What is “home” to you?

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Thanks to Léah for uploading this to our Flickr pool.

I’m in my 50s, and getting ready to move, again. As I look at new apartments, etc, I realized I am really looking for a place that feels like “home.” But…

I am having trouble visualizing what I’m actually looking for. Or maybe I’m not looking for a physical spot, but more like a missing piece in my life. Anybody else struggling with this? Do you know what “home” is for you? -Linda

What does home feel like to you? Is it a place, a feeling, a person, where the heart is? I can’t wait to hear all your interesting answers…

Comments on What is “home” to you?

  1. Home can be a tricky thing to define. Practically speaking, one just needs four walls with a roof and floor that’s big enough to fit all our stuff preferably with a locking door. But for that place to truly be HOME is another matter entirely.

    I moved earlier this year and had to examine that closer myself so I feel your pain! There’s always the practical side of things… Is it close to work? Will it fit my stuff? Will they accept my fur babies? Can I afford it (that’s a big one)? Once those items are works out however is when the fun starts.

    Is there someplace in the “the new place” with enough natural light to enough a cup of coffee in the morning? When I look out the window does what I see fill me with joy? Are the neighbors and the neighborhood filled with good people? Am I within reasonable distance to my favorite people and haunts? Can I take a good, long hot shower with enough water pressure? Does this place have that character that makes me want to create my own personal sanctuary here?

    Once the practical things are determined, it’s really a matter of figuring out what those “other” things are that are important to you and finding a place that marries the practical with the personal. It’s not an easy process. It can be down right frustrating at times and you may have to compromise on a few minor things (never compromise on the major ones). But stick to your guns, you’ll know when you find a place that hits the bulk of your wish list.

    It took us four months of searching to find our perfect home. It’s not our forever, we’re doing to retire here, place. At this point in ours lives, it’s perfect.

  2. For me, I’m never going to find a place that feels like home while I’m touring places I’m hoping to move into. Home is something I build, wherever I am.
    There are definitely some things that I know I can’t live with, and those are important things to identify, but I generally find that they kind of reveal themselves to me while I’m touring places. For instance, when I was looking to buy a house, we stepped into this tiny mid-70s house that had these tiny slits for windows way up at the top of the wall. They were intended to let sunlight in, but there were NO OTHER WINDOWS. So it felt like I was in this subterranean lair with just a measly periscope to look out at the outside world, and I am not about that Turtles life.
    But I never encountered a single thing that said “this is home, this is it.”
    Home is my family heirloom furniture beside a stack of half-finished drawings. It’s a cupboard full of spices and sauces I never use, but really, really had to have. And it’s the place I want to be when I’m completely overwhelmed and frustrated with the world. Would I have ever thought my beige box apartment could be that when I stepped into it? No way. But I made it.

  3. Oh man, this is such a great question, and I totally get the “missing piece of my life” concept.

    When I was 7, I moved from Connecticut (the only home I’d ever known) to Florida. Even at that young age, I knew that I would eventually leave Florida, so I made a point not to become too emotionally attached to our comfortable suburban house or my life there in general. I lived in that house for 14 years, but never felt “this is my home” there, even though my room was my sanctuary, and I had a lot of great friends and experiences. I also knew my first adult apartment in Chicago would be temporary, but I fell in love with the city. Every time I left Chicago, returning felt like coming home.

    I’ve been at my current apartment for 6 years now, and I have strange mixed feelings about it. It is home, for now. But I have this constant nagging feeling that I’ve had since I was 7 that this is only temporary. I want to eventually buy a house, and then maybe I’ll stop looking and hoping for that missing piece of home…but then I’ll probably want to redo things to truly make it mine.

  4. Interesting topic.
    Home for me was:
    – the first apartment I shared with my now husband, the exhilaration of being together all the time for the first time
    – the condo we bought together, a common project we loved, our first step into adulthood
    – the house we rent now, where we can see the sun through our windows, where we can envision staying a couple of years and where we’ll craft a nice litle furry family of our own

    Home for me was not:
    – my first student dorm, where I never felt so lonely, staying there only during week nights while waiting impatiently to come “home” to my childhood house on the weekends.
    – a transition apartment we only stayed 8 months in due to a difficult personal situation – everything we hated about our lives then was cristallized on this apartment.
    – the basement we rented last year upon moving to Canada. Beige, bland, blah. Another transition place, where we did nothing to actually feel “at home”. Seems like transition doesn’t work well for me.

