What is home?

ApartmentAs we try to settle in to our new city, it begs the question: When will this feel like home? I have already complained explained about struggling in corporate housing, but what happens, what changes, to make a place feel like you actually live there?

Is it after a certain amount of time?

Is it once you have a routine down?

Is it when you make your first friend?

Is it the moment you get keys to your house and have all your belongings, including your food processor and your cashmere throws? (…maybe that’s just me)

Or is it all of those? Or possibly… none of those?

It’s a notion I’d like to explore: What is it that makes a new place your home? Because it’s one thing to move within your own city, right? You already know the lay of the land, and it’s just a matter of setting up your space and you can feel like you’re home pretty quickly. At least that was my experience moving around Chicago. It was always familiar.

Last week, on my birthday actually, I had a brief exchange with another person at the bakery down the street. I noticed he had the same city map that I was given in our welcome package. So, I casually asked if he was visiting Portland. Yes, he said. A friend at school here. I said, Oh, I just moved here, I have the same map as you. And then he proceeded to gush over how cool Portland is and how lucky I am to live here. For now, I’ll take his word for it. And I then thought about what it means to live here. Even though I told him I lived in Portland, I don’t actually feel like I live here. But, why?

I tried to think back to our move to Amsterdam, and when I felt like I truly “lived” there. At first, it felt like a vacation, as several of our expat friends also experienced. There I was, strolling through markets, eating cheese and drinking wine everyday and taking photos of everything I saw. Loving every minute. So when was the switch? Looking back, there was no single moment that defined it. It was a gradual attitude shift; I woke up one day and realized – Oh, we live in Amsterdam. It’s not a vacation, it’s not a trip. We live here now. We have been for awhile. And while it’s great sometimes, it sucks sometimes too. Maybe it’s when you lift the veil, remove the sunglasses clear the fog and see the city for what it really is. See that it’s not perfect, it’s real. And you know it. Maybe that’s when.

I expect the same thing to happen here. It’s a slow roll. I’m going to try to be conscious of it as I adjust and get more comfortable. It takes awhile to get used to a new city. For now, I’ll take comfort in Jaro & I creating our own sense of “home” as long as we’re together. Wherever that is.


{image is our empty apartment in Amsterdam, waiting for us to make it our home}


7 thoughts on “What is home?

  1. I really like this question. We moved to Denver from New Jersey without any family or friends. For me, it became home when we created our backyard into the retreat we wanted. Living in corporate housing would be tough because things like custom curtains and paint are truly what makes a home. As for fitting into a new community and embracing it, we did “Discovery Sundays” where we would go hiking in new places, regularly visit farmers market, and hang out with neighbors. Both for Japan (temporary place) and Denver, becoming a “regular” at restaurants is important to me.

    I’m certain you will love Portland. Just don’t compare. My husband and I LOVED Annapolis and nothing will compare to the time we had there.

    • I can so relate to you, Colleen! We have our little ‘discovery’ time where we try a new restaurant every weekend. Bonus points if it’s in a new part of the city. I think I’ll write about that sometime – it’s a good way to get out in the community and explore! Love your idea about markets and connecting with neighbors too. x

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