5 Telltale Signs It’s Time to Move

Rainy street scene

How do you know when it’s time to move someplace new?

Moving is a momentous life event. In many ways, the process of deciding if it’s time to move is similar to the process you go through to decide if it’s time to leave your job, or your spouse.

Accepting that where you’re living is not working for you can be difficult. It’s natural to resist “pulling the plug.” You want to believe it will get better, that things will improve if you just stick with it.

It’s also likely you already know in your heart what you want and need to do.

The signs that it’s time to move are usually in plain sight, if you’re willing to see them. Your actions (conscious or not) may be telling you it’s time to move. In other cases, events happening around, or to, you can be a tip-off that it’s time to move.

The prospect of moving may be daunting, but the repercussions of staying where you are could be much worse. Research has shown that feeling a strong a sense of belonging to the place where you live contributes to greater happiness – and even longevity!

Do you have a hunch a move may be on your horizon?

See if you recognize these 5 telltale signs it’s time to move and learn steps you can take right now to set the wheels of your move in motion, so that you’re ready to take action when the time is right!

You never really put down roots.

Your home can provide some telling clues that it’s time to move. It’s challenging to work up much energy or enthusiasm to decorate or renovate when you know deep down that you’re not going to be staying where you are for the long haul.

For example, we never really moved into our house after our ill-fated move to Iowa in 2016. We didn’t bother decorating much and we delayed making necessary improvements to our 120-year-old house until right before we planned to move.

When you aren’t invested in the present, it can be easy to fixate on the future.

If you notice that you’re focusing more on what will make selling your house easier than how you can get the most comfort and enjoyment out of it while you’re there, your house is telling you it’s time to move!

You feel no social connection to where you live.

Feeling socially connected to where you live is as important to your health, happiness and well-being as sun, air and water are to a plant’s survival. This bond to community creates a sense of belonging that is needed to feel genuinely at home where you live.

It’s easy to retreat when the relationship is lacking between you and where you live.

In some cases, you may never have felt a social connection to your community. In other cases, you may have felt a connection in the past but no longer feel it. Both people and places change, and they don’t always change in compatible ways.

If you feel estranged and disconnected from the place where you live, those feelings are telling you it’s time to move!

Your efforts to “make it work” are unsuccessful.

When you sense where you live is not working, it’s tempting to want to give the place the benefit of the doubt before you decide to move on. You tell yourself, maybe if you make more of an effort to connect with people you’ll start to feel at home.

And yet, when you attempt to forge some kind of connection, you realize you’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Everything you do misses the mark.

If you’ve tried to make it work but still feel a nagging incompatibility with where you live, consider that a red flag that it’s time to move!

You keep getting signs from the universe.

When something is not meant to be, the universe has a way of chiming in.

Often, it takes more than one hint from the cosmos that you’re living in the wrong place for the message to really sink in. The hints may be too subtle, or you just may not be ready to hear them. At some point, though, it’s impossible to ignore the warnings.

We got major hints that we did not belong in Iowa from the get-go.

First, our central AC unit died during a horrendous heat wave two days after we moved in. We had horrible luck from that point on trying to find locals to do business with who weren’t out to rip us off!

Then, not long after we moved in, the city chopped down the gorgeous, massive ash tree that had stood in front of our house for over 70 years due to a beetle infestation. That tree had been there for nearly a century – until we arrrived!

These are only a couple of examples, but you get the idea.

If the cosmos is sending messages that you’re not meant to live where you are, listen because it’s telling you it’s time to move!

You dream about living someplace else.

If you’re not feeling happy and fulfilled where you live, it’s natural to dream about living someplace else.

You may not have a clear vision for what you’re looking for; you just know the place needs to be nothing like where you are now. And because you’re not sure exactly what you’re looking for, you spend your time browsing aimlessly online or surveying family and friends for ideas and inspiration on where to move.

The problem with these approaches is, if you base your decision on how different a place is from where you are now, you risk over-correcting. And if you base your decision on what other people say, you’re missing the most important part of the equation – you!

In either case, you run the risk of moving to a place that’s equally – or more – repellent than where you are or getting stuck in dreaming mode and not moving anywhere.

So, how do you dream about where to move in a constructive way?

Tune out all the outside distractions and tap in to what a location needs to have for you to feel at home. Once you have a clear vision of what you want and need from your new location, you can begin to put your plan in place.

How to know for sure it’s time to move.

Ready, Set… Move? is a unique decision-making tool that, along with one-on-one consulting/coaching support, provides you with everything you need to figure out if it’s time to move, or to stay, so you can take decisive action. Learn more about Ready, Set… Move? here.