    As I lived in France, New Zealand and now Canada, the concept of home can also extend to countries. France is definitely home, this is the country I spent almost 30 years, the country where I might retire, the mother country. After one year in Canada, it starts to feel like home too. New Zealand will always have that special place in my heart, but will it still feel like home if I ever return there? I never lived there but Japan felt like home because I’m so enthusiast about its culture that stepping out the airplane felt like stepping right into beloved books and movies.

  5. Great question! In my recent moving I asked myself this same question. For me one of the most important thing that makes a house a home is having guests. When people I love come to visit it feels like home, and less like I am a guest in my own space. But that means that I need to have room for guests, a place for them to sit and eat, and sleep. A place that guests feel comfortable, and place that I feel comfortable having guests.

  6. I sat here thinking for a few minutes about what “make yourself at home” means. For me, the key aspect of “home-like” places to me is that I know where things are and feel comfortable touching and using them. Not just knowing / being told that I CAN use something if I want, but FEELING COMFORTABLE using it.

    From this standpoint I’d consider not only the specific dwelling where I pay rent to be “home-like” but also my best friend’s house, my significant other’s house, my parents house, etc. Things like I can get myself a drink because I know where the cups are. I can grab a book off a shelf without someone wondering why I’m going through their stuff. I know where the nearest grocery store is if we need something for dinner. I can take a nap on the couch. And in return, I treat their stuff with the same care and respect I treat my own stuff – things like returning my cup back to the kitchen when done instead of expecting my “host” to do it for me.

    For places that aren’t technically MY home, what makes me “feel at home” is a result of the relationship I have with each of these people. They are willing to share their lives and spaces and stuff with me without me constantly having to worry about putting my feet on the chair, asking if I can use something, etc. Maybe short of walking around naked, it’s a place that I can do anything I would do in my own home. 🙂

  7. Home is where my husband and I share the bed we picked out together after our wedding. It’s where I cook, in the kitchen where I know where to find everything. It’s the place where the way the books are arranged on the shelves makes perfect sense to me, even if there’s no organizational system immediately apparent to anyone else. It’s the place where I know exactly how far I can open the bedroom door before it squeaks loudly, so I can avoid waking my husband up in the early morning. It’s the place that’s a relief to come home to after a long day, and where I don’t have to wonder if they have the brand of rye I like when I decide I need a Manhattan. It’s the place where my cat has little nooks here and there where she loves to sit, where she’s comfortable.

    I guess that to me, what makes a place a home is, more than anything, spending time there, and enjoying that time, preferably with someone or some ones you love. I could probably live in the most beautiful house in the world, and it wouldn’t be a home to me if I didn’t have time to really make it mine just by living a good chunk of my life there. On the other hand, although my husband and I are looking to buy a house, our current apartment is still very much home for now, even if it isn’t the physical space we want and even if we don’t own it, because we have created a life and a history here together over the past seven years.

  8. I’ve heard the saying, anywhere you live is home. I heard it first on MASH, and it always stuck with me because they didn’t ever feel “at home” there. They managed to make it livable, but they really hated it. I don’t hate my current place, but it’s not my favorite. It’s just me, a dog and a cat. My boyfriend comes over on weekends. In the end, the only time I feel at home there is when I’m eating Mom’s homemade pickles or cuddled up with my boyfriend somewhere or, in fact, when I’m in my parents’ big house.

    I guess my biggest problem is that I can’t really personalize the inside. I’ve got a big garden outside, and I can hang pictures, but I can’t paint the walls. I can’t put in carpeting (which I really miss). I can’t get sick of my portable A/C unit and install a cooler permanently. I can’t really feel at home because everything here feels temporary.

    In another year or two, I’ll be moving out of here, buying my own house and then I’ll feel like I can make it my own (well, our own); I’ll feel like I can paint anything I want and have a huge garden and put in a cooler and go crazy with my gardening and grow way too much. Until then, I’m effectively making do.

  9. I’ve moved so many times. Like so many. I find that I generally settle in pretty quickly. We bought a house this year and it does feel really different but I’m not sure what the difference is specifically. Just that it’s on our terms I guess – we know that no one can come here if we don’t want them to. I’m putting down roots for the first time ever. I do feel more relaxed.

