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Photo by Brina Blum on Unsplash.

A woman wrote to an advice columnist with a question about moving. The woman had moved two years ago “ largely just for a fresh start somewhere new.”

Now she’s miserable.

She likes outdoor activities and the new place has bad weather and scenery. She hasn’t made new friends in two years. She’s locked into a low-interest mortgage. What can she do?

I like to say,  “The most expensive part of a move isn’t the moving van. It’s the cost of moving back when you realize you made a mistake.”

Right now the advice-seeking woman has limited options.

The weather and terrain aren’t going to change. She will always be limited in her outdoor activities.

It usually takes 3 years to make new friends. Sometimes you don’t make new friends if the place is cliquish and/or people have dramatically different values. Sometimes you won’t make new friends no matter how long you stay.

You’ll be advised to join groups and participate in activities. That’s not always possible. You may be an avid follower of indie films, only to discover the local theatre features big Hollywood extravaganzas (and anyway they’re closed). One woman was devoted to animal rescue, but the local shelter used volunteers very differently. The local hiking club can be closed to new members.

The solution is to investigate a place fully *before* you move. Most people can’t be happy anywhere. What are your priorities? What do you need to be happy?

My book, Making the Big Move, walks you through the research process, step by step. You can do a lot from a distance but I’d strongly encourage an in-person visit. It can be costly but it’s a lot cheaper than moving back or moving on.

I’d also encourage anyone to avoid moving just because they want a change. This is especially true if you like where you live now.  Sometimes change will surprise you: it will be your best decision ever. And sometimes all you can think about is going home.

You can learn more about the book at