When is it time to move?
I’ve been thinking about moving lately. It seems I'm not alone. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many of us to ask questions about how we are living our lives. Spending this much time at home has also prompted re-evaluating what we need in our space. I’ve read home improvement and renovation spending has increased dramatically in the past few months. With all the restrictions on travel, many people are using their extra cash to improve their homes including adding pools and hot tubs. If we have to stay put, we are going to do it well.
This week on Reframe Your Life, we interviewed best-selling Canadian author Jane Christmas. Her latest memoir, Open House: A Life in 32 Moves explores how moving houses has shaped her life. My co-host, Patti Hall and I begin the interview by sharing how many times we have moved. I think I’m at around 15 moves (every 4 years on average). The longest I have lived in one house is ten years. We’ve been in our current home for 6.5 years (the clock is ticking over here).
I’ve never thought of any one structure as my forever house. Home for me has more to do with the people in my life than the house I occupy. Home isn’t about the address on my driver’s license. Home is bigger than that although it also includes the physical place.
Every one of us has our own unique ideas about what we want in a home (and how long we want to stay in a place). The truth is no house is ever perfect. Ask anyone who built their dream house from the plans they designed and they will tell you after living in the house they discovered something they would have done differently.
Ever since I became a grandmother I’ve thought a lot about multi-generational living. Being locked in during a pandemic has intensified the appeal for me. I like the idea of being close to the people I care about and being able to support each other during everyday life. I like the idea of sharing expenses and home maintenance chores. I know finding a home that has the right balance of privacy and closeness is going to the challenge. And of course, I have to get The Husband* on board.
As a serial mover, I am interested in why more people don't move more frequently. It was no surprise to me to discover that one of the reasons people stay in a place is because of other people. Often it is a partner who doesn't want to move or it might be kids who resist the idea (news flash - kids never want to move or change anything). Maybe they are afraid their extended family will be hurt or disappointed if they move further away. People live their entire lives making sure other people are comfortable and happy and don’t get to experience the things that light them up.
So when is it time to move? I think the decision to move is like any major change in our lives. It becomes more uncomfortable to stay where you are then it is to move. It could be the place you are living begins to limit the life you want to have. Maybe you dream of having a big backyard for your kids or grandkids to play in. Maybe you dream of a turn-key lifestyle of travel and weekend excursions instead of being tied down with house maintenance. Sometimes illness or ageing is a factor in a move. The house isn’t suitable for your current needs. Whatever it is your current residence is ‘too’ something. It’s too big, too small, too isolated, too busy, or just too much of what you don’t want or need anymore.
If you are trying to figure out whether it is time to move or make another change in your life, and you are feeling stuck I've got two coaching spots available this month. I'm slowing down to enjoy summer and that means fewer newsletters and client work. Email me if you want to nab a spot.
Moving affords us an opportunity to recreate ourselves. It gives us a chance to try something different. Every move will teach you something about yourself. You can purge years worth of accumulation. Each trip to the thrift shop will leave you feeling lighter. Moving towards what works for you now is clarifying.
It doesn't have to be forever. It starts with having honest conversations with yourself and the people around you about the type of lifestyle that reflects who you are now. And even if you don't end up changing your address you’ll be creating the home you want.
*I loved how Jane Christmas called her partner “The Husband” in her book. It made me laugh and I’m adopting that practice.