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retirement advisor-margaret

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. Darlene on Apr 13, 2020 at 6:29 pm

    Such a great post Margaret! I’m not sure I will ever feel like “this is the place” I must have gypsy in my blood 🙂

    • Margaret on Apr 13, 2020 at 8:44 pm

      Thanks so much, Darlene! Not everyone is meant to settle down in one place. I’ve always been restless, but after moving several times and living in places I feel no connection to for the last decade, I’m ready to put down roots in Oregon!

      • Kelley on Apr 9, 2021 at 4:16 pm

        Lol. I want to move FROM Oregon. After 20 years here I’m bored to death.

        • Margaret on Apr 9, 2021 at 4:19 pm

          Hi Kelley! Ha, ha, that’s so funny. If you’re bored in OR, whatever you do, DON’T move to Iowa! I’d love to help you figure out where to move next!

    • Crystal Barbee on Dec 27, 2020 at 1:27 am

      All these telltale signs resonated with me. I am 40 years old married with 3 biological girls and 3 step daughters. I have been contemplate relocating since my girls were in elementary school and my oldest is 21. I have allowed fear & others perspective to hold me back but no more. My plans is to move when my lease is up in June 2021 if not sooner. Thank you for this article. It has help me to reevaluate my decision and look at it in a different perspective. Once again thank you and God Bless

      • Margaret on Dec 27, 2020 at 4:06 pm

        Hi Crystal, I appreciate you sharing your story with me and I’m so glad to hear that my article helped you look at your decision to move from a different perspective. I love to help people in any way that I can. Wishing you and your family much happiness in your new home. Happy New Year!! All my best, Margaret

  2. Kelsey on Apr 14, 2020 at 1:28 pm

    Such good tips! I definitely felt many of these things when I moved out of my hometown. It’s exciting to start fresh somewhere new!

    • Margaret on Apr 14, 2020 at 1:31 pm

      It IS exciting to start fresh in a new place! Thanks so much for sharing, Kelsey!

  3. Lauren on Apr 14, 2020 at 1:33 pm

    This is a great post and made me really think. I want to move after the kids graduate.

    • Margaret on Apr 14, 2020 at 2:41 pm

      Your comment is music to my ears, Lauren! Thank you. If you’re not sure where you want to move after your kids graduate, I’m here to help!

  4. Christine on May 19, 2020 at 3:57 pm

    These are some great tips Margaret! Thanks for sharing!

    • Margaret on Jun 10, 2020 at 1:15 pm

      Thank you, Christine. I’m so glad you found my article helpful, and I really appreciate your taking the time to comment.

  5. Zoe Campos on Sep 25, 2020 at 5:46 am

    I can totally relate to the part where you mentioned that accepting that where I live isn’t working for me anymore is really hard, especially if I live with my parents. They provide everything and I’m not sure if I’d learn how to be responsible if I kept on letting them pay my bills. It might be time to hire long-distance movers that can help me move far away from them so I can gain my independence.

    • Margaret on Sep 25, 2020 at 12:33 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Zoe. Sounds like it may be time for a change. The right place for you might be far away from your parents, or it might not. Make sure the place you choose is one where you’ll be happy. Best of luck to you in your search!

  6. Lisa on Sep 28, 2020 at 10:18 am

    Zoe, can you talk to your parents? We have our adult. Children pay rent and help out around our place. We’re a close-knit family, so I hope when they move out, it won’t be too far away. Right now, we’re involving them in our moving decision.

  7. Brian on Dec 20, 2020 at 4:30 am

    Thank you for this post Margaret! You said something that resonated with me when you mentioned you start to give the place you want to move from the benefit of the doubt. I think that’s been my problem lately. I live in Michigan with my wife and kids and do not love it here. I’ve barely made anything more than surface-based acquaintances in 10 years. The only thing I appreciate is the change of seasons and getting some emotional support from my church and my mother-in-law here. My side of the family lives in Florida and basically have been begging me to come back to live there. My wife wants it and my kids are okay with that but I am struggling with it. I believe my Florida family would be more supportive in every way and relationships can be worked on but I don’t like the bugs, heat and humidity or look of the concrete, cookie-cutter-houses where they live. My wife says it can be temporary until our kids are more independent and then we can move to Colorado or Tennessee where we feel we belong. Of course, anything is possible and is subject to change. Any advice for me (Sorry this was such a wordy comment)?

    • Margaret on Dec 20, 2020 at 4:58 pm

      Hi Brian, I’m so glad to hear that my article resonated with you and I appreciate you sharing your story with me. I know what it’s like to live in a place that isn’t a good fit, and I am all about finding a place to live that you love! Based off what you told me, it sounds like moving to FL would simply be trading in one set of things you don’t like about where you live for another. Even your kids seem a bit lukewarm about the idea of moving to FL. Have you considered skipping the temporary move and moving directly to Colorado or Tennessee? Why wait until your kids are grown to live in a place that you and your wife both agree you feel you belong? Just some thoughts. I hope they are helpful!

