6 Signs You Should Move Out Of Your Town

Are you feeling that creeping, slightly nauseating sense of stagnation every time you think about your city? Is everything starting to feel like a mild case of déjà vu? Are you ready for something new and know that it doesn’t exist in the immediate vicinity of where you are now? Here, the 6 signs that you absolutely must GTFO post haste.

1. You know exactly where your friends will be at any given time.

Well, it’s 8:30 PM on a Wednesday night. You can be sure, without a doubt, that the same group of people is going to be sitting outside that cafe, grazing over coffees, hot toddies, and maybe some light snacks. They’re going to be talking about the same things, making the same jokes, and — if you’re not there — occasionally asking where you are. Unless one of them is sick, in which case you imagine they’re huddled around his or her bedside, grazing over coffees, hot toddies, and maybe some light snacks. If it’s Friday night, you can be almost certain of the bar they’ll be at, the shots they’ll be doing, and the songs they’re losing their minds over. And though said bar has absolutely stellar hotwings and dollar domestic nights, it’s certainly not where you want to die of a heart attack at age 43 when you realize you never tried anywhere else.

2. It’s like a merry-go-round of people you’ve been with.

There comes a point in any tight-knit social circle in smaller towns where, aside from gossipping about everyone’s latest conquests like a bunch of bitchy old ladies over a game of bridge, you have all been with each other at least once. Whether a drunken makeout, one night stand, long-term relationship, or handful of misguided dates — there is no escaping the feeling that this pond is small as hell, and you have been doing laps around it for the past five years. You may also find yourself, at one point, at party where you turn around to find several people that you have been with in some form or another, all together, getting along splendidly. After you swallow the overwhelming urge to vomit, it is essential you realize that a) yes, they are talking about you at a certain point and b) this is a feeling you’d like to avoid in the future.

3. Everyone talks constantly about how much they want to leave, but never does.

Certain towns are small enough to feel claustrophobic, but yet big enough to be a black hole for those people who want to get out — and likely would benefit from doing so — but for whatever reason, don’t. It’s not the one-horse setup in the middle of Iowa where, if you want to do anything besides chill in a corn field and hang out with your cousin, you’re going to have to leave. Instead, it’s the deceptively big little town that is filled with just enough distractions, options, and other people to lull you into a false sense of security. You will often find yourself over drinks listening to people talk about how they want to pursue a career that is clearly not possible in said town, how they’d like to move to New York, or just a simple “I’ve got to get out, man.” Eventually, this will become the endlessly-repeated mantra of nearly all the town’s youth.

4. You find yourself looking at pictures of other cities the way some people look at porn.

Entire folders on your computer are dedicated to these beautiful, panoramic shots of the cities that hold the dreams you can’t quite fulfill where you are. Whether it’s the one town in particular you’ve always dreamed about, or simply a few desktop wallpapers of the bright lights in places you hope you’ll get to see someday, you stow them away fervently like a squirrel and take them out when you’re ready to let yourself think about the inconvenient and the romantic. Yes, rents are expensive. Yes, it’s noisy. Yes, it’s hard to find a job. And yet, like a naive pre-teen harboring a crush, you’re intoxicated by the thought of it. Everything you can know about your potential new city is essential in painting the picture of the place you want to be — and the person you want to be in it. A new city doesn’t just represent different places to go out or nicer architecture, it’s also the place where you can wipe the slate clean and be who you could be once you escape the social quicksand.

5. You have already started to give up on your dreams simply because of location.

There are dreams that we all have, dreams that often develop in the murky waters of adolescence and grow within us until they are consuming and almost painful. We start to create an image of what our lives would look like if we only had the courage to pursue it, and regardless of how improbable it may be, those potential lives invariably look so much better than our own. But with the limits of where we live, we begin to realize that it’s just not likely an option, and little by little, we chip away at the things we want most in life. “Well, that’s not going to work, so maybe if I just did that….” Before we know it, the dream that we’ve had for so long has been turned from something that makes us want to get up in the morning, to something we actively try not to think about because when we do, we feel the sharp pang of regret and defeat in our stomachs that reminds us on what we gave up for a little bit of comfort and routine.

