Are You an ‘Internal Migrant’?

By    May 15, 2013

mobility

Last year, I relocated from Austin to San Francisco for work. That’s a pretty long haul—more than 1,700 miles. This year, I made that long haul again to settle back in Austin and join the SpareFoot team. During 2012 and 2013, my whole life practically has been stuffed into moving boxes. With two halfway-across-the-country moves under my belt, I’m done with packing and unpacking for a while (well, almost done).

By contrast, my mom has lived in the same two-story, red-brick townhouse since the 1970s. My NFL-quilt-covered twin bed no longer is there, but Mom and her home are. Other than some internal and external cosmetic changes over the years, my childhood home in Kansas pretty much looks the same as it did when I was a geeky adolescent.

Like many Americans, my mom has stayed put. Her roots are deeply planted in suburban Kansas City. On the other hand, I’ve been a bit more of a wanderer. Since graduating from college, my career has taken me to Missouri, Illinois, California and Texas. It turns out I’m what Gallup, the polling organization, calls an “internal migrant.”

Gallup studies show 8 percent of the world’s adults—about 381 million people—have moved from one city or area within their country to another in the past five years. Just think about how many moving boxes that is.

And when it comes to moving, the U.S. ranks as one of the most mobile countries on the planet, according to Gallup. In Gallup surveys conducted in 2011 and 2012, nearly one-fourth of Americans (24 percent) said they’d moved within the U.S. during the past five years. (Although I wasn’t questioned by Gallup, I certainly fall into that group.) Regarding internal mobility, the U.S. is similar to New Zealand (26 percent), Finland (23 percent) and Norway (22 percent).

moving-day

More than a decade ago, psychiatrist Dr. Fred Goodwin, former director of the National Institute of Mental Health, explained Americans’ mobility mindset on CNN. He described the U.S. as a “country of movers.” Moving, he said, “is as American as apple pie.”

Goodwin theorized that our moving mentality may be linked to our immigrant culture. In fact, he said, this risk-taking, stimulus-seeking trait may have been inherited from our forbearers, many of whom made dangerous, lengthy treks here to try to grab a piece of the American Dream. (Both of my dad’s parents came to the U.S. from Ireland.)

Goodwin did aptly note that the relocation journeys of today are “puny” in comparison to those taken by our ancestors. Can you imagine having moved on the Mayflower ship rather than in a Mayflower moving truck?

If you are planning to move—by land or by sea—you might want to ease the transition by heeding Goodwin’s advice. On CNN, he suggested networking in advance in your new community—find a “sponsor” to introduce you around and hang out where your neighbors do. “Don’t go to work in the first week or two. Be there with your family,” Goodwin said.

As for my recent return to Austin, I’m fortunate to have had a built-in “family” here already, since I was away for only a year and had lived here from 1999 to 2012. One of the nice things about being at SpareFoot—other than the paycheck, of course—is that I’m able to add many new members to my “family.” For the foreseeable future, I’ll be hanging up my “internal migrant” hat.

Images courtesy of brianashtonacademy.co.uk and 3.bp.blogspot.com

John is editor of The SpareFoot Blog. He first moved to Austin in 1999, when downtown Austin wasn't nearly as lively as it is today. John's loves include pizza, University of Kansas basketball and puns.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jtorres814 Juan Torres

    Being national moving month, you can count me and my wife to Gallup’s list of internal migrants. I’m excited to head to Austin and join SpareFoot. Looking forward to meeting you John.

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