top of page

How to Uproot Your Life and Move Successfully

One month ago my two little boys and I packed up everything we own, said good-bye to family and friends, and headed off on a new adventure. Our destination? The mountains of western Virginia. It was a long two days journey from Minneapolis, the city where both boys were born. Those who knew me best were not surprised.

Overcoming your fear of change

What does it take to uproot your life and move halfway across the country? First and foremost, it takes a certain willingness to step outside your comfort zone. Fear of change, and of the unknown, holds most people back. A lot of people dislike where they live and fantasize about moving - usually to an exotic destination - but few of them ever go. Why not? Because it’s hard. And scary. The thought of everything involved in a new job, a new home, and new friends overwhelms you. I get that. Sometimes it overwhelms me too.

It’s not that I disliked my house. And I certainly loved my friends, particularly those whom I’d come to consider family over the years. But I didn’t love the icy cold winter. When the snow started coming in measurable amounts in October and lingering into April, it got harder and harder to handle.

The winter of 2021-22 was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. My son brought covid home from preschool and we were quarantined for the first ten days in January. Of those ten days, there were four consecutive days where it never made it above zero and the rest it never made it above ten degrees. In other words, we were quarantined, and it was too cold to even go outside and play. WIth two active little boys ages one and three, I almost went crazy. It was time to go…

Figuring out HOW to move

I’m gonna admit, I’ve had a LOT of practice with this one. Since graduating from college, I’ve lived in 11 homes/apartments in three states. Yes, I’m crazy, and perhaps that’s why my closest friends were entirely unsurprised by our current adventure. When our house in Virginia is finished it will make an even dozen residences in four states. And hopefully no more until the boys are grown and I’m old and gray.

So… where to start. When you know you want “out” of your current location, the first thing to figure out is why. What is it about your current city that bothers you? Make two lists - what you love and what drives you to leave. The first step in picking a place to land is climate. Completely unchangeable by local moves. Like I said, I just couldn’t do the bone-chilling winters of the upper midwest any more. I wanted a warmer January, but not necessarily any significant summer heat. As a kid we lived in Florida for three years, and I didn’t like six months of super hot and muggy any better than six months of snow, so heading straight for the beach was out. Think about topography - oceans and mountains and forests and plains. What appeals to you most? I love the mountains, and in researching average temperatures and snowfall, I discovered that a more southern mountain location would give me (relatively) cooler winters and a bit of snow as well as taking the edge off the summer heat.

Then start looking for possible destination cities in the areas that match your ideal climate. Do you like the size of your current city or do you want to go bigger - or smaller? Do you travel a lot and want proximity to a major airport? Do you want a large lot with tons of acreage and space to someday have horses? Do you have a profession that requires a certain population size to find a job? When I changed jobs last August, I was lucky enough to be working remotely for the first time in my career. Being able to move without the added stress of a job change is golden - and with the remote work boom of the pandemic, it’s become a possibility for more people than ever before.

Once you have some possible places to land, go online and start checking them out. If you’re like me and you prefer having paper in your hands, request relocation information (usually the chamber of commerce site, but many local tourism pages also have a link). If you’re young enough to not remember life before technology, feel free to build online albums and print out the occasional page. Think about hobbies and how you like to spend your time. Think about your family if you have one. Look at wages and cost of housing and overall cost of living. Think about work if your profession requires you to have a physical workspace. Talk to people who live there if you can - either online or through extended family and friends.

If you’re able, the next step is to go visit some of these places. Check out neighborhoods and recreational opportunities. Just walk down the streets and browse restaurants and shops and see if you “feel” at home there - if the intangible vibe of the place matches your own. Then rank your destinations and evaluate whether you feel strongly enough about your top choice to take the plunge and move. Despite my nomad tendencies, the only moves I’ve regretted were the ones where I let one emotion run away with me and drive the entire process. Try hard to consider both the objective data and your subjective feelings. It’ll serve you better in the long run.

