Your experiences moving away from your home town for the first time

My mother, who is in her late 60s, is moving away from Los Angeles for the first time ever in life to begin enjoying her retirement in an affordable locale. She’s excited about trying something different, and the move makes tons of sense for financial reasons, but she’s also understandably a bit nervous about being away from the only city she’s ever known well. I’ve also lived in LA since birth, and it’s hard for me to imagine what it’s like for someone to pick up and start over in another city (or country), especially if you’re a little further along in life like my mother.

I’d be curious to hear from Dopers about your own experiences in the same situation. The longer you lived in your home town or area before moving, the better. What prompted you to move? How scary and/or exciting was it? How long did it take you to adjust to your new life? What were the best and worst aspects of the experience?

When I first moved, I moved away from the Los Angeles area to Ventura. I was thirty, and I had lived in the same San Gabriel Valley suburb all my life. I thought I’d be sad, but actually it was an eye-opener. To be honest, that’s when I realized that I hated where I grew up; I had to get away from it to see that it was hot, smoggy, and covered in concrete. It took zero time for me to adjust to my new life. The worst aspect? I can’t think of any.

I’ve since moved to the Bay Area, which I love even more. My next move will be to the Pacific Northwest, and that’ll be when I’m your mother’s age. It’s going to be great.

My experience wouldn’t be very comparable to your mother’s. I moved away from home when I was twenty for a job. It was a time of life when you expect to be doing new things.

When I was 22 I moved from here in the Adirondacks to Boston to take a job with Eastern Airlines. I was young though, and I adapted right away.

You should be glad your mother has enough sense of adventure, to try something new after so many years. Meeting new people, and having new things to do will keep her moving. I really feel that as people get older they need to keep on moving, no sitting still.

My mom is 81, and I coax her into going for a walk with me every day.

To me the Bay Area is basically like LA… crowded, expensive, damp, foggy and covered in concrete.

I grew up in the Reno/Tahoe area and at the age of 30, sold everything and bought a one-way ticket to Tbilisi in the Republic of Georgia. It was difficult adapting to only having 4-6 hours of electricity each day but we were game for an adventure. It was supposed to be for a 10-month teaching job, but it morphed into other jobs.

We ended up leaving after 6 months but then living overseas for 12 years. I think it is the best thing I ever did.

When I was in my 20s, I moved from my hometown in West Texas to Thailand. If I’d realized Australia was even farther away, I might have just kept going.

In the mid 1980s I moved from Karachi, Pakistan to New York City. I was 20. There was a bit of culture shock. It helped that both cities were crowded chaotic and dangerous. If I had moved directly to Overland Park, Kansas I’m not sure I would have survived:)

I’m also from the San Gabriel Valley originally, but my family moved to San Jose when I was eight. Growing up, I wanted nothing more than to move back. I tried it when I was 20, and stayed for a month before deciding it really wasn’t all that great.

At 33*, I left the Bay Area for Portland. The only adjustment was learning a new area. I was glad to be gone from California; I’ve not regretted my decision for one minute. I’ve never missed it at all. When I go back to visit family, I’m always sad when the trip is over because I won’t be seeing them again for a while, but I’m quite happy to be back in Oregon.

*ETA: That was 10 years ago.

My parents moved to a different town (in the UK) after Dad’s retirement. Mum was always good at making friends and adjusted pretty well but Dad didn’t. He was a former teacher and was used to encountering former pupils everywhere he went in our home town and around. In the new place no one knew him, he didn’t feel like a somebody any more and he hated it.

The move was a mistake in other ways. They had moved to be near to my brother and his new wife but they promptly went to work abroad - as had always been their intention. Communication isn’t great in our family.

They did find a way to make it work, they joined clubs and the local church and Dad put a lot of energy into making the garden lovely. But all the time they were saving to go back. This had one very good effect in that Dad gave up smoking and probably added years to his life.

So, what I’m trying to say is that if your mum can make friends with new people and if she can cope with living somewhere where she’s a stranger then she’ll be OK. Otherwise she shouldn’t burn her boats.

I grew up just North of Santa Barbara. I moved to Colorado at 18 and really haven’t left. I miss home all winter long and if I could get a job that would only be a 50% decline in cost of living I’d probably try to move there tomorrow. Unfortunately I lose 20% just in taxes and I could earn half of what I make there now so im pretty sure I’m a Coloradan until im rich enough to not need to work anymore.

My first move was from Houston to Austin. Went up to go to college, wound up living there for 13 years.

I moved back to Houston in 1979 and it has been home base ever since. But in the 1980s, I lived at various times in Jakarta, Singapore, Australia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

I very much appreciate all of the responses thus far. For those who are so inclined, I’d really like to hear more about what was going through your mind at the time leading up to the move. How confident were you about what you were doing? And did your expectations match the experience?

Actually, my moves usually involve giant leaps. As an adult, I’ve moved from Texas to Thailand to New Mexico to Hawaii to Thailand. And now we’re thinking of living in Hawaii yet again.

Other than my college years, I never really left my home town until I was 45. My husband worked largely on contracts, so we went places and stayed there for sometimes up to 3 years, but we always eventually came back home. When my husband’s employer closed their Chicago location and offered him the chance to relocate, we took it without a second thought. But when the time came to leave, knowing that our house was sold, not rented; that my mother had passed so there was no longer any reason that we’d come back; I lost it a bit.

We moved to a terrific city and I love it here now, but it took quite a while before it felt like home. It’s tougher to make new friends when you’re older, you have to start all over finding favorite spots for dinner, haircuts, new doctors and dentists, auto mechanics…everything. It’s a bit daunting when you’re out of your 20s and 30s. I still don’t have any really close friends here, but I’ve gotten to know enough acquaintances that I have people to meet for lunch or go to an event with.

Yes, sometimes I still feel so homesick it hurts. And I still miss my lifelong friends. But it’s been a wonderful adventure is so many ways and I look forward to staying here for a long time.

I lived in my home state for 30 years, and finally “left home” when I was 38. I’d been thinking about it for a while, but it took a while for things to fall into place.

It was exciting and terrifying, because I knew that I wouldn’t have family right there to fall back on if I got into a bind. And I had to make all new friends, which was a bit tough since at home I had people who I’d known since I was 8!

Now I don’t want to ever move back. :smiley:

ETA – stillownedbysetters, I’m ***still ***looking for a good dentist and a good mechanic.

You would have done fine if you would have just avoided Metcalf.

I moved from St Louis to Columbia, MO in college and then to the Kansas City area when I was 20 something. When I got to KC I had one buddy from high school who had moved here 6 months before I did.

I was a bit nervous at first but this area is full of people who are friendly and strangers striking up a conversation is a common occurrence. I made friends fast.
My biggest issue was finding a decent pizza and was amazed at the differences in pronunciation and verbiage between people in Western MO and Eastern MO.

My big move from my hometown when I got married was to another town 8 miles away (and we’ve since moved back), I really don’t have any good stories. I just stopped in to say that the differences in people amazes me. Some willingly pick up and move every couple of years while others willingly stay put for a lifetime. I wish your mom the best!