Originally published: March 28th, 2011
“I can’t fathom any reasons to leave your hometown. It’s the place you’re from. It’s your home…”
She scrunches her nose up as she reads the post office advertising board, with absolutely no desire to hear my response and I have no more mental bandwidth to deal with her negative energy and closed mind.
This is the general reaction I get from people when I come out of the wanderlust closet. Maybe it’s my problem? Maybe I should just understand that some people simply don’t get it and become immune to the sad eyes thrown in my direction, along with the condescending psycho-analogies that echo; “I do worry about you, Anthony.”
No need to worry about me; I may not know 100% what I want from life, but one thing I’m damn sure about is – I am pretty aware of what I don’t want! I can categorically state that I don’t want to die in this city. More to the point, I don’t want to live in this city and I need to leave my hometown of birth.
It’s a case of necessity, not a choice. This place is suffocating me.
It always has.
I feel like a butterfly in a jar with a tight, rigidly closed lid and I terribly need to BREATHE. This love story has definitely finished its honeymoon period and to be perfectly honest – I don’t think we ever had one.
Sounds dramatic, right?
Maybe, but it’s 100% real and I know that the place where I was born is not my true “home.” If you can relate, this post should guide you.
Leave Your Hometown & Never Look Back!
Why would anyone want to leave their hometown? How do you know when it is time to throw caution to the wind and leave your city?
Below I’ve listed some alarm signals to let you know when it’s time for a serious change of postcode/zipcode. Some of these red flag signs and reasons to leave your hometown are very personal to me and some will be relevant to everyone who feels this unnerving sense of captivity.
Important edit: I wrote this over 10 years ago and leaving my hometown changed my life in so many ways, it was the best decision I have ever made, so I am very qualified to give guidance here. let’s dig and get you out of there for good! This may also explain why some parts are spoken in the present tense and others in the past tense, sorry about that.
You’re Bored & Want To Feel Challenged
Even though I do mostly believe that bored people are usually just boring – the wanderlust version of this feeling is a different, special type of boredom.
I’m talking to those amongst us who know deep down that their brain is not being stimulated in the way it needs in order for them to stay happy. Some people are ok with the simple life and that’s fair enough, we’re all different.
But if you’re like a human Border Collie and crave constant mental stimulation that your hometown can’t provide, it’s time to go looking for that adventure that you know in your heart of hearts that you deserve.
You Experience an Identity Crisis on a Regular Basis
Do I really think that?
Am I just saying that because my friends are saying the same thing? Why don’t people get me?
Do I even get me?!
There’s nothing like a good change of scenery for a fresh perspective to work out who you really are. Trust me. I found out more about myself leaving my hometown after even 3 months compared to the 28 years I spent there.
Independence & Self-Autonomy
Being independent is important in life because it means that you trust in yourself and you don’t need the people you spend time with, but you want to spend time with them.
There’s nothing wrong with missing people or feeling like you need good people in your life for the long run but if you can become truly independent you will have the best of both worlds; happy when alone and happy when with the right type of people.
The quest for independence can be found at home to some degree, but it is quite simply on another level if you have faith in yourself and your own destiny by putting all of your eggs in one basket by starting all over again in a new city.
You Will Become More Confident
Independence and confidence are closely linked, but you will struggle to have the former without the latter. Leaving your hometown shows that you mean business and once things start going your way you will walk with your shoulders pulled more back and your chin raised higher.
I appreciate that sounds a bit wanky, but I swear it’s true.
On a visceral level, you will be aware that you did something bold and took a chance on yourself. It won’t happen overnight but with each step towards taking personal accountability, you will internally grow. And that first step (for those who can’t hear me at the back) is to leave your hometown.
You’re Single & Your Dating Pool is Depressing
Cringe approaching. I got talking to a lad on Saturday night and it turned out we have not one, not two – but three of the same ex-girlfriends.
*Plays Redneck banjo.*
That’s what you get with a really small hometown you can’t go and buy a pint of milk without everyone knowing about it. If your hometown is becoming alarmingly small and you’re single it may be time for a change; get out of there and your dating life will improve tenfolds, trust me!
You’re Surrounded By Negative Energy
Maybe you have people in your life who are vampires of energy and they bring you down every time you speak to them, or you want to move on from a tragedy, or personal trauma.
