Toronto is my home -- I love this city. I've always wanted to build my life here. But, after living in New York City for many years in my 20s I felt a connection to that city as well. So when an opportunity presented itself to work there and eventually open an office, I took it. And now I live in both places. I know this isn't the ideal situation for some people, but for me it is perfect: the stability of Toronto gives me the ability to surrender to the amazing chaotic energy of NYC, and together it is an "imbalanced balance" that makes my world whole.
Don't get me wrong, NYC is an incredible city where true magic happens on a daily basis, but it can burn you out quickly too. That is where Toronto comes in, it helps me recharge. I appreciate my two cities very much and all that they have to offer. It's an equal love but for different reasons. And it took living in them both to learn what works for me.
But how do you know if it's time to live somewhere new or even move back to the town you once called home? Here are a few tips to consider.
Decide what is important to you at this stage in life. I think it's important to take stock of where you are in life right now and determine what your priorities are, and what factors take precedence. Some people need to be close to aging parents or to employment opportunities, to lively culture, to daycare or even to outdoor adventure. It's about finding what you thrive on and what makes you feel whole. This Forbes article lists the top 10 cities in USA where young professionals are happiest. It says that a lot of people today have different priorities than other generations. For instance, making the most amount of money doesn't necessarily equal happiness for them. What would make you the happiest? Where can you find it? Go there!
If you're in a relationship, make sure to consider both your needs. You can't make someone happy unless you are happy, so it is not necessarily selfish to think of your own wellbeing when considering a move. A relationship will not fulfill you unless you fulfill yourself, which means if one of you in a partnership wants to change cities make sure EACH of you considers the opportunity fully before taking the leap. Moving just because someone you love wants you to go may not be what's best for you. The city needs to offer something of value for you too. Weigh the pros and cons of moving to be with your partner, whether it's for a new job or a new adventure, and consider the affect it will have on both of you. Remember, you're in this together!
Plan ahead to deal with homesickness. A lot of people fear change and find it hard to adapt to a move away from your support system, but making new friends can help the transition. Find people you like and spend time with them. Nurture your relationships. Reach out and keep in touch with the ones you don't get to see regularly anymore. Nowadays, we have Skype and FaceTime to help us feel close to friends at a distance; when I moved we didn't have these technologies! I know it can feel quite lonesome to be in a new place, even if 'you' did make the decision to move. Get out there and join a club, take a class or play on a team. Find ways to create new emotional bonds and support systems in your adopted city. In Canada, the city of Saskatoon has the youngest population in the country, the average age is 34-35. Moving to a city that is full of like-minded individuals is step one in building a new circle of friends. I wouldn't recommend moving to a community for seniors if you're a young woman in your 20s looking for a partner, but I hear that Yukon or Alaska is full of single men -- that would be a much better choice!!
Remember that the grass is not always greener on the other side. Leonard Cohen sang, "I love the country but I can't stand the scene," and I think he makes a good point. Just because you love a certain city doesn't mean you should live in it. Often we romanticize places from afar, like the beauty and fashion of Paris or the history and culture of London, but in reality, all cities have their downsides. There's noise and pollution or unemployment and high costs of living. You must consider the real experience of living in a new city not just the fantasy. Right now, there is a growing trend of young people moving away from bustling cities like you would expect them to prefer. The slower pace of life in smaller towns often becomes more appealing after experiencing the reality of big city living. Things like the prices of homes, green spaces, access to transit, culture and festivals, these real life factors that affect your day-to-day life are what will end up making you happy, not the glitz and glamour of how a city appears on TV, in daydreams or on vacations.
Even though I divide my time between two cities, I don't believe it's necessary for everyone to live in more than one place. Sometimes we find our happiness close to home, and it remains the perfect place for us to build a life. Other times, we find that we thrive and grow more fully in a different place, with new experiences and adventures. I believe, just like finding the perfect job or partner, it has a lot to do with knowing yourself, your values, your needs and finding what works for you at that time in your life. Maybe you've already found it!
Have you ever taken the leap and moved to a new city? What made you go? Or perhaps you've chosen to return home -- what made you come back? What advice would you give someone considering a move?
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