Move Closer to Friends: A Woman’s Journey to Connect | EP65

Friendship IRL Podcast - Episdoe 65 - How Jenna Myhre Deyle Moved Across the Country to Live Closer to Friends

What if living within walking distance to your friends next door could make you 25% happier, unlocking potential joys in relationships? In Episode 65 of Friendship IRL, host Alex Alexander talks with guest Jenna Myhre Deyle about her bold decision to move across the country to be near her best friends – and the transformative impact it had on her life.

Checking the Boxes, Missing the Mark

Jenna’s story may sound familiar to many: getting married young, climbing the corporate ladder, moving for a job. But after her divorce, living alone in a new city during the pandemic, Jenna couldn’t shake a deep sense of unhappiness:

“I graduated college. I’m from Wisconsin…I started working for the company that I still work for today. Almost 13 years ago, I worked for them for a year in Minnesota. And then I had the opportunity to move to a really anywhere, they asked me where I wanted to be. And I said somewhere warm in a big city. And that landed me in Dallas, Texas for just over eight years…2020 hit and I had a, you know, affectionately called a COVID divorce. And at that point, my company was looking for someone to start up the role. I was in on the West Coast, I thought what a great idea.”

But the reality of moving solo was harder than expected. Jenna found herself isolated in Washington state, struggling to build community and battling the “Seattle Freeze”. Something needed to change.

Prioritizing People Over Path

In a bold move, Jenna called up her company VP with a request: she wanted to move to Kansas City to be closer to her best friends, no matter what it meant for her job. To her surprise, they made it work.

“I made the really scary decision to call my vice president and my direct report and say, hey, I made a mistake. I cannot be here. This is not good for me, personally. I don’t feel like I’m giving the company 100 percent. And I’m ready to move back to the Midwest, specifically Kansas City, where my best friends were living at the time.”

As Alex points out, Jenna’s decision to prioritize her social wellbeing over her career path was countercultural.

“So many other things are more important, especially your job. And so for you to say, this is so important, I’m willing to kind of blow up and restart my career if I must, is really something a lot of people should think about. Because I think a lot of people out there are in situations where they feel as desperate as you were, but they could never imagine putting their foot down like you did.”

Building a Wheel of Connection

Moving in with her best friends was just the start. Jenna set out to intentionally build connections and community in multiple areas of her life, using Alex’s “Wheel of Connection” framework:

“Jenna has talked in this episode about how she is investing and adding and supplementing and shifting and tweaking so many areas of connection, right? We’ve heard her talk about shifting up her entire family of choice getting a divorce, we have heard her talk about joining formal communities, some of which are professionally focused, her job is important, not to mention her job is a formal community…Then we have this idea that we have all these friendships around us, which she has decided are important,. So important, she is going to shift her life to live closer to those friends. But she doesn’t want to put all of her focus on just that one friendship, all that pressure. So she’s going out there again, joining formal communities, meaning acquaintances, making new friends, supplementing and adding to build her own unique support system of people…”

From joining women’s leadership groups to complement her male-dominated field, to embracing the hometown pride of Kansas City, Jenna discovered a whole new level of fulfillment.

The Lasting Impact of Living Intentionally

Now engaged and continuing to build community alongside her fiancé, Jenna reflects on how her perspective has permanently shifted with people and friends.

“I think anytime you get married and get divorced, you know, not saying everyone but for me, I think you’re gonna approach dating again, with a much more intentional mindset. What do I want? Who am I today? I didn’t know who I was at 22. And I can still change. I’m not saying that you know… but I know much more clearly now what I want out of life, what fulfills me, and what sort of person is going to help me meet those goals and fulfill those goals for me.”

As Alex affirms, many people who start prioritizing friendship and community find they “never want to go back.” The benefits are just too great.

Key Takeaways

  • Living within a mile of a friend can make you 25% happier, according to research

  • Prioritizing social wellbeing may mean making bold countercultural moves, like changing jobs

  • Building a “Wheel of Connection” across multiple areas of life leads to greater fulfillment

  • An intentional approach to friendships and community tends to stick, even through life changes

Could living closer to friends be the key to your happiness? Hear Jenna’s full story and reflections in Episode 65 of Friendship IRL.

