Moving too often is bad for our mental health

Millennials moving home frequently regret their decision, a survey reveals

Couple moving in
(Image credit: Getty)

Moving home, even if you’re not relocating far, is a major life change. In fact, it’s more stressful than getting a divorce, according to some accounts. Moving to a different part of the country is particularly stressful, since it entails the loss of a familiar community, friends, and closeness to family. 

Earlier this year, we reported Britons’ reluctance to move house, with the majority of those polled choosing to stay put, even if they had initially moved to where they live by chance. Now, a new poll*, this time focusing on American millennials, unpicks the reasons why those who are able to stay where they are (that is, they own their own home) often do so.  

Unsurprisingly, millennials move far more often than their parents and grandparents – once every 2.2 year on average, with four out of five of those moves caused by a change of jobs. With 86% of millennials now renting rather than owner-occupying, moving is easier than ever.  

There is plenty of evidence that this frequent moving is making people unhappy: one in three report losing a best friend due to a move, and one in four regrets the move altogether. Movers’ regret doesn’t necessarily correlate with geographical distance, though. A majority of the movers (57%) relocated no further than 50 miles from where they grew up. And yet even staying reasonably close to where you used to call home can bring negative feelings. 

The survey reveals that happiness in a new place is directly influenced by how settled people feel in their new town or city, not how far away from home it is. Moving multiple times over a short period is what disrupts this feeling of being settled, when people form new friendships and feel like they’re part of a community. 

This point is well illustrated by the very different friendship-forming patterns between the baby boomers and millennials. Some 58% of the older generation met their best friend in adulthood rather than at school or college. The ways millennials make human connections is much more fragmented, with just 21% able to secure lifelong friendships, probably because they move too much. 

The conclusion? Even if the job offer is attractive, you might want to think twice about the impact of the move on your social life, and your mental health. It seems that staying put for a while pays off more in the long run. 

*a poll of 1001 people by Porch (opens in new tab)

Anna is Content Editor at Real Homes. She moved to the world of interiors from academic research in the field of English Literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. At Real Homes, she covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design.