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Where’s home: the place or the people?

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About Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

Most of you know that I’ve moved quite a few times in my life—three different countries, one summer in a fourth country, and two different states in the U.S. (not to mention countless apartments and homes within each locale). I don’t love moving, not at all, but I do have a knack of how to do it, and I know what to expect upon settling in a new place.

There’s a predictable rhythm for me that goes something like this: initial excitement at the new location, a few months of finding my routine, followed by a low valley of the blues for a few months, wondering why on earth we made this huge mistake. (This often happens in winter for me.)

I’ll then eventually unearth from the ashes, usually after finding my bearings (no longer needing the GPS for basic household errands), and I’ll start finding small ways to make the place feel a little bit like home. After about two years, this new locale starts feeling a wee bit like it could, maybe, sorta be home.

And for me, I know the one ingredient essential to making a new dot on the map actually feel like home, where I’m not just visiting, living out of my suitcase and waiting for the next big thing…

Friends.

woods

Once I start making friends—actual friends, people I feel like I could call for a coffee date or happy hour and it not be weird—then I start liking a place. Until then? You could have all the primo restaurants and stellar weather or gorgeous scenery, but if I don’t feel like I have friends, have community, then for me, it’s just a nice place to visit.

So Kyle and I were discussing the age-old question we often revisit, and I thought it’d be fun to ask you guys today. I’d love to discuss this in the comments with you:

We often make the statement that we wish we could pick up our community of friends and family in Austin, and have them magically transplanted to our small town of Bend, Oregon. Or sometimes we wish we could dig up the entire city of Austin, and have it relocated a few degrees north (we usually say this from about May to October—not during the winter, naturally).

What we’re getting at is that we often enjoy the place where we live, but we wish we could share it with the people we love. Or, that we wish we could enjoy a particular place without any of its negative qualities.

good to be here

So I thought I’d ask you this: What defines home for you? Is it the people that live around you? Or is it the actual place? Could you live anywhere on earth, so long as you had the people you love by your side, or do you need a specific sort of geography for a place to feel like home?

There’s no right or wrong answer, of course, but I’d love to hear your take on this. When it comes to home, does it matter more that it’s the right sort of place, or that you’re near the right sort of people?

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Comments

  1. It’s definitely the people. We are moving in 2 1/2 weeks from East Texas to St. Louis to be closer to family. But after living here for 8 years with a great community of friends, it is so sad and difficult, even though it really is the best thing for us in this season.

  2. My first instinct was, of course it’s the people! But when we’re on vacation with my family- the people I consider home- for more than a few days, I start missing home, the place.

    Maybe because I’ve lived in the same area my whole life, I have a different perspective. I do know, though, that I would really be okay anywhere as long as I had my family with me.
    But the feelings of home is definitely connected to a place for me.
    Angela Mills´s latest post: I Sorta Wish She’d Stop Growing Up

  3. How funny to read this this morning, because I just posted on this subject (of Home) last night! It’s a topic always on my mind these days. I could certainly relate to the emotional trajectory you described, and it made me wonder how things will be for you next year, when your adjustment time (and time to form community) is so very compressed. I will be eager to hear about it! Anyway, in answer to your question, since I find what I miss most is not Costco or having five natural foods stores within 10 minutes of us or all the furniture and special things we have in storage (although I do think of those things with some degree of longing at times!) it’s undoubtedly the people — those relationships that simply take time and repetitive interaction to develop and deepen.
    Bracing myself for winter, as you said …
    Hannah´s latest post: When You Wonder Where Home Is

  4. This is something on my mind, almost constantly. We are a bit nomadic and move every couple of years. Although the last 8 years all moves were within Manhattan. After living in a 1 bedroom apartment with 3 kids for the last 3 years, we recently moved 45 minutes out of Manhattan. I have felt ready to “settle down” for the last 2 years, and where we currently are is just one step toward that potential goal. My husband’s childhood home is still very much “home” to him (we visit there often) and so there is less of a need for him to commit to one place for our little family. For me, that is a struggle.

    I don’t make friends easily. Although I’m very friendly, and can chat with anyone, finding a “kindred spirit” is rare for me. Almost all the women who I felt really connected to in Manhattan moved away in the last few years and I struggled to find others. And to find moms I like that have children my kids like…that’s a whole other challenge.

    I think my biggest challenge with the “what is home” issue is for my kids. I feel like I can live anywhere and it will be/can be good. But I really want to create a space that feels like home to my kids; a spot that is comfortable and free for them. I want them to have a sense of “home” when they grow up and leave; and will hopefully come back frequently. As much as I would love a “homestead” for that purpose I feel like strong family traditions is the more important (and complex) part. And I still feel like I’m floundering a lot in creating those traditions for us. Home…such a complex question.
    Kiasa´s latest post: New Hampshire: Storyland & The White Mountains

    • Kiasa, the way you describe yourself sounds a lot like myself. Friendly and chatty but find myself longing for close friends. I had 3 close friends that all had relocated a great distance (2 off the continent) and have yet to find anyone to fill the void. And because we homeschool, it had a similar effect on the kids who were also bonded to their children.
      Your experience, you’ve described, is so very much like my own.
      All the best making those vital connections.

