18 Signs That You Move Around a Lot

signs that you move a lot

name engraved in brass

I moved a lot during my twenties and early thirties. That’s pretty common, especially when you rent.

When I temporarily lived in Florence, I noticed how many houses had family names engraved on brass plaques on the door frames. I wondered what it would be like to live in the same place for so long that my name would be engraved in brass. I considered that someday when we bought a house, I would get a name plaque of my own, or at least one of those custom return address stamps.

Here are 18 signs that you move around a lot. (Do any of these sound familiar?)

  1. Your name on the mailbox is written on a piece of masking tape (or an adhesive label if you’re getting fancy).
  2. Buying a custom return address stamp seems like a poor investment.
  3. Your driver’s license never shows your current address.
  4. When you buy new furniture, you first consider how big and heavy it will be to move.
  5. You paint walls knowing that it’s temporary and you’ll have to repaint them beige next year.
  6. Your towels are white because they’ll match every bathroom.
  7. You keep light fixtures, curtains, and curtain rods that you don’t currently use because you might need them at the next place, and it’s too expensive to buy new ones every time you move.
  8. You keep the original boxes for your energy-efficient light bulbs so you can take them with you.
  9. You remember what year something happened based on where you lived at the time.
  10. Your closet organizers and shelves have been installed and taken down many times. (I like those canvas closet organizers that hang on curtain rods since they’re versatile and not permanent.)
  11. You measure the amount of stuff you have in terms of how big of a moving truck you’ll have to rent.
  12. You’ve hired the same moving crew three times in two years. (Love you Frank!)
  13. You store some of your things in moving boxes because that makes it easier for next time.
  14. You know which recycle bins in town have the best cardboard boxes.
  15. You buy packing tape in bulk.
  16. All of your plants are in planters so you can take your container garden with you.
  17. You still check real estate listings even when you like where you live.
  18. You like the idea of settling down and staying in one place for a while, but somehow it still makes you feel antsy.
Can you add to the list?

Are you moving soon? Read How to Move in 6 Weeks or 6 Days, and Keep Your Sanity.

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. I’m so there! We move every few years because my husband is active-duty Air Force. And, I grew up moving a ton with my dad doing medical sales. 18 homes and 12 schools later – I love that it’s been that way. One place for too long gets to be boring and it’s great to always have a new palette of a place to decorate and organize! :)

    • Kristen, I’m so glad you said that! We’ve moved several times…I’m guilty of a few things on the list…and my biggest concern has always been how it affects the kids. Hearing you say you loved it gives me hope we haven’t ruined their lives : )

      • I am a teen and ive moved around a LOT! I dont like moving because i have to make new friends and stuff but i think that the experience of traveling is so much better than staying in one place. You get to experience different cultures and see amazing things. I dont think i would have done it differently

      • Pinksmack,

        I was a Navy brat for my first 13 years. I have two older brothers and a younger sister. At least 4 times my Mom had to pack up the house, load the kids and dog in the car, and head across the country. We saw and did things ‘compliments ‘ of the US Navy that many never see in their lifetime. I am now 50 and have no regrets moving so much. I lived in 12 different cities/towns and drove through numerous others. My favorite memory is driving and staying on Route 66!!!

        My husband(we have been married four years) spent 22 years in the Navy with 6 deployments. He loves to tell folks he has fished in 10 different countries.

        I will always believe we as kids handled moving so well due to our Mom. She never complained about it, and often made it sound more exciting then it was at times. Like, getting the call from my Dad on Christmas ’70 that he had been transferred and she needed to pack up and move across the country to California, asap.

        There is adventure in every city and town, you just need to look for it.

        blessings, jill

      • Pinksmack,

        I am an Army-brat. I grew up moving at least every three years (several elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools), and I continued the trend into my twenties … and thirties. Saying good-bye to my friends was never easy, but I learned to love it and I would not change a thing in retrospect. Moving frequently made me an adaptable kid. I learned that home was where my family was, and it was always an adventure to redecorate my room, learn a new area and make new friends. And don’t underestimate the value in moving frequently in the middle school years. No one had to know about my awkward 7th grade year when I started school in a brand new place a year later.

