How to Survive Moving Back to Your Hometown

So you’ve decided to get back to your roots and journey home to the land where everybody knows your name.

Maybe you’ve just graduated college, or maybe you have been away from home for a more significant amount of time.  Maybe you’ve been gone for two years, maybe you’ve been gone for 20 years.

Maybe you’re moving back to your hometown to be closer to family, maybe you want to raise your own family amid your old stomping grounds.  Maybe necessity brings you back – either a job opportunity or to take care of aging relatives.

Whatever the reason, you’ve decided to make the jump.  Good for you.  I did the same thing.

After graduating with a four-year degree, I marched myself straight back to the small(ish) town where I grew up.  Frankly, I never really cared to be anywhere else. But during my first year of return, I encountered various struggles that I was not expecting.  I had changed, the town had changed, and somehow I had to figure out where I fit into all of it again.

Now, this probably wouldn’t be as big an issue in larger metropolitan areas with millions of people and numerous suburbs to distract from the transition; but if you’re going back to a smaller area (and you know if you are), then you may find yourself dealing with similar road blocks.  I’ve honed in on three common transitional struggles and proposed how you can roll with those punches.

Moving Back

The Struggle: People perceive you as the same 18-year old you were when you left.

What was your reputation like when you left?  Chances are, it will be the same when you return.  This, of course, can be good or bad.

What were you known for in high school?  Were you the smart kid?  The athlete?  The kid involved in everything?

Many people will expect you to have those exact same interests and to be just as invested in them now as you were before you left.  This can initially be irritating, especially if you no longer have those interests of long ago.  You might feel offended that they may not really know anything about your current interests.

How to Deal:

First, realize that these kind people mean well.  If they remember what you were like in high school, be grateful that they paid enough attention to your existence to know what you did, and that they are still taking an interest in you.

Reminisce with them about “the old days”, and then offer them a tidbit of information about what you’re currently doing/are involved in/are interested in. This way, you can get re-acquainted with these good people.

If you had developed a bad reputation during your adolescence, then there may be some damage control that needs to be done.  The nice thing is that most people are willing to give second chances.  So if you don’t want the people around you to perceive you as that person you were before, then you can’t stay in the past either. Let them encounter who you are today, and watch the transformation of their opinions unfold.

The Struggle: You already know the area like the back of your hand.

Small town problems, right?  What happened to all the excitement of moving to a new city, where there are innumerable shopping centers, theaters, restaurants, and hiking trails to discover and explore?

When you move back to your hometown, where you grew up, you know where everything is located.  You know what the town has to offer.  Period.  This can become quite the bummer when you’re desiring a little city-discovery adventure.

How to Deal:

When I first moved back home, I struggled with the fact that I knew my town backward and forward, and that, no matter where I went, I would always run into someone I knew.  Now, it’s not that I didn’t want to see people I know.  But what I longed for was the mystery of a new place that I had experienced so often during my college years.  So I made myself branch out to our local Starbucks.  I never went to the Starbucks while I was growing up, but it is near the middle school so I thought, why not?, and began to snag a coffee from there one morning each week. Silly as it sounds, this new experience of an unknown coffee shop, where there were plenty of people inside that I didn’t know, who were complete mysteries to me, helped me over that particular hurdle.

Find a place you’ve never really experienced in your town.  You can do it, just look for one.  And spend some time there.  Let the newness of that particular venue encourage you over the hurdle of discouragement and prompt you to instead appreciate the fact that you know the town so well and that you have so many connections there.  Many people would walk across fire for those two abilities.

The Problem: Your community changes.

Unless all your buddies from high school move back home, you’ll probably find yourself to be a lone wolf, so to speak.  At least for a little while.  It also may seem like everyone else has already settled into their own tight-knit communities, and that there is no room for you.

How to Deal:

Forming a new community in a place where you are already known can be difficult. But it’s not impossible.  The people with whom you work can become a part of this new community.  Older adults now consider you to be on a similar playing field with them, so take advantage of their invitations and get to know them on a different level.  Get involved in various activities/clubs/charities, and see how those people can become a part of your new community.

Just don’t give up on the hope of finding your groove.  You will.  It may just take some time, and definitely some effort on your part.

What say you?  Did you move back to your hometown/are you planning on it? What has helped you make the transition?


  1. You are a source of good-writing my dear! I have never moved back home and likely never will (cue some big tears) but I have always wondered what it would be like if I did. A lot of my friends have moved away so that helps to not be so sad about it. 😉

  2. Susie Miracle Coleman says:

    I go back and forth on the hour lately whether to move back to my hometown. I have even been daydreaming about it. I don’t have a clue what I am going to do yet. Great article! I enjoyed reading it!

  3. Hi, i just recently moved back to my home town. I have been away and have just got married. My husband is still currently living in ct were we both had lived together for the past 8 yrs. I have been in my home town MA for 5 weeks and just feel like i want to move back to ct. I am just not sure as to what to do. Should i allow 6 months to past before i figure out were i truly want to be?

  4. Catherine Tilton says:

    Lovely and very helpful advises, indeed. I’m moving back to my hometown after my marriage failed and I’m not sure I’ll handle with this situation. A move to the college, one because of job relocation, move because I got married and two years later – move back to hometown – that’s all crazy. Luckily I’m not moving to my parents’ house and I have a new business, and found your advises. Thank you for sharing this precious information!

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