  5. Oh, am I ever struggling with this. I’ve lived in the same location (Alaska) for 32 years. It is an incredibly, fiercely beautiful place and in many ways I think it might be one of the best places on earth. And our families and friends are here. But. It’s also dark- I mean DARK- and freezing cold (as in -20, -30, catch your breath cold), and winters last nearly 9 months long. It’s expensive. It’s… a little boring when you’ve done what there is to do for 32 years straight. It’s secluded and disconnected. It’s like living in a small town where everyone knows your business and you can’t get loose of that. Did I mention expensive?? We want to leave, but we hate the thought of leaving our friends and families. Yes. If we could pick them up and bring them with us, it would be perfect. And then we’d jet back of course for the salmon runs, the beautiful summers, and maybe even a winter night or two to catch the northern lights. So hard for me to know whether I should be shoving discontent away and focusing on counting blessings- or whether we really need to plan for a change. It’s been a toss up for several years.

    • Get out!! ha ha!
      My husband is native Alaskan and lived in the state all his life until we got married. I lived in both Fairbanks and Juneau for a total of 4.5 years. I was miserable because of the weather. We lived very close to his family in one town and both worried about his homesickness if we moved. However, I had to get out. I seriously, no joke, tried to pull my hair out after 3 MONTHS of non. stop. rain. We moved to New Mexico and have both found that home is where you make it. We love the sun and activities and yet we miss certain aspects of living near family (the closest family member is over 1500 miles away).
      I have never lived in a city for longer than 10 years (and less time in a physical house) so I’m ok with moving around. I meet new friends while loving the memories of old ones, I find new activities or sports, new lands with their own beauties, and we make a home. I found myself nodding my head as you described your acclimation to a new place, Tsh.
      My grandmother moved around a lot when she was younger and she told me that she could live anywhere and be happy. She knew that this world was not her real home, her home was in heaven.

  6. On some level, I’m at home when I’ve got my peeps with me. However, we lived in a sub-division for years and although I had my family and great friends nearby, it never felt like home. We always wanted to leave. We now live out on a small 12 acre farm about an hour from extended family and this is my home. I can’t wait to be home everyday from work and just love being here. So although my family is first, this place is the first real home I’ve had! :)

  7. Wow, what a great question. The only place I’ve really felt at “home” is when I’m near where I grew up. It is a combo of my relatives living near by and the landscape. I definitely feel most comfortable with the rolling hills and bridges of Pittsburgh where I have made the most memories in my life, which now I get to share with my children. Of course, now that I have a family of my own, I think that anywhere I have my husband, child and dog would suit me just fine. Provided I can get the food I like, that is :-)

  8. We also move a lot- 5 homes in 2.5 years of marriage, two continents, two states0- and I would say the people. Right now we live at the beach in NC, and I find myself missing Upstate NY because of the friends we made at our church there. The place itself kinda drove me crazy (like literal road rage sometimes-ha). But we’ve had a harder time plugging into our church in NC and making friends. We just decided last week that we are launching “Operation Make Friends 2.0″ because we live in such a beautiful environment, but we need more people to enjoy it with :) Great post!

  9. I’ve always told my hubs that wherever he is is home for me, which is cute and romantic, but I’m learning it isn’t the whole story. When we return to the landscape I grew up in (the arid, mesquite tree filled ranches of West Texas), my soul breathes out in a way I can’t replicate elsewhere. Honestly, I’m not sure what to make of that.

    • I have a similar phenomenon happening with me too, only it’s not the place I grew up in that feels like home. The first time I visited the beach in FL (at almost 20 yrs old!) I felt myself breathe easier- I felt physically and emotionally grounded- like something in my soul could rest now. Then when I traveled overseas in Africa but near the beach I felt the same sensation again. It’s not every beach everywhere, but there have been a couple of places that I have visited and suddenly felt more at home there than I have ever felt anywhere in my entire life- regardless of the people around me. I don’t know what to make of this either since people (community, friends and family) are so important to me and to my husband and kids. But I crave that feeling of being in a physical location where I finally feel home. Who knows if that feeling would stick once we moved somewhere or not, but I can’t convince my husband to even think about it at the moment, so we’ll see I guess. :)

  10. I appreciate your honestly about going through a dark period in a new place. This is totally something I do, as well– it’s good to feel that’s somewhat normal.

    My husband and I often joke (on the square) with our longtime, long-distance friends about coming to our town, or moving somewhere new together for a built in community. I do think people definitely can help the feeling of comfort. I find with my current city, it ended up feeling surprisingly like home when I wasn’t expecting to love it. And it’s a city that’s full of many different people–some whose ideas are somewhat appalling to me, but also many who are cool and unintimidating and rewarding to know. People who want to improve the world. There are some transients, like my family, but also people who have been here for generations. In this case, I think the people and the place are awfully tied up in each other. The people are imperfect but surprisingly lovable, and the city itself is, as well. It all feels kind of like home.

