I spent all of my twenties job-hopping and apartment hunting. Along the way, I learned that home is where you make it but — you really have to make it.
Why did I move 9 times in 12 years?
I moved so many times because I could. I started my adult post-college life with a 400-square-foot apartment in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Florida. I was hired a few days before the housing bubble burst and watched intense rounds of layoffs from my cubicle. I decided to postpone home-buying indefinitely.
Lesson 1: My Home is my Place to Recharge
At the time, most home inspiration focused on permanent spaces with expensive, time-consuming makeovers. These had zero appeal to me. I just wanted a place to recharge — an easy-to-maintain, clutter-free space. That desire shaped all my future living spaces.
Lesson 2: It’s OK to Take a Day (or a Week)
Next, we moved to a small town near Abingdon, Virginia. My work travel complicated the housing search. When I was out-of-town, I couldn’t drive by properties.
Early in my career, I didn’t know it was OK to pick your own start date. I would literally finish work on a Friday, move on Saturday, unpack on Sunday and go to work Monday morning (even when I moved across state lines).
In hindsight, I could have asked for time to find housing. This is a normal request that employers will accommodate if they value their employees.
Lesson 3: Be a Hometown Explorer
We lived in Southwest VA until my husband started grad school. We moved to a new apartment building in Lynchburg, Virginia.
For everyone who loves this city (and everyone that loves to bash it), I actually appreciate it more as a hub between a lot of great things. I learned to love exploring nearby towns.
Lesson 4: Keep Everything on the Cloud
We lived there until an incident with a stove fire ousted us from the unit. We lived in another unit for almost a year until the original unit was repaired. Then, we decided to upgrade our living situation and shed some of the painful fire memories. We chose a basement apartment in a restored factory in Downtown Lynchburg.
We didn’t know that 3 inches of water would fill the floor when it rained. So, we moved up two levels. Once they fixed the leak, we moved back down into one of the basement units. The one on our lease was never fully repaired.
Both of these unfortunate housing issues reinforced to me that I needed a cloud-based copy of all my important documents. Previously, I only had a fire-proof and water-proof box. If the information is on the cloud, you can take insurance calls on your lunch break or make appointments while driving to clients.
Lesson 5: No Help is Better than Bad Help
We hired movers to help us move between units after our basement apartment flooded. They never showed. We kept calling and we got a run-around that made it sound like they intentionally double-booked. Although it seems obvious, it’s an area where reading more reviews would have helped. Those kinds of incidents do show up in the ratings.
Image Source: https://www.starcitymovingservices.com/service-area/
Next, I became pregnant with our son and we moved to a small property owned by a family member. I became grateful for the outdoor space as COVID-19 made us all stay home. After eight years in the area, we decided to stay in Central Virginia. So, we purchased our first home where we currently reside.
Sometimes, people ask me if I finally feel “at home.” While I love my house, I’ve had many homes — no matter how long I was in them.