The 5 Stages of Mover’s Remorse


When we move, we want the financial, emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion and upheaval we endured to get from Point A to Point B to be worth it. We don’t want to go through the expense and hassle of moving only to end up with mover’s remorse later on.

Which is why it’s so gratifying when we do move successfully and agonizing when we don’t.

The problem is the very fear of moving to the wrong place is so powerful that many of us choose to stay unhappily where we are rather than pursue our dream of a more fulfilling life in a new location.

That fear wasn’t enough to stop me though–either because I’m incredibly brave or foolish, I’m not sure which. (Maybe both?)

I experienced mover’s remorse three times over six years. It wasn’t until I retraced my online research efforts after the third disastrous empty nest move that I realized how stacked the cards are against anyone moving successfully.

Coming to terms with a botched move is a bitter pill to swallow. It’s painful to accept such a costly mistake. It’s torturous to watch as your hopes and dreams for a better life in a new location are dashed against the rocks.

The ugly truth takes time to sink in. How long varies, but the progression of feelings and insights leading up to mover’s remorse – what I’ve dubbed “the dawn of the dread” – are similar.

So, what are the 5 stages of mover’s remorse and how can you avoid them? Let’s have a look!

Stage 1: This place is amazing!

The first stage of mover’s remorse is the honeymoon phase. Initially, everything about your new location is fresh and exciting. The novelty of living in a new location fuels a euphoria that you experience whether your move is ultimately successful or not. The true compatibility test comes later. When I first moved to Austin, Texas from San Francisco in 1990, I was gob smacked. Over time I fell deeply in love with Austin–a feeling that lasted for two decades. I felt that same elation immediately after moving from Austin to West Texas and from West Texas to Iowa. But, unlike Austin, that initial thrill and excitement gave way to disappointment and disillusionment.

Stage 2: OK, so it’s not perfect.

The second stage of mover’s remorse begins when the initial flush of excitement wears off. You sense vague uneasy rumblings that something is not quite right. Maybe the people aren’t as friendly as you’d originally thought. Maybe you misjudged how well you’d like living in a place that’s very different from what you’re used to. But you’d rather ignore the rumblings and hope they go away than deal with the possibility that you messed up. You tell yourself no place is perfect, that you simply need time to adjust. For the time being at least, you’re able to keep your rose-colored glasses firmly planted on your nose.

Stage 3: Maybe I’m not trying hard enough.

The third stage of mover’s remorse is when the vague rumblings start to grow louder and more insistent. You may instinctively know what’s going on, but you still don’t want to give in to reality. Maybe it’s not the place, you think. It might be that you need to make more of an effort. You tell yourself you’ll start to feel more like you belong once you find some way to contribute. The problem with trying to force a connection where none exists is that these efforts tend to backfire.

Stage 4: No, it’s this place.

The fourth stage of mover’s remorse is where the shit hits the fan. Doubts, fears and inklings you’d managed to keep at bay up to this point suddenly converge to form the depressing reality that you moved to the wrong place. What had been ill-defined becomes crystal clear. You become painfully aware of undesirable and incompatible community qualities you’d previously overlooked. You can’t fathom how you could have possibly missed them. Your emotions ping-pong between anger and hopelessness. You feel pissed off at the place for not being what you wanted and expected it to be. You’re pissed off at yourself for making such a dumb, costly decision. And when you’re not feeling pissed off, you get caught up in a kind of Charlie Brown-like despair where all you want to do is go clonk your head against a tree trunk.

Everything is laid bare–and it’s not pretty.

Stage 5: Crap. Now what?

The fifth stage of mover’s remorse is when panic starts to set in. You’ve faced the ugly truth about your move and you’re at a crossroads. Now what? Do you stay and try to make the best of a bad situation? Move back to where you lived before? Move someplace else entirely? If moving isn’t financially or emotionally feasible, you’re probably going to stay put until you’re in a better position to do so. And even if you are financially and emotionally in shape to move again, you’re likely to be gun-shy about moving without some assurance of success.

So, where does that leave you?

Stuck like Chuck. Or, at least that’s where it used to leave you! I created Your Place Finder because I didn’t want anyone else to experience mover’s remorse or to not move out of fear of screwing up.  Even if you’re not in a position to move again right away, simply having a plan in place will go a long way toward easing your mover’s remorse and putting a spring in your step!

Take the first, free step to avoid a costly moving mistake.

Take the free Place Personality Type quiz today and find out if you’ll be happiest living in a city, suburb, small town or the countryside.

5 Telltale Signs of Movers Remorse Pin 3 - Your Place Finder Dawn of the Dread Pin 2 - Your Place Finder Movers Remorse Blog Post Pin 1 - Your Place Finder

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About the Author

I founded Your Place Finder in 2017 to help retirees and almost retirees like you anticipate and overcome the pitfalls and challenges – and reap the rich rewards – of finding the perfect location to move for retirement.


  1. Going Here on Feb 7, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it’s rare to see a great blog like this one nowadays..

    • Margaret on Feb 7, 2019 at 4:40 pm

      Thanks so much for your kind words! I think it’s Genesis theme (WordPress). I really appreciate you taking the time to read and comment on my blog!

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