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Moving away from home in my early 20s has helped me become stronger, more aware, and most of all, more thankful. This article is intended to help illustrate how and why I think it’s a good idea to leave your hometown at a young age.
I’ve made some pretty good decisions in my life. I can confidently admit that. I’ve done a lot of things in my life that I’m happy about. There are a lot of times I can reflect back on and genuinely be glad that I made a certain decision and it led me to where I am now.
For example, I’m genuinely glad that I worked hard in school and that I was receptive to my parents when they were telling me education was important. Even though I didn’t make straight A’s and often got into arguments with my parents about my grades (I thought a B was good enough), my good GPA allowed me to get into a good college and actually made me one of the first in my family to graduate with a four-year degree.
Along with that, I’m happy about the college I chose and made the friends that I did. I don’t know where I would be without a lot of the people in my life, and I owe a lot of that to my 4 years spent at Duquesne University.
However, up to this point, there is nothing I can be more thankful for than the fact that I moved 1,100 miles away right after college. This arguably has taught me more about life, myself, and others than anything else ever has. I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way, which again is the intention of this article.
I am writing this with two people in mind.
The person who is currently living in their hometown without a real reason to stay there. Maybe you have considered moving away from home before, but something keeps holding you back. You’re not sure what it is. Maybe it’s the fear of the unknown, maybe you don’t want to be lonely, maybe you’re trying to be smart with money (I get it), or maybe it’s just the simple fact that you like where you are and don’t want to leave.
The person who actually has moved from home, has had a great experience, and can relate to some of the incredible things that happen as a result of trying something new.
So, coming from somebody who was once “Person 1” and now happily can consider himself in the “Person 2” category, I’ve come up with 30 reasons to illustrate why moving away from home was the best decision of my life to date.
(Disclaimer: “Before 25 years old” was not meant to be exact. This list is true for many other ages. The main overarching point is that moving somewhere new at a relatively young age is really helpful starting out.)
Here is the list, based on my personal experiences…
1. You will learn what it means to be truly independent.
You will learn what it takes to not rely on others for assistance with every little thing. You’ll figure out what to do if your tire pops, when your air conditioner breaks, when you don’t know what to cook for yourself – without immediately relying on family and people you know. It feels good to figure things out on your own.
2. Conversations are easy and interesting.
People in your new city will find you interesting and ask about where you’re from. You’ll do the same for them and it will be fun to talk about similarities, differences, and past experiences.
3. You aren’t tied down with commitments.
If you’re going to uproot your life and do something entirely different or risky, you might as well do it before having kids, a family, and multiple established reasons to stick around. When else will you get to do it?
4. You can start completely fresh.
If you’re unhappy with your life at home, need a change, or made some mistakes, it can be hard to move forward. If you want to “re-brand” or “re-invent” yourself, moving away allows you to start over with a clean slate.
5. Drake was wrong – new friends.
There is no such thing as not making new friends. Well there is, but it’s boring. There are plenty of ways to make new friends in a new city. After moving to Florida and seeing others do the same, I reflect back on how everybody’s group of friends is now completely different from what it once was. And nobody has lost their original friends – just gained new, great ones. It’s always fun when your hometown friends come together with your new friends too, so it helps you look forward to those kinds of meetings as well. On top of that, I met a great girl who I likely wouldn’t have met had I not come to Florida.
6. Networking opportunities effortlessly happen.
You will meet people that will change your life from a professional or personal standpoint. I’ve met so many people in Florida that have helped me move up professionally as well as helped me develop spiritually. This will effortlessly happen when you move.
7. New skills that wouldn’t happen otherwise.
You’ll learn new skills by moving away from home. I got golf lessons in Florida, which is something I likely never would have done in my hometown. Also, I now know a ton about data analytics and all sorts of paid media, which may not have happened had I not made the leap.
8. You hear different perspectives.
Gaining new perspectives is a huge part of moving away from home. At home, you only know the perspective of people who had a very similar experience to yours. You all went to the same high school, knew the same people, went to the same places, and had the same favorite teams. You will meet people whose mindsets and backgrounds will inspire you and maybe even teach you something about yourself that you never “unlocked” before.
9. Different weather.
Moving from Pittsburgh to Tampa was shocking because I had never gotten so much Vitamin D in my life. Whether it’s moving from cloudy to sunny, rainy to dry, sunny to cold, you will find new weather which will lead to new things to do, and possibly even an appreciation for what you had experienced before.