  8. Suvi on Dec 23, 2020 at 9:46 pm

    Hey Margaret,

    Thank you for the helpful tips on your post.

    I have moved to finland in 2018 for my mother, after she passed away I began studying a bachelors degree. Two semesters have passed, the third semester i spent at home due to COVID-19, now I have been struggling to want to complete my studies, although I am 33 yrs of age and have been feeling to go back to my home country Australia. I can transfer my studies if I wish to, I kept on questioning for along time if I should go back, two or three of my family members have guided me to stay and complete my studies, but at times i feel a real strong urge to go back home.

    I even bought a ticket to go back in january 2021, but then ended up cancelling it recently. I have enrolled for next semester studies ( I am studying for free over here), but I don’t mind sometimes to just give up and go back hoe and settle for an easy job in an office or even travel around fruit picking for a year.

    I am just REALLY BAFFLED at the moment t times, the rest of my friends and family are saying to go back to Australia, I have NO IDEA WHAT TO DO!!! 🙁 I am in two minds about it all.

    • Margaret on Dec 23, 2020 at 10:05 pm

      Hi Suvi,

      Thank you so much for reading my post and sharing your story. I’m so sorry for the loss of your mother. I can tell how conflicted you are about whether to stay in Finland or move back home to Australia. You summed it up when you said you were of two minds about it! There’s a reason you decided to cancel your ticket back to Australia. Because you don’t feel absolutely certain about what to do, the wisest course of action may be to try to wait a little longer, stay where you are for now, and see if your path forward gets clearer. Listen to what your heart is telling you, even if it’s different from what your family and friends are telling you. I wish you the best and if there’s any other way I can assist you, I’m here to help!

  9. Sarah Focken on Jan 14, 2021 at 2:40 am

    Thanks so much for your vulnerable blog!
    We’re a veteran family and used to being nomadic! We discharged in 2015 and after two years of being sick, broke, family drama, being bored and in Nebraska (I call it pleasantville) we moved to my home town Ohio for more support and access to the east coast. But ended up moving back to Nebraska 18 months later because we were drowning in debt from medical bills and a marital separation caused by the issues that essentially arose because of Nebraska. We were not able to be successful in Ohio.

    We’re doing great financially now and we’re able to redeem ourselves but we still hate it here! Are we being unreasonable to want to move again? Ohio, Colorado, maybe Oregon or tennesse. We’re very out doorsy people and we’re so oppressed here.

    • Margaret on Jan 14, 2021 at 2:14 pm

      Hi Sarah,

      First, thank you for your service! And thank you also for reading my article and sharing your story. You must have been so disappointed when you realized Ohio wasn’t working for you. And then to go back to Nebraska only to hate it there? I don’t think you’re unreasonable at all for wanting to move again. If you find Nebraska an oppressive place to live then, by all means, make a plan to move someplace where you can enjoy life! And if there’s any way I can help you figure out which place is right for you, I’m here to help!

      Here’s to loving where you live!!

  10. Mayur on Apr 20, 2021 at 1:58 am

    I liked your blog. I live in Irvine but thinking to move to Los Angeles. I have been living here for 3.5 years now and feel it has offered me what it had. Now I am looking for something more and it seems LA can be that city. I loved the Koreatown neighborhood. It has lots of diversity, food options, centrally located within LA area, and has a good vibe. The thing that I worry about is moving right now maybe a little risky as I am planning to switch jobs and if I sign a new lease in LA then my choices will be restricted to LA or remote. But at the same time, I am a bit desperate to move out of here and feel a new city will give me the chance and open opportunities and so I am kind of confused. What are your thoughts Margaret?

    • Margaret on Apr 20, 2021 at 2:20 pm

      Hi Mayur, I’m glad you enjoyed my article! It sounds like this may be a case where you have to measure just HOW desperate you are to move right now. If you can wait until you have a clearer idea of your job situation, and where it makes most sense for you to live in relation to it, that may be the way to go. That way, you’ll keep more options open. But, if your desperation to move outweighs your desire to keep your work options open, then by all means, make your move! Best of luck to you and thanks for sharing!

      • Mayur on Apr 20, 2021 at 2:53 pm

        Thank you for the advice Margaret!

        • Margaret on Apr 20, 2021 at 11:09 pm

          You are very welcome, Mayur! I hope you found my advice helpful.

  11. Linda Lee on May 2, 2021 at 1:16 am

    Dear Margaret,
    My concern is how to navigate the emotional terrain once I move. After failing to carve out a satisfying life in my hometown after almost 20 years, I have decided to move elsewhere. Problem is, I am alone and an introvert, so I foresee a potentially gargantuan task in creating a solid support network. I don’t want this to obscure the good aspects of the move and induce clinical depression. I will already be a bit heartbroken saying goodbye to town I once loved. I thought about getting a dog and a counselor once I move. Any advice?