Or maybe your hometown just doesn’t have a lot of potential in comparison to others.
The cold hard fact is that life is not fair and some cities are simply better than others (or at least better for you as an individual). If your hometown is the boulevard of broken dreams, or you are feeling alone in a crowded room, now could be the time to start researching others.
Meeting Like-Minded People
If you feel like the black sheep of your friends, family, or just your hometown in general then expecting people to suddenly start thinking like you and “getting” you is insanity.
In order to find your people you must branch out and go looking for them. No one is going to come and save you, only you can do that.
If it helps with your mental health and this seemingly mammoth task ahead of you, try reframing “leaving my hometown” to “searching for my people” instead.
There are a lot of weirdoes out there just like you with open arms, ready for you to be a part of their tribe.
You Can Finish off Every Story You Hear…
…Because you’ve heard it 90,000,861 bloody times over. You desperately need new information in your rapidly dying brain cells as you’ve literally heard it all before.
People are desperately bringing up fun old memories because they have no desire to make any new ones.
Get the hell out of there.
Travel & Freedom
Moving to a new city absolutely classes as travelling, it doesn’t have to be galivanting around the world with a backpack, no fixed abode or plan and going on wild adventures (although I do highly recommend it).
Relocating is an adventure and if you’re looking for reasons to leave your hometown then I can’t think of a better one than jumping into the unknown via travel… ultimate freedom.
There is no other feeling like it.
Resentment is Eating You Up
On Saturday night I witnessed a horrendous drunken fight on the dance floor, all of them fully grown men (many of them were fathers).
I remember thinking to myself “It’d only happen in my hometown.” Of course, that’s not correct, men can have a royal rumble in any other place in the world, but the truth is the resentment for my hometown had reached a dizzy height.
This experience gave me the opportunity to pick something else I didn’t like about my hometown and like a snowball, it got bigger and bigger.
Can you relate? I think it’s a bit like a romantic relationship; When you start resenting your city like that, you really should end the connection before it gets any uglier.
People will tell you; “It’s not the place, it’s what you make it.” Deep down, every fibre of you knows it’s way more complex than that. I can’t pretend to love something that I don’t, can you? Should you do that to yourself?
Constant Jealousy Triggers
True jealousy is a pretty ugly emotion to have and I’d suggest working on it if it’s a constant feeling that you experience and are negatively affected by.
However, if you’re green with envy every time you hear something along the lines of “When I studied Spanish in Colombia….” “I lived in Mexico for a year….”I’m moving to Cambodia as an expat,” then this a great inclination of what you want.
Don’t put it on too high of a pedestal. Believe that this is for you and not just for other people, even if feel like you had a rough ride and that others had a headstart on you. In fact, believe it even more if that’s the case. You’ve got no more time to waste!
Never give up on yourself, get your chin up and light that fire under your arse to get moving so that you can leave your hometown as soon as possible.
If you want to live in Paris/Sydney/Vancouver/a different town/state in your country (or wherever the hell ever) then start working on making it happen.
Check no experience paid relocation jobs on Jooble if you are willing to move from your town.
The chances are the same people who have moved to a brilliant new city had pretty much the same fears and doubts as you. I felt incredibly jealous when I read my first travel blog.
I acted on my jealousy, I used it as a driving force. I wanted a piece of the pie – why should everyone else have all the fun?
Get your mindset right that you are worthy of better than what you currently have and run away like a terrified gazelle running from a lion from anyone who tells you otherwise.
Hating the climate of your birthplace and wanting a better one for your personality is a perfectly viable reason to make a grand exit to a city that suits your climate preferences.
To be perfectly honest, this one should have been right at the top of my list.
I absolutely loathe the cold and cold rain, I think snow looks pretty on a postcard but not on my frozen fingers and don’t even get me started on the fact that my hometown is mostly dark all year around!
Season Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real thing and I knew deep down that I am a better person when there is daily sun, so I made sure I went looking for it and I was not wrong.
You could be the other way around and dislike hot temperate clients and your hometown is a constant furnace. The same set of rules apply; go chase the snow and cold!
Unlearning Negative Beliefs & Behaviours
If you move from your hometown there will be no more self-fulfilling prophecies that hold you back. Maybe you feel like the “can’t catch a break” guy, or you feel pressured to act the clown to all of your friends while deep down feeling that nobody takes you seriously?
