Flight to security

A while ago a friend introduced me to the idea of the “flight to security”. This is where people, spooked by a stressful or traumatic event, rapidly reconfigure their lives to eliminate uncertainty, especially in areas that they feel sensitive about. This might manifest as people becoming extremely parsimonious with money. In extreme cases someone who has expereinced a loss (death perhaps) can become a hoarder and keep hold of every torn rag and old newspaper they can, so as to avoid another loss.

It’s not as extreme, but I think we’re all experiencing a bit of this phenomenon in these covidy times. Here in Melbourne the market for buying houses has exploded. Part of this will be pent-up demand, given the extended lockdown we experienced last year. But no doubt it’s partly people trying to buy their own little patch of dirt to avoid the distress of being locked down in a sketchy rental property in hard times.

Conversely the rental market is in something of a depression. Again, part of this can be attributed to the lack of international students at local universities. But I suspect that part of it is people fleeing the relatively uncertain rental market in favour of something that they think will give them roots.

I am not immune to this. By chance my family and I had bought a house around the time that COVID really started to bite, and then we were locked into it for an extended period. But my goodness, we worked hard on making a house into a home. Painting, minor renovations, extensive gardening, furniture rearrangement on a biblical scale, we did it all.

So it turns out that not everyone’s flight to security is the same. Some people like money, some people like houses. If I am to be judged on my actions, it seems that I feel very secure with a lot of cucumbers and three new chickens.


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