The ups and downs of life as a transplant

Wisconsin Colorado

Top: Door County, Wisconsin. Bottom: RMNP, Colorado

If someone asked “Where are you from?” would you say you’re a local or talk about another land you came from, far, far away?

It seems like Millennials find themselves on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to answering this question. While many had to move back home after college, many also moved far away from home. I mean states–or even countries–from their childhood bedrooms.

As someone who moved several states away from home directly after college, I can tell you that being a transplant has its ups and downs.

Down: You need to familiarize yourself with a new place

You are an expert at where you live. You know which restaurant has the best Chinese takeout. You know which bars to go to and which to avoid. You understand the weather and how to communicate with fellow locals. Going somewhere else and relearning all of these basics can be intimidating… but it can also be exciting.

Up: You get to live somewhere different

Think about it. Once you have kids and a decent job, how likely are you to move? Don’t you want to know what it feels like to live in a different part of the country–or in a different country entirely? When you live somewhere new, you eventually become an expert on that location. You learn about the culture, the geography, the history of that place, just by living there. Maybe it’s the nerd in me, but I find that fascinating.

Flattop Mountain

Flattop Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park

Down: You may not know anyone

I cheated by moving to a new state with my best friend, but others aren’t so lucky. As many recent graduates know, meeting people outside of school can be difficult. When you move away from home, you leave whatever network of friends you did have behind. Meeting new people becomes completely up to you.

Up: You can meet interesting people

Meeting new people can be a daunting task, but if you’re a transplant, you automatically have one thing to talk about. Your hometown, of course! You automatically become an interesting person. Depending on where you live, you may be meeting fellow transplants. This means you can learn the ins and outs of many different areas instead of just the one you moved to. Bonus: When you meet someone from your neck of the woods, you will automatically become best friends.

Meet new people

This is one of those bonus situations.

Down: Getting a job can be difficult

The sad reality about jobs is that the saying is true: it’s not what you know, but who you know. If you don’t know anyone, how can you be expected to start a career? A network is something you may not even realize you have until it’s gone. Think about the jobs–especially part-time–you got through family, or a friend, or a friend of a friend or a friend of family. Once you move you need to rebuild this web of contacts.

Up: You get to experience new things

Living in a different place allows you to experience things you wouldn’t have been able to at home. Your world is suddenly filled with new hobbies to try and new areas to explore. In addition to experiencing a new city, you get the opportunity to travel to surrounding areas that were once too far away for a day trip.


Skiing in Colorado.

Down: All your vacation time is spent at home

Forget about taking days off work to travel someplace new. Those vacation hours will be spent traveling back home. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s something non-transplants may not think of. On the upside: Aside from your flight, trips home are all inclusive, so all of your vacations are basically free.

Up: You get two homes

After a while, the area you moved to will become a familiar place that you get excited about returning to. (This is especially true if you get a pet.) So while it may be sad to leave after a visit to the town you grew up in, it’s also nice to get back to your new place of residence. Essentially, you now have two places that give you the warm fuzzies of being “home.” How neat is that?


Bonus: Misfit Thanksgivings. They are actually pretty fun.

Down: You miss out on family events

Sure, you’ll fly home for weddings and big events, but what about the small things, like the process of planning a wedding? Even something simple like having dinner with your family or going out for a drink with your high school friends becomes something you feel like you’re missing out on. The first time I made an apple pie in Colorado my mom said, “I wish I could come over and have a slice!” That’s just not something that can happen when you live hundreds of miles apart.

Up: Your friends and family gain a cheap vacation spot

Although you can’t spend as much time with friends and family as you’d like, you can bribe them into visiting you by offering a free stay. That’s right everyone. If you can afford a flight, I will wine and dine you in Colorado. And give you a place to sleep, of course. Just pay me in smiles and the pleasure of your company.

Fort Collins beer

A trip to New Belgium Brewery is in our standard vacation package.

Up: You are amazed by everything

OK, maybe not everything, but you will find yourself in aw on many occasions. Even after living out West for two years, I still stare at the mountains with admiration almost on a daily basis. I spent most of my life in the flattest part of Wisconsin, so massive rock formations are interesting to look at, in my opinion. This doesn’t mean I’m bored with the landscape whenever I visit home. I actually find myself appreciating it even more after realizing what else is out there. Whereas in the past everything seemed standard, now I’m amazed at how big the trees are, how green the grass is and how intense the thunderstorms are (I can only handle so much sun). It’s almost as if I’m really seeing everything for the first time. And it’s magnificent.

Aspen Colorado

Maroon Bells, Aspen, Colorado.

Are you a transplant? What are the best and worst parts about living away from home?


2 thoughts on “The ups and downs of life as a transplant

  1. Great rundown, Lauren. As a transplant from NJ to Maine, I can genuinely relate to everything you have listed here. Another “up” I’d add is that you have a cool story to share with people when you first meet them – you get to talk about why you moved into the area, which is an instant chatting point (helpful for us introverts stuck in small talk situations!) And, yes, misfit Thanksgivings rock!

  2. I was a transplant (still am… in a new area). The best parts were discovering and meeting new people and places. The worst was missing out on family events. BUT, I would not have it any other way. I love the experience of being a transplant.

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