Take a look at where you live. Are all the homes pretty much the same? Has every house been built within the past 15 years? Do you have to drive everywhere you go? And, most importantly of all, have most of your neighbors lived in your community for less than seven years?
If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, you might just be living in a Reloville.
What’s this? Author Peter Kilborn knows. He wrote “Next Stop, Reloville.” This new book takes a look at the lives of employees, and their families, who are sent moving every three to seven years by their employers. Most times, when these families relocate to a new city, they end up in a Reloville, a subdivision where many of their neighbors have been transfered from somewhere else, too.
The book itself, which I’ve read, is fascinating. You can read more about it in this review by the Wall Street Journal.
Living in a Reloville has some amazing long-term effects: For one thing, the people who live in them tend not to volunteer as much. They know they’re not going to be living in their Reloville for long, so why get too involved in the community? Secondly, living in a Reloville often turns homeowners into fierce protectors of property values. They’ll fervently fight against new affordable-housing projects, addiction-treatment centers, homeless shelters, anything, basically, that might lower their property values. The reason is fairly obvious: Residents of Relovilles have to sell their homes after fairly short stays. They need home values to increase.
The timing of the book is a bit off. The economic and housing crashes have changed the Reloville culture significantly. Companies aren’t moving employees around the country quite as much. It’s too expensive. And housing prices have fallen, so Reloville residents need to stick around longer or risk losing big money when they move.
I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve never been called upon by any employer to move. Moving so many times leaves families — and their children, especially — rootless. It seems like a sad way to live a life.