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Some people count the days until they can leave their hometowns. And sometimes, after setting up home in another region, the same people find their way back to where they were born. In my case, after 20 years of bouncing between Seattle and New York City, I finally moved back to my hometown of Minneapolis.
I was curious about the experiences of other people who’ve done the same thing, so I chatted with three people who moved back to their hometowns. Here’s what they wish they knew beforehand.
Moving from Seattle Back to Boise
Noelle McDonald grew up in Boise, Idaho, but wanted to live in a city with more job opportunities. “So I moved to Seattle,” she says. “And honestly loved it. It was a great place to live; I met my husband there, and really enjoyed Seattle.”
But after about 20 years in Seattle, Noelle and her husband were ready for a change.
“We were finding that the price of everything was getting more and more expensive. But our income wasn’t keeping up with that,” McDonald says. “And one day, after a really bad commute, my husband came home and said, ‘Okay, I’m ready to move to Idaho.’”
So they did. McDonald says that overall the experience has been positive. She reconnected with friends and is glad to be closer to her parents. Even though McDonald visited Boise over the years she was away, she didn’t realize how much bigger it was when she returned. Her advice to anyone who wants to move back to their hometown is to explore it just like you would if you’re moving to a completely new city.
“Look at different parts of town before you choose to buy a home or commit to something,” McDonald says. “What you’re coming back to is not the same city you left. I’m a different person than I was when I left. And the city is a different city than it was when I left as well.”
Moving from the Pacific Northwest Back to Utah
Lisa Gardner left her hometown in Utah to start her career in the Pacific Northwest. Although she intended to go back, it took 23 years before she did. She says even though the area she grew up in has a higher population nowadays, the amenities haven’t kept up.
“There still isn’t any good clothes shopping,” she says. “I must drive 45 minutes to the nearest mall, where I could get anything I needed or wanted within 10 minutes of my home before.”
But the move did give her some quality-of-life changes that were important to her. “Having my son near cousins and family, and him having the opportunity to continue to play sports and get a good education were all very important to me,” Gardner says.
With any move, she recommends thinking about how you’ll fit in and what support structures will be in place for you, even if you return to a place you lived before. “You learn to adapt and adjust, so make sure those items most important to you aren’t sacrificed,” she advises.
Moving from Silicon Valley Back to Toronto
And sometimes a move home doesn’t go well. Brad, who asked that his last name be withheld, moved to Silicon Valley for work. After six years, he moved back to his hometown near Toronto to find that he no longer fit there.
“It was a difficult time in my life, but my friends were all busy living their lives,” he says. “I didn’t have anyone in Toronto anymore.”
So Brad moved back to Silicon Valley a year later and made it his home. That was more than a decade ago and he has no plans to leave again.
For all three, their hometowns evolved just as they did. The takeaway? Sometimes it can still be a match and sometimes it won’t.