    • Margaret on May 2, 2021 at 4:00 pm

      Hi Linda,
      I totally understand your concerns about saying good bye to a town you once loved and trying to navigate the emotional terrain of living in a new place. It sounds like your hometown is not giving you what you need and a move could be really positive thing for you. But there’s no question that picking up roots and starting over in a new place can be daunting – albeit exciting! I think getting a dog and a counselor once you move are both excellent ideas. There are also coaches out there who specifically help people make a smooth transition after relocating. And, of course, if you need help deciding which places would be the best fit for you, I’d be happy to help you out!
      Best of luck to you, Linda. I appreciate you sharing your story.

  12. Linda Lee on May 6, 2021 at 11:01 pm

    Dear Margaret,

    I would just like to add a couple of things. First, it may be helpful to incorporate a bit of psychological counseling into your program. I say this because there are negative people and naysayers out there who might try to discourage one from moving. Also, the recovery movement out there has a pet saying that wherever you go, there you re. But this is a half- truth t best, another negative prognostication at its worst. Finally, I’d just like to note that some may not be able to afford your services, which can be an added downer to being unhappy in one’s current quarters. So…do you offer payment plans, etc? In the meantime, thanks again for your validation on the subject.

    • Margaret on May 7, 2021 at 1:07 pm

      Hi Linda,
      Thanks for your comments. As far as incorporating a bit of psychological counseling into my program, that’s not really appropriate as I’m not a psychologist or a counselor. I don’t have any degree or training in mental health. I’m a researcher and a planner, and I consult with my clients around those areas of expertise. I believe I charge a fair price for the services I offer, which are very specialized. I understand the cost of my program may be prohibitive for some. I do offer a short term payment plan; the cost needs to be paid in full by the end of the 6 week program. I hope this is helpful. Thanks again for posting!

  13. Nina Monique on May 21, 2021 at 3:00 pm

    I am grateful that I ran across this post! I have been contemplating relocating as well, for quite some time. Fear and others perspectives have played a role in my hesitation as well!!! I didn’t think I would even find a blog/post that would offer such great advice or even understand what I have been feeling since 2018!!! I feel no connection to this place at all- we moved here when I was in high school. I am now 37 years old with five children- I am happily divorced and in dire need of starting anew! I no longer want to be indecisive because I know deep down inside this move will be beneficial as well as rewarding for my children and myself! Thank you Margaret for your encouraging words and I am glad to know that I’m not alone in how I was feeling. It’s good to know that there are ppl we can relate and share ideas and stories with! This was very helpful and I will step out on faith!!!! Again, I thank you!

    • Margaret on May 21, 2021 at 3:47 pm

      Dear Nina, I’m so glad you found my post helpful. That really means so much to me! It makes my day to know I helped you to not feel alone and to feel emboldened to start fresh in a new place! If there’s any other way I can help you, please let me know. Wishing you all the best! xo Margaret

  14. Sandy on Jun 13, 2021 at 11:21 pm

    This post and comments speak so much to my situation in that I do not feel connected to the community I have been living in for 11 years. Some of the people who were friends have moved away. And now my husband has a terminal illness and I have two teenagers who are disabled and not able to live independently. I have a step daughter who lives about 1800 miles away and I am considering moving near her for some family support. Though if we move it will be more difficult financially and my children will loose some of their government disability services. I have been struggling with this decision for awhile and time running out to make it.

    • Margaret on Jun 14, 2021 at 1:09 pm

      Dear Sandy,

      Thank you for sharing your story. My heart goes out to you. I’m so sorry your husband is ill and that you are wrestling with such a monumental decision. I imagine not feeling connected to where you live has made things even more challenging for you. Have you spoken with your stepdaughter about the possibility of you moving to be closer to her for family support? The loss of some financial assistance for your sons is definitely a consideration, but maybe she can help you talk through the decision – weigh the pros and cons. I wish you all the best!


  15. Sara Ramos on Sep 6, 2021 at 3:17 am

    Love the article. I live in a small town in Texas where there is nothing to do and not a lot of job opportunities so I have recently started thinking about moving to the Dallas area where I feel there will be more for me I am in my 20’s so I am just a little scared to make the move, I’m not sure yet but I have a gut feeling it would be good for me:

    • Margaret on Sep 6, 2021 at 12:32 pm

      Hi Sara, thanks so much for your comment! I’m glad my article spoke to you. I totally understand feeling a little scared about moving to Dallas from a small town. I also know that gut feelings are usually spot on. Even though change can be scary, it can also be pretty exciting! I wish you all the best on your adventure, and if you need any words of encouragement and support, I’m here!

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