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5 Reasons To Move Out Of Your Hometown After College

I’m the last person you’d expect to be telling you to move out of your hometown, let alone your home state. In fact, I didn’t leave either one until I was 25. First, I thought I’d just stick around for college. (With one of the best public university systems in my backyard, going anywhere else for college felt nothing short of foolish). Then, after graduation, I took the path of least resistance and got a job there, too. 

It made perfect sense at the time — my boyfriend was still in school, most of my friends were staying close to home, and I wouldn’t have to add geography to the list of scary adult changes I was getting ready to navigate. Two years later, though, my now-graduated boyfriend got a grad school offer in another state, and I had a choice to make. Would I stay put in the place I already felt comfortable and had lived my entire life, or would I start over somewhere else? 

Luckily for me, I decided to take the leap and went with him, and the excitement of living somewhere new soon proved infectious. Since that first move, I’ve gone on to live in seven more states as a digital nomad, which a 2016 report from the Transnational Social Review refers to as “a new generation of location-independent freelancers, entrepreneurs, self-employed persons…who swap their 9-5 jobs for a location-independent, and self-determined life.” I now call French Canada home (and no, I don’t know French). I’ve loved every moment of these adventures, but I never would have been brave enough to embark on them if I hadn’t first said goodbye to the state I called home.

Here’s my cue to ask: How many states have you lived in? If the answer is “one,” I’m here as your fairy adventure mother to tell you that it’s time to double that number. I won’t pretend it’s easy to move out of your home state (let alone your hometown). It takes planning, bravery, and resolve. But if you take the chance, you’ll find the risk is well worth the effort. Here are five reasons why:

1. You’ll be forced out of your comfort zone

And that’s where growth happens! If you’ve spent your life in one state, you’ve probably a certifiable expert in how to live there. You have your go-to grocery chain, understand how the seasons change, and are intimately acquainted with a million other details you’ve probably never even stopped to consider before. Knowing the ropes is comfortable, but it’s also the easiest way to find yourself stuck in a rut. Moving out of your hometown is a guaranteed way to force yourself to try new things — even if it’s as small as finding a new favorite coffee shop!

“[Moving] was a hard adjustment at first, but looking back, it was one of the best decisions I have made,” says Cassidy Reid, a recent grad from Siena College. “It allowed me to become more independent as an individual and it pushed me to make new friends and try new things!”

Building new routines and exploring new places may be daunting at first, but you’ll be amazed at how adaptable you can be. Plus, you’ll be able to impress friends from back home with your new knowledge when they come to visit!

2. You’ll meet new people

Whether you make work friends, join a running club, or find fellow newbies through a site like MeetUp, the bonds you make in a new state can help expose you to people with different backgrounds and perspectives than your friends back home. Plus, if you move again, you’ll always have people to visit when you’re back in town! 

“I moved out of my home state after graduating from college for my new job,” says Niharika Maity, a recent grad from the University of Florida. I’m really happy that I did because I was ready for a change. I’ve gotten to meet new people, explore the Baltimore and DC area, and experience a new climate. I’m very happy!”

Personally, when I first moved, I was struck by the loneliness that comes with leaving your friend group behind. But in doing so, I was pushed to form new bonds — primarily with coworkers — that long outlasted the time we worked or lived in the same place. 

3. You’ll appreciate home in a new way

There’s nothing like leaving a place behind to make you appreciate how amazing it is! Even if you love the state you grew up in, chances are, there’s plenty about it you’ve taken for granted. When I left the San Francisco Bay Area for the first time and landed in Colorado, I saw where I was from in a new light. I’d always been proud of my hometown, but once I left and returned, the diversity, food, and even the foggy summer mornings took on new significance. Now whenever I’m back, I soak up all the elements that make home special and enjoy them even more.

In a 2014 study on migration patterns in the U.S., researchers ventured out to high school reunions and asked people whether they moved away from home, why they left, and if they chose to eventually come back, why they returned. Survey data found that many people returned because of family and social ties, but also because they wanted to give back to their hometown with the skills they had gained elsewhere.

That said, I’ve come to realize that moving out of your hometown doesn’t just help you experience what else is out there and appreciate that there’s no place like home — but it can lead you to contribute to your hometown in meaningful ways.

4. if not now, when?

If you’re trapped in a cycle of “someday,” (“Someday I’ll move to Chicago,” “Someday I’ll live near the beach…”) it’s time to drop the vague dreams and replace them with solid plans. Of course, you can move any time in your life, and plenty of people do! But if you put it off too long, you may end up with minor roadblocks like, say, a mortgage, kids, or a career that make it much harder to uproot and start over. Chances are, it’ll be much easier to travel and explore now than when you have a million responsibilities on your plate. If you’re putting off taking the leap, ask yourself: If not now, when?

5. You may find where you’re meant to be

If you live in America, congrats: You’re lucky enough to be able to choose between countless climates, landscapes, and cultures. You can live in the warm or the cold, a big city or a small town, the desert or the forest — the possibilities are endless. With so many options, what are the odds that you were born into the state you’re destined to love most? You may well decide that your move is temporary, in which case you can still build amazing experiences and broaden your perspective on the world then decide to move back, if you really want to. But in saying goodbye to the place you thought you’d never leave, you may find the place you were meant to be. 

If you’ve been itching for a fresh start, now’s the time. And if you’re ready to get the leap but aren’t sure where to start, do some research first. Make a vision board, reach out to people you know in other states, and brainstorm a list of dream places you’ve always pictured yourself. Choose a state that’s caught your eye, pack your bags, and start exploring! 

Sources

Cassidy Reid, 21, Siena College

Niharika Maity, 22, University of Florida

Studies

Chang, A. (2018). Those Who Leave Home, And Those Who Stay. Vox. 

Henderson, T. (2015). Americans Are On The Move — Again. Pew Research. 

Müller, A. (2016). The digital nomad: Buzzword or research category?. Transnational Social Review, 6(3), 344-348.

Olga, H. (2020). In search of a digital nomad: defining the phenomenon. Information Technology & Tourism, 22(3), 335-353.

Von Reichert, C., Cromartie, J. B., & Arthun, R. O. (2014). Impacts of Return Migration on R ural US Communities. Rural Sociology, 79(2), 200-226.

Zoë Randolph

UC Berkeley '15

Since graduating, Zoë's served as a content marketer for non-profits and tech startups. She worked remotely and traveled the world full-time with her fiancé before becoming a freelance writer and settling (at least for now) in Montréal, Quebec. She likes reading good books, learning new things, and watching Real Housewives argue on TV. You can keep up with her writing over at zoerandolph.com.
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