Are Your Habits & Hobbies Determined by Your House?

I own a gorgeous bike. It’s a pretty aqua blue, with a charming basket and leather details. It’s high quality — very well made by Public Bikes, which is a local Bay Area company. And I live in place that has ideal bike riding weather practically the whole year round.

But I almost never ride my bike.

And I know why. It’s because I live at the bottom of a longish hill. Just to get the bike out of our driveway and on to the street feels like an uphill battle (because it is!). My kids rarely ride their bikes for the same reason. It’s so much work to just get to a place where we can comfortably start riding, and so we rarely do. In fact, our youngest, Flora June, hasn’t learned to ride a bike yet. A fact that I can hardly believe.

We love our house and wouldn’t trade it, but when I see our bikes in the shed getting dusty, it’s a reminder to me that where you live really does affect your life in ways big and small. Ways that you might not have thought of or considered before you moved in. Know what I mean? We can lose interest or gain interest in something based simply on our house and its location.

Can you relate? Have you or your kids ever picked up a hobby, or maybe a lifetime passion, because you happen to live near an ice rink, or a zoo, or a great fabric store, or a skate ramp? Maybe someone you know went into city planning because their house was so hard to access with public transit. Or maybe your sister became a bird watcher, and ended up traveling the world to spot different birds, because their was a nest of bluebirds nearby when you grew up.

Have you seen any changes to habits or interests based on the geographic location of your home? I imagine it’s easier to notice if you’d moved a few times! I’d love to hear to your stories.

P.S. — Despite our lack of bike riding these days, I can’t help but notice bikes and bike accessory options have really improved style-wise lately. So many really beautiful items! Here are a few that have caught my eye.

  1. Brooks England Foldable Helmet. Coolest innovation! This helmet can compact and has incredible safety standards.
  2. Pure City Dutch Style City Bicycle. In so many colors!
  3. Crane Copper Suzu Lever Strike Bicycle Bell. This Japanese Company is always lovely.
  4. Brooks England Swift Bicycle Saddle Black. So classic. This seat will be with you your whole lifetime.
  5. Nantucket Bike Basket Co. Classic Lightship Basket. This is one of the oldest basket companies and makes loads of shapes and sizes.
  6. Retrospec Bicycles Speck Folding Single-Speed Bicycle. Simple commuter bike.
  7. 4-Feet Bike Lock Cable. Secure lock to keep your lovelies secure.
  8. Sparrow Bottle Cage. To stay beautifully hydrated.
  9.  Odyssey Pedals Mx Twisted, Donuts! Great company that has many fun designs.
  10. Bern Unlimited Lenox EPS Women’s Summer Helmet. Bern is always amazing!
  11. Handle Bar Bike Vase. Picture yourself walking by a park a plucking a pretty leaf or wildflower to fill this vase.
  12. Pure Fix Original Fixed Gear Single Speed Fixie Bike. Also available in so many colors!
  13. Pure City Kids Balance Bike. Best way to teach kids to ride a bike, they will never need training wheels!
  14. Raskullz Color Cat Helmet. If your kids fight wearing a helmet, this might make your safety job easier.

Seen any cool bike stuff lately? Share your favorites!

40 thoughts on “Are Your Habits & Hobbies Determined by Your House?”

  1. ABUS Bordo folding bike locks were, for me, a game changer. They fold up into a little case that screws into those little holes in your frame where you might put a water bottle cage, and that’s it. They don’t get in your way while you’re riding, and when you need to lock your bike, there they are! They’re short enough that you need to move your bike very close to the rack to fit, and most of them are “medium security,” meaning you wouldn’t use them at the train station, but for me they make locking a bike as easy as locking my car, and I ride for way more of my errands.

  2. I used to live right by the local river and we took nightly walks most days. Now we live much farther away and I barely get out for walks at all! Of course the added 2 baby/toddler have something to do with it!

  3. My husband and I didn’t bring our car to sf when we moved here and it was great. We lived on a super flat area and even with our young daughter it was easy. And then we moved, still in sf but at the top of a hill. I’m the full the parent so biking with a regular bike was not an option for me, but we didn’t want to get a car. So I got a peddle assist bike. Where we live now has totally adjusted things. Hills can be really daunting for toddler feet and even running to the store to grab some things. And when we have another kid I don’t know if biking 100% of the time is possible. Especially the first 9 months.

    1. Peddle assist bikes are so cool! I’m super jealous. I just traveled to Oslo, Norway this past summer and was struck by the number of e-assist bikes I saw there. Especially among more mature cyclists. There were so many stylish older women riding around town on their peddle-assist bikes. That’s what I aspire to be when I’m older!

      Re: biking with two young kids, maybe check out the electric assist cargo bikes? There are some really cool options. We used a cargo bike with my young kids and it was such a fun way to get around town.