        And this list is just awesome, and so true! For military families, add:

        19. Home is the post/base PX/BX because it is the same, no matter whether you are stationed in Ft. Benning, Ramstein or Ft. Carson.
        babywearininheels´s last post…The Bliss of Toddler Sick-Days

  2. MajtkiRambo says:

    All of the points describe my situation. Thankfully, I just bought my own place and will finally settle down. I hated moving, renting, changing apartments. Renting is not very common in my country, it’s extremely expensive and most people own their own houses and flats because the money you’d need to pay for renting sometimes is just a little bit lower than paying a morgage intallment every month (usually the mortgage is for 30 years). Now I feel secure and improving my apartment seems like a good investment and not like pointless expenses anymore :)

  3. haha I’m right there with you. My husband is active duty Army. We’re about to move for the 4th time since 2010… my 18th move since 2005. We’ve got another 12 years before we get to settle down and buy a house!
    My addition to this list: all the furniture you buy is in the same color wood and complements every other piece in the house – so you can shift around furniture to fit in your next house!

    • That was just what I was thinking. thank goodness for IKEA and their palette of wood laminates that don’t change every couple of years.

  4. I used the same mover two times … in two weeks. A long story.

  5. Hahaha, I’m there with you. Regarding the moving truck though, we honestly do have a one in – one out policy so we don’t have to be bumped up to a bigger container (we move internationally a lot). So how about

    – one of the reasons you homeschool is to create educational consistency.
    – you buy from Ikea because you can take it all apart and you know where to get the spare parts when you can’t find them to put it all back together.

  6. I just renewed my apartment lease, which I realized is my first time ever doing this. Since leaving for college ten years ago, I’ve lived in 12 different places. Here’s my contributions to the list:

    You have half a dozens sets of curtains because you never know what size your windows will be.

    You don’t bother buying nice furniture because you know it’ll just get beaten up in the next move.

    You know your way around your state’s landlord-tenant laws from trying to recover many security deposits.

    All of your birthday cards get sent to the wrong place — again.

  7. Number 9 is so true. “That happened when I lived in that flat with that guy/roommate.”
    After 10 times I am now the moving pro, but I don’t wanna move any more. We finally bought a flat with a garden, perfect for our kids. But sometimes I think: “I have never lived in a house. Or in an old mill. Or a lighthouse. Or at the sea.” lol

    Henriette´s last post…7 Sachen am 21. Oktober 2012

  8. Oh, I’ve got a good one. You use your Amazon.com address book to keep track of your former addresses.

  9. You keep the original boxes and packaging for everything you buy that is breakable, and even some things that aren’t, because you know that they will pack back up so much more easily.

  10. Great list! I especially identify with 3, 4, 7, 9 and 12, 16, 17, and 18. We are serial home renovators. It’s an addiction.

  11. Your furniture has a colorful collection of those numbered moving labels.
    Caroline Starr Rose´s last post…Writing Links

  12. Yup, agree with all of those. I just had my credit card company call to check on a fraud, but I needed to verify my identity with my billing address on the card (I have everything emailed to me, so I usually forget to change it)… I gave the poor woman eight different addresses, since she couldn’t even tell me what city the address might be in. I think she probably thought I was fake, and I can’t believe that it’s been that many places. Ten places and four cities in four and a half years, and it doesn’t look like there’s any end in sight. :sigh:

  13. After moving several times early in our marriage, we bought a house nineteen years ago and have been here ever since. I think occasionally about how much more traumatic it will be if we ever move from here than it was the other times when we were accustomed to it (and had fewer belongings.) It also occurred to me the other day as I was following a moving truck that we have saved so much time and effort over the years by NOT moving. I’m thankful for that.
    Lori @ In My Kitchen, In My Life´s last post…Past Blast: Applesauce Canning Day

  14. Your phone number starts with an area code that is so not where you live.
    You’ve never been to the same doctor/dentist twice.

