Will moving make me happy?

In this blog we will answer the question “Will moving make me happy?”

We will also seek to understand what exactly about moving makes one happier as well as what are the factors that determine happiness when it comes to relocating. 

Will moving make me happy?

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Not really. It is unlikely that moving to a new place will make you happier than you were in the last place that you lived in. 

The idea that you might be happier in a different place, with different people, and a different setting is what researchers call “Focusing illusion” something akin to “the grass is greener on the other side”.

According to a 1998 study, researchers David A. Schkade and Daniel Kahneman, wanted to check what most Midwestern US citizens thought of California- that people were happier there. 

However, the study found that the level of satisfaction and dissatisfaction between Midwestern subjects and California subjects were similar which debunks the idea that  you’d be happier if you just lived somewhere and confirmed it to only be a misconception. 

Researchers of this study noted that moving doesn’t make you happier because the problems you had in your life in one city do not disappear if you move away- your life and your problems travel with you even if the new place has better weather and better opportunities for you. 

The fact that moving to somewhere else does not make you happy was also backed by another study by Stephan Goetz of Penn State University who wanted to check for any correlation between where they live and how happy they are.

This study also revealed that it’s not where you live that determines happiness however, the study further noted that it is what your life is like there- in the place you live- that determines happiness.

Another important finding of this study was that those participants who have recently located reported more bad days a month than those who did not move which further proved that it is not about moving to a new place. 

The study done by Stephan Goetz also found that there were some crucial environmental factors that determined some sense of happiness upon moving. This included:

  • Shorter commutes, meaning that the less time people spend driving or commuting to work , less time in traffic, had a direct influence on their sense of happiness. Meaning that less commute, more happiness. 
  • Living in the suburbs was better than living in the city. This research finds that people in the suburbs are happier because of the sense of community, belonging and safety that one feels in the rural areas. 
  • The study also further pushed the idea that it is not the place rather the people within the community that determine life satisfaction and happiness for people. People who live in communities that are tight-knit, welcoming, accepting, and safe are often linked to more happiness. 

What determines happiness when it comes to moving to a new place?

Three factors that determines happiness when it comes to moving to a new place are:

People you allow into your life

As discussed it is not just you moving into another city that can impact your leaves of satisfaction and happiness, rather it is the people you surround yourself with that makes you happy.

If you take the effort to make positive, healthy, and supportive relationships with new people and maintain positive relationships with them, it is possible that you will be happier than most after moving to a new city.

Your community

If you are moving to the city it can be exciting however, at the same time it can be stressful. Research finds that people in the suburbs are happier because of the sense of community, belonging and safety that one feels in the rural areas. 

If you are moving, make sure that you choose a place that has a strong sense of community as well as a community that is welcoming and safe. 

Your engagement with your social life

The third important factor is how much you actively engage with your social life- if you move to another city and isolate yourself, it is very unlikely that you will be happier there than you were before. 

So if you’re going to move, take the effort to engage with the city that you are mobingwith as well as the people there.

Tips to cope with unhappiness after moving to a new city

Here are some of the things that you can do before and after you move into your new home or your new city that can help you get better adjusted.

Create your space

The need to belong is a basic human need which when it is not met, it can impact your ability to meet other needs such as achievement and progress amongst other things. 

If you feel like you do not belong in your new home, it is time to take matters into your own hands and claim the apartment or house as yours- especially if you are going to live there for more than one year. 

That means creating and decorating the space the way you want to- the way that reflects who you are and the way it feels comfortable. To make your adjustment easier, you can even decorate the place in a way that it reminds you of your old place. 

Or you can turn things around and explore new parts of yourself to reflect in the space you will reside in. 

Meet the city

You can choose to be a tourist for a few weeks- get to know the place and familiarise yourself with the routes you will frequent. 

You can take it one step closer and truly meet the city by visiting local restaurants that have authentic history in the city. You can take time to learn about the locality you stay in or even take a moment to visit places that align to your interests- local animal shelters, coffee shops, pizzarias, nursing homes etc.

