In my adult life I have moved houses eleven times. It may not seem outrageous but counting the 12+2 years spent in our current home, we did move a lot from the ones that did not last more than two years. What is interesting is what made me move and how I found my new home each time. I believe there is a sweet balance between over-planning and following your gut when choosing a city, a neighborhood, a house.
Here are my most memorable moving decisions to share. It started with being able to afford a really posh but small place on the 42nd floor overlooking Lake Ontario in downtown Toronto as newlyweds. There was not enough space for our clothes and our combined households, let alone an office. I learned to improvise: the small balcony became our summer dining room, the furniture had to be light and was constantly moved to accommodate office work, dinner parties and other projects. I never minded because the walls of window overlooking the lake and the city were my mansion.
It also taught me that I am not a city person. No matter how convenient the location, I prefer my privacy to not be shared with a 24-hour security guard.
Fast-forward to living with a toddler in crazy expensive California. Before relocating here to temporary housing, I had one day in-between work meetings to explore the Bay Area. We had learned that San Francisco was too cold for our taste, so we had to start our search from scratch.
I put our son in the car and drove south, planning to explore the beach and not worry about housing for now. Heading down Hwy 17 I saw a sign for Los Gatos which I thought was too cute a name, and on pure impulse, drove into town. It was so breathtakingly beautiful as I pushed the stroller down North Santa Cruz Avenue that I never made it to the beach.
Los Gatos, California has been our home for the past 18 years, raising our children and making wonderful friends. Interrupted by four years in India (finding a home in Bangalore is an entire story in itself).
What I remember is that we never questioned settling here. Things fell into place despite many obstacles. We found a great landlady who rented to us because she wanted a little boy to live in her house. We won a bidding war to buy our home because the seller liked us.
All I can say is follow your instinct. Yes, decide what you cannot do without, such as schools and commuting times, but remember that you have alternatives. Between us, my husband and I have had long commutes lightened by flexible work arrangements, working from home and easy commutes. If you plan to stay, plant roots. If you know it’s only for a few years, ask yourself what kind of lifestyle you would like to experience. My own lesson? Home is where your heart is.