Virtue and genuine graces in themselves speak what no words can utter.

~ William Shakespeare ~

Moving On Out

October 6th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 32 secs


Most of us do it at least now and then. Rather startlingly, some 43% of Australians do it once every five years. Then again, some will move heaven and earth to avoid doing it at all. Yet, whatever our persuasion, moving house is so much a part of modern life, it’s accepted practice.

But it wasn’t always that way. Prior to the advent of cars, people tended to stay in the same region from cradle to grave. People knew people their whole life through. So why would anyone want to forfeit belonging to become an unknown? Typically, moving was about escape. Whether due to crime, poverty, or reputation, if there was no other choice, people changed places. Otherwise, the sacrifices inherent in moving were clearly too high.

Nowadays, however, moving is more than acceptable. It’s expected and, often, encouraged.  New jobs, bigger homes, and more opportunities beckon, making staying put looks more like a settle for existence.

Yet, the benefits of moving always come at a price. Bidding farewell to everything we’ve known, we venture out to pursue greener pastures. Ever since the mass migrations of the post war era, people have dared to say goodbye to everything in search of their dreams (and back in the ‘60s, my own family did just that).

Since then, the purpose for moving has changed. Not so much as a one off shift to a land of opportunity, but a kind of consumer move looking for something better. In Australia, like so many places, that has translated into a 5 year switch toward “up specking” life and meeting expectations.

But this kind of consumer driven moving is costing us dearly. Why? Because relationships of the best kind take time. Neighborhoods need enough people to remain long enough to settle, and for each person to find their place. Getting a sense of belonging to a community takes years. So, what happens when people keep moving? With each switch, the journey to belonging starts yet again.

Children, frequently taken from one home to another, may find their family life is enough. Yet, inevitably, their friendships will suffer. Just as families disconnected from long-term relationships have to go it alone. Otherwise, the alternative is to fly, drive, get online, or spend lengthy sessions glued to the phone. But it’s not, and can never be, quite the same as being in one place. Together.

Thankfully, happiness is a resilient thing. We can make all sorts of choices that might put pressure on our sense of connection and wellbeing and still be wonderfully happy anyway. But, if we want to make it easier to feel more at home, I believe we should stay in one place long enough to fully put down our roots.

Naturally, that’s not going to be as exciting as packing our bags every few years in search of something better. But the rewards of knowing and being truly known are too enriching to miss.

Does that mean you should never move house? Must we therefore always stay in one place? And what if the opportunity to start afresh elsewhere really makes sense?

The reasons for moving can be complex, can’t they? So you need to carefully weigh up the pros and cons for yourself. There is always a price for starting a new life. But, planned well, it can handsomely pay off.

Done habitually, without considering the consequences, the heavy toll exacted by moving house cannot be ignored. But, by giving commitment to a new community and staying long enough to belong, moving has the potential to be an incredible adventure.


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