Moving and settling into a new home

20 August 2018
I received an email from a reader last week who is packing to move to a new home. They are moving because her husband has been promoted and the new position is in another state. She is concerned that she won't like the new home and as she's put a lot into her current home, it's making her anxious. She asked for my thoughts on moving, so here they are.



In the 42 years I've known Hanno, we've moved house 22 times. We had two years in Germany, 15 years further north in Queensland, 21 years here (in south-east Queensland) with the rest of the time in one place or another. I loved moving then. I was younger and wanted to see new places, meet new people and the thought of settling down in one spot didn't interest me at all.  I've completely changed. Now I see permanence as something to be cultivated and I hope to breathe my last breath, right here in this house. Truly.

Many of us are not living in our ideal location. There is always greener grass just over there, if only we could get to it. When we were moving around, I always thought our next move with be THE one where there would be many opportunities and everything would be easy. But in reality, when we arrived here, when I was 49 years old, what I found was a changed mindset instead of an ideal location or beautiful home. When we arrived here, I slowed down enough to see what was around me, I got involved in my community and slowly settled in.
 
If you're in this position and are constantly on the move, I offer you these small thoughts:
  • Forget about what others are doing - follow your own map
  • Adapt your home to suit yourself and your family
  • Use the land you live on
  • Be a part of your local community
  • Don't expect everything to improve immediately
Finding a house that will suit you for your lifetime isn't easy. Often you find a house you like but you don't like the location, or vice-versa. One thing is clear to me, buying a house is not like buying any other product. A house has to suit all its occupants and it has to change over the years as everyone grows up, evolves and matures. So don't worry if your house doesn't feel like your home when you buy it because you will grow into it, you'll learn what it needs to be your ideal home and slowly, as you change your surroundings to suit your family, your home will change you too. 


The first time I came to this block of land we live on I felt I'd come home. I didn't like the house, there were no fences, no garden, no solar panels, no tanks, no driveway but I loved the land. That rainforest out the back that hides a permanent creek cast a spell on me that made me realise our search for "home" was over. We had a good deposit, the house, compared to house prices today, was incredibly cheap and I knew we'd be happy here. This land and the work it took to change the house changed me too. I didn't know that would happen but I can see now that it was the most valuable gift.


If I'd been commercially savvy and had looked for potential, amenities that were close by, and all the things we're told we should look for in a home, I probably would have passed by this house. Instead I looked for a good annual rainfall, a council that allowed me to have chooks, level land where we could grow a garden, sunshine, clean air, markets and supermarkets that were close but not too close and a quite street. We have lived the most wonderful life here and I thank my lucky stars that we were in the right pace at the right time and I bloomed where I was planted.

Additional Reading:
Finding Home

37 comments

  1. You do live in a lovely place, Rhonda. A tad too humid for me though. The work you and Hanno have done on the house and land has really paid off as you have made it comfortable for you both as you age. It is great not to be living on top of neighbours too.

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  2. What a lovely home you've made, Rhonda, from the land and the home you found. I sometimes get discouraged here at our place with the lack of good soil and soil depth but then I'll go sit out on the verandah and look out at the trees and breathe in the quiet and know I am so lucky and that I can keep on improving things like the garden that sometimes frustrate me. Dr. David Suzuki talks about a home being worth so much more than its 'real estate' value, so much more than just a house. It's the family we raise, the friends we welcome through the doors, the pets who join us and whom we farewell to a resting place in the garden, the special things inside and outside that we've crafted or been given, it's our memories. In this way, a home no matter where it is reflects us and who we are. It's value becomes immeasurable. Meg:)

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  3. Good luck to your reader who is moving. I agree very much with your thoughts to help them - my father was in the Army and we moved a great deal including several overseas postings. No matter what the quarters were like my parents made it 'home' very quickly. Each house had its advantages and personal items like framed photos, soft furnishings my mother made and attention paid to the gardens/ balconies improved them and made them homey.
    None of us can have the perfect house but we can make a home.