    2. Yes! I live in Seattle (city not suburbs). The hills aren’t quite as bad as SF, but pretty steep. I absolutely hate driving in the city, but also have a teenager who has severe autism and just isn’t safe city biking. I purchased a cargo bike with pedal assist from RadBikes and it has been a game changer. We bike everywhere now (my other son has to ride his own with no pedal assist) and I do all errands on my bike. Basically if we have to go anywhere within city limits, we are on our bikes.

  4. This is only tangentially related, but all the bike gear recommendations here got me thinking… can anyone recommend a first balance bike for a toddler? We’d love a good-looking wooden one, and we’d double love one we can order on Amazon (or online elsewhere). Thanks!

    1. Balance bikes are adorable, and for a child of three or four it’s also easy to take the pedals off a small “real” bike and move the seat to its lowest point. This let us splurge on our daughter’s first bike (now on its fourth kid)!

    2. If you can I would suggest getting a second hand balance bike. My son hated it, wouldn’t go near it, we tried and tried. He wanted pedals and wouldn’t have it any other way. If you buy it used at least you didn’t spend a fortune if your little one decides to hate it.

    3. Strider balance bikes are light-weight, well-built and quite fantastic (though not wooden)! I would highly recommend them! They worked great for my kids!

      1. +1 for a Strider, going on kid #3 in our family! My cautious daughter took just one afternoon to ride a big girl bike because she spent two years getting the hang of balancing with a Strider. It’s lightweight so easy for little ones to maneuver (she got it for her 2nd Christmas) and very sturdy. I also liked the look of wooden bikes until a friend told me: would YOU ride a wooden bike? Would you choose a wooden bike seat for yourself?! Okay, a Strider then.

        1. When our now 10-year-old was 2, we got the L’il Rocket balance bike from Sun Cycles. It was at our local bike shop. It’s light-weight, cute and has a little rear fender. It was easy for him to use, and easy to maintain. He learned to ride before he turned 3. And, the bike has lasted – it has been passed down to his little sis (now 5 years old and riding an 18″ without trainers) and now a small neighbor.

          When looking for balance bikes, we were told by our cycle guy to get a real bike. The wooden ones are cute, but they have a limited life. And, they can’t be repaired at a bike shop like a real bike. Strider bikes are nice too!

          1. Oh, and we live in a neighborhood at a top of a hill in Seattle. However, our block is very flat and very long with a nice sidewalk. All the kids in the neighborhood (there are a ton) learned to ride bikes up and down the sidewalk.

            We are up the hill from the beach, so when the weather is nice we will all bike down and ride around the waterfront. We then take a free taxi/shuttle ride (with a bike rack) back up the hill.

    4. I’m on my fourth kids bike purchase based on the reviews on Two Wheeling Tots and they’ve been pretty spot on. I love research and they speak to my heart. We have (unfortunately but predictably) had quicker learning on the expensive bikes (like Woom – $$ but so awesome – had my 3yo riding pedals). Used is the ultimate steal.

  5. For me YES.

    I quit my job as an engineer and took a full time carpentry course because I saw it advertised at the college right by my house. (I’m not a carpenter but that decision was still a huge factor in where my life is now.)

    And my kids go to french school because the house we picked happened to have a french school in the neighbourhood and that is a pretty huge part of our lives now.

    And we ride bikes all the time because it is a great neighbourhood for it.

    And I think the only reason I have stuck with running for the past 2 years is that I have a lovely trail to run on near my house.

  6. We used to walk everywhere when we lived in a town planned before cars, and in college towns. Now in the suburbs in subdivision in Indiana, we drive to go walking or running or biking for longer than a mile. It’s an activity rather than just transportation. But one town over has a bike trail on the back of a number of subdivisions going to shopping spots and if we had found a house there, it’d be a different story. Our big backyard has made soccer, badminton, kickball, games our kids play often, things I never played growing up because we didn’t want to play in the dog-doodoo yard. A friend lives near a lake and kayaks often, I am envious. I see a different in friends too- we are lucky to have kids in the neighborhood and everyone plays at each other’s houses. My friends in the country have lots more family time and have to plan friend visits. But they have the lawn space to host the whole church for a 4th of July fireworks and bonfire. Perks and downfalls to every situation.

  7. Our first house was seven miles from the nearest town on what we thought was a quiet road. We had practically no shoulders and while cars only came by occasionally, they were almost always driving way too fast. It was not walking or biking friendly. The idea of getting in the car to go for a bike ride or walk just does not make sense to me.

