Home Is Where the Support Is
Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, workers have been relocating in unprecedented numbers. Working remotely opened the possibilities of where to set up an office to just about anywhere there’s adequate WiFi and cell coverage.
Market researcher The NPD Group reported that 20% more consumers plan to move in 2021 than in 2020. Civic Science found that 41% of workers would be very or somewhat willing to take a pay cut in exchange for the option to (continue to) work remotely, 30% would absolutely consider moving to another state if they could work remotely, and 28% of adults are considering relocating as a result of the pandemic.
Combine the growing interest in working remotely with a heated real estate market opening up opportunities to move out of high-priced urban markets, like San Francisco, and into more affordable rural and small town settings and you have the ingredients for a tectonic shift from high-rise-in-the-city to sunrise-over-the-lake working environments.
New surroundings, whether as a result of moving from a corporate to a home office or from a familiar neighborhood to a totally new zip code, can be exciting and even invigorating! The excitement of planning and orchestrating a move can create enough adrenaline to ward off any immediate second thoughts or regrets. The focus is on where one’s going and not on what one’s leaving behind. But sooner or later, the welcome wagon heads out, the new office is set up, and the frantic fades to routine.
A feeling you can’t quite put your finger on pops up. Something just shy of loneliness creeps in.
It reminds you of what? … Summer Camp?? … Freshman year in college?? Homesickness!
Believe it or not, adults can experience homesickness just as readily as kids and college students. Research suggests that up to 70% of adults experience homesickness at some point. Left untreated, homesickness can feed depression, anxiety, self-esteem, and even obsessive thoughts and behaviors.
According to a recent IBM survey, 54% of remote workers want to keep working from home post-pandemic. To ward off homesickness before it makes you sick, try these three strategies:
1. Make New Friends
Depending on the neighborhood you move into, it can be extremely easy or incredibly difficult to make new friends, but doing so can be extremely beneficial for your health. While leaning over your neighbor’s fence is one way, consider starting with online communities like Facebook, NextDoor and MeetUp that not only give you immediate access to a local community, they provide valuable information on upcoming events, topics of interests, items for sale or exchange, and even warnings of suspicious activities in your area. And don’t forget to check out local churches, community centers, gyms, and clubs. Whether you’re into feeding your soul, expanding your mind, or working your muscles, you can be sure that there are others who are also looking for new friends in your neighborhood.
2. But Keep the Old
Making new friends can be thrilling as they expose you to new adventures and provide a fresh look at life. However, there’s nothing that can replace the cherished relationships that helped get you where you are today. Make time to keep in touch with those living across the miles. You’ll want to tell them all about your new home, the people you’re meeting and the adventures you’re having. You may even want to shed a few tears with them for the things you miss. Remember that to have a friend is to be a friend, so make these two-way exchanges: listen as much as you speak and ask as often as you tell. Schedule regular voice or video chats. Plan in advance when you can get back together. Send a note now and then to remind them how important their friendship is to you – and to your health!
3. Life Is More than Silver and gold
Meeting new people and keeping in touch with friends from your old neighborhood can lessen the stress and strain transitioning to a new area. Sharing interests, exchanging ideas, and spending time with others is a great way to appease feelings of loneliness and isolation in new settings. But relying on others to be there for you anytime you need a pick-me-up may not be realistic and sometimes making space for alone time is the best remedy. Take proactive steps to venture out on your own and become familiar with your new surroundings, including the walking paths, local parks, nature centers, art galleries, shopping areas, and libraries. Being at peace in your new home by just being is perhaps your best defense and your best offense to beat the relocation homesickness blues.