Episode-1459- The Case for Putting Down Roots — 22 Comments

  1. Looking forward to listening to this show as we are getting ready (fingers crossed!) to close on our quarter acre in 27 days. I’ve gone over to check the property about 47 times, at all times of the day & evening and I have probably spoken to more of the people who live in that neighborhood than I have at the townhouse I’ve lived in for 14 years.
    I am looking forward to putting Permaculture principles to work, not in the sticks but in a place where people can see my work and where I could maybe make a difference. I am only in my late 40’s but I think about growing older and I’d like the security of having community near me. If that’s what I want, well, I’d better get to work now!
    (by the way, while we were selling the townhouse, I made sure to use all the tips you gave out over the years and we sold the house in less than 2 weeks and had many, many offers on it!)

  2. I won’t get to listen to this till later, but this is a subject that crosses my mind all the time. Things have changed so much.

  3. Yep… my grandparents still live in the house my great grandparents lived in. In fact my grandmother was born 2miles from it. I lived there as kid. Thats where I learned my values in life.

  4. Thanks Jack – I finished yesterday’s show this morning, and was planning to email you today to ask you if you’d do a show expounding on this subject. Can’t wait to listen.

  5. This is an interesting topic and probably one of the grayest “which one should I do”. I was going to quibble with the title, but now I actually like it after listening to the podcast. It’s well written “the case for…”. This argument definitely SHOULD be made, but I definitely don’t think that “putting down roots” IS the only answer, for numerous reasons you’ve mentioned. I think you’ve hit the “why we’ve got here” head on. The reality is things are changing at a pace that, it would seem, barely anybody can keep up. In order to make it in this progressing world depends on one’s ability to adapt to the changing times. (Adapting is always necessary, but these adaptations are moving so incredibly fast). I think this is one reason that large corporations are going to get crushed in the future because of their, in general, inability to adapt to the changing times fast enough to be relevant. But we’ll see.

    My answer to this, and just about every question it would seem in life is to have one foot on either side of the fence. Act for permanence but be mentally ok with it being temporary. This is how I view what we do. I want the things I want now, and I want to be able to live how I want to now, so why shouldn’t I live this way? I want nut trees. So that means I either have to buy a place that has them, or plant them. Well I planted them. Even if I have to move, I can ALWAYS do everything all over again (it would be fun too), so its no big deal. My worry is that often times people’s nostalgia and over-attachment can cost them their livelihood, their happiness, their children’s livelihoods, and even their life. Let’s say for example that I am not willing to evacuate here because a bad hurricane is coming. Where are my goats going to go? Well that could cost me my life.

    I think the same could be said about Jews in World War 2. They grew up where they did their grandparents and grandparents and so on built the communities that they lived in and even though there were “warning signs” they held on and stayed where they were.

    The even deeper question is pondering “would I stay and fight for where I live”. I’m not sure you can develop that level of personal connection with a place unless you’ve built that history from sticking it out, of which just about nobody (it would seem to me) has done that in decades. I think this is actually one of our most pressing problems in society. It’s not just about “where you live” but the people you associate with.

    I should add a bit more about myself. I went to 7+ elementary schools, 4 middle schools, 1 high school, and since then have lived in 5 different apartments, 2 town houses, and 3 houses. I’d say unless something radically changes, I found the best place I’ve lived, and is probably just as good as any for sticking around.

  6. I’m almost sure that I’ll regret listening to this episode, but I can’t wait. Maybe it’s the push I need to make-up my mind about staying or going.

  7. Jack this has been the single most haunting question of my lifetime. As a kid we moved every year. I never went to the same school two years in a row. As an adult I married a military man we moved less than I did as a kid but still at least every couple of years. My kids went to a minimum of 7 different schools growing up.

    I have no idea what it would feel like to be attached to a place or a house. I look at my husbands family and none of them would ever move even though where they live there are no “job” opportunities (to me the area seems so economically depressed) my sister in law has a masters in business but works at the courthouse for twelve bucks an hour. To me thats insane!

    Recently we find ourselves looking to settle down and build the farm we always dreamed of but how do we choose? There is no place that we have been that we think “oh we really loved it there the people are great”. If we go to where we have family then we sacrifice a ton financially not to mention all the heavy religious stuff in the area. They are definitely not pro liberty, but they are family and we love them.

    Then we think about the free state project and being part of a community that is working toward something that is very important to us. Being a part of that would be very neat and is tempting. What do you think of the free state project? Can it really be done? Can New Hampshire become Americas Hong Kong?
    I think you another episode on this. I still don’t know how to choose.

    • I have found myself in a very similar situation. It’s plausible you may need to let your hair down, wherever your at, and tell yourself you can stay here. That you start to convince yourself that you can see yourself staying there. If anything I think it makes you start to take note of what you appreciate and focus a little less on the bad. If the bad still overcome, then you have your answer.