10. Different things to do.
I used to always hang out with my same couple of friends, go to the same couple of bars, hang out at the same houses afterward, on the same days of the week, at the same times. And it’s always the same people at those bars, every time. I do such a variety of things now and it’s so much more interesting. Moving away from home may freak you out because your mind is trained that there are only a limited number of things to do. But when you leave, you realize that it is all dependent on your location, your friends, the weather, your job, and many other factors that will likely give you so many more options.
11. Your parents already did their part.
Not to be overly harsh, but if you’re still living at your actual house, realize that your parents already did their job in raising you, and that you need to not only give yourself some freedom, but give them some as well. I understand easing into real life, but still living at home long after college is pretty drastic, even if it allows you to stack up money. Moving away from home will be good for you and your parents.
12. Learning to survive with insecurities.
There are times you’ll feel insecure. Walking into a social situation alone. Walking into a new job. Presenting at a business meeting to people older than you. Barely affording rent. Seeing people in better shape than you. But the beauty of it is that you learn to handle this and use it as motivation to get better. If you never experience being insecure and getting through it, you’ll have a harder time handling situations later in life.
13. Greater confidence.
From learning to deal with insecurities, you gain confidence. You start to realize after a while that you’ll get in a groove, start learning more, things will start clicking, and you’ll get better at things. You will have way more confidence knowing you made it there yourself. One day you’ll look around and realize wow, I have a nice place, a car I paid for by myself, and a whole group of friends in a new state. It’s amazing to look back and realize how much you’ve grown.
14. You discover new interests.
You don’t know what you don’t know. Moving to a new place might introduce you to something you didn’t know existed. I know people who have experienced moving away from home to different states and ended up going down paths they originally hadn’t planned because they found something they were passionate about. Some are pursuing their dream jobs now. What is more fun than that?
15. You learn to trust yourself.
When you’re in a new place, you often have no one else to rely on except yourself. Yes, there are people you can ask at work, you can “phone a friend” or family member at home, but sometimes you have to make big decisions on your own. One thing I’ve learned is that I trust myself and my gut decisions more. That “gut feeling” is something I have a lot more faith in now and I usually know that the decision I’m making will make sense.
16. Growing closer to your family.
I appreciate my family so much more when I look at my situation now and realize that I wouldn’t have gotten here without them. They instilled me with a mindset that made me confident enough to move 1,100 miles away at age 22. They provided me with enough support to get me started. They helped get me through college. When you realize these things, and you don’t see them as often, you make it a point to call them, see them, and get closer to them. It just happens.
17. You’ll view your hometown more positively.
Sometimes I go over a year without going back home. But when I do go back home, I really appreciate the little things I thought were awful and boring before. For example, Florida (although beautiful) is very flat, and there are just palm trees and similar views everywhere. Now I go home and I really appreciate the basic things like the hills and different views I don’t get here. My girlfriend, who grew up in Florida, has encouraged me to appreciate landscapes and views other than palm trees. When she came back to Pennsylvania with me for the first time, I was shocked as to why she thought it was all so beautiful, but now I understand. It’s also nice to keep close with hometown friends and of course, family.
18. More career opportunities.
There are only so many jobs within reasonable traveling distance from you. Let’s say you have a marketing degree and you live in a suburb of Pittsburgh, PA. There may be 300 jobs available, with 45 of them being in your experience range, with the maximum salary being $45K for the ones you qualify for. You could move to a different city and there could be 800 jobs available, with 160 of them in your experience range, with the maximum pay being $70K for one you could actually get. You could just be missing out on potentially great career opportunities and more money just because of your location and unwillingness to leave.
19. You reflect more.
Moving away from home teaches you to reflect and be alone with your thoughts, in a positive way. When you’re in your hometown and you’re constantly surrounded by people you grew up with and family members, you may not get a lot of time alone. Especially at home when your parents are asking you questions left and right. When you move away, you can get a one bedroom place and literally be alone for an entire day if you choose to be. With distractions being everywhere these days, it can be comforting and helpful to just get away and reflect.
20. You learn to manage money.
You have to. I’ve lived in one bedroom apartments most of my time in Tampa and believe me it gets expensive. New situations means more things you want to do/try, which means more spending. Not to mention I’m a caffeine freak (but trying to get better) so I spend at least $3 per day. Anyway, you learn to manage your money. You even learn how to get in a little bit of debt then get out of it which is always fun.
