When sobriety is your priority, you make several changes to achieve and maintain it. Many people struggling with alcoholism and addiction end toxic relationships that increase their stress levels and endanger their recovery. People in recovery also change their social lives and avoid putting themselves in situations that tempt them and put their sobriety at risk. Recovering addicts also find that starting new hobbies and interests helps them focus on a healthy lifestyle that supports their sobriety.
That’s also why many people in recovery relocate. Some want to be closer to supportive family members. Others relocate to join support groups or enter rehab facilities, while some move to a new area to get a fresh start. If you’re considering making a geographical change in sobriety, use this guide to determine whether it is the best option for you.
What You’ll Find in This Guide:
- Factors to Consider When Deciding Whether to Relocate
- Home Buying and Moving Tips for People Who Decide to Relocate in Sobriety
- Additional Reading on Remaining on the Path to Recovery by Relocating
Factors to Consider When Deciding Whether to Relocate
This section offers suggestions for deciding whether to relocate to support your sobriety.
Anytime people think about moving, they make several considerations. For people working on staying sober, it is critical to make those considerations for the right reasons. Those in recovery often talk about “doing a geographic,” or moving to a new place to get a fresh start. But, if you want to relocate just because you blame everyone around you for your addiction, you are moving for the wrong reasons. Get into a program and get on the road to recovery before making major life decisions. There will be time to move after you get sober.
Once you’re in recovery, you likely will want to leave your past behind you, start over in a place where people won’t judge you, and find the right kind of support so you can remain sober. So, how do you choose your new neighborhood? Many people attempting to maintain their sobriety opt for recovery-friendly communities.
To find a city that encourages sobriety, talk to your counselor or program leader for suggestions. They likely can help you connect with support groups and programs in your new area, too. If you want to research the best sober-living cities, check out this list from HuffPost: among their recommendations are Boston, Massachusetts; Delray Beach, Florida; Houston, Texas; Los Angeles, California; and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Many of these cities are home to top addiction treatment facilities and host 12-step programs in addition to offering educational and medical support.
Home Buying and Moving Tips for People Who Decide to Relocate in Sobriety
This section includes tips for buying a home and moving for people who relocate in sobriety.
Even if you are excited about getting a fresh start to support your sobriety, keep in mind that buying a home and moving are among the most stressful activities in your lifetime. First, determine how much house you can afford. Unfortunately, many people in recovery struggle with their finances. That’s one reason to choose a recovery-friendly community in an area of the country with a lower cost of living index.
Then, check your credit score to ensure it is high enough to be considered for a mortgage by lenders. Fortunately, there are programs in place to help people with lower credit scores obtain a mortgage. For example, first-time home buyers may be eligible for a home loan through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Typically, people applying for an FHA loan require a minimum credit score of 500, and those looking for a USDA loan need a score of at least 580.
Conventional mortgages usually require a minimum credit score of 620. But, if you are a veteran, you may be able to qualify for a loan without meeting a minimum credit score. Keep in mind that you’ll also need a down payment to keep your interest rates low and qualify for some loans. It may be helpful to remain in place a bit longer to pay off some debt and improve your credit rating before applying for a home loan, or you could opt to rent instead of buy.
When you do find a suitable location and home, make moving as easy as possible for yourself. Moving is incredibly stressful, so the better you plan and the more prepared you are, the better. Don’t jeopardize your sobriety because you get overwhelmed. That’s where giving yourself time to get organized and hiring movers comes in.
The Spruce recommends giving yourself at least eight weeks to plan, pack, and hire movers. During that time, make a list of what you need to do, and get organized. Declutter and begin packing one room at a time. If you can afford it, hire a full-service moving company that will pack, move, and unpack your belongings to make moving day a breeze. Otherwise, ask reliable friends and family members for help ahead of time.
Additional Reading on Remaining on the Path to Recovery by Relocating
The following resources provide more information about remaining sober and relocating. You will find more tips about remaining in recovery, finding a recovery-friendly community, and making moving day stress-free. Please note, they are listed in alphabetical order by source.
Improvised Life’s When Doing a Geographic Renews and Enlivens
Manchester Ink Link’s New Hampshire Launches ‘Recovery Friendly Workplace’ Initiative
Psychology Today’s 5 Steps to a Fresh Start
Doing all you can to remain sober is a must. If moving is what it takes for a fresh start, choose a recovery-friendly location that will support your sobriety. Then, choose a home you can afford and make moving day as stress-free as possible.