Moving to a New City Won't Make You Happier, According to Psychology

Kelsey Clark

Generally speaking, the young adults of today are more likely to choose adventure over tradition than generations past. While I can't speak for everyone, Gen Y is statistically more likely to forego marriage, kids, and investing in homes and cars in order to travel the world and attend Burning Man. Known as the "experience generation," we also tend to romanticize the idea of moving across the country in search of greener pastures.

While leaving your hometown after college is far from a new idea, Gen Y has turned moving away into a millennial rite of passage. This insatiable thirst for adventure has been accurately termed "the geographic cure" by Quartz's Melody Warwick. Simply put, this is the enchanting belief that picking up and moving to a new place will change your life for the better. But as it turns out, the millennial pilgrimage to the world's most fascinating places may be but a misguided adventure. 

Aside from the fact that the excitement of novelty fades faster than you think, there are certain psychological factors that debunk the idea that moving to a new city will change your life for the better. As explained by Daniel Kahneman in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, people can easily become trapped in a "focusing illusion," in which they believe the observable details of a place—like ocean views or proximity to art museums—matter more than they actually do. In reality, it's the people who surround you, not the trendy coffee shops or the enviable shopping scene, that truly make you happy. 

Have you seen this phenomenon play out in your own life? 

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