  15. LOL! I can SO agree with all of these! Even when I owned it was only for 4-5 years! We are now looking at the “permanent” house to buy… maybe I can finally invest in a brass name plate and a custom stamp!

    I’m still amazed how some “old” mail seems to eventually track me down 6 or 7 addresses later… and yet the stuff I should get never seems to come.

  16. Del Marie Riley says:

    We just moved to Colorado from Florida a month ago. I have saved all the boxes we used to move. We have a one year lease but found out that the place we rented has a one dog rule per the HOA. We have 2. So our land lord put a clause in our lease that if the HOA complains, he will let us out of our lease, give us our money back, and give us 2 months to find a new place. I love where we are so I’m praying we don’t have to move.

  17. Exactly.

    Your ‘home’ address is where the grandparents live because of moving around so much internationally!

    Your sons passport photo no longer looks like him because he had it taken when he was 3 weeks old.

    You now keep in your brain a whole slew of ‘must have this house feature’ and ‘never ever have’ list if you do ever buy your own place.

    The kindle is the best invention.

    You have a best friend from many states and continents, therefore wherever you move a priority is good Internet to keep in contact.
    Alaina´s last post…Sock Monkey Fiesta!

  18. Ha! #9 is so true. We moved all the time growing up, and I remember things by the street we lived on. “Oh that was on April Lane. That was on Winder Court. I think that was on Hanging Cliff. Or was it April Lane?”

    My husband does the same thing… so I know all the streets he lived on as a kid too. :)
    Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm´s last post…31 Days of Awesome Kids’ Books: Pippi Longstocking

  19. After moving 3 times during grad school, my husband took a job that will move us up to 4 times in a 3 year period. So we are constantly doing these things!

    19) You periodically look at your accumulated *stuff* and think, “We’ve gotta go thru that so we don’t have to move it again”

    20) You invest in a high-powered scanner to eliminate the file-boxes of paper.

    21) Your “filing cabinets” are plastic boxes with handles from Target, and you have a hard-and-fast rule re: the total number of boxes tolerable.

    22) Rather than paying for carpet cleaning or replacing carpet in your rental, you save up for a big, pretty, wool rug that will disguise the inevitable stains from 3 kids and a dog, protect your security deposit, and you can take it with you when you move!

  20. I related to 17 out of 18!!

  21. Last year I moved after many years of not moving, and I realized how much easier it is when you don’t have kids and decades of history to lug around with you. I’m planning on staying in this house until my kids are grown and launched, and then we’ll look for a smaller place that we can comfortably grow old in. I anticipate one more “real” move in my lifetime–which feels really weird. I smiled reading your list, because there was a time in my life when all of those things were true for me.
    Rita@thissortaoldlife´s last post…15-Minute FridayMaybe a new series?

  22. Hah! I was nodding away. We’re doctors and moved a lot during our training. Most recent move in January was international whilst 28 weeks pregnant. I don’t recommend it. Hopefully our next move early next year will be our last for a while and we can actually buy a house, renovate it to suit ourselves and STAY PUT for a while.

  23. How about : your family always asks after each move, ” how long do you plan on staying this time?” And you don’t even get offended!

  24. I grew up in the Air Force, then joined the Army, talk about moving! It’s something like 24-27 moves! When we got married we got a brass name plate knocker. I was so excited. Then we moved and our door has a glass window, so no place for the brass name plate! It sits in a box waiting for another house!

  25. Lisa Suit says:

    I totally relate to all of this! I am 27 and have moved over 20 times (I would have to sit down and count them all out to get the exact number) and just moved for the first time with our two daughters 5 weeks ago. We’re in a rental so I know we will be moving again but I hoping it is a LONG time from now! I can’t wait until we are financially ready to buy and able to put down some roots!

  26. I definitely could identify with many of your points but this one hit home for me especially:

    “You remember what year something happened based on where you lived at the time.”