  11. I agree with you completely, it’s about the people. My husband and have move 6 times in the past few years for his job. I’m always excited at first, but go through a hard time around 6 months when the excitement wears off. Like you, it’s not until I make good friends that I feel at home. Some of the worst places geographically that we’ve lived have the best memories for me because of the friends we made there. I wish we could transport them all here too!

  12. Initially my first thought is: definitely “people” make it “home” for me, but that can’t be completely correct since we’ve lived an ocean away from our families for the past 17 years! If that’s the case, I’ve been “homeless” for ALOT of years! I’m not exactly sure what makes it home…familiarity definitely helps. There are many things I love about our overseas home, yet I long for the family relationships we’ve left behind. I often say it is either feast or famine regarding time with family – either months and months of not seeing them or living in the same house with them day in and day out! In the end, I think God gives the grace that is needed.

  13. I’m kinda tied. I definitely feel at home in my home island, I know the place so well, family are just down the road and it holds lots of memories. However, my husband and I do want to move overseas and experience different cultures with our family. We’ve always imagined making our home in a place where we can easily access the natural world, with mountains, forests, lakes and the sea all within driving distance for weekend explorations. Wherever my husband and baby girl are is home though. I was actually discussing this with my husband the other day and family wise, the only other person I feel I’d like to magically move to wherever we go, would be my Mom. My Mom feels like home, too.
    Jessica´s latest post: {Be Inspired} Redefined by Cryptic

  14. For me it’s both! I had an instant connection with this country (the UK) the moment I stepped off the plane. I felt at home here long before I knew anyone. But as I got to know people I realised they were my kind of people too. 20 years on and I’m still happy with my decision to leave Sweden for the UK.
    Carin´s latest post: 6 ways to begin artful memory-keeping

  15. avatar
    kitchen fairy says:

    Take it from a fellow nomad who got to live in Austin for only a couple years – nothing can compare!

  16. I’m actually a “Simple Dad” and like Cassie, I’m from West Texas (Midland) as well. As a USMC veteran, I’ve lived in other countries and many states here in the U.S. And after my 12yrs on active duty, I made California home(fell in love with the weather and landscape), one thing I’ve been saying these last few years is “The older I get, the more I miss my family.” For many years, my dream was to live here in Southern CA, have a great “career”, a nice home and be present in my children’s lives, but with ALL of our family living in [West] TX, my children are missing out on the experience I had of growing up with family all around me. My aunt was my next door neighbor, another aunt lived down the road, my grandparents lived a whopping 10 minutes away and countless cousins lived within a short drive away. Imagine having your cousins as “BFF’s”?! It was great! When my grandparents owned a restaurant for many years, we’d have lunch there after church on Sundays. I’d work there sometimes for extra cash and EVERY holiday my family gets together to celebrate the holidays. At times it’s chaotic and they don’t always get along, but it’s family. You don’t always get along. Sadly, through the years I’ve been away, all of my grandparents have since passed away, but I always share with my kids the close bond I had with them and what it was like growing up in a small West TX oil town like Midland WITH FAMILY. It’s something I want my kids to experience [growing up with family nearby].

    A personal quote of mine that I’ve been sharig with others for a few yrs now is “The older I get, the more I miss my family.”

    What I’m simply saying is that for me, Southern CA is absolutely beautiful and it’s where I’ve considered home to be for many years now(1996) but I wish I could pack everything up and spend a few years back home and allow my kids to experience what I had and to allow them to build the bond with their grandparents the way I did with mine.

    Besides, nothing has to be permanent and after a few years who’s to say we can’t move back to SoCal? :-)

    PS: I really enjoyed reading this post and everyone’s comments. :-)
    Sammy´s latest post: Hello world!

  17. We moved at the end of December. After twenty years away we moved “home” to be close to the grandparents. I question our decision every day. There are too many quiet tears of loneliness and sadness vs a positive “HEY this is great” for the kids transition is hard.

    • I’m really sorry to hear that the kids are having a hard time. I think it’s something every parent fears when they move. You had to make a decision for your family and you must have thought it was the best one at the time.
      When I moved to Texas from Kansas in the 6th grade I was teased relentlessly; I was called “Dorothy” and of course by cute little terrier was “Toto”. I was hopeless for months, but it turned around. I can look back and see how it shaped my character and how I met a life-long friend in a difficult time.
      Hang in there, get involved. Go bowling! :0)

      • Thanks for the kind words- funny world- the kids went bowling with the grandparents on Sat- making memories they would not have been able to do if we had not moved. So yes light at the end of the tunnel!

