Golden lesson 3: It’s the life events – our house moves

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Policy makers like to talk about life events: birth of a child, marriage, change job, unemployment, change house etc.  At these times we all have to re-think our lives.  Re-think budgets, re-think priorities.  In transport it means we re-think our personal travel arrangements and our travel interdependencies: who takes the kids to school? what time do we leave the house to get somewhere at a certain time?

The first time I really thought about the concept was when i read something by Phil Goodwin ( some time ago.He was talking about churn in travel:  how people’s travel behaviour changes.  He noted that if it didn’t change regularly we’d see the same person every day and pass the same cars at the same time everyday.  I hadn’t really thought about this counterfactual before.


Six Cassidy Homes – by Tess as part of her A-Level Art Project.

I have moved house a lot: 11 times since 1988.

7 times in the last 10 (including 3 inter-country moves).  Ouch.

This car free year (well quite a bit more than a year now!) has really been made possible by my house moves….

Move 1: move to Edinburgh from Brussels.   What was going on in my mind??

I was thinking about giving up the car so I deliberately weighted heavily the importance of living close to a major bus route and close to work.  Thus I had a bus every 3-6 mins to get into work and the kids could easily walk to school.  I didn’t think too much about access to City Car Club and thus had to walk a good 10 mins for a city car.  Bit of  pain.

Move 2: move from first flat to second flat. What was going on in my mind?

I needed money to buy the flat and was quite happy with being car free.  Thinks: “If I can maintain car freeness I can spend the money I save on other things – like a deposit for my flat”.  Again, in my flat search, I made sure I had lots of buses going close by (every 2 mins now) and could walk to work, and also that the kids could get to school ok by bus.  Importantly I made sure I was near City Car Club Car as well.  There are 2 cars within a 2 mins walk of my new flat.  This was VERY important to me

I VERY MUCH realise I am lucky, compared to many, to be able to make these choices.  Though at the same time MANY people make moves over which they have a range of choices…

So how can we get people thinking “mmm maybe when I move house I should review my car ownership and use“?  If people were given the tools to help think about this maybe it would help people make informed decisions about what really is the best place to live and make lives cheaper, more simple etc


Penge, London – 1990-1996

Estate agents/rental companies: maybe they should become travel advisers too? Or at least partners  They are the people who are there at the flirt stage (thinking about forming a relationship with an area/place) and through to consumation stage (this is the place for me) and can give good advice and help.  Perhaps they could be incentivised to help people move to areas which suit their needs.

After reading Phil’s work I was excited, but then realised that people were talking and talking and talking about life events as an opportunity to help people think through choices, but really that’s all that happened.  Everyone talked.  No one seemed to catch these events.

PROBLEM: There was little in the way of really getting to people when they had a life events.

BUT HURRAH: social media changes this  - see “facebook life events” link.

BUT BOO: Not everyone reports everything on facebook or via other social media.  So how can we capture these life events to make life simple for people


Paris – 2000-2002

Some trigger sends a message to…the City Council…or mobility manager (see Golden lesson 2) when someone changes Doctor, or registers for Council tax, or registers a death?  Lots of difficulties with this – we may be waiting some time for this “joined-up” solution. Though if people could save money, have simpler lives as a result maybe it would be supported??

Or maybe by developing/using products and services and offers which are of interest and give value to movers, to those who have children etc, (and unbeknownst to them are re-thinking their mobility) – and using these to help people think about mobility decisions?

The “mobility adviser/manager/helper” should  REALLY think about what is important to people at life events and make sure they bring information and services together which at that precise moment in time are of real value.  It’s called product bundling.  And if they work with the right partners (eg estate agents -see above) -partnerships are key – they could make a difference to people’s lives.


Hootton Roberts, S Yorks – 2002-2004



Ravenfield, S Yorks – 2004-2006






So house moving was a biggy for me. Thanks Tess for your pics: there are a few life events ..especially in the small print…

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