Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Moving is Over Rated

Very interesting article in Newsweek by Joel Kotkin about how trends are changing and people are moving less often and staying in their communties. The article “There’s No Place Like Home: Fewer Americans are relocating than at any time since 1962. That's good news for families, communities ... and even the environment.” Cites the following statistic: “As recently as the 1970s as many as one in five people moved annually; by 2006, long before the current recession took hold, that number was 14 percent, the lowest rate since the census starting following movement in 1940. Since then tougher times have accelerated these trends, in large part because opportunities to sell houses and find new employment have dried up. In 2008, the total number of people changing residences was less than those who did so in 1962, when the country had 120 million fewer people.”
The article explains some of the drawbacks of all the moving around – lack of political and social involvement, loneliness, lack of community, fewer local businesses. The article points to several concurrent trends which are leading to this shift away from the hyper mobility:

- more working at home
- the recession (I can’t move to Florida because I can’t sell my house in Ohio, I need to help support my adult kids who can’t get a good job so I can’t retire yet)
- technology changes
- more focus on family

I think this trend is in the right direction but we have a way to go to create real communities and relationships that we need to strive. I’d hope that part of the reason for this trend is that people will realize that moving around all the time and living in a place where you don’t know anyone or have any connection is not fun but I am not sure people get that message at the right time. If you are 24 and looking for a job and get a great opportunity in a city you know few people, you may take it but not realize that it will not be such a great move for your long term happiness. Yes, you may meet some friends and get married but you’d end up living in a city where you have no roots, no long term friends and family. I hope people (both employees and employers) see that corporate nomadism is no way to live and the drawbacks far outweigh the benefits.

Even if people stay where they are and move less I think that the blending of suburb to suburb in our large metro-areas like Chicago or Atlanta creates a lack of political involvement or interest and many American’s have no sense of place in their community. So many of us work in one ‘burb, live in another, go to church in another and their kids go to camp in still another. I bet that most suburban adults don’t even have a clue who their Mayor is. Even if some of the reasons for these trends are not what we’d ideally want (We want to move to AZ but we can’t sell the house and the kids are living back at home) it may be a blessing in disguise.

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