How to Know It’s Time to Break Up With Your City

When I was 22, I made the decision to move to Chicago for an internship immediately after graduation. With a generic communications degree from a small liberal arts school in Indiana, I felt the itch to spread my wings and figure out where my career path would lead.

To be honest, the thought of moving home after college — to the other small Indiana town where I’d spent formative years of my life — terrified me. I saw many of my peers moving home after college, settling down with significant others, and beginning to start families. While I didn’t see anything wrong with that path, I knew it didn’t make sense for me.

Fast-forward to 2017.

After seven years, five jobs, three apartments, and countless friendships, I finally made the decision to pack up and move back to Indiana. My parents had been not-so-subtly urging me to consider moving closer to home for years, which I’d casually dismissed without much thought. But this time, things felt different. It was something I realized I was ready for on my own, without consulting any friends or family until my decision was made. Honestly, I think it was just one of those cliched moments that when you know, you know

But in retrospect, there were definitely certain things over the years that indicated it might be time for me to move on. These are all factors that stand out to me now (hindsight is 20/20, right?), but weren’t necessarily obvious in the moment. If you’re thinking it might be time to cut ties with your city, here are a few signs that you might be on the right path.


The reason(s) you moved no longer hold up.

After graduating college, I wanted to learn what it meant to call another city my home, and to feel like I could create a life for myself outside of the comfort zone I was used to. It also made sense from a professional angle, offering significantly more job prospects for a naive and struggling writer.

These were all perfectly valid reasons at the time, but as I approached the age of 30, they no longer made sense. I’d built a comfortable life and worked hard to establish my career as a copywriter. I’d immersed myself in a place that taught me more about life in seven years than I’d managed to learn in my first 22. Chicago was never part of my long-term plan, and I had the freedom to decide when I was ready to move on.


Source: @livpurvis


You don’t miss it when you’re away.

I’m one of those weird people who is always ready to get home near the end of any trip or vacation. Except I never really felt that pull to return “home” while I was living in Chicago. Maybe it was that I always felt sad when it was time to say goodbye to my parents after a weekend visit, or just the fact that I wasn’t happy in Chicago anymore. Either way, I now see this as another sign that held more significance than I understood at the time.   


Source: Rue Magazine


You feel like you could be happier somewhere else.

Sure, the grass is always greener somewhere else. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t potentially be happier in another city instead of the one you’re in. If you have logical reasons for wanting to make a change, then there’s a good chance it’ll be worthwhile, even if it takes a little time to adjust. At the end of the day, the biggest factor that convinced me to relocate was — not surprisingly — family. I’m an only child, and I knew these were years that I’d never get back with my parents. Ultimately, that felt so much more important to me and my happiness than anything else.


It doesn’t excite you anymore.

Once the “bright lights, big city” glamour wore off and I settled into Chicago, it took me a while to establish a comfortable routine. But over the years, as I watched myself go through the daily motions, I started thinking, “What else is there?” I felt a growing sense of restlessness and an urge to break myself out of the mundane routine I had sunken into, to finally stretch my legs outside of the densely populated city limits. I wanted to feel that sense of excitement again, and for me, this meant a change of scenery. But it was really more than just the novelty of a new city — it was the anticipation of what lies ahead, and the feeling that I could truly see myself growing here for years to come.



You know yourself better.

It goes without saying that when I was 22, I had no idea who I was or what I wanted out of life. And while those are both things that I’m still figuring out even at the age of 30, I know a heck of a lot more about them than I did before. I know that living alone is a luxury that I’ve grown to cherish and will likely never give up (unless it’s for a significant other…maybe). I know that giving my dog the chance to run freely in one of the several sprawling fields near my apartment brings me more joy than I ever could have imagined. And I know that giving up some of the things that I loved in Chicago meant that I could make room for new things that would enrich my life in ways I haven’t even discovered yet.


All things considered, you can make a home for yourself almost anywhere. Your home should be someplace you feel comfortable and safe, and where you can see yourself growing for years to come. But when you find your reasons for being there have changed, you don’t feel a sense of peace when you return home, or you see yourself being happier somewhere else — it might be time to amicably part ways and discover what’s next.


Are you considering a big move (or did you move recently)? How did you know it was time? 