    To add: you’re constantly mixing up the names of pediatricians, family doctors, etc. I’ve gotten to the point where I have to think about where we live, who our doctor is and write it down before I call to make an appointment. Otherwise they think I’m crazy.
    Steph´s last post…A Little Goes a Long Way

  27. Some of these sound very familiar! :)

    Luckily, we’re hoping to stay put here for a while. Someday we’ll have a brass nameplate.
    Jennie´s last post…A Big Announcement

  28. I love to move. When we bought our house in Florida in 2010, I found myself looking at listings within a few months. I don’t know what it is.

    We just moved to Alaska! This was my biggest move yet. We sold everything and now everything we own fits into our car. It was a challenge trying to decide what to take and what to sell, but we figured it out. Now that we are here, we are searching for a place to live. I would eventually like to build a cottage here, but I worry I would still look for something else. =)
    Amanda @ The Scacchi House´s last post…Our Trip to Willow

  29. Oh yes! Our children all look very similar as babies. In old photos, I identify who is who by the curtains or furniture in that house. OK, so and so was the baby there… is that sad? I am learning to not keep things that I “might” use in the next house. Just get rid of it, and deal with it when I need it. The biggest one for me is the portable garden. At this house (we moved the end of June) I am planting things in the ground. Putting down roots. And if (when!) we move, we move. No more dragging my plants all over the country. For me, that is a major accomplishment, a major step. Thank you for encouraging us to all live more simply.

  30. 21. You have moving boxes that have been marked out multiple times and change which flaps are on top to have a clean writing space. Some of ours have been with us through 9 years and 10 moves.
    22. You are an excellent hole spackler from having to fill them all in every time you move
    23. You have more than one change of address in the USPS system.

  31. All of our cardboard boxes have room labels that have been crossed out multiple times. All of our kids have been born in different houses. 5 moves in 6 years. And…we are likely moving again soon!

    Every time I move I think “THIS time I’m really going to set it up well and get organized. No more junk closets…”.

    Maybe this time that’ll be true.
    Katherine@YeOldCollegeTry´s last post…Things I Learned from Camping This Weekend

  32. I dream of living in place long enough that the raspeberry bushes I plant will produce fruit.

  33. This is more timely than you know! My husband and I just had the fancy-return-address-stamp conversation yesterday and many of those other signs are quite familiar to us as well. ;)

  34. I have been in my current apartment for over a year. It is the longest I have been anywhere since I started college. I moved from apartment to apartment, for a background check you need your previous addresses… it took me and my mother two days using every website we’ve ordered stuff from to get that much history. I think we could be here for a while, but I am hoping not: we don’t even have a washer and dryer. I did by a return address stamp but only because I got it cheap!
    Stephanie´s last post…Media Monday: Borderlands 2

  35. We received an engraved brass knocker handed down through the family, but have yet to put it on our door because we’re certain we’re going to move…even though we own our house and have been in it for over 3 years now. We are definitely antsy, and have said many times that we wish we were still renting, which perplexes everyone.
    Karis´s last post…Sweet Chili Stir Fry

  36. Yep, I do all of these! so funny! Today we are having a piano delivered, and I’ve been losing sleep wondering when we will move next if it will have been worth the delivery fees from the first move!
    Jess´s last post…Sunday Soup

  37. I laughed because I recognized almost everything on the list. In the last 18 years, I’ve moved 12 times. I’ve now lived in the same place for four years, and that feels like a lifetime at this point!

  38. When you break something (Like tonight!) the first thing that pops in your mind is, “Oh well, one less thing to move!”

    Totally laughing at this post. I can SO relate! :-)

  39. I have lived in the same house for nearly 18 years. Before that however I could definitely relate to this list. Now I feel ill at the thought of packing up to move.

  40. My brother and I were chatting a few weeks back in his back yard; and he told me that I’ve moved more times than Mum and Dad. And when I think back on it, I’ve have moved around 6 times in my 20’s. But in my 30’s I’ve been only here in this townhouse. The funny thing is that I’ve been reluctant to plant anything in the ground in my back yard in case I move. So, all my plants are in pots so when I do finally move, they come with me.

