Is the Family Homestead a Thing of the Past?



“When we moved here he said he could live here the rest of his life,” my aunt told me one day, speaking of my uncle, “and he did.”

My aunt and uncle had found the perfect-for-them country homestead, and bought it with the intention of living out their entire married life there. Many decades later, after raising children, making changes to the house, spending countless hours in the shop, and making a mountain of memories, he passed away.

He had wanted to live on that acreage for the rest of his life, and that’s exactly what he did.

As a real estate agent, I see people buy and sell their own homes often. Every few years we up-size to accommodate our growing families and growing budgets, and then we downsize when life gets smaller.


Is the idea of that forever home or the family homestead a thing of the past?
I think it is. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

I still remember the way a client of mine told me the story of her family homestead fifteen years ago. She was in her seventies. “My husband had a hard time letting go of the farm,” she said, “but moving to town was right for us.”

Early in their marriage, they’d found the perfect farm for them. They made their living there, started their family there, and added on to the house as those kids grew. As the farm business flourished, they continued to re-invest, building on to the barn, and growing their enterprise.

“I still remember planting the shelter belt,” she said. Her eyes went distant with remembrance. “We planted hundreds of trees in a row across the field, and hauled water out there 5-gallon pail by 5-gallon pail.” Her eyes flickered back into the present. “Those trees are tall, mature trees now.” After a pause, “It’s hard to let a place go when it’s so full of memories like that. So full of hard work.”


Back in our parents’ day, people would find a property and build their life there. They’d live there, they’d pay off the mortgage, and even die there.

Things have changed. Today, no one expects to pay off their mortgage before they die. We don’t find that one place to stay. We move frequently. When life changes, instead of changing the property to suit our new needs, we sell and buy something else. We don’t have that same attachment. We love the place we’re in, and then we move and love the next place.

I have to wonder; is it a bad thing? Where we live, that place we call home, is a big piece of who we are. It contains our memories, allows us to revisit the past and wrap ourselves in the warm, cozy blanket of those comfy memories. Are we missing out on an important part of our past then? Are we losing a piece of us when we move all the time?


I doubt there’s an easy answer.

For the one who was moved from home to home as a child, they might feel a deep need to root in a forever place, to feel that stability and commitment.

For the one who feels at home wherever they are, or feels a need for change, moving from place to place may be the breeze of fresh air they need.


All I know is that either way, whether a person moves every few years, or sets their life up on a forever property, the story is the same; it’s about finding our home. That place where, for however long, we belong. We create memories. We build our life.


Which is more like you?
Are you the forever-home type, or the change-it-up type?

 -Tina Plett

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