  • I was in the same situation two years ago, only it was deciding to give up Los Angeles. I agree with the reasons you listed and I couldn’t be happier with my decision now. I think you know when you know. You know what you picture your world to look like and if your current city doesn’t fit that picture then it’s time to call the u-haul! I’m so happy I had my time in LA, leaving doesn’t take away from that. Another great topic covered from The Everygirl!

    Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams

  • I only moved to St Paul a little over a year ago and while I don’t think I’m quite ready to leave it behind, I do know that I haven’t quite found the neighborhood niche that I’m after – and luckily St Paul has some pretty interesting and diverse neighborhoods. So we’ll probably just keep apartment hoping in different areas of the city until we find a spot we really like!

  • samantha

    I moved back to the Philadelphia area recently after 5 years in San Diego. It was definitely a difficult decision, and one I sometimes still regret (how could I trade perfect weather and beautiful coastlines for cold, dreary winters?). But now that I’m back home, I’m closer to my family and my core group of friends from college, and that definitely helps ease the pangs of regret I get hit with every once in a while. Plus, I still have plenty of friends and memories in San Diego, and I’m always reminding myself that it’s just a plane ride away whenever I start feeling “homesick.”

    • jess

      I can definitely relate your those feelings, Samantha. Since Chicago is still only a few hours away, I’m glad that I’m able to jump in the car and see the awesome people I left behind pretty easily. Thanks for reading! xx

    • MelodyJ

      Change your point of view on winter. Think about how important all four seasons are for the ecosystem.

  • I’m in the situation. After 9 years in DC my husband and I are moving back to West Michigan. We weren’t finding the same fulfillment and joy in the “DC” or “city” things we once enjoyed. It felt like we were doing all these things just because we lived here and we thought we had to live it up.

    Moving back home also allows us to pursue other passions and choices we otherwise couldn’t pursue.

    We’ve enjoyed it here, but it’s time for a change.

  • Nikki Laraja

    Great post, Im going through similar feelings myself..

  • Same situation for me! My husband and I moved to Baltimore in January 2011 so he could attend graduate school, and over 7 years later, we cannot wait to leave! We’re both from St. Louis and our families and friends are still there, and we miss it all the time. He tolerates Baltimore a lot more than I do, I can honestly say I can’t stand living here and I’m counting down the days when we can finally plan our move back 🙂

    • MelodyJ

      Do you mind saying what is s bad about your curent city. I’m just curious. Is it hard to fit in there?

      • No, it has nothing to do with fitting in. I actually have a group of friends I’ve met through work and social connections, even though several of them have moved away since I’ve been here. I don’t like living here because I miss my family and friends from home. I also hate living in the downtown area (we have to, because we can only afford one car and my husband has to take public transit to work), it’s far too loud, disgusting, and crime-ridden (I’ve had my car broken into over 4 times, nothing was stolen, it was just people breaking in for fun). I have to pay astronomically high taxes here in Maryland, and I never see any infrastructure repairs (potholes and damaged highways everywhere), the public schools have no A/C or heating, and the local government and police force are famously corrupt. I’ve never seen the level of littering in my life as I’ve seen here – people throw trash right into the street, and the levels of pollution are almost deadly along the Chesapeake waterway. And honestly, I’ve never seen an uglier city in my life: driving from east to west Baltimore, your eyes will be visually assaulted with hideous rowhouses, burned down buildings, rotting wood and steel, an absence of nature, and mind-numbing levels of poverty that is beyond my volunteering abilities. I’m a rural girl and I miss seeing trees and being able to sleep through the night without being violently awakened by police sirens or two drunks screaming at each other.

        • MelodyJ

          Wow, I didn’t know it was that bad there. Hopefully you can find a better place soon. I had heard that my state was one of the better in dealing with potholes. In other places that issue is really terrible in comparison. School building upgrades are a problem here as well. There are plans in place to work on it. Someone just told me Altanta is not as good a place to live as it once was. That the pictures you see of it don’t see the true realilty of living there.

  • My situation is similar but opposite. I’ve grown up in New York my entire life and some of my family moved to Florida. I’ve been debating for a while if it’s time for me to move on from NY and move somewhere in FL or if I should stay put and make my long term plans here in NY. It’s a hard decision to make!