As we somehow approach the two-year anniversary of the pandemic's onset, I think it's safe to say that life has become more different than we could've ever imagined. The changes have been everything from massive to minuscule — but one undeniable shift that many have felt is a newfound ability to re-examine where we choose to live, and why.
Two years ago, the global work-from-home boom that many folks experienced might've seemed like a temporary solution, but with many employees still working 100% remotely (and many businesses questioning the need for office space altogether), people are still questioning the places they've chosen to reside — and many have made fresh starts in brand new locations.
We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community who relocated during the pandemic to share where they moved to and from, along with their personal reasons for doing so. Surprisingly, no two experiences were even remotely alike. These are some of their stories.
(Also! Just so you know, any monetary figures below representing countries outside of the United States have been converted to US dollars using current exchange rates.)
1. WHERE I LIVED: Los Angeles, California
WHERE I MOVED: Las Vegas, Nevada
WHY: "I'm a lifelong Californian, but the building I lived in started raising rent for no reason other than to 'keep up' with the modern high-rises being built in the area. The elevator was always breaking, too, and I had an elderly mother who desperately needed it. If they wouldn't help us now, what would it look like in the future?"
"The quality of life in Vegas is so much better. It costs WAY less to live here, there's hardly any traffic, we're a world-class entertainment city, and I also get to live in the suburbs. I can just relax in the peace and quiet without all of the 'big city' hustle I was so used to before."
2. WHERE I LIVED: Seattle, WA
WHERE I MOVED: "I'm 34, and I moved (along with my parents) to Tenerife, in the Canary Islands of Spain."
WHY: "My brother moved here 10 years ago with his Spanish-citizen husband. My parents were already planning a move to Tenerife to live out the rest of their natural lives, and after everything going on with COVID — among other personal reasons — I realized that there wasn't a whole lot going on for me in the States anyway..."
3. WHERE I LIVED: "I was living in Austin, Texas. While there, my husband left me — mere weeks into the pandemic..."
WHERE I MOVED: Santa Barbara, California
WHY: "I have a job that I love, I've made some of the best friends of my life thanks to a local MeetUp group, and my pets and I are happy and thriving. Santa Barbara is expensive, but it's gorgeous, too...and truly like living in a perpetual vacation. I never thought my life would take such a turn, but I also never thought I could be this happy. Sometimes a change of scenery can change your life."
4. WHERE I LIVED: "I'm a disabled vet. I was living full-time in an RV, traveling the country and volunteering at federal sites to save money and pay down debts. When the pandemic hit, I couldn't face being trapped in a 25-foot box...so I borrowed some money, towed the rig to storage, and headed for Biloxi, Mississippi."
WHERE I MOVED: "With almost no reasonable housing options, I ended up in a real dump. 10 months later, I moved just outside of Jacksonville, Florida."
WHY: "I figured I'd be able to find a better apartment here in Florida compared to Biloxi, and I was right. But, while the apartment is decent enough, nothing else is..."
5. WHERE I LIVED: Portland, Oregon
WHERE I MOVED: Paris, France
WHY: "I moved from Oregon to Paris to be with my (now) husband. Because of the pandemic, I was able to finish my last semester of school online while in France."
6. WHERE I LIVED: "When the pandemic started, I was living in Phoenix, Arizona. My marriage had been over for years, but we dragged our feet on the legal filing. We still owned a home together that I lived in, alone, and paid the bills for...even after my ex found a new place."
WHERE I MOVED: Santa Cruz, California
WHY: "I started dating someone in Santa Cruz just before the pandemic began, and he ended up living with me for two months while working remotely. Living together really clicked for us, and since I ended up being laid off from my job, I couldn't afford to keep my mortgage anymore. Once my divorce was finally processed, I sold my home, packed up, and moved to the Santa Cruz mountains. It's beautiful — but very lonely..."
7. WHERE I LIVED: Cardiff, Wales
WHERE I MOVED: Edinburgh, Scotland
WHY: "We moved for my husband's job, just after the pandemic started. Coming here with a toddler and no friends or family has been one of the most difficult things I've ever done."
