The Upside of Moving: Lessons from the Gypsy Camp

By Marni Jameson

“I cannot believe you are moving again!” Came the email from one of my editors when I broke the news a couple weeks ago. “I have lived in the same house for 30 years. What’s wrong with me?”

“No, what’s wrong with me!?” I shot back.

It’s a legitimate question. Over the past six years, I have called eight house—soon nine—home. If packing and moving were an Olympic sport, I would take the gold. This would lead the average observer to believe that I am an unstable masochist on the lam. But I can explain.

Here goes: In 2011, I left house No. 1 in Colorado, my home for eight years, and moved to Florida, for a job, and a new start. There, I landed a stint as a live-in home stager. Over the next four years, I would move into a series—six in all—of high-end houses that needed help selling, and stage them with my furniture. While living in house No. 5, I met DC. By house No. 7, we were engaged. In June 2015, we bought house No. 8, The Happy Yellow House. And the moving madness ended.

Until now.

Come November—if the eight ball lands in the corner pocket, DC and I will be in house No. 9—for good. Would someone please put that in writing while I pour a stiff drink?

Now before you write me off as a first-class nut job with the stability of a hummingbird, I want to share with you and my inquiring editor the upside of moving. Yes, there is one, though I’m not sure you should trust this information from someone with such a spotty past.

While we all know, or can imagine, the many downsides of moving to a new place, like walking into the closet in the middle of the night swearing that someone moved the bathroom, my frequent moves have taught me some valuable lessons that those of you who’ve stayed put can’t possibly know.

Now I realize that some of you reading this are sitting smugly on your sofas thinking that you have picked the perfect home and have neither wavered nor wanted. Congratulations. However, if you think you could be living a better life somewhere else, but the fear of moving is keeping you stuck, perhaps these insights from the gypsy lover will give you some courage: 

You experience place.

Whenever I visit other neighborhoods, near or far, I wonder, “What would it be like to live here?” After circumnavigating Central Florida as a home stager, and test driving five neighborhoods, I found the one I liked best, where I now live. (The new house is right around the corner.) You may fantasize about a house in the country, or an urban walkup downtown, but until you live in a place, you can only speculate about what it’s like.

You learn what you like.

Experience is the best teacher. I’ve lived in remote homes surrounded by nature, and in homes where I could walk to five restaurants in 10 minutes. I’ve had long commutes to work and school and no commutes. I’ve lived in places with brutal traffic (Los Angeles), and places where a cluster of three cars is called a traffic jam. I’ve found what I want.

You change the way you live.

Perhaps the most significant lesson moving has taught me is how much a home’s floor plan defines how you live. If your kitchen doesn’t open onto the family room, you won’t interact with others much while you cook. Going from a wall closet to a walk-in can be life changing, as can having two sinks in a shared bathroom. I read more when I have a pretty, cozy place to read with good light away from the television. I entertain more in houses that have open floor plans. You don’t discover this until you live it.

You lighten your load.

Moving is the best clutter buster. It forces you to handle and think about everything you own. If you do this right, you will seriously consider what you need going forward and purge.

You see your furnishings with fresh eyes.

Like shuffling the letters in a word scramble, mixing up furniture causes you to see winning combinations you didn’t before, like how well the painting you had in your living room works in the new master, or how the china cabinet can double as a book case.

You edit your dated displays.

Moving makes you revisit the family photos you have out, so you don’t become one of those households featuring baby pictures of your kids who are pushing 30.

A better way.

Moving gives you an organizing do over. As you set up house again, you can improve systems that didn’t work so well before, and create that place for everything. You can round up all the coffee supplies and put them next to the coffeemaker, get all your office supplies bundled and binned, corral your cleaning supplies, and tie your sheets and towels
in sets with ribbons. You learn what
works through trial and error. Thus,
you live a little better every time you move. Trust me.

Syndicated columnist Marni Jameson is the author of two home and lifestyle books, including Downsizing the Family Home – What to Save, What to Let Go (Sterling Publishing 2016). You may reach her at www.marnijameson.com.

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