Money Mistake Monday – The Grass Is Always Greener Syndrome.


You know you have fallen for it in some way or another – what you don’t have, where you don’t live, the job you want – they are always way better in your mind than they probably would be in reality. That’s not to say that they aren’t better than what you have; but nothing really amounts to the imagination we have about them. That is what I am talking about today – I lived in California for years…I moved back to Boston for a year…And then I moved back to California again, right to the same apartment building I lived in when I left. Why did I move? The grass seemed much greener.

And it cost me an arm and a leg to find out that it wasn’t.

I grew up in Boston (well, the suburbs) and left to go to college in Virginia. After Virginia, I headed west to California and stayed here for about 6 years. After a girlfriend and I broke up, I started thinking of how cool it would be to move back to Boston, see some old friends, get a place in the city, etc.. I was not sure what I really wanted to do with my life at that point, so I quit my job at a movie studio, hired a moving company, and moved back to my mom’s house – which was supposed to be a temporary stay. The move cost me about $3500, which was money I did not have at the time. After getting back, I started looking for a job but could not find anything so I took a job as a content manager at an internet start-up company. Sure it was fun with the foosball table and the team-building exercises, but the pay sucked and I could not afford to even get a room in the city, never mind my own apartment. So I stayed at my mom’s. For a year.

Then New Year’s came around and we all got laid off. Happy New Year!! Broke and living at my mom’s house, seeing that most of my old friends had their own different lives now, and yearning for the nice weather in Los Angeles I made a decision – I was moving back.

At the cost of another $3500.

And so, I headed back to California, found a job that lasted 4 years, got married, paid off my debts and struck out on my own as my own boss. I wonder if these things would have happened had I stayed here in the first place, but I will never know. The grass was greener in Boston, or so I thought. But in reality, the grass was green here and I should have saved myself $7,000! Of course, when you have tangible things that you need to change, the story is quite different. I could say that it is better in New Mexico where we plan to move than it is here in Los Angeles, but that is because my wife and I have certain criteria we want from our “home” – and we cannot find these things here in this giant city. So sure, the grass seems greener there – but I can back it up with actual things that would meet my needs moreso than L.A. does. Moving to Boston, on the other hand, was a combination of a breakup, a romanticizing of life in my old city and hanging out with old friends, chilly winters by the fire…you get my drift. They were not tangible things…the grass was not really greener but rather the image of it was.

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Comments (8)

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  1. Could be worse. You could be like me. I’ve moved across the country 3 different times, I’m about to make it the fourth.

  2. Ha – I think my wife may be suffering from the same syndrome.

  3. cellie says:

    Well, at least now you KNOW for a fact that it wasn’t for you – although it was an expensive lesson.

  4. Amphritrite says:

    I did the same thing. I moved from Washington State to Washington DC four years ago, then moved four times while I was over there, and just recently moved back. I found out that this is where I’m happy… but now, I’m in major debt. Ugh.

    I could have saved $4000. Yep.

  5. david says:

    It happens to the best of us, Amphritrite…but hopefully, eventually we learn!

  6. It seems like life’s lessons always involve some sort of pain! Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Best Wishes,

  7. m says:

    It’s hard to know how to separate the romanticism from the real, legitimate reasons sometimes. I believe in following your heart and dreams–how do you know when that is the right thing to do, and when it is all just a romanticized fantasy? I’m afraid I might make that mistake too as we do think and talk about moving, too. I’ve moved cross country 5 times in my life so far . . . staying put is difficult, but moving might not be the answer either. Nice to see others deal with similar issues (not that I want others to be confused or make the wrong choice of course)

  8. David says:

    I believe it’s part of the learning process – I can see tangible benefits to my decisions now, instead of romanticized reasons…