Why Can’t I Stop Moving? Restless Expat Syndrome and Place Attachment

Why Can’t I Stop Moving? Restless Expat Syndrome and Place Attachment

If you’re like me, then you probably enjoy moving to new places. But at what point does it become a problem? Moving to a new place isn’t easy for everyone and if you have a family moving with you, then it can become difficult for your spouse and your kids.

Many expats have this constant urge to move to a new place where they’ll have new opportunities, a chance to make new friends and hit the reset button on their lives. Expats tend to be restless. They get attached to new places easily, but it doesn’t take them long to find a new place to get attached to.

Restless Expat Syndrome

Why do you move around so much and why is it so difficult for you to settle in one place? Moving to a new place isn’t easy at all. You have to pack up all your stuff and leave your friends and family behind only to do it all over again after a few years. It’s exciting, but is it good for your mental health?

If you’re an expat who moves around more frequently than usual, then you might have restless expat syndrome. When you live in one place for too long, you become restless and you decide to move to a new place. Once you get bored of the new place, you decide to move to another new place. And the cycle continues.

You probably have a habit of thinking that the grass is greener on the other side. When you live in a country for a year or two and you become accustomed to the culture and the language differences, you think, “hm, is this really all there is to this place? I’m sure I can find more exciting things if I move to this place.” You spend hours and hours searching for your new destination when you get tired of your current one.

When you finally find a place you think is worth moving to, you start to believe that the country where you’re living right now isn’t interesting anymore. Your fascination with it disappears and you start assuming that this other place you just read about on the Internet is much better. It’ll offer better job opportunities, more friends, better schools for the kids, tastier foods, etc. The list never ends.

What is Place Attachment?

If you’re an expat who constantly moves around, then you probably get attached to places easily. Spending a year in Japan? Well, now you’re in love with eating ramen every weekend and sushi on the weekdays. You’re going to miss hanging out with your friends in those small Japanese pubs when you move to a new country. You have a new personality now thanks to the time you’ve spent there.

The truth is, whatever place you move to, it brings out a different personality in you. Different traits, habits, and qualities. You begin to get attached to this place and the person it has turned you into. You know that when you leave this place, you will no longer be the person you are right now. And that scares you, but at the same time, you’re curious about who you’ll become when you move to a different location.

When we move to a different place, we’re not just leaving friends behind, but also a part of ourselves that we know will remain dormant until and unless we decide to move back to the same place.

Why Can’t I Stop Moving?

You probably find it difficult to detach yourself from a country you no longer live in. And while that’s normal, many expats don’t enjoy it. Nobody wants to get attached to a place they’re going to leave after a while. Think about it. If you’re friends with someone you know is going to leave after some time, would you really want to stay friends with them? Will the heartache that you’ll get from them leaving be worth it? Probably not.

That could be one of the reasons why you move around so much. You’re afraid of losing your identity that comes with moving to a new place, so instead of staying there for too long, you decide to pack up and move to a new country.

You might be afraid of place attachment because you don’t want to leave an important part of your personality behind when you’re moving. Being too attached to anything can make your life difficult.

There’s nothing wrong with constantly moving around if that’s how you prefer to live, but settling somewhere can be fun and exciting, too. You just have to keep looking for new things to do. New activities, new friends, and so on.

Many expats will find the idea of settling somewhere boring. How can you spend your entire life in one place? It’s more comfortable and there’s less uncertainty involved. Expats can handle a considerable amount of uncertainty because they’re used to moving to unfamiliar places, but after a certain time, you have to wonder if it’s something you actually want or if you’re just running from commitment.

Avoiding commitment is a major reason why some people like to move around too much. If you think that’s why you keep changing places, then try settling somewhere for a few years and see what effect it has on you. You’ll have a concrete personality that you know you won’t have to say goodbye to after a few years, and not having to learn basic phrases of a new language every time you change countries can be fun, too!

The Takeaway

Restless expat syndrome can cause expats to keep moving and changing countries. Some expats tend to get bored easily or they’re afraid of attachment which is why they like to keep moving around. They don’t want to settle in one place, because they enjoy the thrill that comes with it.

Place attachment can result in expats getting attached to who they’ve become as a result of living in a new country. Their personality becomes entwined with the new place and when they move to a new place, they have to say goodbye to it. If you move around a lot, then you might fear attachment and commitment or maybe you just like to have a new place to explore every now and then. Either way, there’s nothing wrong with having a different lifestyle!

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