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What does it Mean to "Put Down Roots"?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2014
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When someone is said to “put down roots,” it means that he or she intends to stay in a particular location for an extended period of time. The term is classically used in reference to moving somewhere with the intention of building a life and maintaining a permanent residence, although businesses can potentially put down roots as well. In societies where stability is highly valued, many people intend to put down roots as adults, usually with a partner so that a family can be built in addition to a life.

The term is a reference to plants and trees, which put down deep roots once they are planted in the soil. These roots are used to stabilize the plant while providing nutrition, ensuring that the plant will live out a long and healthy life unless it is uprooted. In the wild, plants start to put down roots as soon as they germinate, while domesticated plants usually start out in planters and seedling containers until a permanent place has been established for them.

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Some people believe that establishing a connection to the land is important for psychological well-being, and that putting down roots can have other benefits as well. For example, people who want to start businesses usually find it helpful to work in a community they are already familiar with, and politicians often spend several years living in a community before they start campaigning, so that they can get to know the residents and the issues. Without putting down roots, people may live a nomadic existence, establishing few connections and finding it difficult to accomplish some life goals.

One obvious sign that people are preparing to put down roots is the purchase of a home to live in. Buying a home usually suggests that one intends to stay in an area, unless the structure is purchased specifically as an investment property. Having children can also go along with putting down roots, as some people feel that it is best to raise children in one community so that they establish a rich network of friends and are not forced to change schools and houses while they are growing up. Commitments to volunteer with local organizations or to start a long-term garden can also indicate a desire to settle down.

Not everyone wants to put down roots, and some people who want to put down roots may find themselves unable to do so. Individuals who work for high-powered companies and organizations, for instance, often find themselves traveling for work, making it hard to establish a home base, while some people actively enjoy traveling and a nomadic lifestyle.

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