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Now this little account highlights how sometimes people move to a particular location because of a particular set of circumstances in their lives - it may be to be near family, or to be near a work place and so on.  But what makes us end up where we do?  According to Estate Agents it is location, location, location, but I guess it is more than that. The other day we were watching a TV programme, I don’t remember what it was, a film I think, and at one point my wife commented, “That’s an interesting house. If we ever did move I would like to move into ‘an interesting house’.” Now what makes an ‘interesting house’ will almost certainly vary for each of us, but unless we found a house that, as we went around it, we thought, “I could live here”, we wouldn’t!  So the type and feel of the house is an important factor.

Not long ago, two articles back I think, I wrote about ‘what makes a home?’ but these thoughts aren’t about what goes on in the house but the environment in which the house or flat was located. Now when I look back I’m not sure we thought about this sort of thing. Our first house was a mid-modern-terrace with a postage stamp back garden with about eight feet of front garden before the pavement and a busy main road. We were just married, and the big thing was being together so I’m not sure that environment was an issue.  Five years later we moved to Rochford and were drawn to the home where we still live. Again, it was more the house and its garden rather than the environment.  That part of our story suggests that for many of us it may be that actually we don’t always think a great deal about the surrounding environment.

Now as you’ll see, elsewhere on Rochford Life, we’ve carried an article about ‘Elizabeth Gardens’, part of the big new development on Hall Road. Now as I was being shown around these homes  I couldn’t help commenting on the fact that it seemed that every house had only a small back yard as the Americans would say, which is a real challenge to anyone who likes a garden. Even more, as I commented in the article about ‘What is a Home?”, many of us now grow accustomed to living with other people overlooking us; we live with a congested environment. Originally when we saw those houses being built we felt how congested the site was, but then we started comparing it with so many other new(ish) properties around Rochford and it seems to be, it is the same wherever you are. Yet, if you read our previous article, you will see we compared most new urban properties with various super-properties of a recent TV series and the thing that affluent people give themselves is space! Economics denies most housing developers giving us that.

So why will a number of people be spending well over three quarters of a million pounds to be located on a congested (by our standards) development on the edge of Rochford?  Well that may be the answer, it is the edge of Rochford, near a railway station to commute to London, fairly near the airport to flit away to Europe. Perhaps these are the things that contribute to ‘environment’ today. So there is this brilliant, large, double garaged house, but bang on the corner of a busy roundabout which is going to get busier as the development goes on – but someone is going to buy it, someone with quite a lot of money! So is it the prestige of such a house that overcomes the possible negatives of location and immediate environment? Will the new owners (be allowed to) grow trees, bushes and hedges to give them an air of privacy? What do they know about air quality immediately next to a busy road and roundabout that the rest of us don’t know?  

But let’s be negative for a moment. Why do people either buy or rent properties in one way ‘rat-runs’ where there is no space outside, traffic crawls over speed bumps and air quality must be some of the worst around? Why did we buy a narrow central modern terrace house with hardly any garden on a busy road with a bus stop outside so bored passengers would peer in our front windows?  Probably the same twofold answer: it was all we could afford and house and garden were not the big issues in our lives then, and so we tolerated an environment we wouldn’t go near today.

One of the benefits of getting older is that, although we are not affluent, we have enough, and we are contented with our less-than-perfect home and a garden we really enjoy. Rochford is not perfect, in fact at times it seems far from perfect, but most of the time we like it and we like the people we know – and that’s another way of measuring ‘environment’. Would we like boundaries fifty feet from the sides of the house giving us a bigger plot? Yes, but we haven’t and we’re ‘not bovered’. That’s one of the amazing things about being a house dweller – you get used to the environment very quickly. Having said that I have friends who are constantly annoyed at the increasing number of planes going in and out of the airport – but they are closer to the glide path than we are – and anyway we like plane spotting from a distance!

Changing family circumstances, changing environment and perhaps changing finances; these appear to be some of the main things that cause us to enter into that process that we are told is one of the most stressful in life – moving!  Perhaps, as we get older, we sense a need to downsize that suggests to us we need to bite the bullet and start the process. But familiarity is a counter factor against moving. We knew of an elderly lady who was losing her sight and therefore with increasing old age the thought of moving into a home became a real consideration, but the fact was she knew her own home intimately and would be lost in a new building. She happily stayed put and saw her days out on her old home. Loneliness becomes an important motivating factor pressing some to move in old age. For some, the thought of being in a building with lots of other people creates a sense of warmth and security and that prompts a move. In that case ‘environment’ is all about people and security and little to do with the general surroundings.

So there we are. The more you think about it, this whole business of moving and finding a home is more than just the ‘interesting’ house; it also includes ‘environment’ and that may mean the type of road, the spacing of houses, familiarity, the presence of other people. And once we start moving in that direction we start facing the realities of our finances and then whether or not being located on a busy intersection really does matter. For some people, it clearly doesn’t. For others of us, finances permitting, we wouldn’t give it a second thought – but if a friend lived there, we probably wouldn’t have a negative thought about them being there!  Where other people live, usually isn’t a big issue. Where we live, may be.  And now, as always, a few pertinent quotes to finish with, to prove that environment is not all-important

Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Home is where children find safety and security, where we find our identities, where citizenship starts. It usually starts with believing you're part of a community, and that is essential to having a stable home.

Matthew Desmond

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.

Maya Angelou

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