      I think when I moved to where I do now, I was already opened to “loving it” and over time I just keep saying it, which is making it more and more the case. There are some negative things here for sure but instead of it making me think the grass is “Greener” in some other state, I go, well maybe I should move, just over a Parish line so I don’t have to deal with Parish B.S.. Not this is a very different mindset than moving “just anywhere else”. I think mostly me wanting a place to love had more to do with it.

      I think permaculturists fall into this trap of “its more awesome where they live because they can grow X,Y,Z” when in reality anywhere you look in the world people have adapted and come to love where they lived. Coldest of the cold, hottest of the hot. I have NO IDEA why people want to live in the desert, but yet, people do and have for a long time.

  8. Among all the other good advice you gave in this episode, I think the dating advice was some of the best I had ever heard. Trust your gut.

  9. Great show. It was very timely for me and my family. I just retired after 26 years in the military. We moved constantly and are desirous of putting down roots. One benefit of living a lot of different places is you figure out what you like and don’t like. For the past 20 years we have kept a file called “The House.” We saved all manner of information on what we want and don’t want in The house. Moving that often we rented everywhere we went, so have no equity to work with. Fortunately we have been fiscally responsible and have set aside a large down payment. We also have developed strong opinions on what we like/dislike with regards to location. My wife is from the left coast and we have no desire to live there. I grew up in northern MN, which is a non-starter for my wife. Neither of us is especially close to our family, so we are starting from a blank slate. Sorting locations by what is important to us, eastern TN came up on top.

  10. If I could do it all over again, I’d marry before 25, have the kids before 30, and stayed put in the same place.

    The modern American family (mom, dad, and 2 kids and the dog) is incomplete. A more desirable family structure is the 3-4 generation family living in close proximity. This includes great grandparents, grandparents, father and mother and uncles, kids and cousins all living closely. Kids marry early on and usually live at home until marriage (especially girls). Grandparents move into their kids home when elderly instead of into the old folks home. America has lost that and I doubt this model will ever come back.

    • Now that I am having our first kid, I talk about the “having kids later” thing all the time. The older you get the further away from seeing the world through your kids eyes. (Empathy)

      If anything, if you think you’ll love your kids, wouldn’t you want to spend the most number of years with them as possible?

      • That is so true. When you have your kids in your early to mid-20’s, you get to see your kids become men and women and have kids of their own and maybe even great grandchildren. More importantly, you get to be a grandparent when you are still able to help your adult children and not a load on them. The reason so many people send their parents to the old folks home is because their parents get old smack in the middle of rising teenagers. So grandma gets the short end of the stick. My last grandparent died in 2012 (91 yrs). I was 41. My last great grandmother died when I was 25 (100 yrs) . That’s a well lived life for those grandparents and great grandparents to see your 4th generation into adulthood.

      • Couldn’t agree more. If we would have had our child about a year ago my great grandmother could see her great, great grandchild. Funnily enough if my dad would have named me inline with the rest of them I would have been in the guiness book of world records (apparently) tied with the most number of consecutive generations alive with the same name. When I was born Gover Gilbert the 1st was alive, my dad was the 4th. My dad didn’t like his name so….. that changed. hah. I actually got to meet the 2nd when I was like 9 years old.

  11. Been busy the last couple of days, so haven’t had time to look at the site, much less listen to the podcasts, but this is a topic I have an opinion on. In my previous life (1st Career), I was one of the mobile generation (late boomer). Live many places. 2nd life, new career, new family, I’ve lived in one apartment (1 year), one rental house (2 1/2 years), and one home (13 1/2 years, so far). Will we move? Maybe, in four or five years, but maybe not. There’s something to be said about putting down roots.

  12. Loved this show! After college and getting married my wife and I set a goal of moving as needed for our careers so that we could settle in one place before our kids started school. I grew up in the same town with both sets of grandparents near by and my great-grandparents still on “the farm” an hour away. I always wanted to be back home where my wife and I could be close to family and the kids could have their grand parents close. Two years ago I was able to get the last promotion I was pushing for within an hour of my home town.

    We bought a home outside the city limits but 5 mins to a Lowes and movie theater. My mom picks the kids up from daycare. My mother-in-law lives out back in a duplex that dad and I built ourselves. We have 1.5 acres overlooking two small lakes and are looking at buying the 5 acres and cabin that surround us when our 80+ year old neighbor gets ready to sell. After moving 8 times in between the ages of 23 and 33 we may never move again.

    In my opinion, a lot of young folks could follow this plan. Get out and move around while you are young. If you are going to buy a house, learn what you are doing and do your best to get a good deal. We bought four houses while moving around, three of them built in 1984. I spent nights and weekends laying tile, painting, putting in new cabinet tops etc. and we made money on every one of them. Set a goal and when you get there reassess the situation and decide if you are in the right spot. Then sink your roots in, plant some trees, and build your family and community.