    Anyway for me home is where my partner is.
    The physical thing for me that always makes it real that we’re leaving, and what makes me think now I’m home is my Harry Potter books. I have a photo of them stacked in the box that last time, and put it on my facebook with something like ‘shit got real’
    I also feel a little odd until I’ve got all my houseplants around as well. And I’m steadily collecting more

  10. Home for me is my husband, my cat and my big fluffy feather pillow. It’s not really tied to a place and never really has been. Since my Dad was in the army we moved every couple years so home was never really a place and I know a lot in my teens I would ask my parents if we could move back home without ever really knowing which place home was. Home, for me at least, is a sense of comfort, safety and routine. (and a kitchen, if I couldn’t cook I would explode)

  11. I’ve moved house too many times to remember, emigrated twice, and will likely emigrate a third time within the next five years. My husband currently lives in another country awaiting his own emigration so we can live together. I’ve spent the last fifteen years either waiting for emigration papers or settling into a new country.
    For me, ‘home’ is an emotion. I’m thankful for a clean, safe, and affordable place to live, but the four walls don’t explain what ‘home’ means to me.
    Home is:
    · Hugging my husband ‘hello’ at the airport.
    · Watching the seasons change on a favorite walk.
    · Hearing my dog squeak in his dreams.
    · The word that shows up on my cell when my parents call me, even though I’ve never lived in the house they now live in.
    · Greeting other dog walkers by name on a wet and windy night.
    · Spending sufficient time in one place to see the kids I work with graduate from my therapy services.
    · My vintage Union Jack chest of drawers.
    · Particular songs that remind me of past events.
    · The scent of Chanel No.5 that my Grandmother used to wear.
    · The countdown app on my cell that each day brings my husband and I one step closer to being together forever!

  12. Despite how much I love Offbeat Home & Life, I’m not very good at making spaces “my own,” so I’ve found that I feel much more at home in places that come ready-made with a sense of place.

    Perhaps because I grew up in an old house with creaky floorboards, hidden nooks, and temperamental doors, I feel much more at home in places like that. When I’ve lived in newer apartment buildings, especially those that didn’t feel surrounded by a real neighborhood, I have felt very out of place and unhappy. When I’ve lived in older buildings that feel like they have a history to them, I’ve felt much more at home. Now that I know this about myself, I intend to always keep it in mind when looking for places to live. Even though newer places have benefits, those benefits don’t outweigh my sense of happiness.

    I also find that my sense of home gets cultivated via experiences of leaving and returning. When I move to a new place, I don’t always feel at home until after I go away on a trip or two and come back to that feeling of “home at last!” And *that’s* when I know I’m home.

  13. Home is somewhere I care enough about to clean behind the toilet, and not just when the landlord is due to inspect. I cleaned our last flat more thoroughly ad more regularly than I clean our current one, because though this one has a lot more aspects I like about (big wardrobe! more space!) it’s not home like the last one was. It feels like a temporary place. It’s full of things we can’t change, pictures it’s not worth putting up, sofas that are so damn uncomfortable (and belong to the landlord, so aren’t going anywhere), reminders that the previous tenants left it in a mess and we’re probably going to have to fight for our deposit back. We want to buy a house, I just need to have been in my current job long enough to look mortgage eligible, so we’re hoping to be out of there within the next six months.

    Cleaning behind the toilet can wait until we move out. Move out, and into a home.

  14. I started a new job last week and have watched my feeling of “home” in my new office space evolve in just a couple of days.

    Every day I have been brining in more and more from my old office and every day this new space feels more and more like home. I think that having familiar things around you makes a space “home.”

    I also think, however, that deciding that this is home is a key element, too. I could “fight” this new office and co-workers because it’s not the office and much loved co-workers that I left behind. I’m here now, so I bring in familiar items and hang familiar trinkets and photos on the walls, and I’m home.

  15. I like to make a place feel like home by making it feel familiar. Having a dog is a great excuse to wander around your neighborhood on foot, but jogging or just taking walks works too.
    I recently bought a house that needed a LOT of cleaning and work, so it really just felt like a construction zone of potential expenses. I had to mindfully go around and say out loud things I DID like about it to feel some ownership and comfort.

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