  18. We are a military family. Moving (often) to places not of our choosing is our normal. I believe home is a place you make with a triad of love, comfort and friends. If you are missing one, it just can’t be home.
    Alondra´s latest post: Halloween and the Beginning of the Season of Acquisition: 7 Tips to Enjoy the Holiday Will Keeping Control of Clutter

  19. I agree with Jessica – anytime I’m around my mom, it feels like home. My husband is retired military and between our moves with Uncle Sam, along with the moves we’ve made with his post-retirement job, I’ve lived ten places in twenty years. And pretty much every place has felt like home sooner or later. Becoming familiar with my surroundings definitely gets the “home” ball rolling – once I start to know where things are, become familiar to the cashiers and service people at places I frequent, have my library card, know the routines at my son’s school, etc., I develop a better sense of place. I think it is a combination of being with my husband and child, developing a community/support system, having a few of my special things around (certain books, a planter my grandmother gave me, etc.) and, lastly, mindset. I discovered early on in my marriage that making a conscious decision to think of a place as “home” transforms it into HOME.

  20. Home for me is where my kids are. They have made it not just a house but a home. Our friends, our relationships are just an added bonus.

  21. avatar
    Elizabeth L says:

    My parents have lived in 10 different cities in their 37 years of marriage. I am working on a project for a Christmas gift that represents that all the places they’ve lived is home. There are definitely places where the environment was more enjoyed than others. They always developed a sense of home for our family. Finding a church home and becoming part of that family was/is always important to feeling at home.

  22. It’s a bit of both for me. I now live in a completely different environment than I grew up in. I grew up in upstate New York but have called Arizona home for 17 years, and specifically the Sonoran Desert for 9 years. There will always be something really comforting to me about the forested landscape of the East Coast but now when I return home to Arizona I breathe a sigh of relief at the open space and dry air. More than anything, I’ve learned that I need mountains and physical relief in the landscape to feel comfortable. I really don’t think I’d ever be happy living in the flat plains of the Midwest.

  23. I wish we could pick up and move our friends and family back in Lincoln, NE, and transport them to where we are (the geography is right here, in the Pacific Northwest). That would be heaven. Unfortunately, they’re all staying in Nebraska, and I refuse to visit in the summer (i.e. pay to sweat to death and walk in air that feels like wet wool for 5 months). So I guess we’ll see them in the fall, when it’s beautiful out there!

    My husband grew up in Langley, BC, so he’s now just a hop, skip away from his best friends and he actually does feel like he’s HOME . I think he’s doing much better than I am. It’s been a lot slower making friends here than I thought it’d be, even with getting involved in a few things right away. Sigh, small town, I guess. We’re moving up north into the lowermainland in a few months, so it’ll all start over.

    Sarah M
    Sarah M´s latest post: We Will Make Art

  24. We’re quite nomadic because of my husband’s job, so absolutely, without a doubt it’s my husband, and my 2 girls. Even on vacation I feel ‘home’ with them.
    Ashlee´s latest post: Little Mommy and Me Doll and Girl Princess Dresses by MomBabyMe

  25. Home is definitely people to me. I could be happy anywhere if my family were with me…and I was happy with “new” family my year on exchange. That said, it has been such an unexpected gift to be back in my hometown! My husband and I thought maybe we’d be lucky enough to retire here someday, but here we are now, planting a church. Truly a lovely, lovely dream (I didn’t even know I had) come true.

    One thing that has been difficult for me when moving is wanting to be established immediately. When I’ve left a place where I’d set down roots with friends, church, classrooms, organizations, or just the familiarity of the seasons and the running of days, it’s been hard not to have those instant connections in a new setting. Learning to be patient and letting friendships form naturally has been hard for me. I’ve sometimes lived like I’ve needed to rush things, as if I were trying to get back the deficit the move had created.
    Caroline Starr Rose´s latest post: Just Cuz

  26. I can totally relate to your settling in period. We, too, have lived in 4 different countries over the last 6 yrs but where we are now has taken the longest as far as a settling in period and for it to feel like ‘home’. We have been here 3 yrs now and are finally forging some solid friendships. Who knew it would be easier to make solid friendships in third world countries than in suburban America?? But, I also understand that desire to move your family and friends to a place you enjoy. We absolutely love where we live now and it is almost the favorite of all of our homes but I wish my family weren’t on the other side of the world. I don’t really want to move back to our home country but I don’t know if I can stay away from my family forever either, especially with our parent’s getting older. My children really miss their extended family too. We go back and forth on this all the time and I find it quite stressful to be honest. So, I guess for us, it is a mix of people and place and unfortunately we haven’t found that sweet spot of both.
    Catherine´s latest post: Pinterest Inspired Bench

  27. I remember the first time my husband walked into our current house (in a new town) and said, “It’s good to be home.” I thought, “He’s right. This really feels like home” and the thing is, I don’t know how or when exactly it happened. Convincing all of our family & friends to move to our town would be my ideal, but in the meantime, I have to admit that there is something comforting and “homey” to me about a geographical dot on the map where I can send down roots.
    Katy´s latest post: I’m rubber, you’re glue…

  28. avatar
    Shoe Gal II says:

    For me it’s always been about the people. Having great weather is always nice but knowing I can count on a neighbor outweighs that dramatically. Having good schools and fun, safe activities for my children is also a must. Once you have friends that know the area and have a similar situation they can tell you were the best stuff around town is for your family. Then a new place starts to feel like home.

