Can moving to a new city, state, or country make you happier? It certainly has the potential to — a move gives you an opportunity to discover new interests, meet new people, and start a new chapter in your life. While the process itself may seem nerve-wracking or tedious, it can also bring about positive changes that significantly improve your happiness.
This Is Your Brain on Moving
Whether you’re moving out of necessity or out of desire, the act of relocating can be an emotional and often trying experience. A move isn’t a cure-all for tension or anxiety. However, a move can offer a fresh start, helping you motivate yourself to make changes in your life. Here are five ways your move can change your life for the better.
1. Nicer Neighborhoods
If you’re not happy with your quality of life in your current neighborhood, apartment building, or town, a move can help you find greener pastures. A sense of community can be a big indicator for personal happiness; when you feel connected to your surroundings, your sense of fulfillment will be higher.
Our environments also impact our happiness in significant (and surprising) ways. Quality of life is directly linked to our surroundings, and major cities across the world have begun using happiness as a metric for understanding the economy. Moving to a nicer neighborhood with more trees, a vibrant downtown, or a peaceful local park can truly improve your happiness if your current location is lacking these basic amenities.
2. Social Support
A social support system is an essential part of feeling safe, comfortable, and happy. Our friends and family are often an essential resource when it comes to personal fulfillment. The American Psychological Association (APA) finds that social support systems are a strong indicator of reduced stress and increased happiness.
Moving closer to friends and family can put your social support system within easy reach so you cope with life’s stresses in a more productive way. If you’re moving to a new area without a social support system, there are lots of ways to branch out and find new friends. Once you get settled, your social network will start brightening your life.
3. Economic Relief
Our finances are often the main driver of a move. Whether you’re seeking a new job or an area with a lower cost of living, a move has numerous ways of reducing financial stress. Money can be a big driver of unhappiness — in fact, it’s the top cause of stress in the United States, according to the APA. Moving to relieve financial stress is a good approach for a happier life.
If you’re planning to move for financial reasons, applying to jobs in several cities and picking the best offer is a good strategy. Cities vary by cost of living since utility prices and general costs like food or transportation vary across the nation. Finding a city with a good ratio between cost of living and average salary can leave you with much more financial freedom; cities like Dallas, Houston, and Philadelphia have high hiring rates and some of the lowest living costs.
4. Better Climate
It can be hard to live in a place where the weather stresses you out. Weather-related unhappiness can manifest in a number of different ways. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) plagues millions of Americans in places with long winters, while people who live in areas with extreme heat might suffer from lower productivity.
Moving to an area with more tolerable weather for your personal preferences can have a big effect on your overall happiness. Nicer weather and more sunlight can coincide with increased levels of happiness, and nice weather enables activities like outdoor exercise, which can definitely lighten your mood.
5. Safer Cities
In the famous psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a feeling of safety is second only to basic physiological needs like breathing, eating, and sleeping. Feeling safe is a complex emotion, combining aspects of physical, psychological, vocational, and economic security. Feeling insecure can put a hard cap on how happy you’re able to feel.
Moving to a city with a lower crime rate or a neighborhood with a little more privacy can give you the space you need to breathe, relax, and appreciate the things that make you happy. If the people you live with are the cause of your feelings of insecurity, separating yourself is the best thing you can do to take care of your personal happiness.
Find Your Space
The process of moving can be stress-inducing, but the long-term benefits can make it worth the trouble. Moving for any of these reasons can help you make the positive changes in your life to feel more content and gratified.