How it is to relocate 27 times in 29 years

A year ago I lived in Munich not even slightly knowing that I would move to Barcelona in autumn. 8 months later I live in Zurich. I am a little nomad. I am 29 years old and I have moved about 27 times. Here is my story.

One day I called my bank on the purpose to get a new security code. The nice lady on the other end told me “No problem, before we start I just have to ask you some questions about yourself and I will match it with our entry in the database”. I bet anyone would think something like I did in that moment “Piece of cake! I know myself pretty good! Hmmm caaake ❤”. She started with the basic questions about my full name, birthplace and birthday. So far so good until she asked me “What is your address?”. I told her my current one — wrong! I told her the one before — wrong too! … the truth is, I gave up after the 5th try and said embarrassed “Well, I don’t know then”.

I define one relocation as a change of a place in which I move in with all of my stuff. First I thought that 27 times does not sound like a lot, particularly because I actually just lived in 10 different cities across 4 different countries. On the other hand, it seems like a lot when I compare it to the average number of relocations people make in their entire life in Germany: 3,4. It becomes even more clear when I think about the last 12 months and where I have been.

For those who are interested: Duesseldorf (DE), Rheine (DE), Denia (ES), Pedreguer (ES), Munich (DE), Salzburg (AT), Graz (AT), Hamburg (DE), Barcelona (ES), Zurich (CH) … (order neglected)

The question I often get is “Why?”. Whenever someone asks me that, I rather prefer to say that I am in some kind of a witness-protection-program, than telling the whole story (and because it actually sounds cooler ;).

However, why did I have to relocate 27 times, although I haven’t changed a lot of cities? The simple answer: life happened. Divorce of my parents, job change of my parents, better education, limited rental agreements, scaling-down, mean landlords, not enough money, university, internship, no-subtenants-allowed, graduation, job1, job2, job3, … a very versatile list. But I think the main reason is because I can.

I have no hometown, I am young and I am not bound to anything (like kids or a company). When the highest amount of time you have ever spent in a home in your life is 8 years of whom 4 you were too little too remember, then I believe you don’t really think you have a hometown and you are more likely to move around. Besides I live in a time where it is really easy to move around, even if you don’t have a lot of money. A big plus is also my job. In almost every major city in this world there is a company, which is looking for a software engineer. If not — a remote-option is not that uncommon in my domain. Of course my personality and my family play a big role in all that too. It’s a real miracle when even two members of my family live in the same state.

So, which perks does it have to move around a lot:

  • Others see you as a very flexible person
  • The guys of the relocation company know you by first name
  • No need for a gym, you get really fit by moving all your stuff around
  • My mother always said to me when I lost something: “If you can’t find it now, you will definitely find it when we move out!
  • And hey, in case you have enemies, it gets really hard for them to track you down

But enough stupid bullet-points! The most important perk for me is the diversification. New city, new people, new street, new flat or room to set up. Even within the same city you discover so much more. It never gets boring and feels like a little fresh restart.

Of course there is also a big down side. Moving around is really exhausting — and by that I don’t only mean physically but also mentally.

When I was a kid/teenager and moving around with my parents it was of course not that exhausting. They planed and paid for the relocations. When I left college and relocated on my own I tried to own as less as possible (guess why!) and by that I don’t mean that I am one of those minimalist guys, who only own 17 things (how does that work anyways with the underwear and stuff?). By owning less I was able to do most of my relocations on my own or with very little help and sometimes even by solely using public transportation. I didn’t own a lot of furniture, which again helped a lot to move from A to B. Most of the time I lived in a shared flat, which made moving again a lot easier. Not bound to any contracts (internet, gas, electricity), other young people are around you and sometimes they were furnished.

I could write a single post about why I prefer to own less stuff anyways, but just check-out these guys: who sum it up pretty good.

Beside the actual moving it is also exhausting to visit potential flats. I probably had more than 130+ viewings of flats in my life. This is a really energy-eating-up part of the whole relocation thing. Especially if it’s changing the city or the country. You have to spend a lot of time and money to find a new flat and particularly in cities like Munich it’s almost impossible to convince the landlord that you are the chosen one who should move in (being multimillionaire, single and actually never living there).

Also, another really annoying thing is the wait. Most of the times it is not just quitting everything and leave. You quit and wait and wait and wait until there is this one day where you actually get things done and relocate and until that day you spend a lot of time figuring out if you thought about everything and that you are prepared.

But what about my relationships to friends and family? I had this conversation surprisingly often — people telling me that they would meet more often people who are not living in the same city than people who are living in the same city. I guess it’s like the guys who live in Paris and who have never been on the Tour Eiffel.

If you also have moved around a lot then you will probably share some of these points:

  • You will still lose a lot of friends and miss special events. In german we say “Aus den Augen aus dem Sinn”. Guess it’s like “Out of sight, out of mind
  • You have to be very self-dependent and handle almost everything on your own.
  • You won’t own a lot of things and you should not stick to your things, but rather be able to throw them away if necessary or gift them to someone else (you will think twice before you buy something new). Unless you are luckier than me and have a place where you can store your things, e.g. your parents house.
  • Particularly when you change the country you will of course give up much more: favourite bar, a better gym, types of food, lower prices or quality standards and have a lot of more bureaucracy.

Aren’t you afraid to move? I met some people who were beyond 50 and lived their whole life in the same little town. Neither of us could imagine and understand the other part. Of course there is no wrong or right. I just think that anyone who has the desire and the possibility to do it, should not panic or be afraid of relocating to another place. What is the worst thing that could happen? Go back? I believe it’s more when you start moving, you won’t be able to stop. Despite I have never heard a single person, who complained about making the experience to have lived abroad. This world is just too big and your life too short.

At some point in my life I will have to settle down. I believe it won’t be that easy, but I am confident that it will happen when life gets really serious☺

(And the best thing is: the next time someone asks me “why?”, I can simply refer to this blog post ☺)

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