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  4. Best wishes to your reader who is moving. I've moved a LOT in my life. My ex-husband was in the military so that meant moving, and with the economy the way it's been, my family now has moved multiple times in order to take advantage of better job opportunities. Some places feel more like home than others, but there are always things you can do to improve your home so that it fits your liking.

    The house we live in now isn't perfect by a long shot, and actually the last one we lived in was nicer, but I prefer this one, even though it needs work and is in an odd location in our town. I love the area so very much , and so I'm working very hard to get the house to look the way I want it. It's not perfect and probably never will be, but I've learned to love it because it's where my kids are growing up, where they'll blossom and grow wings. That alone makes it special, and I'm doing a lot of really great things in this strangely shaped, bedrooms-aren't-big-enough, not-enough-storage-space house. :) It's ours, and for that reason alone, I love it. :) Focusing on the things you love (my front window is huge and GREAT for when it snows- my daughter and I stare outside and call it 'Snow TV'; we finally have space to grow a garden; I have a laundry room, which I've never had before, etc), improving the things you can change, and adjusting your attitude towards the things you can't change are key. :)

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  5. When my husband died 2 years ago I did not hurry to make a decision. I knew that I would not be able to stay in a large old 3 bed roomed house on 1/2 acre.
    I was fortunate to sell and settle in 3 months and moved to a small rental house which is perfect.
    I do not have family near and so now I am free to travel to see them.
    It has not been a month since I moved and I am in Western Australia and 3 days after I get home I am off to Sydney. Then I will settle in my new home.

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  6. Well said. I have always felt that you buy a house, you make a home.

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  7. Thoughtful Post.
    Hope your reader finds happiness in her New Home.

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  8. After 30 years of marriage and 30 house moves, we have at last a place of our own - it is strange to now not have to think of things like having to garden in movable containers and the concept of just staying put is a little hard to imagine truth be told.

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  9. Your home looks so comfortable and inviting. I will probably stay in my little pink California cottage forever. It has many of the things that you mentioned in your post. The soil needed a lot of improvements, but the garden is now flourishing. It gives me so much pleasure. So much of a peaceful home is the energy and time that we put into it. It becomes a work of art. I think your reader will create something beautiful wherever she goes.

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  10. Oh I completely agree with you Rhonda. We moved to our house 27 years ago. Like you, we didn't like the house but we loved the fact that there is a field of allotments right behind it and we were able to rent one immediately. Over the years we have grown to love where we live - in fact my blog is subtitled 'growing where I'm planted', because it feels to me that that's exactly what we've done. The mind-set is as important as the physical house.
    I always read and enjoy your blog, but rarely comment because for some reason my comments seem to disappear into the ether somewhere! maybe this one will have more success... Anyway, in case you do get it, my grateful thanks.

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  11. You are so right that home is where you make it. We are contemplating another move and it is much easier now that we have the right attitude!! When we were younger it was much more stressful!

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  12. You have a beautiful home and a garden Rhonda.

    I never liked moving, and felt so relieved when I found my house. Like you, I was mainly attracted to the garden. The house was not what I wanted exactly, but I saw its potential. I'm turning it into my dream home a little by little. I already love it.

    Best wishes to your reader.

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  13. Like you i moved many times in my younger years and mostly in our farming career. Now i am late 50s and LONG for a home of my own as am truly over moving. We no longer qualify for a mortgage as i am too old and am a homemaker and even though my dh is still working and 10 years younger than i he has a terminal illness . HOWEVER all is not lost as we have quite a bit in our retirement funds that gives us other options to look at. My dh will be able to access his earlier than 65 due to his health. I am not fussy to have a modern home with all the latest styles of decoration or upgrades. Like you Rhonda- i am interested in the land that comes with it as i love gardening. You have given the lady who is moving great advice.

