The New Year is generally a time where people evaluate their situation, make promises to themselves, and then either take action or sleep on it for the rest of the year. If they haven’t started changing by March, then most likely that change isn’t coming for them. People stew over a move during winter and by March it’s decision time. Am I moving cities or am I going to stick it out?
Moving — for the sake of a new opportunity, a new job, or simply to break old habits and try a new city happens all the time. The hard part is taking the plunge and hiring that U-Haul. The constant back and forth is tiring especially when no one knows what’s on the other side of that state line.
Here are some things to consider before taking the plunge.
Figure out why you want to move —
What’s the core reason for this move? Figure out what you want from a city and what you’re not getting from your current one. People often confuse moving with running away. To determine if your move is really in your best interest, try this exercise:
(For me, it highlighted the areas I wanted to improve and what I felt I was missing.)
Create five categories that are most important in your ideal lifestyle.
I came up with:
1 | Proximity to nature and outdoor activities;
2 | Engaging cultural city with artistic and historical enrichment;
3 | A good and healthy friendship circle;
4 | Flexibility to travel;
5 | A positive and inspiring job
Although these categories reflect my own personal ideals, if you need a hoppin’ place with a night scene or the ability to own a home in the next year, etc. make sure you pay attention to those particular desires and include them. Once you have finalized the five top areas, assign a percentage of how important they are to you (make sure they add up to 100%).
Proximity to nature and outdoor activities (20%);
Engaging cultural city with artistic and historical enrichment (15%);
A good and healthy friendship circle (20%);
Flexibility to travel (15%);
A positive & inspiring job (30%)
Next, you’re going to evaluate what percentage you are currently receiving to understand more of what you want and what you have. This will shed some light on the big picture of where your happiness is at right now. To do this, make a new column and on a scale of 1-100% score yourself on what you are receiving in each of your five categories right now.
The aim here is to see what your total life satisfaction is. Now multiple the .15 (taken from the percentage of importance) by the .25 (taken from the percentage of current satisfaction). This comes out to be 0.0375 or 3.75% total satisfaction in that category. Once you do this for each category, add up all the percentages and look at what you have.
Ex: .15 x .25 = 0.0375 or 3.75%
Ex: .30 x .35 = 0.105 or 10.5%
When I did this exercise a couple months ago, my score from all the categories ended up being a measly 38%. I surprisingly realized that even though I was living in smog-induced LA, I could easily drive to Malibu or the LA National Forest to escape it. This didn’t mean I necessarily needed to move cities, but rather provided the opportunity to assess where I am misplacing my free time to match up with my interests. On the other hand, it allowed me to see areas of my life where I was not satisfied. If your current situation is giving you less than 60%, then you should consider making some big changes — because after all, you should be happy. This exercise might actually show you that it’s a job change you’re actually in need of, or maybe that you just need to move neighborhoods. For me, it was the city that was making it very difficult to get what I needed to “live my best life.” (I ended up moving States.)
Do serious research —
And I don’t mean the whimsical articles and listicles about the best and worst aspects of a city you dream of moving to. Trust me, I’ve read them all. I daydream about a new city everyday. What it’s like to live in lush Oregon, charming Charleston, sexy Connecticut, pleasant Rhode Island. That type of research doesn’t cut it; it only plays with the fantasies in your head. What you really need to look at are the practical things that will make you want to stay there: What are the state taxes and tax breaks? What is the median rent price? What are the school systems like? What are the crime statistics? Is the city on the map to be overpopulated in two years time? This is the research that matters. Take it from someone who has moved blindly to London and Los Angeles with nothing but visions of what I’ve read on listicles and seen on reality TV — disappointing!
Visit first —
Buy a ticket or get in the car and actually go visit. You can read and research as much as you want, but nothing will give you a better idea and scope of a particular place than to just go. Make a plan before you do by doing some research on different neighborhoods, cultural things to see and green spaces. If you can, line up a couple informational interviews or job prospectus meetings. Pinpoint some companies you are looking at and see if you can talk to a representative to drop off your resume. And while you’re there, don’t be shy. Try to see if there are locals who don’t mind answering a few questions for you.
Take the plunge —
Once you’ve honed in on your ideal city, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Choose when the best time to move is and stick to the plan. Something will always come up, but it’s important to not make excuses. Moving is not easy… and it won’t ever be. You have to pack up your life, learn a new city and make new friends. But once you start viewing those things as the “fun part,” you’ll allow yourself to shed another layer and grow further outside your comfort zone — learning more and creating new experiences for yourself.