Preparing for a potential move

Once you’ve decided where you’d like to be, it’s time to lay the groundwork to make moving a possibility. There are two areas you’ve got to address. First, if you need a local job or your move will require a job change due to other factors, update your resume’ and start looking for a job. Utilize LinkedIn, job boards, trade sites and networking and educational events within your field to make connections and find job leads. If you have family or friends in your destination city, ask if they know anyone within your field who could make local recommendations.

Second, start preparing to change where you live. If you rent, check on the termination date of your lease, any fees involved in leaving before this date, and any possibility of a month-to-month contract or shorter lease if your lease expires sooner than you’re likely to be able to move. If you own your own residence, contact a local realtor to find out what recommendations they have (paint, declutter etc) for putting your house up for sale. Also start browsing the local housing (buy or rent) market in your destination city so that you have an idea of where you might like to end up.

Regardless of whether you rent or move, start going through your stuff and deciding what you want to donate, sell, or keep. Every time I move I donate TONS of stuff to DAV (Disabled American Veterans) and Goodwill, and I STILL seem to have a ridiculous amount of clutter when it comes time to start packing. Since my boys were born, the amount of “stuff” in my life has increased dramatically as well. I never realized how many oddly-shaped, gigantic pieces of plastic kids generated.

Do the work to make your transition a success

I’m not talking about technicalities, research or concrete logistics anymore. Now we discuss the inner work needed to mentally and emotionally sail through the transition of uprooting your entire world and planting yourself somewhere new. This is the forgotten work that will make or break how you feel about your decision once the shiny newness of your dream city wears off.

First step, start to create your day to day life. Where is your workplace in relation to where you live? How will you get from one to the other? Where are the grocery stores, the gas stations, the Targets and Walmarts? If you have kids, get them registered at the local school. Find places where they can continue activities they enjoyed before the move. Help your kids make connections and find friends. If your daily routine worked well for you, recreate it in your new hometown. If it didn’t, now’s the chance to start fresh and develop something that does. Wanting to create new healthy habits? Build a daily routine that makes them easier. By changing your surroundings, you’ve conditioned your brain to expect something different. Escaping old patterns somehow feels easier in a new place.

For us, this recreation of daily life has been a struggle. We are squeezed into a tiny rental house, with my 4 year-old trying to adjust to being home instead of at preschool or daycare and grandma trying to adjust to the noise and chaos of living with two active little boys. I wanted to continue to write in the silence of the early early morning - yet that has meant sleeping on the sofa since my 2 year-old consistently woke up when I tried to get out of bed at 5am. In this location, pain is temporary. Sometimes you just have to get creative and find a way to make things work until you can build your ideal day.

Next, find ways to engage in your hobbies. Figure out where and how to enjoy your favorite activities in your new hometown. This keeps you from wallowing in the alone-ness of your new space when not occupied with work. It will also help you meet people. Go on Facebook and Meet-up and search for groups of people who enjoy the same things you do. If you’re a mom, find at least one local mom’s group. Not only are they good for moral support, but they’re a wealth of information. Check the local community education sites, colleges, and newsletters.

Your secondary, but arguably more important, goal is to meet people and form relationships. Developing your tribe is what ultimately makes your new place feel like home. It should be obvious that you don’t want to throw away old friendships, and the advent of video chat makes it easier than ever to remain connected to loved ones far away. But creating local connections is crucial. It takes time. It takes some chutzpah too - you’ve got to put yourself out there. You’ve got to be the one to reach out, to make that call, to invite people who are barely acquaintances to do things with you. I’m not gonna lie, this part is HARD for me. Although I score as an extrovert on personality tests, I’m barely an extrovert. But I learned at a young age (we moved between states three times while I was a kid in school) that if you want to make friends, you have to reach out. And we all need friends. Take a deep breath and go for it.

If you’ve ever dreamed of uprooting your life and planting yourself somewhere new, I hope this has been useful for you. Whether you ultimately decide to move across town or across the country, or not at all, it’s worth thinking about why you live where you do - and how you can build your best life, regardless of your home address…

17 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


About Me


These pages are filled with blogs about things I'm passionate about - from archaeology to zen!  My goal is not to convert you to my idea of a "perfect lifestyle" but rather to help you identify and create your own.


Posts Archive

If you'd like to be notified when a new story is posted...

Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page