For most people the academic career path is a nomadic one, often involving moving oneself and any associated family (if they exist) to various points around the globe. Some get lucky and can pick their locations to a certain extent, some get stuck in places they would never consider living long term if the job had not brought them there.
On top of that, the constant turn-over of people in your life and an often changing situation as you work through graduate school and a postdoc typically results in moving apartments several times, even within a given location. A year on the south side of town, two on the west end, one downtown.... You get in the habit of not accumulating to much crap.
I was no exception. The longest time I spent in one apartment over a 15 year span was three years and I only managed that feat once during that time, which was dominated by one year stays. After a while it just gets ingrained in you that the next move is right around the corner.
This is just one more reason why landing a PI job leads to an entirely new set of experiences. For the first time in memory we have a lasting stake in our community. It never mattered what was going on with the school system wherever we were previously because we were never going to be faced with those issues. Local politics? They could only do so much that would affect our lives and we weren't even able to vote in the first place. For better or for worse, it was like having diplomatic immunity.
These days I do care about the community because I am likely to be here a while. I own property here (and by that I mean the bank owns property here that I inhabit) and want to make sure that the school system is strong. To that end I have gotten involved in providing science teachers the tools to do their job more effectively. There are a number of advantages to me for doing this, but it is a much larger time suck than I expected and several of the deadlines fall at particularly bad times for me. After a few recent meetings I have walked away wondering if the advantages outweigh the time and effort I am putting in to this and I have realized that they wouldn't have been until recently. I am now part of a community and not just living in a place. My kids will grow up here* and this is one way I can contribute to raising standards in local schools. I do wonder sometimes if it is foolish to use precious summer hours to teach 6-12 teachers when I need to worry about getting tenure*, but I can't help thinking that there is more required of me than just paying taxes.
* Yes, I am aware that getting tenure is an important component in determining whether my kids will indeed grow up here.