21. You experience the feeling of accomplishment.
This is similar to number 13 (gaining confidence), but with a heavy focus on reflection. It is so nice to look back on your situation, where you came from, and realize how far you’ve gotten. After 4 years I finally feel “established” in a new city/state and it is an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and thankfulness. You will also get new jobs, reach new milestones, and achieve different things.
22. Phones exist.
You can easily call people, see what people are up to on social media, and text. Snapchat is basically real-time. You literally can be 1,100 miles away and know exactly what happened all weekend in your hometown. More often than not, your weekend ends up being more interesting.
23. Traveling exists.
When you move, if you really miss home that bad, or you’re just going through a time where you are extra lonely for whatever reason, you can travel. It’s never impossible to see people after moving away from home. Depending on where you move to, long weekends can even make sense. It’s important to make the most of a long weekend every once in a while. I know people in Florida who travel home for almost every long weekend when there’s a holiday on a Monday or Friday.
24. Holidays become more exciting.
Naturally, as you get older, holidays just aren’t the same as they were when you were younger. However, when you move away to a different city or state, they do get a lot more exciting when you finally get the chance to come home. Holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter become times you look forward to more than ever before. They become reunions. They become so much more special because you haven’t seen people in so long. Similar to number 2 above, you have so much more to talk abut when you do go home.
25. You will inspire others.
One thing I’ve found to be rewarding is that other people get inspired by your own experiences. I’ve had friends move to Florida because of a visit with me. My brother saw me succeeding by moving away from home and ended up doing the same. I talk to people at home who say they’d love to try something new. It’s good to set an example and inspire others.
26. You have the ultimate freedom.
I don’t want to get this one confused with having “personal independence”. What I mean here is that you can make literally whatever decision you want. You can buy a car. You can get a dog. You can pursue a different field of work. You can make huge life decisions without dealing with the pressure of people around you. While typing this, I realized that a dog and a car were my two biggest purchases to date – and I’ve told my parents after the fact in both cases.
27. You can make huge mistakes.
Along with number 26, you can make massive mistakes and mess up your life temporarily. You can handle getting fired from a job, you can ruin a friendship, you can make a mistake in a social situation, or you can wreck your car. Making huge mistakes is fine because they will always work out and you’ll come out stronger on the other side. Moving away from home and having the ultimate freedom allows you to make bigger mistakes that allow you to learn bigger and more important lessons.
28. Feel comfortable making drastic changes.
You can shave your head. You can grow a long beard. You can start dressing a little differently. You can paint stripes on your car, or buy a car in a bright flashy color. You can start rooting for Florida State football (you’re welcome Kelly). The point is – moving from home allows you to feel comfortable reinventing yourself and just trying things out for fun. You may not even do anything drastic, but there is something cool about knowing you can, and you can feel comfortable. When less people know you, this is easier to do without feeling too weird.
29. Your comfort zone will limit you.
Comfort zones are nice to an extent, but they are restricting. If you train yourself to be too comfortable in your 20s, you may try to be too comfortable in your 30s. You might always lean towards what’s easier for your entire life. The same way you make coffee or go for a run to set the tone early in the morning, set the tone early in your life by trying something new when you’re young and hungry. That pattern just might follow you for your whole life.
30. Your faith will grow.
I’ve naturally had faith in higher powers just from being raised in the church and reading the Bible. However, until you actually experience it in a real life way, you have no idea how much your faith can grow. After moving away, I had to figure a lot of things out, and HAD to have faith. Faith grows when you go through difficult experiences that challenge you. All in all, I would consider myself a “work in progress” from a spiritual standpoint, but after moving away I am exponentially more aware and more appreciative of God’s workings in my life.
30 things? That’s it?
I could keep going I’m sure, but I’m sure a small percentage of you even made it this far down the page. If you have, and you’re somebody who is debating moving away from home for the first time, I hope this has helped you understand from an “insider” perspective that there are some great things in store for you if you take the leap.
For people who have already made a move, I hope you were able to relate to some of these points and I hope your experience has been as rewarding as mine. Feel free to comment with which ones in my list of 30 resonate the most with you, or if you have any others you would add about moving away from home.
If you don’t fit into either one of these categories, maybe you know somebody who is struggling with the idea of moving away from home, or somebody who has done it recently and is having issues. Feel free to share this with them too!