When you leave your hometown you will learn so much about yourself and a lot of those things can be confronting and challenging.
The good thing about this is you can learn to unlearn all of those self-limiting beliefs and behaviours that have been holding you back.
Different Things To Do
I frequented the same old bar and clubs where I got to the point where I knew what song the DJ was going to play in chronological order.
I knew all of the stories that were recycled each week and even with the best intentions I had run out of things to do in my hometown and even nearby larger cities.
Travelling or moving to a larger city opens up so many doors for you in terms of new activities, skills that you can learn and life experience.
My horizons broadened beyond words when I left home.
You Dream of a Fresh Start
I wanted to have a fresh start, I want to press the reset button and start all over again. I felt that I had been treading water for way too long, was painfully aware of my own faults and mistakes and I desperately needed a blank canvas.
What other way is better than leaving your hometown for good and starting out in a completely new place to reinvent your life?
There is no better way.
“Burning your bridges” is usually used in a negative context as its origin is a little misunderstood when it is used today. It was initially used for a situation where you basically gamble so hard on yourself that there is no plan B, no option to turn back and the only option that you are left with is to move forward.
That’s what I did and I don’t regret a single thing.
You Hear This Song & Relate To Every Bloody Lyric
Ok, maybe it’s a bit too close to home for me as it encapsulates working-class lad culture in Northern England, if you can relate – then it’s a telltale sign that your hometown of birth isn’t your forever home.
You’ll probably have other songs, books or movie references of your own that really tap into your uncomfortable feeling of being homesick for an unknown place and if that is the case then stop pissing about; make leaving your hometown a top priority.
The universe isn’t “telling you something” at this point; it’s screaming it to you right in your restless, antsy face.
Start listening to it.
Leaving Your Comfort Zone
While all of the above can be classed as leaving your comfort zone, there is every bit of chance that just reading this article can raise your dopamine levels and make you feel like you’re actually taking action, as you nod along in confirmation bias.
I used to do the same thing. I was a personal development/self-help book slut. I read and read but very seldom did I do.
Even sitting in your hometown complaining about wanting to leave your hometown is being in your comfort zone, you’re comfortable with being miserable. Shake things up, make ‘Operation: Escape’ happen and start working on a road map to a new place.
Does that thought feel uncomfortable?
GOOD. You’re on the right track already. Get busy and get out.
I Left My Hometown After Writing This Post (Forever)
Good news to anyone who read this, feeling every word resonating with them… I did it (and you can too).
Pretty much a year after writing this article, I took a risk on myself by flying on a one-way ticket to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, with only £1000 in my pocket, no income and zero plan.
Everything was new; the smells, the food, the diverse range of people I met, the weather, the language… all of it brand-spankingly new.
I felt the most alive that I ever have in my life, I felt reborn.
After completely resetting who I thought I was, I started to learn more about myself and I had to unlearn a lot of negative thinking that I learned growing up in a city that never quite “got” me (and I never got it either).
After trying out living in a new city first (Phnom Penh), I realised it wasn’t for me. I then tried out another one and came up with the same conclusion. Did this leave me feeling more hopeless?
These cities may have not been perfect (for me) but they (amongst a few others that I tried out) taught me a lot about who I am, what was important to me and what I want in life.
After years of searching, I have finally found my city. And do you want to know something quite beautiful? I had already lived in this city once over, and soon after finally leaving my hometown, I think I knew deep down in my subconscious that it was the place for me.
The city had a homely energy from the first moment that I arrived. As much as it pulled me, I had a “grass is always greener” mentality and went on to compare it to a few others.
I understand that most people reading this are not in a position to bounce around like this. I personally gambled on myself and made sure that I would be in a position to live in a few cities during my lifetime by nailing down online income.
You don’t have to do that and you should walk your own path.
The moral of the story; is I could have easily written this article all those years ago, got off on that sweet dopamine rush of social media engagement and fallen back into a fixed mindset mentality and just accept that I had to accept things as the way that they were.
Instead, I used it as a galvanising war cry and I took a risk on myself. If you feel like you are in the wrong city, you need to make it a priority to get the hell out of there, with no apologies.
Become the person that you want to be, which is a bonus reason to leave your hometown!