American Culture

American mobility: all the places I've lived – 2011 update

If you’ve been around awhile, then yes, you have seen this item before, a couple of times. It originally posted on Jan. 25, 2008 and was updated on April 19, 2010. Unfortunately, I tend to move a lot, and it’s about to happen again. So every time I pull up the tent and head off somewhere else, I’ll be refreshing the post and giving people a chance to offer their thoughts on their own mobility and that of their families, friends and neighbors.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s back to packing.

We’ve become a very mobile culture. Education, jobs, adventure, marriage – there are a lot of things that call us away from home in ways that were unprecedented even a generation ago.

I’m like a lot of people in that I’ve moved around a lot, especially in the past few years. For instance, this coming Saturday will mark my 15th move since fall of 1993. Three or four times I was in a place for a couple years or more, so that means there have also been times when I moved more than once a year, with all the stress that comes with it. (And this doesn’t even account for the times I moved back into the family home through the years – summers during college, for instance; I had multiple tours at 3870 Eastview Dr.)

Move 15, mercifully, isn’t a full-on pack-up-your-whole-life deal – I’m just relocating from Uptown Denver out to the Highlands neighborhood in the northwest part of the city. But still, packing is packing, hating every goddamned second of it is hating every goddamned second of it and moving is moving. So I thought I’d share my pain.

Here’s the list of all the places I’ve lived in my life (that I can remember):

So, how about you? I’m guessing you’ve moved about a bit as well, huh?

Is this typical? What does all this mobility mean, I wonder….

36 replies »

  1. I don’t know what’s more impressive, the fact that you moved so many times, or that you listed them all and made links to Google maps. I only count major out of state moves. So for me it was California for 2 months, Tennessee for 5 years, and Buffalo for the rest. Total moves to different cribs, 6.

  2. Let’s see, since 1991 (graduating from high school), I’ve lived in 3 different dorms in PA; 2 different apartments in Boulder, CO; 2 different apartments in Westminster, CO; a house in Northglenn, CO; and now another house in Broomfield, CO.

    What this makes me wonder about is those people who live in one state but travel around the country, making money in different states and thus having to file tax returns in multiple states. When I lived in PA, I had to file a federal return, two different state returns, and a “township” return too. Given things like this, how will it affect how we vote, where our loyalties lie, etc?

  3. Wow. I have no idea what all my old addresses were, but here’s my moving history:

    Jacksonville, Florida
    Five miles south of South Hill, VA
    Boydton, VA (three houses)
    Mayo, FL
    Charlottesville, VA (one dorm room, one apartment, one frat house wtih three different rooms)
    Anniston, Alabama
    Hotel rooms in 11 states while on tour
    Anchorage, Alaska
    Fairbanks, Alaska
    Port Orchard, WA
    Seattle, WA (three apartments and one home)
    Kingwood, TX
    Boulder, CO
    Evanston, IL
    Park Ridge, IL
    Boulder, CO

  4. JS:
    We’ve lived in two of the same towns. Evanston and Park Ridge.

    I even know where Mayo is….what were you doing there?


  5. Jeff:

    That’s pretty freakin’ amazing. Most people who live within 50 miles of Mayo don’t know where it is!

    Actually, I was on a farm halfway between Mayo and Branford on US 27. My father was born and raised there, and I lived with relatives and worked in chicken houses, tobacco fields, watermelon fields, and the like.

    I lived in Evanston for a short while when making the transition to a new job before bringing the family out and buying a house in … Park Ridge.

    So, what’s your connection with those places?

  6. JS:
    I lived in Evanston when I went to Northwestern, and rented an apartment in downtown Park Ridge for about 6 months. I really liked Park Ridge as it had a nice vibe….quiet.

    I go up US 27 a couple times a year.

    I didn’t know you were a Florida boy. Whenever I get in a group of people that are my age, I’m usually the only native in the room…Everybody is from somewhere else…..Damn Yankees taking over the state:)


  7. Actually, Jeff, I’m not a Florida boy. I’m a Virginia boy (Southside). I just have a huge number of relatives in the Lafayette, Suwannee, Dixie, and Columbia County area of Florida. I just lived there for a short while.

    I’m heading down that way on Monday, as a matter of fact.

    As for Park Ridge, I lived within easy walking distance of the Dee Road station, which took me to NW Station in the Loop which was about two blocks away from my office.

    Very convenient to O’Hare, as well.

  8. JS:

    I remember accidently getting off at the Dee Road station, more than once. It was a pretty long trudge back to downtown. I was back there in 2006, and was surprised at how much it’s changed. Downtown Park Ridge looks the same, but it’s all built up on Northwest Highway. Evanston has never changed, which is a good thing. In high school, we lived in the Winnetka area for four years, and I’ve always had an affinity for the Northn Shore. That being said, Park Ridge was still one of the better suburbs of Chicago.

    Have fun on your visit, and bring a coat….it’s supposed to get cold again.


