The Ultimate Guide: How To Leave Your Hometown

Starting into the abyss.

Jennie here.

Before I turned 24, I’d spent the majority of my life in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After studying abroad twice in Japan - I thought to myself: There’s so much I haven’t experienced yet. There has to be something more than just spending the rest of my life in the place where I grew up.

So, I packed my bags and left.

I never looked back.

5 Reasons

Why You Should Leave Your Hometown

Have you moved in the past year? In 2016, only 20% of millennials had moved the previous year. 

Expanding your universe and meeting new people or experiencing new things should be enough to convince you to leave but if it isn’t…

Here are a few benefits you should consider when you’re debating whether or not you should move out of your hometown:

Reason 1: You’ll make more money.

A study released in 2015 showed that people who left the community they grew up in tend to be better educated and earned higher incomes. So, leave and make more money. You can always choose to come back. Check out the stats below.

Reason 2: Discomfort with the unfamiliar equals progress.

As human beings, we learn the most about ourselves when we’re faced with adversity or new challenges. In order to face adversity, oftentimes that means that you'll have to start all over in your life again in various aspects (e.g. you have to re-learn how to navigate a new city, get a new job, go to a new school, find new friends, and learn to be alone, etc). Discomfort shouldn't be something that you should shy away from but something you should face head-on.

Reason 3: You have time to find yourself without all the extra bullshit.

This was a big one for me. When I left home, I felt instantly liberated. I went to a city where no one knew my name. I wanted to carve my own path without pressure from my parents or my peers and to experience different things.

Reason 4: You love your family more once there’s distance between you.

I think at some point in your life, everyone needs distance from their families. It’s the only way to become 100% independent. And fortunately for me, it’s been great to be away because I’ve grown to love my family more without the emotional hang-ups that made me resent them.

Reason 5: You learn to appreciate your hometown more after you leave.

After I left, I started missing all the small things I experienced growing up in Albuquerque. For example, I missed stargazing in the mountains or the summer thunderstorms during “monsoon” seasons. These were small things or moments that made my upbringing really pleasant.

How To Leave Your Hometown

In 5 Steps

Small Town Shoes.png

I never said leaving home was easy. I had to deal with a lot of guilt when I left my family.

Step 1. Understand why you want to leave.

Before you set on some big goal of leaving your small town, you should understand why you want to do it. What do you expect to happen when you leave? Why can’t you accomplish the same thing in your hometown? And if you have clear and honest reasons, you’ll thank yourself for it when it’s time to leave or when things get tough.

Step 2. Choose an end (or begin) date.  

After I graduated, I gave myself exactly six months to GTFO. Why? Because I knew if I stayed longer, I would've been offered another job or opportunity that could’ve tied me down to the city for another few years. Setting a realistic date and sticking to it also helped me get excited about a new chapter in my life.

Step 3. Pick a place, any place -

but weigh the pros and cons before you settle.

There are a lot of people out there who will tell you to follow your heart and move to your dream city like San Francisco or New York. My stance on this philosophy: that’s a terrible idea - especially if you can’t afford it.

Instead, you should draft up a list of personal criteria you want out of a city. Believe it or not, there are several cities outside of New York that have cool communities and opportunities. Don’t believe the hype.

Here was my list of criteria:

  1. Good to great public transit system. I wasn’t going to move with my car so I needed a city that I could get around easily without a car. Not having a car saved me thousands of dollars a year in insurance, maintenance, and gas fees.

  2. The rent had to be affordable. I was coming from a town where you could get rent for as cheap as $500 a month. I knew I couldn’t afford much but I needed some level of affordability. That meant places like San Francisco and New York City were out of the question.

  3. The city had to have a few decent schools nearby. I thought I might go back to graduate school at in my mid-20s so I wanted to be in a city/state where I could establish residency.

I didn’t get everything on my list but I got pretty damn close when I moved to Boston. The one thing I didn’t account for was weather - I didn’t realize how much I hated snowstorms on the east coast. Not a huge deal breaker but it was a painful transition.

Step 4. Save 2-3 times more than you had initially planned for.

Renting an apartment in places like Los Angeles or Boston will cost a lot more than you think. For example, when we moved to Los Angeles - we had to pay one and a half months rent for the security deposit AND the first months rent - that meant we dropped $3,500 within the first few week of moving.

Cautionary tale: I did not save enough money to help me make the transition to Boston. I had to borrow money from Ivan to keep myself afloat for the first six months. I had to really hustle in that first year taking on multiple temp and retail jobs.

Step 5. Book a ticket and leave. Seriously, GTFO while you can.

If you have a tough time committing, start telling friends and family when you’re going to leave - nothing is quite as potent as social pressure and expectations. In addition to that, there is no better way to commit to a choice than by booking your plane ticket.

Good luck.


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