I have lived in 37 houses, in ten cities, in three countries. No, my dad wasn’t in the military and no, I’m not in the witness relocation program. I have just always liked packing up my things, driving or flying someplace different, unpacking my things and living there.

So when my husband’s work offered him a job in Los Angeles, the decision was easy – for me. My husband was a little more hesitant. We had been living in England for the past three years. We were both in our mid-30s, we both had jobs we liked, an apartment we liked, and a few good friends. Moving to Los Angeles meant uprooting our life and starting over.

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After much debate, my husband and I agreed that moving to Los Angeles was the right decision. We would be closer to friends and family back home in Canada, and LA offered great career opportunities for the both of us.

We (mostly he) decided that we should and would do the “adult” thing and make our home in Los Angeles. We were going to find a place to live, hang some pictures on the wall, plant a garden, and maybe have a couple of kids. We were going to put down some roots.

And I was really excited.

Mostly excited.

Somewhat excited.

Alright, I was scared … of the commitment. 

My fear of commitment stemmed from the fact that I had uprooted myself so many times that I had never known what home felt like. Home had always just been a place where I put my stuff, parked my car, and where the utility bills came. I realized that I had never felt at home because I had never established a home. I had never purchased an electrical appliance because I didn’t know what the voltage would be where I moved to next, and most appliances don’t fit in a suitcase. I was always anticipating the next move.

 I had never purchased an electrical appliance because I didn’t know what the voltage would be where I moved to next, and most appliances don’t fit in a suitcase.

We live in a detached, neutral society where anything resembling commitment is often looked at as an obligation or an infringement upon our freedom. Making a home, or “putting down roots” goes against the norm of our mobile, transient culture. Yet, the irony is that sometimes our fears mask what we most desire. I feared losing my freedom and my sense of adventure. I was worried about feeling trapped – but deep down, I had been longing for the permanence and security of a home.

We made the big move from London to LA. We found a great two-bedroom house and started to explore our neighborhood and larger community. I found and frequented a local coffee shop. I started to volunteer. I joined a church, a writing group, and a gym. As we settled into life in Los Angeles, I started to relax into the stability. I found that I no longer craved the change.

The biggest indication of my attitude shift? I bought an appliance – an 110-volt espresso machine – that definitely did not fit in a suitcase. I was no longer anticipating a move: I was establishing a home.

Putting down roots doesn’t mean losing your freedom or sense of adventure. It means gaining a sense of belonging. I can still hop on a plane anytime I like, but I know that after the journey, I’ll be returning home.

What prevents you from putting down roots where you are? How can you act to change that this year?

Image via Milena Mallory


11 comments

  1. Within 8 years, I’ve moved a total of 6 times. Something in me would just get restless at each place and I would wake up one morning and say ok, time to find a new spot and as soon as my lease was up, I was gone. It was a great feeling to know that I could pack my things and move on to the next new adventure, a new place to explore and endless possibilities await. But then, I turned 30, still not ready to lay down roots, however all my friends around me were. For a long time I didn’t understand why I just didn’t have that drive to settle down. I’d hear their stories of being married or having kids and it just sounded terrible to be quite honest. I wanted to be free to explore and roam. But then, a year later something in me said it’s time to settle down and within months of that moment, I met the love of my life. He’s an explorer like me and now we can’t wait to lay down roots together, forever.

  2. This is very encouraging! I’ve had this unusual obsession with calendars ever since my first move abroad. I’m constantly breaking the years into smaller, manageable time frames, eagerly awaiting my next adventure. Whenever I move somewhere new, I’ll almost immediately begin staring at the calendar, thinking about where I’ll end up next. I’ve often wondered if I’ll ever be content settling down anywhere. I’m still in my early twenties, so your piece is a refreshing reminder that I might just need a little bit more time before I feel comfortable finding my city roots. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Dear Julie, thank you for your kind words. Sometimes we get so caught up thinking about what is next, we fail to think about what is now, and we fail to appreciate what is now (I do this too). I wish you well on your journey!

  3. As a roamer myself, I find this so encouraging. Although I am only 22 and have found my self living temporarily in six cities in the past four years, I definitely am beginning to understand the value of committing to a community, but still don’t want to loose the freedom of my youth to pack up and leave at any moment.

    I’ve been convicted about this recently by a conversation with a stranger who suggested:

    If you leave a place and don’t miss it, how much did you really give?

    1. Hi Karissa, thank you for this! It’s so true… We wonder why we feel restless, but we don’t give ourselves, and our lives, the time and the ability to take root. Good luck as you navigate your path!

  4. As a restless mover who thrills in the process of packing up, leaving & settling in a new place to adapt but is also a complete homebody that deeply values aspects of community (and the coziness of home), this piece resonated strongly with me! Here’s to wandering, an adventurous love of ‘that next place’ as well as putting down roots & falling in love with home!

    1. Annika, thank you for your comment! I found a quote by Amelia Earhart that I think really sums it up: “The more one does and sees and feels, the more one is able to do, and the more genuine may be one’s appreciation of fundamental things like home, and love, and understanding companionship.”

  5. I can definitely relate to this, always wanting to move somewhere new especially after visiting and falling in love with new places. It’s a good reminder no matter where you “settle” you can still have a sense of adventure and hop on a plane anytime! Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. Thank you for your comment Hannah! I think I will also continue to fall in love with many cities, and that’s the best part about traveling! Returning home is also very good! 😉

  6. Wow, this article really hit home for me. I have a similar wandering heart – always thinking ahead to “where I want to go next.” When I was offered a job in the same city I went to college in, I was excited, but also worried that this meant I was “settling down” and that no more adventure would be in store for me. However, I’m learning that this isn’t the case, and for the first time in four years I’ve lived in the same apartment for longer than 6 months. It’s starting to feel like home, and I’m actually starting to enjoy it. Thanks for sharing your story!

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