Adulting comes with many milestones, such as advancing in your career, finding love, and making literal moves. Naturally, millennials see some events as more challenging or important than others — in fact, according to a study by SpareFoot, nearly three-fifths of people think moving in together is more difficult than planning a wedding, while a surprising 45 percent of those age 18-34 have already moved more than five times in their life.

Other compelling stats from the study illustrate just how mobile young people are today — over two-thirds of respondents note they’ve moved in the past year or will this year. Overall, respondents are evenly split on whether they’d be more likely to move for a job or for love, but three-fifths of millennials would be more inclined to relocate for work. Baby boomers, on the other hand, appear to be a bit more romantic: Close to two-thirds elected love as the more likely move motivation.

A woman packs boxes in her kitchen

So what gives? Nationally recognized psychologist Dr. Susan Bartell believes that millennials may have been raised to expect more from their careers than people from previous generations. “I’ve been working with young adults for over 25 years, and I’m not sure if this is a question that fully reflects the millennial generation, or whether it is actually a shift in how young adults now view their career and will continue to do so in future generations,” she notes. “Young adults are not interested in a boring, uninspiring job; they want to be stimulated and challenged. To this end, they recognize that what they are looking for may exist somewhere other than where they live, and they’re willing to seek it out.”

More than just inspiration and drive, Dr. Bartell says online job searches are another factor that influences young people today by showcasing jobs available in different locales. “Online job searching is here to stay, so finding jobs far away will continue for future generations,” she elaborates. “Interestingly, I think that the ability to travel — especially fly — for incredibly low fees also pushes millennials to explore alternative places to live and work. Young people aren’t afraid to leave and start fresh, because it’s easy to return home.”

Love is another story though, Dr. Bartell observes: “Millennials don’t see love as past generations do, and their experience is frequently colored by how they grew up. Love, for them, is impermanent and not a reason to move.” Even more, she believes that women who have a role that makes them happy may prioritize it rather than taking a chance on a relationship that won’t last forever. “This shift has become stronger over recent years as women seek meaningful careers and as young women expect the value to their own career to equal that of any relationship they may be in.”

Is there a “right way” to make decisions about going the distance? Dr. Bartell says that moving for either career or love comes with unique sets of pros and cons. “A job can offer a new and exciting life and an opportunity to start over, but there are downsides. It can be hard to leave family and friends and start fresh without a support system. It takes a long time to make new, real friends.” When it comes to packing up for that special someone, Dr. Bartell cautions against spontaneity but encourages that, with the right long-term relationship, moving for love can work well. “In my opinion, this should only happen when the commitment has been spelled out on both sides,” she cautions. “Moving for love is more about moving for a relationship, rather than a feeling. As long as both people are on the same page, this can be positive and help the relationship grow.” To strike it right, Dr. Bartell suggests discussing the details and testing out long-distance to ensure there’s a clear future. “Talk about the idea of moving and see how it goes,” she advises. The future is bright!

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