Real Life: The Three Month Rule

there are far better things ahead than any we leave behind

So, this whole moving across the country thing. I won’t lie — ROUGH. But this isn’t a post to focus on the annoying minutiae of uprooting one’s life. It’s to tell you about something Joe said to me the other night at dinner, when we were talking about our current situation, and has stayed with me ever since.

We were lamenting all the things that have gone wrong over the last few weeks (and trust me, it goes far beyond the scope of the apartment mess!), but kept trying to focus on the future. “Think about Labor Day…Thanksgiving…the holidays,” I told him, “By then, all of this will be almost funny. We’ll be settled in and life will be back to normal.”

Then he said, “It’s the three month rule. Any time we’ve ever moved somewhere else or had a huge change, it’s taken at least three months before you start to feel like yourself again.” 

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and OH MY GOD my husband’s wisdom. It’s so true! When I moved to Los Angeles from Austin for college? The first semester, I was 100% sure I was going to transfer back to UT, I was so homesick. But by the time winter break was approaching, I wasn’t so sure. Returning to campus in January, I was positive I’d made the right decision in moving to California. It just took a little time to find my place.

The same thing happened when Joe and I moved to San Francisco from LA together. We were so lonely at first, each starting new adventures, without our friends who had been like our family for four years. We didn’t know what the future held, and it was uncomfortable. But now, on the other side of that journey, I can see so clearly how we put down our roots and were able to flourish. It just takes time. Three months at minimum, I’d say, six months for sure.

So now that we’re here on the east coast, I’m finding the feelings I’m having are similar to the times in my life when we moved, but also, when I was embarking on any new, major journey. They’re similar to how I felt last year when leaving my job. Even similar to how I felt when we were engaged and starting to plan a wedding. Any time you are launched into the very unfamiliar, it’s totally normal to feel uncomfortable, lonely, maybe even a little sad for what you’re leaving behind.

But I’m learning that no matter what was in the past, great things lie ahead in the future. The key is to 1) be patient — give it at least three months —  and 2) work hard to get where you want to be. Because one major crux of the three month rule is that in order to get anywhere, you have to have faith in the future and put a lot of energy towards what you want. So if you find yourself in a similar situation — with your work, a relationship, a big move, whatever — just know that with a little patience and some hard work, you’re going to come out on the other side and love where you are.

{Image Credit: Artwork traced back to here, but original source unknown}


  1. 5.29.13
    Ellie said:

    I completely agree! I moved from Charleston, SC to Boston for college and didn’t feel like I needed the 3 months, but adjusting to grown up life in Boston? I needed probably 7 or 8 months. But a wise woman that I interned for in college told me that it would probably take 6 months to feel like I had my sh** together and that stuck with me. Anytime I felt like I was hitting a wall, I reminded myself that it was only temporary.

    This too shall pass and soon you’ll be in the apartment and all unpacked and settled!

  2. 5.29.13
    Melissa said:

    I’m about to make a big move and this was SO helpful for me! :) Thank you!!

  3. 5.29.13
    Ashley Jorn said:

    This is beyond true! It was a huge adjustment moving from my small country town to Chicago for college, and then to Southern California 7 years after that. Now I’m heading back to Chicago. It ALWAYS takes me a few months to feel settled and comfortable again, even if I’m just moving to a different neighborhood in the city. I’ll definitely be keeping this in mind when I move in a couple of months :)

    Love the quote, by the way!

  4. 5.29.13
    Elisa said:

    I’ve never put 2 and 2 together but now that I think of it, your hubs is totally right! 3 months is about right for an adjustment period, I personally take 4 to feel nice and good. I love that you brought this out today! I hope i remember it for my next change.

  5. 5.29.13

    This is SO true, but I’ve never been able to say it as eloquently as Joe did! It’s a great reminder to keep things in perspective.

  6. 5.29.13
    rita said:

    love this! we recently moved while going through a bunch of life/career changes -the adjustment has been incredibly difficult at times, but as we near the 3 month mark, it’s getting a lot easier! after the first month of incessant complaining on my part, we made a rule that we couldn’t complain about the new place -we could share constructive opinions, but no complaining or whining about it, since we have no choice but to make it work for awhile. it really improved our general attitudes and was incredibly helpful!

