5 Unlikely Perks of Moving to the Wrong Place

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Moving to the wrong place was a living nightmare that tested my husband and me financially, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. In my wildest dreams, I could never have imagined there would be any perks of moving to the wrong place.

Then the pandemic hit – and I suddenly realized how eerily similar living in the wrong place is to living in pandemic conditions. Not only that, having to deal with moving to the wrong place actually gave us a leg up in coping with the realities of pandemic living!

How is that possible?

Read on to find out about 5 unlikely perks of moving to the wrong place and get tips for surviving – and even thriving – through difficult times.

Work from home? Necessary.

Washington, Iowa is not exactly brimming with work opportunities. There’s a Wal-Mart Supercenter, two Dollar Generals, two Casey’s General stores, two grocery stores, and several fast food restaurants. Most jobs in the area pay minimum wage.

When I lived in Texas, I worked directly with local nonprofits and cities. I did grant writing and research from home and balanced that solo time with in-person planning and consulting meetings.

I assumed this approach, which had worked for 25 years, would work anywhere – even Iowa. Was I ever wrong!

I discovered shortly after moving to Iowa that area nonprofits and cities are funded largely by the foundation arm of the nearby Casino. There’s no real drive to find and get money from other sources – and even less interest in paying someone to help.

As a result, I had to work 100% remotely while we were stuck in Iowa. My writer husband also worked remotely. So, when the pandemic hit, our home/work routine didn’t change much at all.

Who could have known being forced to work remotely by a lack of local opportunity would work in our favor? But it did.

Social distancing? Whatever.

One not entirely healthy way we coped with the train wreck of moving to the wrong place was to circle the wagons. We had been practicing social distancing for years without even realizing it!

Before the pandemic, our social interaction had been limited to driving into Iowa City once a week to stock up on pet food and groceries. Once the pandemic hit, we still drove into the city. But we ordered online for pick up, so we had even less social interaction than before!

Self-quarantine? No big deal. 

Living in quarantine-like conditions was really nothing new. Not only did we already work remotely and have limited social interaction before the pandemic hit, we’d given up on looking for fun things to do in the area as well.

It wasn’t for lack of trying. We had wanted to give Iowa the benefit of the doubt, but every attempt had ended in disappointment and frustration.

Rather than continue to waste our time and money trying to find fun in Iowa, we’d decided to focus instead on creating our own fun and saving for our move to a city – and state – with an abundance of fun things to do and places to go!

Reining in spending? Check!

One flawed assumption I made about moving to a small town was that it would be infinitely more affordable than living in a city. However, we discovered (too late) that Washington, Iowa was more expensive in many ways than the city we’d moved from.

That ugly realization, plus the lack of anything worth doing, were good preparation for living in the pandemic economy. We were used to staying home and found ways to make it fun. Every week we had “events” of some kind, whether it was movie night or classic game night or cooking a special dinner.

Staying at home was easy on our budget too. It made saving for our upcoming move a cinch!

Cycle of despair? Been there, done that.

Coming to terms with moving to the wrong place takes time. That painful, gradual realization – what I refer to as “the dawn of the dread” – is similar to the process of coming to grips with having to live with pandemic restrictions and uncertainties.

Both are unpleasant realities that take time to digest. And both realities can set off a cycle of unhealthy habits that can be difficult to shake.

I’m all too familiar with this cycle of despair. It took two years for me to fully accept the fact that we’d moved to the wrong place. I spent a lot of that time in the house, eating poorly, drinking more than I should, and not exercising at all.

Naturally, I gained 25 pounds and felt terrible.

Eventually I pulled myself together. I started to eat better, drink less, and exercise regularly. I lost the 25 pounds I’d gained (yes, you can lose weight in your 50s) and adopted a whole new outlook.

The turning point? I got bored moping around. Instead of wallowing, I decided to focus on plotting our escape from Iowa – and it worked wonders!

Getting through the despair of moving to the wrong place was not pretty or easy. But it made coping with the challenges of pandemic living a piece of cake!

Making the most of a bad situation.

Surviving a wrong move, or a pandemic, or any challenging life event for that matter is not easy. But it is possible to make life more bearable in the interim. It helps to look at the big picture. Try not to dwell on what is outside your control. Stay focused on your goals because conditions will improve at some point. Not only that, having something to look forward to and work toward is a great way to keep your spirits and hopes up until the situation improves.

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.

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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.

4 Comments

  1. Melisa on Jul 30, 2020 at 11:18 pm

    Wonderful post, Margaret. Great comparison between living in the wrong place and living through a pandemic. Since I too moved to the wrong town for me, I can now look back and see the parallels. Having survived that journey has made me grateful during the pandemic to live in the right place for me….gratitude is a key ingredient in surviving both a bad move and a pandemic.

    • Margaret on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:58 pm

      Thanks, Melisa! It’s so true that gratitude plays a huge role in how well we’re able to navigate difficult situations like moving to the wrong place or surviving a pandemic! I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

  2. KC on Jun 4, 2023 at 1:51 am

    OMG. I was searching in despair of having move to Iowa and this just helped so much. Thank you. I will spend my remaining time here focused on people away from here.

    • Margaret on Jun 4, 2023 at 7:01 pm

      KC! I’m so sorry to hear that you also moved to Iowa by mistake. I truly understand what a drag that is. But I’m really glad you found my post helpful. Best of luck to you in plotting your escape from Iowa. Let me know if there’s any way I can help you figure out where you’d be happiest living. That’s why I’m here! Margaret

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