  29. We were in our last house for 10 years (the town for 11.5) and it really felt like home to me by the time we left. The house itself, because we had done a lot of work to make it ours, and because we made a lot of memories there. Also having lots of friends and acquaintances, and being settled into several parts of the community (church, a family sport, etc.), made it feel like home.

    I agree about wanting your friends. We made a big move at the beginning of the year, and sometimes I just wish we could bring all our friends down here with us!
    Jennifer K´s latest post: when an oregonian moves to arizona

  30. I’ve moved so much throughout my life and while places hold valuable memories … home is most definitely the people!
    Missy Robinson´s latest post: I Didn’t Believe in Soul Mates Until I Bared My Soul

  31. The song I’m constantly humming these days (because it’s funny and touching and fabulous) is about this very thing , “Home” by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros.

    The chorus: “Home is wherever I’m with you.” It’s the people first, and then the place you make together to be together second.
    Robin from Frugal Family Times´s latest post: Recipe: Dump and Dash Slow Cooker Chili

  32. For me it’s both. I need to feel that I’m in a safe area with the facilities I need most such as my own team of doctor’s while at the same time I need friends and family around me.

    We just recently bought a home in a circle of 8 houses, two of which have several boys that were already my son’s closest friends. This has been a blessing and a curse as there has been some real turmoil due to the actions of one of the boys against my son and another young boy which has created a lot of friction and stress amongst us Moms. At the same time my son is able to walk out our door and have friends right there to play with. I’m slowly making friends and it’s enriching our experience here in our home.

    I’ve always had a yearning to travel, to live in different locals, but my finances have never allowed for that. I was born in California and have never lived anywhere other than the Bay Area and in the Sacramento/Placerville area. The familiarity brings me some sense of peace but the yearning to experience something totally new is still there.
    Malana´s latest post: Fall is in the Air

  33. A great question that I’ve been contemplating as I haven’t lived where I grew up in 18 years. At this time of my life home is where my husband and children are. We moved closer to our families before having children, but after 12 years have realized that we see family no more often than when we lived out of state. So….time for a change and we are looking to relocate to a new part of the country where we can explore with a less humid summer climate (hopefully Oregon, not far from Bend!).

  34. Home is the people, the friends. We’ve moved a lot in five years of marriage and are loving our latest home address in Nova Scotia. But what makes it so good is that we have people here to do coffee with, watch our kids, do community with and it takes time to build those relationships.
    Home is definitely my husband and our two little girls but there is an added dimension of home when you have people to do life with.
    Breanne´s latest post: 43/52

  35. I will let you know soon. I am in the process of moving to Austin after 35 years (minus college) in Chicago. I am extremely nervous to leave all of my friends and family (but will have my husband and kids with me in Austin of course). I love Chicago, but am excited to explore Austin as well. But as for how I will feel once I’m settling in there for the long term–that has yet to be determined :)

  36. I think, for me, it is simply a little of both. There is a feeling of comfort that comes from the familiarity of surroundings and people.
    Lisa´s latest post: Miguel’s Missionary Moment

  37. Oh, we are wrestling with this question ourselves! We felt like we had the best of BOTH – place and people – when we were living in Bend, Oregon. We’re trying to figure out if it was because we had really found OUR PEOPLE in that amazing place or if it’s because we put the work in to create those relationships. (Grass is always green where you water it, right?) Should we be focusing on watering the grass in our new-ish town, or should we focus our energy in getting oursleves back to the place where our hearts felt most at home?

    If someone could just answer that one tiny question for me… sigh.

  38. I totally agree that it’s not a home that I would be sad to leave until I have friends outside of work. I have spent my whole life moving, first growing up in the military then working for a hotel company after college, so I have 3 different definitions of home. There is “home” where I graduated from high school and where my parents still live. It mostly has to do with parents living there and that I lived in that house and have visited for years. When my parents eventually move, I’m not sure their house will be a “home” of mine anymore. I think it will just be my parents house. Then there is “home” which is my primary residence. But I also consider whatever place I am staying when I travel, even hotel or hostel rooms, “home.” That’s where I’m going to go at the end of the day to relax; where my stuff is at the moment. My friends say that I have a very fluid relationship with the concept of “home,” which I think comes from moving so much while I was growing up.

  39. Home is primarily the people around me, but place is a close second. I live in Southeast Ohio, and I have tried living elsewhere, but ultimately have acknowledged that my home is in these hills, with this particular light, and these types of trees, etc.

    Community is of utmost important to my husband and me, and we have it here. We learned long ago that it takes time to build community and we have committed ourselves to staying put, staying here, to nourish that and to have that for our kids.

    My SIL complains a lot about never having good friends or community. She moves a lot. I’m not really sure why she’s expecting something different.