"The pandemic has proven that there was no need for us to move up here — my husband is more than capable of working from home, and as a carer, I can pretty much work anywhere. Had it not been for COVID, we wouldn't have been able to move back to Wales...but I might've felt less isolated in Scotland in the first place!"
8. WHERE I LIVED: "Before COVID, I was stationed in North Carolina. I loved my house there, and I generally just loved the state...so when the military told me I had to transfer right after the pandemic started, I wasn't exactly thrilled."
WHERE I MOVED: Burlington County, NJ
WHY: "I arrived in New Jersey in the summer of 2020, and I gotta say...it's really growing on me!"
9. WHERE I LIVED: Newport Beach, California
WHERE I MOVED: Oslo, Norway
WHY: "We took a chance with totally new jobs (in a totally different country) during the pandemic, and it's paid off well so far. Let me just say: The weather here is BONKERS compared to where we used to live, but it's been super cool to give our children all these new experiences."
10. WHERE I LIVED: Los Angeles, CA
WHERE I MOVED: "We moved from LA to Riverside in order to afford our first starter home."
WHY: "Rent in LA was getting ridiculously high, and the dangers of living in our neighborhood made it tough to justify the cost of living — and that's in addition to the soul-crushing traffic. Just going to the grocery store could be a 45-minute commute depending on the time of day."
11. WHERE I LIVED: "I had just moved to Sarasota, Florida after retiring from my teaching job in North Carolina...and then COVID hit."
WHERE I MOVED: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
WHY: "I wasn't happy being in such an anti-mask area in Florida, and then my 92-year-old father got sick. So, I told my sister to find me an apartment back in Pennsylvania."
12. WHERE I LIVED: "My husband and I lived in the Greater Toronto area back in March 2020 when the pandemic started. He commuted into the city daily, leaving just before 7 in the morning. He'd arrive home around 7:30 at night. We lived in a sixth-floor, two-bedroom apartment and were absolutely depressed by our attempts at getting into the housing market."
WHERE I MOVED: "We were both put on work-from-home, and my husband was told he'd 'never return to the office.' We started daydreaming about moving back East, and within two weeks we'd put an offer on a house (sight unseen!) in Halifax, Nova Scotia — where we first met."
WHY: "The people here are amazing, we have lovely friends, our relationship is stronger than ever and I've never seen my husband so genuinely happy."
"Now, a year and a half later, I just left my new teaching job on maternity leave since we're expecting our first baby. We're so happy — but mostly grateful — that the pandemic gave us the push we needed to make the big jump."
13. WHERE I LIVED: San Francisco, California
WHERE I MOVED: "I moved to my hometown of Fresno, California — mostly to save on rent and the overall cost of living."
WHY: "I was able to get my own one-bedroom apartment for $1,000 per month — a huge difference compared to paying $1,400 just to share an apartment in San Francisco!"
14. WHERE I LIVED: "Prior to the pandemic, my husband and I were living on Maui in Hawaii — he was born there, and I'd lived there since middle school."
WHERE I MOVED: Portland, Maine
WHY: "I'd been wanting to move to New England for years, even before the pandemic. I wanted to experience actual seasons and to be closer to extended family. I was working remotely for a year when we decided to just go for it. I resigned from my job and told them I could stay on remotely until they found a replacement, and they told me I could just work from Maine indefinitely!"
15. WHERE I LIVED: Boston, Massachusetts
WHERE I MOVED: Missoula, Montana
WHY: "I wanted to enjoy living in the great outdoors for once. After landing in Missoula, I even worked from different countries for a while — like France, Germany, and Colombia. Overall, it's been amazing."
16. WHERE I LIVED: "I actually moved twice during the pandemic. When COVID hit, I was living in DC. I wasn't super happy. Life felt so 'meh.'"
WHERE I MOVED: "As soon as we were told to work remotely, I moved to Nashville — my hometown."
WHERE I ULTIMATELY MOVED: New York, New York
WHY: "I got a new job and they asked me to move to NYC. Ironic, since so many people are leaving NYC for cities like Nashville."
If you relocated during the pandemic (whatever the reason), let us know where you moved to and from — and why. 👇
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.