While most people move an average of five to seven years, there are those who remain in the same home for the long term.
Some might consider this situation dull and uneventful, but as someone who has lived most of his adult life in the same town and in only one house for 43 years, then in a condo for the last five years just three miles away, I can attest to it having some very satisfying benefits.
Within the year, I’ve been involved in two home sales involving young families relocating to another state, and both couples, under 45 with young children, appeared very excited about moving on to a new living experience. I wished them Godspeed.
As for my wife and me, we’ve passed up several opportunities through the years to relocate, perhaps influenced by our early married life which, for a number of reasons, involved five moves in less than five years. When we moved into our Westchester home after this peripatetic existence, which we found most disruptive and unpleasant, we adopted the oft-repeated phrase that the only way we were leaving this house would be in a pine box.
Morbid as that may sound, we were serious and our longevity in the house would attest to it. But, alas, all things do change eventually if one waits long enough. As empty-nesters living in a home with six bedrooms, we decided to downsize to a new condo, but in the same town.
As I look back on the benefits of staying the course as town residents, I’ve learned that owning a home is so much more than the square footage of one’s living space. The experience extends beyond the footprint to the property line, street, neighborhood, community, and most of all, to the people with whom we relate over a long period of time.
When we first moved to this area, my wife and I were the “kids” on the block and the majority of other residents were seniors, many of whom had bought their properties when they were unheated summer cottages. By the time we arrived, the homes had been converted to year-round residences and slowly they began to change hands to younger couples.
Then, we watched as those small houses developed larger footprints and, in some cases, were demolished to make room for new construction.
Many neighbors had come and gone, but we remained constant, and eventually became the most long-term citizens on our street.
We have become human time machines to the passing world, observing both subtle and seismic changes from the same perspective, relating to all of our neighbors and service providers as real people and friends, rather than the more anonymous existence we experienced in New York City.
The very first person we met in town was George, our mailman, and we missed him when he retired. We became friends with Jimmy from UPS who tended to our needs in our home business for more than 20 years until he too retired, but we still keep up with him when my wife meets him in the supermarket.
In town I go to the same pharmacy, that until recently, had been owned by the same family since the early 1940s. I say hello to the new owner after relating to the former owner for almost 30 years. My wife and I frequently tell the story of the time our baby got sick when I was away on business and that pharmacist personally delivered the needed medication to our home.
As long-term homeowners, my wife and I developed strong ties to our community and enjoy participating with other residents in the governmental process, joining the Chamber of Commerce and pulling together for common causes from preserving open space to smart-growth development and joining forces to clean the roads on Earth Day.
Our daughter benefitted by being educated in just one school system, remaining friends to this day with children she met in kindergarten.
And, I became friends with service providers who made our lives easier. Martino the landscaper, Mike the pool man, Franco the carpenter, Butch the electrician and Ron at my car repair shop who knows every need and quirk of my car, among many others.
When I’m walking down a main street in town and someone honks, waves and calls me by name, I feel embraced by my lifestyle choice.
Is it these endearing things that have kept my wife and me in the same place for so long, or is it that we’ve not encountered the situations that most frequently have people move?
Those reasons include a home becomes too small; a desire to upgrade; determining that you have made a mistake in the home you purchased; a job transfer; personal relationships (marriage, divorce); neighborhood changes; to see one’s family more often – or less often; retirement; health problems; preferring to move, rather than fixing up; desiring a lifestyle change; and becoming an empty-nester.
Yes, finally, it was the last two items on the list that convinced us to move to a new home. But the town? We decided to stay put, thank you.
Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest running public relations agency in Westchester (www.PrimaveraPR.com), specializing in lifestyles, real estate and development. His real estate site is www.PrimaveraRealEstate.com. To engage the services of The Home Guru and his team to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.