When Moving Was the Wrong Move – How to Decide If You Should Move Back

Unhappy with the move and thinking about moving back.

Moving is hard physically and emotionally. You have to haul your stuff around and leave behind places and people that you cared about. You thought you could deal with these things when you chose to seek greener pastures. But now you’re having trouble adjusting to your new location. You begin to think that you should move back. 

Sometimes people do move back. It’s not unheard of, but you need to consider carefully if undoing your move is the right move. Moving is expensive in terms of money and time.

To make the best decision for you, it’s good to go back to the beginning and review the reason WHY you moved in the first place. The initial motivation could have a strong influence on your decisions going forward.

Common reasons people move are:

  • Relationship
  • Employment
  • Desire to get away from someone
  • New experiences
  • Improve cultural fit

Why People Move for the Sake of a Relationship

For romantic relationships, the motivation is easy. You were in love. You either followed your partner who got a good job elsewhere or had a family obligation to relocate. Alternatively, you might have been in a long-distance relationship and decided to take the distance out of the equation. 

As long as the relationship stays strong, you should eventually settle into your new home. The homesickness will fade as the months go by. 

However, the situation could arise where the homesickness does not fade. If the love between the two of you is strong, you might start lobbying to move back. This might actually weaken the relationship if your partner likes the area, but a partner who agrees with you might eventually decide that moving back would be acceptable. 

Now, if the relationship loses health and becomes unhappy or completely dissolves, then moving back is likely your best decision. You can reset your life in familiar territory. 

Romance has withered and now you're thinking about moving back

Why People Move for Employment

  • Big increase in pay
  • Some occupations involve moving to build a good career
  • Desire to try something new
  • Cannot find work where presently living

Moving to a new city for a job involves some risk. The new job might not work out, leaving you miserable.

A job can wash out for many reasons.

  • The company is great but your boss stinks.
  • The company is a nightmare, and you’d rather stand on the side of the road with a cardboard sign than sell another minute of your labor to Dysfunction, Inc.
  • You would have been happy, but the company decided you sucked and gave you the sack. 

A job that doesn’t work out after a relocation presents a big reason to move back home. A chance to regroup and tap into your old network could put you back on track. You might even be able to return to an old job if you left on good terms. 

On the other hand, if your new city appeals to you and there seems to be good job opportunities for you, then you might like to stay. You can look for a new job and not have to suffer through another disruptive move. 

Why People Move to Get Away From Someone

  • Escape abusive ex
  • Avoid unhappy memories of lost relationship
  • Spread wings without parental control

People who leave town after breaking up with an abusive partner are making a prudent choice. Violent abusers are known to escalate their aggression up to and including murder of the ex-partner. The danger can be very high, and moving away can increase a person’s safety. 

A broken relationship can also inspire people to move even when violence is not a concern. You just want to avoid seeing the person or seeing the person with a new love. This can be an irksome problem, especially in small town environments where social scenes are limited and friend groups overlap.

Outside of romantic dangers and disappointments, people move to get away from their parents. Young people frequently have an inner longing to run their lives on their own. This is not necessarily due to terrible helicopter parents. Many young adults just want to develop their own adult competencies and not have to filter everything through a parental committee. 

In general, unless compelled by some other reason, people who move to get away from someone tend not to move back. If they were unhappy in that person’s sphere, then it stands to reason that they are happier out from the shadow of the ex or parent. 

If you moved because of circumstances like this, you likely should not move back unless a great deal of time has passed or you simply want to. As young adults mature and prove themselves, they sometimes embrace moving back closer to family. 

Why People Move for New Experiences

  • Live in a different country
  • Bored with hometown
  • Curious about what’s out there

People sometimes move to a different country to expand their horizons. They may not plan for the move to be permanent although it could work out that way. Temporary residency in a foreign country is easier to come by than being allowed to permanently immigrate. The common example here is the person who moves somewhere to work as an English teacher. The decision to move back in this scenario is usually centered on completion of an employment contract. 

Among those who don’t leave their home countries, many choose to leave their hometown because they are bored with it. They want the stimulation of new scenery and new faces. When this is the case, outcomes vary. You might really like the new town or discover that it does not compare very well to the place that you left. 

Simple curiosity about living in a new place motivates some moves. These people are not driven by deep dissatisfaction. They just want to find out what it would be like to live differently. Climatic conditions can matter here. Someone might be sick of the desert heat or the New England cold or the Southern hurricanes and want to live where such things are less likely. 

Moves prompted by curiosity or desire for fresh stimuli may or may not please a person. If dissatisfied with the move, you’ll probably want to move to another new place instead of going back to the square one. After all, you’re curious and actively looking for a place “just right” for you. 

Why People Move to Improve Their Cultural Fit

That feeling of just not fitting in is a common motivation for moving. Political beliefs and ethnic groupings are the main drivers of these moves. 

In the United States, the laws and governments within states can vary significantly. People like to live in states that suit their tastes and lifestyle goals

People who move for cultural reasons tend to be satisfied with their decisions because they put quite a bit of research into selecting their new spot. They live in a place determined by their conscious choice instead of being raised there. However, for the minority who are disappointed by their move, returning to their original location could be appropriate. 

Questions to Ask Yourself When Thinking About Moving Back

As you can imagine, two or more issues could be intersecting with your life when you think about moving back after moving. Try to decide which issues bear the most weight with you. Your emotions matter here as much as rational facts of the situation. 

  1. Has your homesickness faded at all since you moved or only gotten worse? 

Homesickness is a natural state of mind when everything familiar is stripped way. It should fade in the first year after moving as you become accustomed to new surroundings. You may need to just give yourself a chance to adjust before beating a hasty retreat to your original location. However, if you’re really struggling to overcome homesickness and can’t see things getting better, it looks like you’re in the wrong place. 

  1. If you moved for a relationship, try to separate the relationship from the location. Can you see yourself thriving in this new location if you give it a chance? If the answer is no, it’s probably best to bid your ex and this town adieu. 
  1. How do you like your job? If the job is going OK but you don’t much care for the town/region, you’ll have to weigh economic benefits against another move. A stable income over time might erase your dislike for the region. On the other hand, a job that is not going well should not pin you down in a place you don’t like. 
  1. How much did you like life where you used to live? Love it? Neutral? Hate it? Were your feelings land on this spectrum will point to the reasonableness of moving back. You might just want to live in an entirely new place if you did not have much attachment to your previous location. 
  1. Do you think where you live still has more experiences to offer you? Some places are quite boring whereas other places offer many stimulating activities or opportunities. What level of stimulation do you need to get from a place? 
  1. Has your new location met expectations in terms of cultural fit? In other words, do you feel comfortable and accepted? Did you feel more or less comfortable where you used to live? These questions will help you gauge whether you’ve made progress toward your lifestyle goals or need to keep moving.