What’s in a name? Why ‘The Frustrated Nester’?

Last week I took part in an Instagram live interview with the irrepressible Rossella of Going Expat. You can watch the whole conversation here (or just listen while you do your thing). One of the topics that came up was the name, ‘The Frustrated Nester’, and I realised I haven’t spoken about it for a while. So if you’ve always wondered, or you’re new around here, read on for a potted history of The Frustrated Nester!

Corner of a room with low-height bookshelves, a floor-standing plant, fairy lights strung from a beam, and a letterboard with 'Frustrated Nester' spelled out.
This is probably my favourite corner of the house at the moment. The corner that feels most ‘nested’ – it looks like we’ve actually lived here for a while.

Being a ‘nester’ was a big part of my pre-expat identity. Growing up, my girlish dreams were of the perfect home I would one day create for myself. I always had a glossy interiors magazine on the go. The first flat I bought myself was like owning treasure, and when I first moved in with MT we started making grown-up investments like installing a beautiful new bathroom – which just months later was being enjoyed by tenants, while we found our feet in southern France.

So the idea of The Frustrated Nester was that I would blog about creating each comfortable nest as we moved from place to place; the tricks and hacks of making temporary living feel permanent.

But it didn’t take long for me to realise that 1. there’s only so much energy that it’s worth investing in an interior I’ll be leaving soon enough, and 2. being a nester didn’t have to keep being part of my identity anyway. Instead, I focus that energy on making the most of the place outside each of our nests, and in creating a sense of home that’s not rooted in four walls, but in people, passions, and purpose.

Having said all that, there are times when temporary living still brings its frustrations. Like knowing that some projects might never quite get done before the next moving day, and like the little things that go wrong that I can’t just fix in my own way, or change completely so that they don’t go wrong again. Any talk of imminent (potentially, possibly) repatriation brings apprehension at the thought of what we’ll lose, but I can’t deny the draw of reclaiming that part of me that wants to build a solid nest.

(All of this is underscored, of course, by gratitude: that our globally mobile life is the privileged kind, one we chose, that has always given us a secure destination and the certainty of a new home when we get there.)

So I’m mostly not a frustrated nester any more, but the name stuck, and the more I’m connected to others in the globally mobile community, the more the name seems to resonate as much as the topics I write about. And the theme is still important: the title of my memoir, which is partly about that very mindset shift, from seeing home as a place to finding a portable sense of home, is Nest: a memoir of home on the move.

I’ll be sharing more about my path to getting that book published in the coming months with my email readers, so if that interests you (as well as the chance to read more snippets of my serial expat journey) you can sign up here.

Does the name resonate with you? Are you a nester?

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