Don’t put down roots, spread them! Why moving and living in different places is good for you

By Jessamy Baldwin

Over the course of my life, I’ve lived in Guernsey, Dorset, Leamington Spa, Malawi, London, New Zealand and now Bristol. I’ve been constantly on the move.

I’ve had 17 (!) bedrooms full of my moveable detritus. And that’s not counting the hundreds of hotel rooms, hostel bunks, tents and AirBnbs I’ve been lucky enough to home for a few days whilst travelling. I swear I’ve unpacked and repacked more trunks and suitcases than an aircraft luggage hold can stow. And, I know there will be lots more roaming to come; especially now I’m married to a pilot.

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Moving addresses, starting fresh and beginning a new chapter are all really good things. Great, in fact, contrary to what many think.

 Whilst the average Brit will move five times during their lifetime, it seems many would rather stick pins in their eyes. Research by E.ON found that moving can be more stressful than a relationship breakdown, divorce or even a new job. What’s more, the stress can supposedly last more than three months!

The poll of 2,000 adults found that almost two in three (61 per cent) placed the process of moving at the top of their stress list.

 

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Now I’ve moved into my first proper ‘home’ – complete with garden, puppy and even my own dressing room (sorry Dave) – I can definitely see how things can get stressful, very quickly. One minute you’re unpacking boxes, then next you’re crying over wedding china that got smashed in the moving truck and you’ve lost the dustpan and brush somewhere between Guernsey and the mainland.

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But, moving is GOOD for the mind and soul – despite the initial hassles.

Change helps you grow. If you’re stuck in a rut, bored of your routine and have ‘fallen out of love’ with your surroundings, relocation can do wonders.

 

One of the greatest instigators of unhappiness is boredom. So, if you’re always doing the same things, in the same place with the same people, you’re bound to become more than just a little restless.  Despite the stressful elements of relocating, the challenges and changes force us out of our comfort zones.

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When I was living in New Zealand, I had to find a new job, buy a new car, navigate a new hometown and get to grips with a whole new culture – all on the other side of the planet.

 

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Safe to say, there was never a dull moment. I remember the drive from the airport after 30 hours of travelling being a blur of exhaustion, homesickness and sheep, a lot of sheep.

 

But, within a few months, I’d found a job I loved, friends to laugh with, I’d seen some of the most beautiful places on earth, I’d learnt some basic Te Reo (Mauri language) and experienced countless adventures with my now husband.

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Living somewhere new allows you to diversify your social circle.

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If you’ve always lived in the same place, you may have a really fantastic, solid group of family and friends who know each other inside out. But, meeting new people encourages us to have new conversations and accept other ways of thinking.

 

Whether it’s new neighbours, new colleagues or new gym instructors, you never know where an acquaintance may lead – friendship, romance… who knows? Whilst living in Malawi I met some of my best friends, who I still see regularly today. From arriving on the African continent not knowing a soul, to sleeping under the stars at Lake Malawi surrounded by new mates and teaching 100 wonderful children English every day, I would never have met those amazing people if I hadn’t had the guts to move.

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Will Smith said recently in a viral video about skydiving: “You realise that the point of maximum danger is the point of minimum fear. It was bliss. The lesson for me was… God placed the best things in life on the other side of terror.”

 

Travelling, buying a house, falling in love, getting married, having children, starting a new career. All the best things in life require a leap of faith or shunning of fear.

Meeting new people can also put current friendships into perspective. Who makes the effort to keep in touch for example? Whose values and priorities simply don’t fit in with your own anymore? It’s OK to let go of these friendships. Over the years, you’ll have lots of friends, but if you’re lucky, you’ll hang on to a precious few who will stand the test of time and distance. When you’re not just a 10 minute drive away for coffee, but a 10 hour plane journey or 5 hour train ride, you’ll see who your real friends are.

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Moving, for most, also means you don’t accumulate too much paraphernalia. I may be the exception to the rule as I grew up in a very full house (photographs, flowers, rugs, cushions, tupperware, cats – everywhere ) and the predisposition to hoard seems to have been transmitted. BUT, I am becoming better. Moving into my first marital home meant throwing out the 4 bin bags of soft toys my parents stored in their loft for years (bless them!) and I have to say, it was definitely time. But moving every so often means you keep things streamlined and for good reason.

 

Every time I do move, I clear out my belongings and incidentally discover clothes, books or ‘treasures’ – as my Nana used to call them – that I’d long forgotten. A nice experience in and of itself.

When you find yourself living in a new place, you’ll also have the opportunity to try out new restaurants, cafes, bars, theatres, walks, parks, libraries and hobbies. You’ll find yourself looking forward to your time off. Since moving to Bristol, this has been one of my favourite things to do. I’m constantly hunting down new activities in the area, brunch spots to test, places to walk our new puppy Kiwi and I even dragged Dave to a yoga class the other day. The new = the fun.

You only live once.

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Not new information I grant you, but sometimes we need reminding. Life is short, really short, so why wouldn’t you want to live through as many experiences as possible and in as many places as you can imagine.

 

Nothing is permanent, if you don’t like where you are, move on. The important thing is staying curious. Curious for new experiences and new adventures.

People often used to ask me ‘Where do you think you’ll put down roots?’

The older I get, the more I realise that I want to spread as many roots I can.

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After all, a tree doesn’t plant one singular root into the earth. A tree spreads its roots far and wide, incidentally keeping its body more grounded the further the stems spread.

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Gone are the days of settling in your home town and never moving or experiencing life in another place. In a world where people are travelling more than ever, working internationally and we are able to see what other countries have to offer at the click of a button or swipe of a finger, there’s no excuse not to explore.

 

You’ll want stories to tell your grandchildren after all, right?

There’s a whole world out there and remember, in the words of J.R.R Tolkien, ‘Not all those who wander are lost’.

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“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.” Albert Einstein

This article appeared in The Guernsey Press newspaper on May 6th 2017.

 

 

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