5 Truths I Learned From Moving On A Whim

Two months after celebrating my 25th birthday, I packed my life into my tiny black sedan and headed 3,000 miles west, to the Southern California coast.

Up until that moment, I had grown up in a sprawling middle-class suburb in New Hampshire, where a typical day might involve an indulgent TJ Maxx shopping spree, a mid-week happy hour at a chain restaurant, or an agonizing stop-and-go commute.

Like a passenger, I watched my life and routines unfold, becoming unequivocally boring and uninspired.

I had already lived in California twice before. Both times, I didn’t make it more than 6 months before hitting the gas pedal and turning back around. So why try again?

While each year that I moved to California had its merits, this time superseded every expectation, every dream, and every ounce of what I imagined it to be.

These are some of the top truths I realized after moving across the country on a whim:

1. There is never a “right” time to move. 

It’s all too easy to get plagued with a crippling dose of perfectionism before making a huge, life-altering decision. While the news of my move was met with buzzy excitement and support from friends and family, I still had the occasional naysayer who thought I was crazy.

Was I doing the right thing? Should I wait a year and move then? Do I have enough money saved up to make it? 

If there was a perfect time to move, I would still be in New Hampshire right now, obsessively planning and plotting, waiting for that “right” moment.

My two options were now or never!

Great change happens when you’re forced out of your comfort zone and have the guts to take bold leaps. I knew the road ahead would be challenging, but I was determined to make it work.

2. Hardship is humbling.  

The first few months of my move were eye-opening, between an unexpected layoff (at a decidedly unglamorous job), my car breaking down on the freeway, and watching my boyfriend tirelessly apply for job after job, only to secure something that was minimum wage.

I could have taken the easy way out, especially in those hopeless moments where we were flat broke. But learning to face the hurdles head-on was surprisingly memorable.

We rented our first apartment and slept on the floor for two weeks with nothing more than a sheet and our pillows. I eased into a lifestyle of thrift shopping, coupon clipping and meal planning. Acquiring cute apartment decorations and furnishings happened at a snail’s pace. We went for four months without a couch, and ten months without a real bed.

And yet, I was the happiest gal on the planet. It was inspiring to see our new life blossom over time.

3. Making new friends is a bit like online dating. 

I met all of my San Diego friends over the internet. (Click here to learn how I did it!)

It’s funny to think that a casual six-mile hike and a couple of rounds of bowling could quickly funnel into a summer camping trip, countless get-togethers, weddings, baby showers, and trips to Palm Springs and Temecula.

It’s nerve-wracking to put yourself out there, but in joining a 20’s and 30’s couples group on Meetup.com, I discovered nearly everyone was in the same situation as my boyfriend and I. We were all mutually keen on meeting new people, and 99% of us had transplanted to California from somewhere else.

4. Moving = Growth

One of the biggest surprises I discovered was how the “old” New Hampshire me became a shell of the woman I am today.

Trading material things for spontaneous adventures, impulsively signing up for a 5K mud run and a semester of paddleboarding lessons, fostering two puppies from a local rescue, spending a Sunday at the neighborhood farmer’s market – these are things I couldn’t have imagined having any interest or motivation in doing before.

Yet this was me. And this is who I was becoming!
5. It’s the greatest adventure.

I’ve collected snippets from the past (almost) four years and compiled them into glossy, printed books.

Each volume contains hundreds of pictures: fleeting, watercolor sunsets that took my breath away, picnics in Balboa Park, laughter on a couch at a cocktail party, my boyfriend learning to surf with the Ocean Beach Pier jutting out in the distance, me in a striped sundress with the gritty, glittering LA skyline behind me.

Every bit and piece of this journey encapsulates every emotion – pride, joy, despair, hope, love, persistence, and willpower.

If I’ve learned anything at all from moving coast to coast three times in a span of six years, it’s that
moving is a beautiful adventure!

Are you moving soon? (Start planning your adventure with our free moving planning journal!)


Alison Kinsey is a serial mover and the founder of City Leaper. She craves adventure, movement, and new beginnings. Her most recent move was over 3,000 miles, from New Hampshire to California, where she lives with her husband and her two dogs.

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