6. You’re embarrassed to say that you’re still there.

Perhaps the most unmistakable sign that you have overstayed your welcome in any particular city is when, upon being asked, you hesitate slightly before saying with a resigned sigh, “same old, same old.” You feel like everyone around you has taken these exciting, terrifying, necessary leaps into their future and you are still shuffling around the launchpad, waiting to get up the courage to join them. Though this town will always have a special place in your heart, you want to be able to miss it sometimes. You want to be able to look back on it fondly and visit it often, but at least at this point in your life, you don’t want it to define you — and it does. The fact that you’re still there means you missed out on something, and no one knows that better than you do. When you think about all the things that are waiting for you, and how much you want to see it, you can’t help but feel a wave of embarrassment when you have to admit that to everyone else. You know that you have outgrown the place you’re in, and nothing looks more uncomfortable than a big fish in far too small a tank. TC mark

image – Sara Cuadrado

Chelsea Fagan

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.


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  • guest

    I like you, Chelsea Fagan. What nice writing. 

  • http://www.about.me/tanyasalyers Tanya Salyers

    This is definitely where I’m from, and has become where I am now.  

  • Guest

    It’s almost as if #4,#5 and #6 were scraped off the sticky walls of where the murkiest parts of my thoughts lie, with the dust of denial and avoidance rinsed off and articulated so perfectly in this article that just rings so true I’m feeling more than a little uneasy.

    Thank you for this.

  • Sweet D

    I don’t like this.  Not that I don’t like the writing because it is wonderful as always…but the concept.  Everyone gets tired of the same old routine, but in my experience those who do “get away” from their towns often  are more or less gloating about the fact that they left and experienced the “real world” rather than they actually enjoying the experience of getting away.  Also, if you moved from a small town in NJ to a small town in MD – you are not as cool as you think you are.

  • Kenni

    Get out of my head!

  • http://www.facebook.com/josephbrillantes Joseph Brillantes

    but a change of geography is almost always never the cure. it’s hard to beat the notion of travel as therapy but who you are will catch up w/ you eventually, wherever you go.

    • h-may

      Yes! You can go half-way across the world, but “wherever you go, there you are” …

    • Clitty McLabia

      agreed. especially when you think travelling/moving is a cure to your depression/unhappiness. 

  • MovingAway

    Every part of this is true of someone who wants to get out of a “big little town.” I have said most of these things as reason to leave my own hometown. That, and things are so familiar here that I crave the anonymity of a big city.

  • Lynette

    Sometimes, you do get out.  And you travel and you see the world.  Then, suddenly – like a black hole, a swirling vortex of nothingness – it sucks you back in.  Only now you have kids and responsibilities and more than just yourself to think about.  So you stay – to keep the peace, to make everyone else happy – and lie and tell everyone that you “just want to be close to family”, but inside, you’re dying a little every day when you wake up to the same people you’ve always known – the same people who are now infinitely more judgemental because they hate that you got out at all.

  • 123

    i agree with most of what was written but i could definitely see this as a vicious cycle where the grass is always greener somewhere else.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=707272007 Alex Thayer

    damn chels, cuttin’ deep

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=5017225 Krystal Moulton

    This is my life. 

  • Katy

    I really want to transfer to a city school, but I can’t afford the tuition. ):

    • Michaelwg

      Student loans are awesome Katy, don’t let reality fool you!

      • guest

        No, they are not. Don’t let this guy fool you.

      • Gmo Saza

        Zombies are deadly.  Don’t let movies fool you.

  • SallySparrow

    This just screams Sarasota,FL…

  • Age

    #5 is the one for me. *Sigh*

  • http://twitter.com/JonTargaryen Carly Fowler

    Shook my head yes to all of these and more aggressively as I read on. I need to get out but won’t be able to for at least another 2 years.

  • Oliviamingus

    Ugh yes to all of the above.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1046820072 Dalia Asfoor

    It is so refreshing to know I am not the only one. 

  • Michaelwg

    Anywhere you end up will have its pro & con list, but trying out different places will let you hone in on what is and is not your ideal situation and give you some context. I could never imagine myself, now, settling in the kind of small town I grew up in. F that noise. Some people may prefer it, but I wonder how many have tried anything else, or do they say “i prefer it” to justify having NOT tried anything else…chicken or the egg?

  • Guest

    This sounds awfully familiar. Annapolis… I don’t miss you in the slightest.

  • guest

    I like knowing where all my friends are, it’s awesome. 

  • jrem21


    • http://thefirstchurchofmutterhals.blogspot.com/ mutterhals

      Fucking Pittsburgh, THERE IS NO ESCAPE.

  • Voltazero

    Ugh, this just reminds me I need to leave this dirty town now more than ever.

  • Max

    Ahh, Naptown.

  • Gmo Saza

    I will blow my brains into my shit town cozy suburban walls if I end up being one of those dudes who was born small town and never ever left.  I will axe murder myself, I promise you.

  • Waicool

    the village, nyc

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