  40. People! I’ve moved a lot in my nearly three decades, living on all but one habitable continent, but as long as I have family with me, and can make friends, that’s where home is.
    Janie´s latest post: Interview with a Librarian part 1/3

  41. Our family just moved to Mexico to work at an orphanage and this topic has been on my mind a lot. As much as I need a place, that is home, what makes me feel most at home is my family. The people. One of the first decorations I put up was something that says “Home is wherever I’m with you”. (Got that idea from Pinterest :) ) It hangs above our couch to remind our family that we are “home”.
    I have yet to have made those connections with people here, like what I had in Ohio, and sometimes I get anxious about it, wondering if I will ever have it. In the meantime, I am so thankful for Facebook and other social media to keep us connected with people far away, but I know that I need real people, in my real place and time.
    So, all that to say, I can totally relate with all that you said! Thanks, as always, for being real and sharing your heart with us.

  42. I think it’s a little bit of both for me. When I was younger and I would move with my family it was pretty simple. Mom and Dad and sister were home. Once we got all the boxes unpacked and I found my favorite things – home.
    Now I find myself more attached to geographical place. Since moving to LA I’ve missed San Francisco with my whole heart, but after nearly a year I’m starting to adapt to the way I live here. I’m starting to appreciate some parts of LA that I still sort of hate.
    Rachel Pierce´s latest post: This Will Be: November 2013

  43. For me, home is where my family is. Our children are all adults now, and my husband and I thought making the move from Southern Oregon to Bend would be right for us. We stayed for a year and a half before we just couldn’t stand it any longer. We missed our kids and grandkids. We missed the “we’re bbqing, come on over” sleepovers with the grands, kids stoping by on their way home, etc, etc, etc! Bend is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, but not if we have no family to share it with!
    Oh yes, and my sister and mom are near us again!

  44. The physical house we have is what I consider home – where my family lives. I’ve always felt my husband and I were meant to be, and I feel “at home” with him, wherever we have been. But I honestly don’t know that in the various places we’ve lived, that I’ve ever felt “at home” beyond the confines of our abode. We’ve talked about moving but don’t really have any idea where we would move anyhow. We’ve been away from family for over 9 years now. I feel like I could pick up and move and not really miss much of anything OR anyone. Which is sad, of course. I don’t have many friends and those that I do we are not that close. I don’t know how to really remedy the situation. I’ve worked on friendships but we moved into an area and attend a church that has close-knit families and extended families and getting involved has been difficult.

  45. I’m so glad you posted this! I’ve just always thought I was a weirdo with a lengthy acclimation period. :-)

    I’m a people person so my family and friends are huge for my mental and emotional health. That said, I distinctly remember the day this southern girl stepped off a plane in a certain east coast city. I have lived in a number of states, cities and another country and with the exception of my hometown, no other place has been as natural for me as that metro area. I think it’s because I felt like people “got” me there. Instead of feeling like I was in the minority, I felt like there were a lot of us who liked similar things, talked about similar things, etc.

    It was a really nice feeling and I miss it. But I do love being closer to my family again.

  46. Oh the eternal question. I grew up between four states and my husband and I have lived in three countries, with another international move coming up, so ‘home’ is a very fluid concept for me. I love the thrill of being in a new culture and the excitement it brings but I long to be in a place for more than a few years. Friends are a huge part of making a place home but the place is almost as important. Right now we’re in the town I went to high school in and where my husband grew up and the longer we’re here the less it’s home to me. It’s a small town (A LOT smaller than Bend!) and it just doesn’t fit our family and how we live life. So for me it’s 70% people, 30% location.

  47. When our family takes a long drive and happens upon a beautiful piece of countryside, a field, a river, a gorgeous forest overlooking a lake, we say, “Oh man, wouldn’t it be great to live here?” And it never takes long for one of the kids to say, “Only if all our cousins and friends moved with us.” Yes. For us, it’s all about our community of relatives and friends next to whom my husband and I have lived most of our lives, and our seven children, all of theirs. The place itself is just another spot. our lifelong friends make it a life.

    Oh, and then there’s this quote which I love too –
    “Mothers do not make homes, they are our home.” from Bed and Board, Robert Farrar Capon
    (The rest of that quote is in the header on my blog, if you’re interested. :)
    Leah O´s latest post: On the Flipside

  48. I love this question and love your short and sweet “adjustment” rhythm. It feels true and a good reminder for me. My family has just moved thousands of miles and an ocean away from the place that we have called home for 10+ years and where our family and dear friends are. Moving helps me see what I value, what I consider home. It is absolutely the people, that sense of community and people who know and love you, but it is also the place, the natural world or landscape and opportunities that abound, the culture of place. I think what stands out for me right now is that moving has challenged me to stay present in the moment and enjoy the unfolding of the process of learning about a place and building a community. Spending too much time thinking about the past or focusing on where we might move next takes away from the beauty and the fun in front of me right now. I hope that is the lesson that I am sharing with my kids during this move. Of course, their adjustment to their new home has been much faster than mine!

  49. It’s all about the people. I will always feel like I left a large chunk of my heart in Hawaii because so many of the friends I made as an adult are still there. And of course now that I’m a mom, home for me is where my daughter and hubby are.