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  14. My husband was a banker and we moved many times. Our previous house was in a small town so our family lived in the residence attached to the bank. It was built in 1863. A magnificent building with a resident ghost of sorts, it needed to be loved and lived in. We have since visited the building as it is a home of sorts and fully renovated and it is lovely. Then we moved into our present house 23 years ago. The house was simple, close to new schools and amenities and we fully expected to move on again. Jobs and careers changed and we are still there. It has been altered a little, repainted, regardened, solar panelled and is in the process of an indoor painting spruce up. We are walking distance to amenities we need as we age. I honestly don't see the sense of moving for a while. This is home.

    Your house is beautifully lived in Rhonda. Posts like this show us how to make a house a home.

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  15. "And I bloomed where I was planted" so apt. Such lovely photos, Rhonda. I love seeing is others have solved space issues or made use of odd corners or repurposed items.

    It can be any old structure, from cow shed to mansion, we can make it our home by putting our stamp on it.

    The criteria you listed for your current house is very wise and far more important than whether the house has 'his and hers sinks' in the second bathroom!

    For me it's where you live, not what you live in that's important. The design of the building can be changed, the location and the neighbours are far harder.;)

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  16. It is funny that this was your subject today because we are moving at the end of the year too. We moved to Adelaide from Geelong almost 11 years ago, and now find that we must return to our home town because of work. We rent, which makes it much harder to make a place your own, although I think I have always done this very well despite the obstacles. What saddens me most is leaving a community that I have become so deeply involved in over the past 10 years. I know that it will take time to re-establish myself in Geelong, and that I will not have the same wonderful experiences and friends that I have here in Adelaide. I would love to settle into my own little place and know that I am not at the landlords mercy- but in the current world that is not possible for us. But I have also made a warm and welcoming space in a tiny, rundown, ex-government, unloved rental for myself and my family so I know that I can make a home anywhere. I take some comfort in this and hope my fellow mover can too. Noni in Adelaide (for now!)

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  17. I, too, have moved many times in my life. Some places were better than others, naturally; but I always managed to be okay with it. I decided that there were five things I needed in a house: a garden area large enough to plant a few flowers and veggies, a fireplace, a fairly large kitchen (although the one I have now is not very big) and a good bath area. I also did not want a lot of steps going up to the house. While I also would have liked a sitting porch, I was not that lucky, but I am okay with it. I think if you take the time to really find out what is important to you, and try to get those things when going to a new place (or most of them) it helps the transition. If you want a place to do sewing, see if you can fit that in with the choices you have; if you want an extra bedroom or more storage area, try for those. Of course, not everything will always work out; but it does help to narrow down what you can live with. And some things have potential. You can always make your house a home in your own way.

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  18. Your home and yard look wonderful, so much work and love you have both poured into it.
    I was in my last home for 28 years and a bit sad to leave until my grown up kids said - Mum although we grew up here and it was our home it is still just a house. Memories and feeling are always with us and not left behind. Totally 'Bloom where you are Planted', such a great saying Rhonda.
    BTW, I didn't really like this house to look at but it felt good soon as I walked in and has become a lovely home.

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  19. I can't say that we were thinking of our house as a forever home when we bought it, but over the past 18 years that is what it has become to us. There were a few times that we seriously looked at other houses, but the trade off would have been not seeing my husband on his lunch break, and for us, the priority of family closeness trumped having more land and the ability to have chickens. The last time we looked, we realized that we would want to rent out our current home so we could come back to it, which ended up being an "aha" moment -- why would we buy a house to live in for at most 10 years, only to come back to the smallish house that we live in now?

    Our current house is a tight squeeze for us now (but not really when I think of how people around the globe live) and our college aged sons have to share a bedroom, but we are close to our city's downtown with all of its amenities. We are able to live "car lite" and to walk to the farmers market each week, along with the library, post office, park, outdoor concerts, and more (not too mention countless shops and restaurants, but we don't eat out or shop often).