Try making new friends

Try your hand at making new friends- be it your next door neighbour or a classmate who lives close to you. It is important that you build support systems that can help your adjustment to your new life easier. 

Making new friends can be tricky especially if you are apprehensive of new people, take your time as you approach them and be mindful of how they treat you and how you treat them. Any good relationship is one where there is equal give and take, respect, and healthy boundaries. 

Get involved

Join local groups (even if they are on reddit), join some creative classes, attend festivals and events, or even volunteer. Getting involved in the activities around you can bring you closer to your new city and make you feel less alienated. 

It can even help you make new friends and allow you to enjoy various activities outside of your regular routine. If you do not want to sign up for these activities that require commitment, talk to your coffee shop barista or the grocer down the street- get to know them- volunteer to help them out if you are allowed to.

Manage a healthy routine

If your old routine worked well with you, there is no harm in sticking to it. However, there might be slight changes that arise, taking time to adjust to these changes in a way that helps you to stay connected with the people around you and your loved ones can help you get better adjusted.

Maybe go back to exercising- running, yoga, or join the gym if that is something that worked for you in your old city. If you commuted by bus earlier, seek out the bus routes. DO things that are familiar to you and when you are ready, try out other things that the new city offers you as well.

Seek out support

One of the first things you can do to help you after moving to a new place is to reach out to someone you trust- be it a family member or a friend. Talking about what you are going through can help you process what you are feeling, it can also help you feel less alone. 

You can also take the step to talk to a professional- a psychologist or counsellor who can help you make sense of what you are going through and help cope with the stress of moving.

Conclusion

In this blog we have discussed whether moving can make one happier or not as well as what are some things that one can do to adapt to moving to a new city. 

FAQ related to will moving make me happier?

Will moving to a new country make me happy?

It is unlikely that moving to a new place will make you happier than you were in the last place that you lived in. 

Moving doesn’t make you happier because the problems you had in your life in one city do not disappear if you move away- your life and your problems travel with you even if the new place has better weather and better opportunities for you. 

Can moving affect mood?

Yes, moving can impact mood because of the stress of moving as well as the stress of adapting to a new environment, new people, new culture, and new ways of living. 

Is moving always a good idea?

Moving might not always be a good idea especially when moving away is your way of running about from the problems of your present because the problems you had in your life in one city do not disappear if you move away. 

Is it normal to regret moving?

Yes it is normal to regret moving especially when you are having a hard time adapting to a new environment and the changes in your life because of moving- it can cause a host of mental health and behavioural issues, including depression, anxiety. 

Can moving cause PTSD?

There is no inconclusive evidence that moving can cause PTSD however, if the moving has been abrupt and unwanted it can be a traumatic experience for the individual especially when the individual is a child. 

References

Can moving make you happier? Talented ladies Club. Retrieved on 6th April 2022. https://www.talentedladiesclub.com/articles/can-moving-make-you-happier/

Melody Warnick.Psychology debunks the idea that we’d be happier if we lived somewhere else.Quartz. Retrieved on 6th April 2022. https://qz.com/769776/psychology-debunks-the-idea-that-wed-be-happier-if-we-lived-somewhere-else/

Laura Mueller. Can Moving Make You Happier? Moving.com.. Retrieved on 6th April 2022. https://www.moving.com/tips/can-moving-make-you-happier/#:~:text=So%2C%20can%20 moving%20make%20you,a%20 superficial%20change%20in%20scenery.

Sarah Mahoney. Can Moving Really Make You Happier?AARP. Retrieved on 6th April 2022. https://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-2017/can-moving-really-make-you-happier.html

Schkade, D.A., & Kahneman, D. (1998). Does Living in California Make People Happy? A Focusing Illusion in Judgments of Life Satisfaction. Psychological Science, 9, 340 – 346.

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