The Hard Facts: To Move or Not To Move

It’s Research Wednesday! Where I share the latest, or most fascinating, in the science of friendship.

“It is estimated that 40 million Americans will be moving this summer.” (“5 Things to Consider Before Moving Away From Your Friends” by Shasta Nelson; Huffington Post, 5/26/2011)

No matter how many reasons people have for moving, friends almost never factor into the picture. “We will move to have an extra bedroom, a bigger kitchen, a cheaper cost of living, a neighborhood with other kids, a better job or more sunshine,” Nelson says. So why not for friends?

I’d argue it’s because we’ve become such a culture of individualism that staying (or moving) somewhere “just” so you can be close to friends is considered weak. Which, of course, is silly since one’s happiness is derived so much more from friendship than it is from owning a big home or living in a nice neighborhood.

Nelson is very specific in her argument that women should seriously consider friendship when contemplating a move. It sounds touchy-feely, sure, but having no local friends will significantly diminish someone’s happiness factor.

This summer, a couple of my new friends are moving. “But we just met, ” I want to say to them. “How could you be leaving so soon??”

I joke all the time that I can never move again. What am I going to do, MWF Seeking BFF: LA Edition? The sequel? No thank you. I’m finding the people I need and I’m staying put. End of story.

But for those 40 mil who are moving this summer–or are considering a potential move in the near future–I’m curious. How much thought did you give your local social network while you were in the planning phases? Any?


Filed under The Search

12 responses to “The Hard Facts: To Move or Not To Move

  1. I moved this past weekend! Though it was only around the corner from my last apartment, so I didn’t have to worry too much about my social network 🙂

    I moved to Chicago from Ohio with my BFF from high school, and a year later she decided to move back to Ohio. And honestly? I was mad at her for not considering me in her plans. We just got here, how could she leave me like that? She really wants to move back to Chicago, and she has said one reason is that she doesn’t have the same kind of friends back in Ohio. Likewise, one of my good friends here is contemplating a move to Austin, TX in the next few years, and I think we’re all a little offended that she would consider leaving us (though after surviving several Chicago winters, I can’t blame her for going somewhere warm!).

  2. Megan

    Last time, none at all. And I regretted it deeply until I found wonderful people here. But, the weather is absolutely impossible for me. So, again I’m thinking about it – but this time, people factor in GREATLY.

  3. We’ve moved a lot and relocating away from friends has always been the hardest part. I’ve managed to stay in touch with many of them, but I miss them all the time. Knowing how difficult it is to find new friends and hold on to old ones makes me that much more determined to stay put this time.

  4. The last two times I moved, my friends were at the top of the list of reasons why. Being single, my friends play an important role in my happiness — they are my social fabric.

    And so, I decided to take the plunge about 6 years ago and move into the same subdivision as two of my closest friends. Mind you, this put me 65 miles from work and in a neighborhood where I definitely stuck out as the answer to the PBS song “…one of these things is not like the other…one of these things just doesn’t belong…” (and if you don’t get that reference, stop being so young!).

    But it was worth it: lots of drop-in visits, impromptu ice cream runs and the more-than-occasional “hey let’s get a drink!” get-togethers. I loved being so close to people that I wanted to hang out with.

    Then – unsurprisingly – their kids started getting older and more involved in stuff. And family time soon pushed out all but very infrequent visits. And then the things that I scoffed at when I moved there (long commute? no problem! kids all over my lawn? I can handle it!) suddenly seemed to be more than mere annoyances.

    And so – I moved again. Shortening my commute was certainly high on my list (Chicago traffic isn’t exactly “fun”), but also – I knew that if I moved, I’d pick up a good friend as a roommate — and I was craving that kind of social connection again.

    And it’s been feeling like the best move ever. I appreciate the fact that this friend will probably move on at some point too, leaving me – perhaps – in the same kind of situation, but I’ll enjoy it until then.

    So – long-winded answer notwithstanding – yes, I’ve moved for friendship. And I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

  5. Lisa

    Yes! I never thought it would be so hard to make friends in my new city. I’m 15 months in and still don’t have any CLOSE friends. (I do have several good acquaintances). I really relate to that article where she said it took her around a year to make close friendships, and it was only that fast because she made a ton of effort. I made efforts when I first got here but sadly, I have become very lax about it. It’s just so EXHAUSTING to try to make new friends. And I haven’t yet found anyone that could even come close to replacing the amazing friends I left in my old city. I know it’s a terrible attitude, but I feel really defeated.

    Long story short: I really wish I would have taken my friendships into account before I moved!

  6. Marie

    I am hoping to move this summer. It will be a local move however my friends have been a big factor in my decision as to where I will move. Unfortunately my choice is live near my friends or live near my family. It’s not all bad since the other will be less than an hour away. But still it’s hard to decide.

    • Lisa

      Marie, I have the same conundrum. Friends and family are on opposite sides of the country. It’s a difficult situation, because you ideally want both close by. 🙂

  7. Great topic!
    As my new husband and I contemplate moving in the next few years, friends are very much a factor. We have such a strong social network in Chi now (after years of working on gathering new good friends) and it is hard to think of starting all over again. We know a handful of good people who all plan to move back to their hometown of Austin in a few years, and we are considering re-locating there as well. Not just because of them, but knowing that is their plan too is certainly appealing since we already liked the idea of moving there.
    We would not plan our move only for friends, but for us, we both agreed that the friend-factor is important.
    Once you start having kids, having a strong social circle can keep you going when things are tough or you need help with babysitting /sanity. If family is not around, friends are the next best thing. And our Chi friends have become our family since we are both miles from our hometowns.
    After moving practically every year for the last 10 years, I definitely think considering friends’ locales is a smart thing to do when planning a move. It should not be the only consideration, but if there is a way to have the move you want to the city you want with a couple of bonus buddies already there waiting for you, it would make the whole thing that much sweeter.

  8. karen

    I feel like you wrote this for me! I’m moving across the country and friendships are a huge factor of me NOT wanting to move. I would love to stay in Chicago with all my friends but the fiance’s job dictates otherwise. Definitely not weak, it just shows a strong network of friends.

  9. Yeah sometimes I think of moving to be closer to a really good friend but then I doubt if that’s a good reason for wanting to go there. And it would stink if they moved after I’d settled down there. So who knows if it’s a good idea or not to move because of friends, but personally I think it would be a lot more fun to be around the people you really care about. It’s hard when friends are so spread out though and you can’t leave one place without leaving others. You can be anywhere, but you can’t be everywhere unfortunately.

  10. Marie

    I’ve been thinking some more about the topic of living near friends. I am wondering how close you need to live to a friend (or group of friends) to stay actively involved in their lives and not fall into a distant relationship? Obviously across the country is a distant friendship. But what about across the state? Or across a metropolitan city? That could be an hour away. How close do your friends need to be before your friendship starts fading due to the distance? Is a friendship that is 10 minutes away more likely to continue than one 30 minutes away?

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