    Our current house was bought with that experience in mind. We live in a small, midwestern, college town and our house within mile of downtown restaurants and shops,the library, grocery stores, seven different parks, college cultural resources (we walk to concerts, plays, museums, etc),our elementary and high schools and less than two miles from our middle school. We walk year round (even in cold weather) and use bikes easily 10 months of the year. While we do use bikes for recreation (and have some good bike trails that start within a few blocks) we mainly use them for transportation. My teenagers have not needed cars because they can get everywhere without one and I walk to work every day. Although we have limited public transportation options, it is not uncommon here to live without a car. This easy mobility is one of the best things about my life and I will never again live someplace where I have to get in the car to do my errands.

  8. Hmmm, I don’t know if I’ve created habits or given up habits solely due to where we live…I’ll have to think about that some more. I do know that when we’ve thought about moving, I end up not wanting to because I love walking to parks and coffee shops and the library and the post office, and I wouldn’t want to live in a home where I couldn’t do those things. They’ve become too important to me now…although I probably wouldn’t have chosen a house with those options before I started this walking lifestyle. Where you live DOES matter so much!

  9. My 5 year-old also doesn’t ride a bike yet. Most of our neighborhood doesn’t have sidewalks so I don’t feel like it’s safe for my kids to bike without adult supervision. Because of that it hasn’t been a priority to teach them. We bike a lot with them in the bike trailer because we have an amazing trail network that starts just a couple miles away. But getting from our house to the trail is something I just won’t trust my kids to be able to do until they are older.
    My son also takes horseback riding lessons because there is a stable nearby and we happen to have a neighbor who is like a surrogate grandma to my kids and she offered to pay for riding lessons. That’s something that is purely based on where we live. It’s definitely not in my budget to pay for lessons, and it’s not something I grew up doing so I don’t think it would have crossed my mind to sign him up if my neighbor hadn’t suggested it. And it turns out he loves it!

  10. Yes—so much of what we love to do is based on where we live. We moved to a small town a couple of years ago and we very consciously chose a house in a neighborhood walkable to the downtown. We take walks with our kids every night. We are also a block from a lake, and in the summer we run down to the pier at the end of our street and swim many times a week. That’s all great and we love it, but like you we are on a hill, and it has totally changed our bike riding habits! I was shocked at how much that changed when we moved. My youngest is 5 and we are struggling with him learning to ride because we have to walk the bike a couple of blocks before we are somewhere flat enough to try. When we go for rides as a family it is more of an planned event as opposed to something that happens naturally. So funny how a hill can change your life! :)

  11. Yes. My family of four lives in an apartment, on the top of a hill, in a very hilly suburb.

    Our bikes hang on the wall of our living room. We have to drive to a bike trail about 15 or 20 minutes away, depending on traffic. Our bike rack on our car only holds 3 bikes, so the four of don’t go biking together. (We would need a vehicle with a tow hitch to have a 4-bike rack.) We can take the kids to the parking lot of their school if they want to ride their bikes for a short while.

    No yard, no garage, kids share bedroom and someone lives beneath us. So where we live generally (northeastern suburb) and specifically (an apartment with someone living beneath us) definitely impacts habits, hobbies and socializing at home (e.g. we rarely have kids over, not only is the space small but there’s no outside space to play and it’s like a stampede overhead for the person who lives beneath us.)

  12. We are fortunate to have 10,000+ lakes here in Minnesota. Access to lakes are quick and easy. And yet, I found that it was easier to go for a walk around a lake in the heart of Minneapolis or St. Paul than it is to go for a walk around a lake outside of the city and suburbs. For example, I lived a couple blocks from a beautiful lake in St. Paul and I would walk around it daily. Now, that I have kids, we still live within a few blocks of a beautiful lake. But there is one big difference, No paths to walk on!
    The Twin Cities do a fabulous job of putting paths all around their lakes. But outside of the city, there are not as many lakes with paths. I would love to take my kids on a daily walk around the lake, but we would have to drive 30 minutes to get to one with a path. We are looking to move in the next 2 years, and a lake with a paved path around it will be at the top of the list!

  13. It’s so funny you mentioned habits changing depending on your house. When we moved to our current house, I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t getting the laundry done efficiently anymore (laundry is my favorite chore – not kidding, I find the ritual of it weirdly comforting). And then I realized, in our last house, the laundry was on the same floor as our bedrooms, so I could wash, fold, and put away without climbing a single step. In this house, the laundry is in the basement, I was folding it on the main level, and had to put it away upstairs. It was making things fragmented, so I had to figure out how to work with it.

  14. I agree! When we first got married I was a runner, L O V E D to run! But we lived in a not so great neighborhood and ya, if we saw someone running it was because they were either a suspect or a victim! We bought a house in the Mojave Desert, and again no running because of the heat! (woah baby the heat!) That said, when our kids grew older they engaged in bouldering! We have great places within 5 minutes of our house that have incredible boulders and rocks for climbing, and within a 40 minute drive, all sorts of world class options for rock climbing! 40 minutes another direction and the kids could snowboard, hike in the mountains and or camp/fish/boat, and 2 hours could get us to the beach for surfing. We could literally surf, snowboard, and rock climb in one day if we chose to! Although we have never participated there are folks nearby who -for several months each year- bring out and fly their ultralights around the neighborhood in the mornings, others hot air balloon! Other folks in the neighborhood have horses and livestock, and yes, some folks actually do run and hike, but mostly very early in the day or later in the evening – because doggone that heat!

