When we move, we want the financial, emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion and upheaval we endured to get from Point A to Point B to be worth it. We don’t want to go through the expense and hassle of moving only to end up with mover’s remorse later on.
Which is why it’s so gratifying when we do move successfully and agonizing when we don’t.
The problem is the very fear of moving to the wrong place is so powerful that many of us choose to stay unhappily where we are rather than pursue our dream of a more fulfilling life in a new location. That fear wasn’t enough to stop me though–either because I’m incredibly brave or foolish, I’m not sure which. (Maybe both?)
I’ve experienced mover’s remorse three times over the last six years. It wasn’t until I retraced my online research efforts after the third disastrous move that I realized how stacked the cards are against anyone moving successfully.
This realization inspired me to create the Find Your Happy Place process to help people move successfully.
Coming to terms with a botched move is a bitter pill to swallow. It’s painful to accept such a costly mistake and watch as your hopes and dreams for a better life in a new place are dashed against the rocks.
The ugly truth takes time to sink in. How long varies, but the progression of feelings and insights leading up to mover’s remorse, what I’ve dubbed “the dawn of the dread,” are similar.
So, what are the 5 stages of relocation regret and how can you avoid them?
Stage 1: This place is amazing!
The first stage is the honeymoon phase. Initially, everything about your new location is fresh and exciting. The novelty of living in a new place fuels a euphoria that you experience whether your move is ultimately successful or not; the true compatibility test comes later. When I first moved to Austin, Texas from San Francisco in 1990, I was gob smacked. Over time I fell deeply in love with Austin–a feeling that lasted for two decades. I felt that same elation immediately after moving from Austin to West Texas and from West Texas to Iowa. But, unlike Austin, that initial thrill and excitement gave way to disappointment and disillusionment.
Stage 2: OK, so it’s not perfect.
The second stage begins when the initial flush of excitement wears off and you sense vague uneasy rumblings that something is not quite right. Maybe the people aren’t as friendly as you’d originally thought. Maybe you misjudged how well you’d like living in a place that’s very different from what you’re used to (a dilemma you can easily avoid by taking this free place personality type quiz). But you’d rather ignore the rumblings and hope they go away than deal with the possibility that you messed up. You tell yourself no place is perfect, that you simply need time to adjust. For the time being at least, you’re able to keep your rose-colored glasses firmly planted on your nose.
Stage 3: Maybe I’m not trying hard enough.
The third stage is when the vague rumblings start to grow louder and more insistent. You may instinctively know what’s going on, but you still don’t want to give in to reality. Maybe it’s not the place, you think. It might be that you need to make more of an effort. You tell yourself you’ll start to feel more like you belong once you find an organization to volunteer with or some other way to contribute. The problem with trying to force a connection where none exists is that these efforts tend to backfire.
Stage 4: No, it’s this place.
The fourth stage is where the shit hits the fan. Doubts, fears and inklings you’d managed to keep at bay up to this point suddenly converge to form the depressing reality that you chose the wrong place. What had been ill-defined becomes crystal clear. You become painfully aware of undesirable and incompatible community qualities you’d previously overlooked and you can’t fathom how you could have possibly missed them. Your emotions ping-pong between anger and hopelessness. You feel pissed off at the place for not being what you wanted and expected it to be and you’re pissed off at yourself for making such a dumb, costly decision. And when you’re not feeling pissed off, you get caught up in a kind of Charlie Brown-like despair where all you want to do is go clonk your head against a tree trunk. Everything is laid bare–and it’s not pretty.
Stage 5: Crap. Now what?
The fifth stage is when panic starts to set in. You’ve faced the ugly truth about your move and you’re at a crossroads. Now what? Do you stay and try to make the best of a bad situation? Move back to where you lived before? Move someplace else entirely? If another move isn’t financially or emotionally feasible, you’re probably going to stay put until you’re in a better position to do so. And even if you are financially and emotionally in shape to move again, you’re likely to be gun-shy about moving someplace new without some assurance of success.
So where does that leave you? Stuck like Chuck. Or, at least it used to. After three disastrous moves, I didn’t want anyone else to have to go through the pain of mover’s remorse or to feel like moving was not an option out of fear of ending up someplace all wrong. That’s why I created Find Your Happy Place.
Are you ready to move now? Find Your Happy Place gives you tools and strategies that will allow you to quickly, easily and affordably zero in on locations where you’ll be happiest living. Even if you’re not in a position to move again right away, simply having a plan in place will go a long way toward easing your mover’s remorse and putting a spring in your step!
I’d love to hear which stage of mover’s remorse you’re in. Share your story in the comments below or send me an email. I’m all ears!