    So many things seemed (and still seem) wrong about our house and where we are -- it's hot and dry here, we live near a fault line, the traffic is insane, housing is expensive, we can't have livestock of any kind, the street is a little too busy, etc. But there are plusses as well -- our walk score is 82, the house was built in 1926 and is solid, with thick plaster walls, it's a single story home that we can age in, we have a lovely front porch, there are towering California redwoods out front, and it has the kind of details that make me smile (wood trim and mantel, a high barrel ceiling in the living room and coved ceiling in the dining room, sweet little breakfast room with a built in nook, a walk in pantry, and more).

    But mostly, it's home, and I don't want to pick up an move again (I moved 11 times before we bought this house). Like you, I'm settled in my community, and I want to breathe my last breath sheltered in these walls.

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  20. Now in my late 30s, I am preparing to make a move of 30 miles but there's so much to it - a new job, departing my own little house of many years, a new community of friends to make, a transition from singledom to eventual marriage (and step-parenting!). My identity is taking a hit:) I am gradually taking so many leaps of faith and everyone's tales of transition are heartening to hear. I am anxious because I know what I have now and I don't know what all the "new" will be like. However, I agree with the sentiment of many of the above comments - that a home is made of love and not walls, bricks or geography.

    To the author of the question - you are not alone (even if it feels that way). I'm glad you asked that question because it's allowed random strangers across the globe to connect and say, "take heart, the way you feel is okay."

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  21. I too moved many times before settling in a nice house fir 28 years. Then wanted more land and wasn't willing to put up with a 3 storey nursing home being constructed over the back fence. The house I bought wasn't at all what I fancied:cream brick veneer(ick), aluminium framed windows (double ick) & polished wood floors (another ick) BUT it had 1/3rd acre mostly cleared land, a chicken house already, a wood burning stove already (never did use it) & a magnificent view. And when I walked inside there was just that intangible'something' that appealed. So I bought. Didn't like the lack of connection to the neighbour's, the scary drive up and down the mountain, the distance from most amenities, the erratic mobile phone service.
    Was thinking of moving on when that decision was made by fate burning down the house.
    I now also live in a house that is not what I wanted style wise but it is on a flat 1/2 acre, close to amenities and had a shed already for the chickens.
    I swear I am never going to move again. I still don't have a huge connection with the neighbours but I get on ok with them and they supported my application to keep a rooster in suburbia! And I don't have a scary dark wet windy drive home each winters day.
    The garden and orchard is progressing and renovations are planned to make the place truly my home rather than it being adequate.
    Claire in Melbourne

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  22. We have moved 9 times as a married couple. Moving has been very difficult and unsettling at various times, and yet in other ways we have been energised with a move. My advice is... it takes time. There comes a day after a few months when you reach for the light switch without thinking. Or you drive in the driveway and you don't have to think hard about navigating the turn. Or you go to get something and it feels like it's in the right place. Allowing yourself the time to place things, move them after a couple of weeks, or to change things around - these are the things that help your new house to feel like a home. Selling furniture that doesn't fit has been hard for me in the past, but putting that money towards what will work in your home can be pleasurable too. Nesting desn't happen overnight. It takes time to select the best spot for a garden plot that gets the sun. It takes time to sort your linen cupboard and to put your shelves up in the laundry. I'm 6 months into this house now - I'm seeing salads come up, the herbs have grown. The tea shelf is up and I can make tea from muscle memory of my kitchen. Take heart. Home goes with you and makes deep roots in new places, and it's ok that its painful in the re-potting.

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    1. Wise words of comfort , Rhonda 😊
      I like travelling in our caravan....but I find it a little disconnecting. So we now mix it up with some housesitting and it is suiting us better .