    And I’ve done the removal van size thing too. When I moved into this townhouse, it took 3 trips with my parent’s car and trailer – and that included one of those trips to a storage facility for my double bed! It’s been 10 years and now, if I had to move, we’d need a large removal truck for my entertainment unit, tv, stereo, piano removalists, credenza, bed, all 1,000+ books and bookcases, computer set-up and filing cabinets and then there’s my handbags, clothes and other things that have been carefully packed away…. amazing what you accumulate.

    I can actually figure out how many boxes per room I’d need… and that would be too many.

  41. Nine moves in 10 years of marriage here for this active-duty Navy wife! We have literally lived all over the world. Only one of those times have we lived in a home that we owned, otherwise we are renting.

    And so, I add to the list: I keep a file filled with pictures of house-related things that I love: kitchens, bathrooms, wallpaper samples, pictures of furniture and home styles that speak to me.

    Because some day, SOME day, I’m going to live in my own house and dangit, I’m going to be ready!

  42. Great list and additions! 24 years as an Air Force spouse and I’ve lived them all.
    Two more (as I’m decorating for fall):

    *When you put away your holiday decorations, you wrap and pack them carefully as if for a move, just in case a move occurs before the next time you get them back out.

    *You limit the purchase of holiday items by size (things that nest or things that fit in traditional size boxes) because “we might not have as much storage in our next house.”

  43. We always buy a house that will be easy to sell when we need to move the next time.

  44. You have spoken to the heart of every military family! I can totally identify with number 18. After fourteen years of moving the idea of settling down sounds wonderful, but after a few years I’ll probably be ready to move again. :)

  45. We aren’t moving anytime soon but I wish. Would love to live in a home with no stairs. My old knees sure could use the rest. :D

    Enjoyed your post. Thanks!!
    Donna´s last post…Selvage Project… 2 Years Of Collecting

  46. The timing of this post was perfect for me! I’ve moved 6 times in the past 3 years and am going for #7 this weekend. It’s good to know I’m not alone. :-) (Prior to the last 3 years I’ve moved 9 times. And I’ve had no involvement with the armed services, so I only have myself to blame.)

  47. Before I finally settled in one spot, I moved 17 times in 13 years. At the end of two years in our “permanent” home, I realized one unexpected benefit of moving: You don’t accumulate stuff. Now instead of packing everything up once a year, I have to remember to schedule time to purge the basement and closets! We’ve been in this house for 10 years and are beginning to talk about moving to a better school district. Hope all those packing skills come back to me…

  48. Oh, I’ll add one more! You know you’ve moved a lot when you get your own page in your mom’s address book because she just kept crossing out the old address books and writing new ones. I’m down to just one entry now, but it’s still in pencil just in case! And I’ve totally done the “pack decorations as if you’re going to move them” thing.

  49. These are excellent!

    I actually didn’t realize I had so many “abnormal” house habits until the girl who has lived in 10 apartments in the last 12 years (me) moved into a new place with boyfriend who was moving for the first time in 10 years.

    So here’s a few more for the list:
    – You own far too many things that attach to the wall with suction cups (hooks, soap holders, etc) so that you don’t have to drill holes only to patch them up again.
    – You have a dedicated filing folder for all you IKEA instruction manuals so you remember how to reassemble all your furniture at the next place.
    – You do not throw away moving boxes until they are absolutely destroyed. You keep them folded flat under the bed.
    – You have 2 sets of cream curtains that you just keep hemming (but not cutting!) to different lengths depending on the house.

  50. During the period from 1989 to 1999 I moved ten times in ten years. But that was school and apartments and law school and divorce and new jobs and more new jobs, and new apartments, and finally, a home. My husband and I moved into this house in 1999, hoping for permanent roots to grow under our feet. But then 2005 hit and Mother Nature had a different idea. Katrina sent us on another journey, all over two continents and back to New Orleans in four different places. But the roots, dormant for two years, sprouted new shoots in 2007. We are back in our original pre-Katrina lot, and I NEVER WANT TO MOVE AGAIN! I will throw away all packing material, simply on principle!
    Catherine´s last post…Letters and such?

  51. oh wow! this is so true. thanks for posting!! this is definitely me! :)