  9. I’ll do that!

    Gosh. I never thought I’d ever meet anyone else who had heard of Mayo. Next time your’re going through there, let me know and I’ll give you a tip or two about little-known springs in the area. Nothin’ like coolin’ off in a spring.

  10. I’m moved 12-14 times over 25 years, the most recent one just completed this past week. I counted temporary moves and base moves, all college and work related.

    The thing that strikes me is how much stuff has accumulated. No wonder storage units are such a great investment.

    In comparison, the previous generation moved 2 times.

  11. Hey there Dr. Sammy,

    We are trying to do a presentation on US American mobility and were wondering if you could tell us the reasons of all your moving about?

    Greetz from Germany

  12. I’ve moved (apart from when I lived at home and my family moved) in about a brazillion different places. There’s no way in hell I’d be able to remember the addresses of all of them. Most of the moves were during my college days when roommates came and went and so did I.

    I was born in Pocatello, Idaho (where we lived in 4 different houses, not at once) then our family moved to Mobile, AL when we were really on our way to Austin, TX….some bad judgement there staying in Mobile oh boy…we lived in 2 different houses there.

    Then I moved to Tuscaloosa to attend college, that’s where the haze sets in..not from anything I was doing though ;P. I think I lived in 7 different places during that time. Two of them in a dorm.

    After college I lived in:

    Greensboro, AL – my first job, which was only 40 miles from Tuscaloosa, so it wasn’t too much of a move, although it was like going back to 1950’s Alabama.

    Back to Tuscaloosa for 2 years doing odd jobs after I quit that sh*tty job in Greensboro.

    Back to Mobile for 2 years where I lived in one place while trying my hand at several different jobs. But I really couldn’t find any meaningful work there with my degree, sooo…

    I came to San Antonio in ’93 where my brother lives and stayed with him for two weeks putting in applications. The first place I put in an application eventually accepted me so I moved here where I have lived in 8 different places, mostly apartments. This last place I am in I am buying and have been there since ’01.

    Oh, I’ve been at the same company since then, too. I think I’ll only move again if I either get fired and can’t afford my mortgage anymore, or my house burns down.

    23 places in all, it looks….

    Does helping your friends/family move count as moving, too? That’d at least quadruple that number.

  13. the house i grew up in, then i moved out. life was great then i met the girl…
    moved her in with me and we moved five times in 6ix years. then she moved again only this time without me. and i haven’t moved since, i’ve been here since 2002, but i’m picking up the keys to my next house tonight.

    i think it’s easy for some people (apartment people) to move all the time. they do not have a house full of furniture, a garage full off tools, dogs in the yard, kids in school, so moving next month isn’t that big of a deal.

  14. Not counting a few friends’ couches, I’ve lived in twenty-two places now. And I’m feeling the urge to move.

  15. I think you have me beat on numbers, but not necessarily countries, lets see…

    Berhampore, Wellington, New Zealand
    Birkenhead, Auckland, New Zealand
    Northcote, Auckland, New Zealand
    Hedensted, Denmark
    Søvind, Denmark
    Horsens, Denmark
    Sejet, Denmark
    Northcote, Auckland, New Zealand
    Kings Heath, Birmingham, England
    Branthwaite, Cumbria, England
    Wilton, Cumbria, England
    Asby, Cumbria, England
    Calderbridge, Cumbria, England
    Colindale, London, England
    Odense Ø, Denmark
    Odense S, Denmark
    Putney, London, England
    Wolverhampton, England (3 addresses)
    Bo’ness, Scotland.

    • Megan: Sweet fancy tap-dancing Jebus! I mean, my family got run out of a lot of towns, but usually they didn’t have to leave the entire country… 🙂

      So, a Wolves fan, are we?

  16. i still live in my home town beautiful paramount ca, and the house i’m moving to is three houses away from my mom’s house, where i grew up.

  17. This is why I don’t even own one complete shelf of books. Grew to hate moving them more than I liked owning them.

  18. No moving for me anytime soon, in fact I’m getting quotes for a new roof tomorrow.

  19. @Dr. Slammy: Thank you. I’m a mommas boy from a big family that are very close to each other. there are benefits to staying in your home town, like the other day i was at a red light, and a friend i have known since we were kids broke down across the street. so i helped him get home but the funny thing is the first thing he said to me was “this is the best thing about not moving away. I knew somebody i knew would be by soon enough to give me a hand” and this isn’t just for those from a small town. i live in big city usa. losangeles county, 464 kids in my graduating class.

    and no, i have not seen this post before today. this is my first time here.
    you picked up a new reader today.

