge that they couldn’t find around the block from their childhood home. There’s no shame in moving back to where you lived before, as long as you come back having learned something about yourself.
You Have No Reason to Stay
You might look around some day and realize that the reason you moved somewhere no longer exists. Maybe you moved to Chicago with your college buddies after school, and one by one they have left. It could be that you moved to New York to act, but you’ve done a hell of a lot more waiting tables than acting over the last five years. Maybe the girlfriend you moved to Philadelphia for has become your ex-girlfriend. I’m not advocating running way from your problems, or hopping a few exits down the interstate every time a relationship implodes or you’re handed a pink slip. On the other hand, if you’re sitting at the coffee shop one day and your realize that your life would be no different sitting in a coffee shop in Austin or Boulder, maybe it is time to find a place that feels like it matters.
You Complain About Your City All the Time
Don’t get me wrong: everyone hates where they live a little bit. In New York, bitching about your rent and the subway’s tardiness are as common as complaining about the weather. In order to live in Los Angeles, you are contractually obligated to bemoan the shallowness of the populace twice a day. In Pittsburgh, you either complain about how the Steelers are playing or you complain that everyone is obsessed with the Steelers. If your complaints about a city go beyond your standard bitching and you start to sound like the bitter old guy who sits at the diner alone yelling at no one in particular, it might be time to check in with yourself. If you hate the transportation, the politics, or how nothing happens after 10 p.m., those things aren’t likely to change any time soon. Maybe absence will make the heart grow fonder, and if that happens, you can return to hating everything about your city with a renewed energy and vigor—once you’ve tried a new place and hated it, too.Sign up for the Complex Newsletter for breaking news, events, and unique stories.SUBSCRIBE