  15. I know exactly what you mean! I too live at the top of a very steep hill and thus, would never ride my bike. I finally addressed the problem earlier this year. I moved my bike from the garage to a small storage unit I keep in the flat part of town and now ride my bike at least 3x a week while listening to podcasts. I love it! I also invested in a bike rack for my car so I can take my bike and explore new paths and trails. I made sure to get the rack that would be the easiest for me to load/unload my bike so I wouldn’t have an excuse to not ride. I’m 51 and nothing makes me feel as young and carefree as riding my bike does.

  16. So true! Gabby, we lived in your hood until we moved to Seattle when our boys were 8 and 10. They learned to ride bikes in Joaquin Miller Park and I had to throw those bikes in the car multiple times a week so they could ride. When we announced we were moving to Seattle, they had only two requests: a flat neighborhood (preferably with a destination they could go solo), and a flat driveway with a basketball hoop. We accomplished both.

    Thank you for the post on religion vs. church. I’ve read all the comments and appreciated so much openness. I think it was Rumi who wisely noted that there are as many paths to God as there are souls on earth.

  17. Very timely as I’m currently trying to figure out where I can leave my bike that it won’t be in the way but will be inviting to ride.

  18. Yes! Such an interesting post! I would really love to experiment with oil paints, but I have nowhere to safely try it out, living with a six-year-old and three-year-old in 625 sq. ft. Also, eight years ago, my husband and I lived in a small town in Texas that didn’t have much of interest to me except a wonderful quilting store. As a result, I have a pretty big stash of fat quarters! :) I’m realizing, as my girls grow, just how lucky I and my four siblings were to grow up in a big house, even if it wasn’t as pretty as some of our friends’ houses. I had my own room and so much space to be creative. I sometimes wonder what form my girls’ creativity will take, if we remain in the small space we currently live in. :)

  19. I moved from my native utah to new haven, CT, where, for the next decade, I moved around my ski and camping gear, completely untouched. Instead, my pockets and purse were filled with museum pamphlets and tickets to the theater. We moved back to salt lake and suddenly needed all the gear, now a short 15-minute drive from the mountains. It has been great to take advantage of the best of whatever it is that my home has to offer!

  20. Such an interesting concept! I think my hobbies and habits are more affected by region/ part of the world than by the actual house. For example, living in a small rural upstate NY town, I hiked, kayaked, and walked quite a bit. When I was in college, the city didn’t have public transportation and wasn’t walking or bike-friendly, so I didn’t get out and about much. I had to drive a fair distance to hike, and so it didn’t happen much. Now I’m in the Peace Corps in Eastern Europe, and some things I liked doing in the US (like painting) are complicated by the fact that I rely 100% on public transportation and live in a rural village, so hobbies that require many/large supplies are no longer a part of my life. I also bake much less, because I live with a host family and the oven temperature isn’t self-regulating. A new “hobby” is bullet journaling, since it requires so few materials!

  21. I rode my bicycle all the time in Berkeley where they have bicycle boulevards all over the city. It was relatively flat and I loved riding along the Bay trail. Everyone I lived with had a bike instead of a car. Now in Oakland no one in my family rides a bike (or drives a car). My six year old daughter has not learned how to ride a bike yet which feels strange. But it is exactly as you stated because of where we live. Our apartment is at the top of a big hill that crosses into a big street and then terminates at the lake. We do enjoy being pedestrians here much more as the scenery is so lovely. Everywhere we walk to is around the lake and there are so many trees and people walking around. We are close enough to downtown that we take busses or BART here instead. The city is beginning to slowly improve the infrastructure for cyclists and it is probably helped by the new bike share program but I may need an electric assist bicycle to navigate the hills. ^_^

  22. Now that we live in an apartment with a balcony, I like to sit outside to soak up the sun and watch people go by. Actually, just being higher up and having glass doors to the balcony allows my daughter to do a lot more window watching (she’s 2).

    As for general location, there aren’t any sidewalks where we live, so we don’t go for walks the way we used to, but we are fortunate to be across the street from a swimming pool. Traffic in the city definitely puts a damper on activities I used to do consistently, ranging from yoga to karate (and the lack of exercise is showing) to shopping and eating out (maybe a good thing).

    Having a kid also has an impact. I draw and color a lot more (sometimes at her command) and may start baking again, to introduce it to her.

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