  20. 1989-90 Newell St, Painesville, OH (2 different apartments)
    1990-1993 Sheldon Rd, Berea, OH
    1993-1996 Dellbank Drive, Cleveland, OH
    1996 Webb Rd, Lakewood, OH
    1997-1998 S. Lincoln St., Kent, OH
    1998 Glenwood St, North Canton, OH
    1998-99 Hilliard Blvd, Rocky River, OH
    1999-2002 Riverside Dr, Atlanta, GA
    2002-2003 Downwinds Lane, Lake Worth, FL
    2003-04 Glenwood St., North Canton, OH
    2004-07 W. 140th St, Cleveland, OH
    2007-08 Edgewater Dr, Lakewood, OH
    2008-10 Huntington Rd, Shaker Hts, OH

    I lived in North Canton from age 6 until 1989 (commuted as an undergrad). We moved about 8 times before I was 6 (my dad worked mostly for the FAA), including 4 times in 1 year when I was 5 (my mom said she wouldn’t move any more after we moved to North Canton and she hasn’t–except for moving her daughters around).

  21. it’s impressive to see how much this subject resonates with people. it’s impressive to see how many places others have lived (makes me feel a little less freakish – i’m on my 21st place since high school). it’s also impressive to see how open people are with their histories in this regard.

    relationships move us around more than they used to. a hundred years ago, it wasn’t too uncommon for people to live full lives without ever going 10 miles away from the houses they were born in. on the flip side though, empires and the promise of riches tend to exert a good degree of the moving itch on people. one of the things that makes it so easy to move is the thought in the backs of our minds that says “well, if i don’t like it, i can always move back”. when i think of those people who would move to the New World and would later send for wife and children, all the while knowing they’d never again see their home countries …. i find that sort of finality just mind-boggling. we can’t even conceive of that in our jet-setting age.

  22. Harbor point? Did you see the ghost of poor Sarah Pryor there? At least you were next to the Bayside (old) Convention centre, where, every 6 months or so, you can buy all kinds of outdated electronic crap for 1/3 of it’s list price!!!

  23. I was filling out a job application when I realized I can’t remember all the places I’ve lived in the last four years. I came up with 5 places, with rough addresses and dates; and gave up. The prior 24 years were no different.
    Lately, however; I’ve been meeting more and more people who apparently grew up looking at the same four walls. For a whole 18-20 years. I’ve only known 1 or 2 other people who can say they moved at least 25 times before turning 18, so I really didn’t think constant relocation was common. The odd part is that all those childhood moves were within the same two states.

    I’ve actually noticed that I tend to get sick of a place after a few months now. I rearrange my furniture a lot, but sooner or later I start to think , “I have to get out of here” or “Wow, rent is so much cheaper in ‘x’ town”. I have a child and in an effort to provide stability for her, I’ve decided not to move again unless something strange or outside of my control happens. If our apartment managers want to raise our rent when our lease is up, we will probably move out of necessity (the market rate is $250 a month more than we currently pay. I can’t afford more). Otherwise, I plan on staying here out of sheer refusal to leave. I’m sick of moving. I’m finally more sick of moving than I’m sick of the city I live in. With a little luck, maybe we’ll still be here in 5 years.

  24. I’m a military brat and veteran. My MAJOR moves have been:
    Okinawa, Washington, Texas, Okinawa, Japan, Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi, California, Mississippi, Texas, Mississippi, Germany, England, and Arkansas.

    These do not include quarters or command changes. I made my (hopefully) last move in December to my first house. Yes, it’s been all rentals or gov’t quarters until now. I think I can probably add up about 35 moves, all told. It’s rather nice to be finally putting down roots.

  25. Well, let’s see, Wichita, KS; Tulsa, OK; Atlanta, GA; St Louis, MO; Duluth, MN; Chicago, IL where I started kindergarten. Then back to Tulsa where I went to 3 different first grades. But for myself as an adult, yes, I’ve moved quite a few times, but not as much as you.
    Basic Training in NJ 2 months
    Advanced Training in NJ for 2 months
    1 year at Ft. Sill, OK
    Friedburg, Germany, two barracks on the same post in two years.
    1 year in Tulsa, two houses.
    Emporia, KS for college first an apartment for 1 year.
    Then the dorms in-and-out every stinkin’ summer for 3 years. Different house each summer, two different dorms.
    Married and moved into an apartment. for 1 year
    Another apartment for a year.
    Duplex for 3 years.
    In-laws basement for 2 months. That sucked.
    Hannibal, MO apartment for 1 year.
    “Dorm parents” for 3 years.
    House for 1 year.
    Move to current house in Kansas.
    I have a couple places where I had 3 years and the current one is going on 9 years, so I guess I’ve settled for a while.

  26. I have fond memories of your pad on Darley Avenue, Sam. You’ve had a few moves since then! I have been reading the comments and pondering how much our electronic connections may make it easier emotionally to move. Our relationships have become so much more mobile, too, with Facebook and email and online communities. I sometimes feel closer to friends overseas via regular Facebook check-ins (even just via news feeds) than I do with friends who lives nearby yet whom I rarely see due to our silly-busy schedules. We are clearly in the midst of major social shifts with regard to mobility and communications, and I think the two have important interrelationships.

    • I think you’re right, Wendy. Depending on the structure of a relationship you cam leave and maybe it stays as strong as it was before.