Thinking About Moving for Love? You Should Consider These 5 Things First

I've done it twice and can share a few things I've learned... but here's an expert's advice as well.

The first time I moved for love, I was a willfully naïve 29-year-old. I was on a three-week holiday in Sydney when I met a boy on a boat. After spending six days with him in the heady first flush of love, I decided to give up my life in London and put over 10,000 miles between the life I was giving up for the lingering dream of a holiday romance.

Almost as soon as I stepped off the plane, I knew I had made a mistake. I had deliberately ignored the myriad red flags he had waved in the six months that passed between my sun-drenched holiday on the glittering beaches of Bondi and the cold, hard reality of finding my feet in a new city where I didn’t know anyone.

Turns out, I ended up walking around in a fog of shame, humiliation, and heartbreak.

The heartbreak subsided – as did the embarrassment of having moved across the world for a man. I soon settled into a new life in Sydney that I loved, and was thankful that a mistake of the heart ultimately led to a new love for a city that I would have never otherwise known.

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The second time I made a transatlantic transfer was a little under two years after having landed in Sydney. I moved with my then-boyfriend of a year from Sydney to Los Angeles.

He was a dancer; I was a writer. To make it, he knew he had to live in the states. And I’d always entertained a Sweet Valley High-fueled dream of cruising around California in an open-roof Jeep.

This time, moving for love was different. But ultimately, my behavior and willingness to give up my life to follow a man were repeating themselves.

I was deeply, deeply lonely in LA. I was broke, miserable, and had almost no social network beyond the few friends I made at Wanderlust in West Hollywood, where I had signed up for a yoga teacher training course in a desperate attempt to surround myself with like-minded women.

Meanwhile, I’d never seen my boyfriend happier; he really came into himself in California – his career took off and opportunities seemed to open up everywhere he went. After a three-month stint, we returned to Sydney together, but when my boyfriend later won the green card lottery, it soon spelled the end of our relationship.

On the romantic front, neither move worked for me – and I never did get the Sweet Valley High-esque dream I had hoped for in LA.

But, the risk paid off in other ways. Seven years after I first moved to Sydney, it’s now the city I call home. It’s a place that has made me happier in ways I could have never imagined, and I like to think of moving here for a man I barely knew as the best mistake I ever made.

For some people, however, the risk of moving for a relationship pays off. Laura Buckley, founder of Secret Alchemy, says the decision itself was easy — but it wasn’t until she moved that she recognized the reality of leaving her old life behind.

“I’d been in London for about 6 months when I met my now husband, and I loved London,” Buckley says. “I was having the time of my life. Meeting him just made it even better. But then he had to leave London for a job, and I realized things would have to change.”

“We did long distance for a bit, but I knew that if we were going to make it work, he would have to move back to London, or I would have to move to him. He had just taken the new job, so we knew it was me who was going to have to make the change.”

Now married with a child, Buckley says there are a number of things to consider before moving for someone.

1. Consider your job

Couple Moving Boxes

Buckley says one of the first things to take into account is your job. “Will you need a new one? Or will you now have a huge commute to stay in your old one?” And if you will need to commute, it’s worth considering how it might impact your standard of living – because, as we all know, commuting can suck.  

While Buckley herself opted to commute, she remembers that “it also meant that I was constantly going up and down on the train and I had a foot in each camp, never really committing to either city. It made me feel a bit lost and a bit homesick for London.”

If you can’t commute and need to find a new job, it’s worth considering that this can present other issues – particularly if you love your job. “It means finding a new role, meeting new people and starting again,” Buckley says. “Are you happy to do that? Or could it cause resentment?”

2. Think about your family

“When I moved, I moved further away from my parents and my sister. I also moved further away from Leeds which is where I’d spent most of my adult life, and where my best friends are,” says Buckley.

If you find yourself considering a move it’s important to ask yourself whether you’ll be moving further away from family and best friends, and how this could impact your relationships. Buckley urges you to consider factors like having less contact with them, it being more expensive to visit and how you’ll feel with increased distance between you.

3. Oh, and your friends

Women Meet Shake Hands

Do you know anyone in the place you’re moving to? While Buckley says she “was lucky in the sense that my partner was new to the city too, so we had to work together to build a friendship circle,” if you’re moving to a place where your partner already has an established friendship circle, how will you fit into that? Do you want to fit into that?

How will you make friends for yourself? It’s not that easy making friends when you’re an adult, so what will you do to make sure that you don’t feel lonely?

4. Is it just you who is making a big sacrifice?

Are you giving up your life, job, home, friends, family, and so on to move to somewhere where you don’t know anyone?

Buckley says it’s important to factor in what sacrifices they’re making, and to ask yourself the question, “is this something that you might begrudge in the future?

5. Are you making the decision with your heart or your head?

If there are any niggling doubts about this relationship at all… you need to ask yourself if moving away from all that you know is the right thing to do,” Buckley advises.

Are there red flags that you’re ignoring? Is there a real future with this person? If you’re not sure about the answer, that’s your indicator to re-think. Moving away and only knowing that one person puts a lot of pressure on the relationship.

Sometimes moving for love works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But, if it doesn’t, you might just find yourself in the arms of uncertainty embracing the unknown. And if you don’t try, you may never know what adventure lies in wait around the corner of it all.

Lucy Pearson
Lucy Pearson is a freelance writer, book blogger and host of The Bondi Literary Salon based in Bondi. Read more