    We also have moved a bit since the birth of my daughter (3 times in 3 years) and I’m really glad to know that I’m not the only one who gets the blues upon arriving in a new place!
    Susie´s latest post: Letting Go Of Yoga Perfection + Embracing The Mess

  50. I know what you mean, Tsh. We moved from Austin to Houston last year and we still miss Austin dreadfully…but when I say that, I really do mean our friends and community, not so much the city itself (although I much rather prefer Austin to Houston any day!). I think it is definitely the people more than the location itself for me. Although, having grown up in Vancouver, geography does play a small part in helping me love the city where I live.

  51. Okay, so I’ve lived in the same city I was born in (New Orleans) or the surrounding area, for my entire life. 57 years. Seriously. We’ve lived outside the city in the suburban countryside for the past 30 years.

    We’ve contemplated moving, but I could not move far from my family & close friends. Especially now that our mom is gone, I want to be near my 3 siblings & nieces & nephews, as well as my 2 grown sons. And also my close friends and their kids & grandkids. We’re considering moving to the north shore, about 45 minutes away, but that’s probably as far as I’d be willing to go.

    If ALL my sibs & their families could move with us, & my 2 besties with their families, I would consider another area, but it would have to be a warm climate. I’m used to being outdoors nearly year round, and could never survive a dark, cold, rainy climate.

  52. Home is where we are loved and cherished, and home is being missed when we are not there. Home for our little family of four is not a singular concept – to us home is Cambodia, and home is Australia, and it’s all about heart connections with people. Cambodia is the place where we physically live and are connected with an amazing array of wonderful people. And Australia is the place where life-long relationships still hold strong even though it has been six years since we’ve shared the details of our days.
    caroline´s latest post: worn

  53. I think it’s a bit of both. I think material objects or places often hold a bit of nostalgia. There’s nothing like running into a familiar smell or listen to an old song to just take you back to your childhood or a different time or place. But I think family or people are the one’s you grow up with, the one’s that really shape you into who you are and will become, therefore I think there presence or lack or presence is ultimately more meaningful.

    I was also thinking recently about the impermanence of life, people, home, etc. That try as we might we can’t hold on to the past or present. That life is constantly changing and evolving. It’s a beautiful, mysterious, and often scary process… but ultimately what helps us grow and mature.

    Lastly, I’ve been thinking a lot how Christ is the only thing that doesn’t change. That he always love us, always pursues us, always is there for us more than anyone or anything else.

  54. Home can be defined different ways at different stages, I think. We’re redefining “home” this year as we are traveling the country as digital nomads, with home being where our immediate family is. And that’s been working pretty well. We do miss having a rooted community, though. When we’re done with our travels, we’re planning on settling in a town where we have a lot of friends and family, even though it’s a different city (and state – region, in fact) than where we started from because we really want that sense of community in a smaller place.
    Annie´s latest post: Concord, MA – Geeking Out Over the Transcendentalists and the American Revolution

  55. avatar
    Rachel P. says:

    I have moved twelve times in my eleven year marriage. As a child, my family stayed right in the same small town and changed households only twice. The familiarity of the people and the place was a foundation in my life and something I expected to have maintained as an adult. When I married my husband I did not realize I had married a wanderlust. He was raised in the military, never staying longer than two years in a single location, and had a very loose grip on relationships, traditions, and familiarity. As I managed our household, proceeded to have three children, and accommodated my spouse’s need for change I struggled intensely with discontent. Our most recent relocation, from the Willamette Valley in Oregon to Pocatello, Idaho, wrung my heart like no other. I moved away from family, both his and mine, and dear friends as well as a beloved church body and ministry opportunities. Our situation had not changed for the better, but rather very much for the worse. I struggled, slogged through the emotional and mental mess that held me down everyday. Finally, after some very revealing insights and hard lessons, I realized the greatest thing that gave me a sense of that foundation I sought was familiarity in routine. Locations can change, friends can change, but finding the new coffee shop to which I could take me youngest two for a special breakfast or home baking our family’s bread or maintaining our family movie night gave me and my children that feeling that not all the unfamiliar faces or places could shake the feeling of knowing exactly what came next in our cherished routines.

  56. arizona is my home. more specifically, northern az. when i talk of ‘going home’, i don’t mean my city street address, i mean the general geographic area where i was born and raised, where my family and extended family still live. the mesas, canyons, and wide open spaces is home. i lived in the midwest for a year, i just could not get comfortable with the hazy air and all that green. after 1 year, i moved back to arizona. i drove all day across oklahoma and texas, through rain and mist. when i crossed into new mexico, the sun broke out and i could finally see the clear horizon and i literally started crying, i felt so relieved and everything shifted into balance again. i have moved around arizona and new mexico but i don’t think i will ever leave the southwest again.