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  23. Lovely post! We moved to our house one year ago, the house isn't quite what we wanted (small modern build instead of a Victorian era semi) but it has a good feel about it and we are learning how to live in it. The community here is fab though, so much to join if we want to. Will have to learn more about container gardening here. Today is my birthday and my most prized gift is a copy of The Simple Home 🙂 I have been waiting a long time for it to become available here in the UK so very happy. Now to make some ice cream x

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    1. Happy birthday Catz. I hope you enjoy the book and it helps you settle into your home and community. xx

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  24. Thanks for this lovely post. I especially liked the part about choosing community/sunshine/rainfall etc over commercial considerations. I'm in the early stages of looking at buying a block of land to build a house on and I recently discovered that the government has free plans on the yourhome.gov.au website for 2- and 3-bedroom homes that can be built to 7-star energy rating standard. It's a great resource and I had never heard of it! Do you or any of your readers know of anyone who's built one of these houses? Thanks, Meryl

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    1. I know of the website and the homes but don't know anyone who has built one. Maybe one of the readers will have more to share with you. Good luck with your searches.

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  25. That's beautiful, Rhonda...and your love for your home reaches through the written word to feel very comforting and inspiring to us readers.
    On Sunday we found our house, signed a contract within the hour, and spent the night pinching ourselves. As soon as we walked through the gate it welcomed us. And now we're just waiting for the bank's approval...whilst still pinching ourselves.
    It has solar, a beautifully loved and established garden, a powered workshop for my husband, a sullage pump for the wet season flooding that can occur in the yard, and so much more. We are blessed beyond words and I cannot wait to make it into our home - to grow with it. xx

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    1. That sounds like such a good find, Jenny. Good luck with all that will follow. xx

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  26. Your post warmed my heart, at just the right time. I've been in my new home and state for 10 months and still am having a hard time getting settled in.

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    1. It's never a fast process, Holly. Stay focused, do the work your home needs and in time, you'll feel the warmth and love grow.

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  27. We relocated interstate in November last year. And while the home we left behind was never going to be our 'forever' place we had gotten it to a point that it completely worked for us. I miss my garden everyday! The house we are now in is a rental and we just found out last week that the owners are selling - aargh! Anyway, we are making the best of the situation and blooming where we are planted. I've been focusing on getting my sense of home from my connections and community as opposed to the house we are in, and it's definitely helped.
    I hope your reader is able to find her own version of 'home' once the dust settles.
    Cheers,
    Laura

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  28. What a lovely way of putting things and what a great attitude. The only thing that I would add is that this also applies to renters. I have never lived in a home that my parents or I owned - always been a renter - and I have learned the same lessons - everywhere has pros and cons - and home is what you make it.
    I know of so many renters who never really settle or who don't bother painting or decorating or making even small changes because "they are just renting". If you live there then you should make an effort, whether you are going to be there for 6 months or 6 years - it is your home at this point in time and should be treated as such.

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  29. I am so glad that you talked about this subject Rhonda as it is an important one for me too. I have moved 43 times in my life, 9 times as a girl with my parents. I rented until I was 45 when I moved in with my partner and we bought property together. We built this house and after nearly 10 years I am only starting to feel like I belong here, that it is mine. Yet it felt like it was meant to be ours as soon as we walked the boundary when it was for sale. I am from another state so I do feel torn sometimes. As you said, slowing down makes all the difference. Thanks again for a great article.

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  30. Another brilliant post. For many years I moved around for jobs and often (working in the badly paid environmental sector) lived in less than ideal places; but I am a big believer in blooming where one is planted. We can all wish for more - even now I'd like a bigger garden with room for an orchard and chickens but the truth is that this house we now own is Home and I love it with all my heart. It is the base from which we work, practice our hobbies, entertain family and friends and continue to build our lives. It takes time and effort to make a home but it is so worth it.

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  31. I can't wait to move. We've been working on getting this house ready to sell, but it just never ends. We just don't have the money to hire a crew to finish it off. My husband has been here about 30 years, raised his son here and went through rebuilding it after a housefire in 2006. I moved here after we met, following his wife's death in 2008. It just has never really felt like my home and there is no good place for a garden. I want a garden so much.

    And this seems to be one of those areas where you never get to know the neighbors. I couldn't tell you the names of the people across the street. We are looking for what he likes to call his "terminal house". the last move we'll make. And we plan to move across country to find that. It will be good for him mentally and physically as he has settled into inactivity here. You can make the move a good change in your life, with the right attitude.

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