  13. I have yet to listen to this, but the title hits home. I truly want to put down roots, I had roots at one time while raising my family in Alaska and then Montana. Then I was blindsided after 25 years of marriage with the untimely death of my spouse, the loss of my home and business and having to “move” to work and survive as I turned 50… Hey I’m now 55 and have moved at least 7 times in the last 5 years, teaching and now renting (losing my home in a short sale) and being more or less a homeless traveler in the summer months. I would love nothing more than to have a place I could call “home”… permanently, but until I put in at least 5 more years to reach retirement in AK, I will ramble back and forth to see my family (grandchildren) in MT. Would love nothing more than to work on the land and once again make a house a home… Many people are doing what they have to do, simply to survive… more of us need to do what we do and view it more as living… than just surviving..

  14. I really loved this episode and, Jack, you articulated my feelings very well. I’m 28 years old and pregnant with my first child. I live in my husband’s house that he bought before we got together. It’s a nice home, but it’s really small and the backyard leaves a lot to be desired (like sunlight, for one thing!). We have lived well below our means for quite a while and now we are searching for a new home. It has ALWAYS been my goal to move as infrequently as possible. I know life changes may require moving to a different town or state or country sometimes and the fast pace of change in this world requires moving where business goes (unless telecommuting gains more popularity…which it needs to), but it’s been my dream to have a home that I can put my blood, sweat, and tears into. I also want to cultivate fruit for my community and fruit takes some time to establish. It excites me though to put down roots. I’m going to try and get my husband to listen to this so he can understand why I feel the way I do. He wants to put down roots kinda, but is more than willing to pull them up at any point whereas, I’m a little more hesitant.

    This was yet another great episode! Sometimes I think I say that way too much!

  15. I’m only 21 minutes in but, this is settling my mind as to “Did I make a good decision?” and the answer is now a resounding yes. I’ve been fortunate. I moved from Ottawa, Ontario to Prince Edward Island in 1997 as part of a large Veterans Affairs contract. I was an independent computer consultant. And for three years I had my expenses paid and I banked my per diem, I was earning in excess of 120k. I bought a piece of land here cash and had a log home built, cash. No mortgage at 37. Without going into great detail, my only setback was a divorce (no children). But at 51 I live comfortably. My roots are Prince Edward Island. This is where I will die unless something dramatic happens. My home is small, 1150 sqare feet. I heat with wood, and live a bachelor’s life. The seasonal people here are great and I’ve become good friends with one whom I raise chickens with, cost sharing.

  16. Jack,
    This episode really hit home (no pun intended). Five years ago I went 50-50 into a purchase of my first house with my girlfriend at the time. The relationship didn’t work out, and in hind sight, I probably always knew it wasn’t right. Similar to what you spoke of, I would sit and think, this would be great if only I were with someone else. I’m sure she had the exact same thing on her mind too.
    I am happy I own a home, and it is a nice house. But this isn’t where I want to be. Even when we bought it I felt like I was compromising. Again, something you touched on in the show. I was happy enough, but if I were making this journey on my own, I would have not picked this place. I knew this is the place she wanted for her and her daughter, and I was happy to settle in and make a go of it.
    Without getting into the details, I’m alone again, and ended up with the house (and the dog). I got right to doing some serious soul searching about where I wanted to live the rest of my life. It’s been a year since that all went down, and I’m twelve months into a five year plan to get myself someplace I want to be until I’m old and grey.
    Your show wasn’t a revelation, but an affirmation that I’m on the right path. In a few years the debt (other than the mortgage) will be gone, the equity will hopefully be where I need it to sell and make that last move to a homestead that I can put down my roots forever. In the meantime, I’m focusing on what I can do to better myself. I am learning new skills. I am travelling on a more self-sufficient path.
    Great show, and for me, great timing as this topic is always on my mind.

  17. Jack, Thank you for this excellent perspective and advice.

    In 2005 we purchased the home in which I grew up with one acre of view property. My folks bought it in 1961 after moving to Western WA from Eastern MT. We had plans to split the property into 3 view lots build some houses and live a good life. After 2008 the numbers didn’t line up, and in 2013 we found out a sale would net $66K below what we owed and $129K less than we paid. Our life’s savings was tied up in a property that was dragging us into the financial abyss.

    …our roots were rotten and the environment in Western WA wasn’t conducive to starting over. After some VERY tough decisions, we decided to let the property go in a short sale. We moved to FL Dec-13 to lick our wounds and be warm. In May-14, we set sail in a RV to spend the next few summers near family in WA and see if we could find someplace we could put down some new roots.

    We look forward to buying land, building a food forest and building a flock of chickens and ducks. In the mean time we appreciate the chance to help out with the Spirko homestead.

    Jack, thank you for inspiring us to Walk to Freedom. This is our “Goodbye WA” post:

    We’re enacting the “Sell your stuff, get out of debt and do what you love” method @ (great video)

    Another quote by Mark Twain has also inspired us,
    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
    Our FB page is

    I believe times WILL get tough in my lifetime…so one of our location questions is:
    “Would I want to live here if times get tough or even if they don’t?”