  57. What a timely topic for me. We are in the midst of relocating 3 hours from our current home, in the relative vicinity of where I grew up and my family still reside, to a location closer to where my husband grew up and his sister still lives.
    I am excited for the move in many ways, although it’s difficult to leave the close support of my family- I get on nicely with my sister-in-law and her kids are close in age to mine, the housing costs are lower so we will be able to find a rural home with more property but will allows us to pay off the mortgage and the pace of life there is a tad slower.
    However, it is now crunch time- our house is sold and we’ve yet to find a house in the right location. The house we like is just a little too isolated, the nearby town is more a pass-thru on a small highway than a community and worry about my kids making local connections. Since we homeschool, I fear that we will have to drive far afield to meet other homeschoolers and the friends my kids meet will live too far away.
    It’s such a stressful process, finding a house that seems right but it sells before ours does (twice), getting excited at the prospect but then disappointed when the timing falls apart and now our house is sold but no house to buy.
    Home is definitely the people for me- I’d accepted that I’d be living far from my family but had expected that I would be able to connect with new friends. But now I’m anxious that that will be more difficult if he have to choose a home distant from a community. I am dreading the winter in isolation.

  58. I love that you have touched on the topic of friends and meaningful relationships a few times, in different ways through different blog posts. At the end of the day, having important people around you is what I absolutely believe will make a place feel like home. I’ve lived in the Portland area for 11 years and have found it somewhat difficult to build lasting friendships here. People come and go a lot. There have been times when I’ve met people who I believe also feel this way and also want to make lasting friendships but it can feel awkward trying to build these relationships. Making friends as an adult can be hard!
    It is beautiful here and there are so many fun things to do. I will feel 100% complete when I find my group to go enjoy my surroundings with :+)

  59. Friends! I recently wrote a 31 days series “New Town to Hometown:Creating Friendships and Community” and it really caused me to thing long and hard about what made my new home a hometown and I think it is all the effort I put into really getting to know people right off the bat. It was being brave enough to start conversations, being bold enough to invite people I barely knew to the local park. I lived way out of my introvert comfort zone the first year after we moved and it paid off big time, I know have friends so close and dear to my heart that I would choose these corn field surroundings any day over the mountain and ocean views I grew up with simply because these fields are full of people near and dear to my heart.
    Victoria´s latest post: Thrifty Christmas Roundup 2013

  60. avatar
    Patti Lee Gates says:

    My poem written Thanksgiving 2010

    In the storms of life the warm glow of a candle not only gives light to

    chase away darkness but warms the soul.

    The fragrance of even the smallest flower with its lovely petals softens

    even the toughest day.

    A pot or crockpot simmering a soup or stew emits a fragrance that softly

    greets you and says “Home”

    A freshly baked loaf of bread or dessert says…”Welcome home, you are

    expected, you are loved.”

    A smile, a hug and time just to be together is priceless and a memory to

    hold you in tough times.

    By Patti Lee Gates

  61. I definitely think home is where the people are. My husband and I spent a year apart in the middle stages of our relationship. Even though I was physically “home” it really meant nothing without him there. This has become more true as we are currently navigating selling our house, having a temporary house, having a rental house while we search for our forever house. After all the stress, I really know home is where we are together. There is a song we played at our wedding – Home (is wherever I’m with you) – love it, it says exactly what I mean here. (It’s by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros).
    This was a great topic, thanks for sharing!
    Sarah | The Cyclist’s Wife´s latest post: Cool Thing Friday – It’s a LIST!

  62. Reading all these comments made me realize I am not alone! It’s been ten years since I’ve lived in America (where I grew up) – I married a New Zealander I met overseas, and now we live and work in Central Asia with our three children. We’ve moved countless times in our almost-8 years of marriage, and I’m slowly learning how to create “home” wherever we are. I love exploring new traditions and homemaking ideas that are meaningful AND portable!

    I write a blog about the art of sojourning, and I’ve sometimes wondered whether anyone out there can relate – apparently there’s quite a few of ya’ll! I mean, honestly, whether you’ve lived in the same house your whole life or moved every two years, aren’t we all sojourners really? And I really want to learn how to sojourn gracefully, with joy, instead of trying to glean security and stability from my surroundings or circumstances…

    I loved reading about each of your journeys and challenges with transitioning and moving – I can sure relate!

  63. I really WANT to say that it’s all about the people … or even just my little family of four. But I can’t. There is also a huge element to familiarity!
    My husband is in the military, and a year ago we were moved to the other side of our vast country. I’m not a very social person, so I’m not homesick for my friends. I do miss my family (especially when our new baby arrived), but we all have e-mail and facebook and telephones, so it’s not anywhere as sacrificial as the pioneers’ adventures. I don’t particularly miss the city life or the mountains or the cold winters. But I miss the knowing.
    A year later, and I still can’t go more than 10 minutes out of town without getting lost. I don’t know how to get places, in this maze of curving roads that are never quite heading exactly north, south, east, or west. I miss knowing the landmarks and places that I had frequented for my entire life. I miss knowing the cultural norms (and yes, they ARE different from one side of the country to the other). I miss knowing how much tax to add to the posted prices in the stores. I miss knowing what stores to go to for specific things. I miss knowing how to drive in the winter weather. I miss knowing how long it will take for the snowploughs to clear us out. They are all little things …. unimportant things … but oddly, the things that I find the hardest.

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