Dear Miriam | To Move or Not to Move

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Dear Miriam,

Is a pandemic the absolute wrong time to make a decision to move to a completely different place, or is it the absolute right time because it means that’s where you want to be through difficulties and uncertainties?


Whether to Relocate

Dear Relocate,

I know a number of people who have moved since March. At least some of these moves were planned pre-pandemic, so I’m not sure if those data points speak to your question about the timing of the decision-making process. Moving is not an unheard of thing to do right now, and there are lots of good reasons to think about it, and maybe also to think about doing it.

I know an even greater number of people who have contemplated moving since the world shut down. These ruminations have come almost exclusively from people who 1) live in major urban centers, and 2) have kids who have been cooped up for a third of a year. The idea of having breathing room, a backyard and even possibly a public school district with a plan for the fall are all reasons that parents may be having these conversations.

Maybe you’re thinking of moving to be closer to family. Considering a move to be driving rather than flying distance makes sense. At the same time, while many are (thankfully!) still practicing social distancing, it’s hard to know what being physically close to family even gets you in the short term. Maybe it’s the reassurance that when things calm down, you’ll be near those you love. Maybe it’s child care, or elder care or some other mutual support.

Maybe you’re thinking of moving for a job. A local move to help shorten a commute seems like an unnecessarily big undertaking when so few people are commuting, though certainly this depends on your circumstances. A long distance move seems bold, too, especially considering how difficult it would be to meet new people and acclimate to a new place during this strange, strange time. However, with unemployment being what it is, if you were to find a job in a new place, a move might be necessary and appropriate.

If real estate prices are your thing, maybe there are deals to be had. If you need a change of scenery, that is so understandable, but maybe a reason for a vacation rental rather than a long-term change. This pandemic has certainly highlighted an impossible number of problems with a lot of the ways Americans’ lives are set up, and if your situation has brought your personal issues to the forefront in ways that aren’t obviously able to be resolved, now may be a perfect opportunity to rethink your circumstances in a big, serious way.

I don’t know what you’re going through specifically that’s leading you to think about moving, but I can pretty much guarantee that it’s stressful, complicated and overwhelming because that’s how everyone feels. If you can picture yourself being better off in a new environment both during and after this extraordinarily difficult time, then you’re right to consider a change. But if your motivation is coming from a short-term frustration that you can’t see beyond, you may be better off waiting until things stabilize in our country or until you have some more clarity about your long-term prospects.

Be well,



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