About Jenna Myhre Deyle

Jenna Myhre Deyle is a sales professional who made the bold decision to move from the Pacific Northwest to Kansas City to be closer to her best friends. Over a decade into her career, she has embraced an intentional approach to building community and connections both personally and professionally, with people and friends. Jenna is engaged and continues to call Kansas City home.

For Further Reading

“You’d Be Happier Living Closer to Friends. Why Don’t You?” by Anne Helen Petersen

The “Wheel of Connection” framework for building a personal support system

Frequently Asked Questions

How important is friendship in our lives?

Friendship is incredibly important for our overall happiness and well-being. As mentioned in the episode, research shows that living within a mile of a friend can increase one’s happiness by 25%. This is even higher than the 8% happiness boost from living with a spouse or the 14% increase from living near siblings. Jenna’s story illustrates how prioritizing friendships, even above career considerations, can lead to a greater sense of fulfillment and life satisfaction.

What are the benefits of living near friends?

Living in close proximity to friends offers numerous benefits, such as:

  • Increased happiness and life satisfaction (25% boost living within a mile of a friend)

  • Readily available emotional support during challenging times (like Jenna’s divorce)

  • More opportunities for shared experiences and quality time together
  • A sense of belonging and community connection
  • Practical support with everyday life tasks and challenges

How can one overcome geographic challenges to be closer to friends?

Jenna’s story offers a powerful example of how to overcome geographic barriers to living near friends. It involves reflecting honestly on your priorities, having bold conversations with employers about relocation needs, being willing to make significant life changes like moving or changing jobs, seeking out opportunities to build new connections in your desired location, and communicating openly with friends about your intentions and enlisting their support. While everyone’s circumstances are different, Jenna’s experience shows that with intentionality and a willingness to prioritize friendships, it is possible to overcome distance and build a fulfilling life closer to the people who matter most to you.

Are there specific strategies one can use to maintain closeness with friends?

The episode touches on several strategies for maintaining close friendships. One key approach is building a “Wheel of Connection” – cultivating a diverse support system across multiple areas of life, including family, community, and various types of friendships among people. Joining formal communities aligned with your interests and identities can also help foster new friendships and expand your social circle. Embracing the culture and opportunities of your city or region is another way to build a sense of belonging and strengthen your connections. Maintaining close friendships also requires communicating openly and consistently with friends about your needs and theirs, as well as making time for quality shared experiences and interactions, not just quick catch-ups.

Can you share real-life success stories of people who have prioritized living near their friends?

Jenna’s story is a compelling real-life example of someone who has successfully prioritized living near friends. She advocated for herself to move to Kansas City to be near her best friends, even though it required significant career changes. Moving in with her best friends provided crucial emotional support and “balance” during a challenging time in her life. Jenna intentionally built connections in Kansas City beyond just her existing friendships, joining women’s leadership groups and embracing the city culture. Her experience permanently shifted her approach to relationships and community; she now seeks to live intentionally in this area alongside her fiancé. Through her friendships and community in Kansas City, Jenna found a greater sense of personal and professional fulfillment. Her story demonstrates the profound positive impact that can come from prioritizing proximity to friends, even when it involves taking big leaps.

Profile Photo for Alex Alexander a blonde haired white woman smiling at the camera. She is in her 30s with her hair down and curled and wearing a grey sweater.

Hi! I'm Alex.

I am just a person who has spent an extraordinary amount of time trying to understand some of the relationships that I hold most dear. I invite you to join in on the conversation below in the comments section below.

Ask questions, leave comments, share critiques or give advice. All are welcome.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Hi. I'm Alex.

I'm just a gal who cares deeply about community + friendship. Why? Well, I didn't have a healthy support system growing up.

So I built one... out of friends. I believe a healthy support system is the ultimate self-care.

Every new episode... straight to your inbox.

We don’t like SPAM either.