  7. 5.29.13
    Leanne said:

    This was so needed for me!! I have been taking on more at work and have had similar feelings. It does take time to get comfortable again but I know it will all be for the better and will be happy on the other side. One of my superiors reminded me that growth and comfort don’t coexist which is so true.

    • 5.29.13
      vmacandcheese said:

      Very true. I like to tell Joe that if we’re uncomfortable, it’s probably a bad thing.

      • 5.29.13
        vmacandcheese said:

        Bah! I mean *not* uncomfortable.

  8. 5.29.13
    Abby said:

    This is so true! I’ve moved around quite a bit and I always start to feel more comfortable after the three month mark. I never thought about this in relation to other big life changes, but now that I look back, the three month rule seems to apply to new jobs, also! It’s always good to keep looking forward. When the little things start to get to me, I like to ask myself, “will this even matter to me a year from now?” and usually the answer is no. You will settle in and life in New York will be even better than you imagined!

  9. 5.29.13
    Emma said:

    Loving the three month rule! I get super uncomfortable every time I go through some kind of life change. I just started a new job so now I can keep the rule in mind and know that soon, it too will feel as normal as my last job did. Thanks and good luck with everything!

  10. 5.29.13
    Nina said:

    I needed this today. We’re about to make a big move, ourselves, and this perspective is so helpful.

    Thank you! xx

  11. 5.29.13

    when i feel disillusioned, i always think “if it was easy, everyone would be doing it”. persevere, doll! hat you’re feeling is completely normal. i moved to vancouver 9 years ago and literally, didn’t know one single person. it took longer than three months, but it was the best thing i’ve ever done.

    patience is key and you and joe are lucky to have each other to support one another. you’ll be fantastic xo

  12. 5.29.13
    Cassandra said:

    Perfect timing with this post. I’m starting a new job next week and freaking out. It’s definitely a needed change but I am sad to leave my coworkers. I’m just going to give myself sometime to get adjusted and see what comes after!

  13. 5.29.13

    I SOOO relate. We are a military family, so we move every 3 years and it takes a while to settle in and feel back to normal again!

  14. 5.29.13
    Sierra said:

    Moves are tough. My move to SF from Portland was unexpectedly brutal which was surprising as I was so excited to be here. The unknown is always scary. Hang in there! NYC is amazing!


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  15. 5.29.13
    Chiara said:

    So true! When I switched jobs, I wanted to go back to my old one sooo badly. I missed everything. And it actually took about three months for me to start enjoying my new job.

  16. 5.30.13
    Alyssa said:

    I totally agree with this–I’m the same way, and had similar experiences with both college and moving to the city. Both times, it took me quite a while to adjust–I remember working for it and working for it and working for it, but then suddenly, one day, I was just fine and these places felt like home. The three month rule is very true!

  17. 5.30.13
    Danielle said:

    This is so true! I moved from West Virginia to Seattle and even though it’s been almost 2 years, sometimes I still feel unsettled! But you are so right, you simply have to keep moving forward. Have a support system (like your husband) is key too. They can keep you grounded when you feel like your losing your footing in this new environment. Thanks for sharing!

  18. 5.30.13

    I never looked at it like that, but it’s so true! I’m about three months into my new home and new marriage and new city and YES, things feel much more normal than they did three months ago!

  19. 5.31.13
    Lauren said:

    So — we’re in the throws of considering a move to the pacific northwest and I am anxiety-stricken. On one hand, it would be a new adventure, a great new job for my boyfriend, and a new city to explore. On the other hand – we live in a place that is so much less expensive than where we would be living, we have great friends here, etc. So I am glad to read this because as we were discussing the potential move last night, I kept saying I just have to set my uncomfortable feelings aside and think of the actual pros and cons because change ALWAYS feels uncomfortable. So anyway – we’ll see what happens, but if we do move, I will try to keep the 3 month rule in my mind.

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