What Makes A Place Feel Like Home?

When you move to a new place, it can feel like you are trespassing in a place you don’t belong. But after awhile, the new location may start to feel like home.

Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘What makes a place feel like home?’ We also discuss another question as well, ‘What beliefs do you have that might be wrong?’

What’s the difference? What turns a location from a place to spend the night into a home? What thoughts, good or bad, go through your mind when you hear the word ‘home’? What can you do to make a place feel like home when it doesn’t?

What makes a place feel like home?

Related questions: How does your vocabulary influence how you think? Why do we feel the need to belong? What is your retreat from the world?

7 thoughts on “What Makes A Place Feel Like Home?”

  1. Home is a place. It is the place where I know where the silverware is at and I have my clothes arranged in my closet just so. It is also a place of protection.

    Home is a collection of memories. Our home’s kitchen is where Rebecca and I make African peanut soup as a Christmas Eve tradition. Its living room is where we rocked out to U2 videos and concert footage when one night we were just playing with YouTube being broadcast onto our television. Our dining room is where we have a collection of photos of nearly everywhere we’ve traveled together.

    Home is also my retreat. My garden is part of our home, a place I can say I will be for just 15 minutes, but then find myself spending an enjoyable day weeding, guiding plants, and harvesting produce. Our home is a place we’ve decorated just so. It portrays who we are when we want to feel our best and most comfortable. Home is where a doggie lives.

    The housing justice advocate that I am, I must also say that home should also be a right. It is a place of stability not shared by thousands in my state of Minnesota and over half a million each night in our nation (a significant number are children). Right now, in my town, many people are trying to sleep outside in the rain, or uncomfortablly on a bus or the light rail, or on a shelter mat. If home is absent for so many is our nation; no place to store silverware, memories, or the comforts of life, what does that say about who we are?

    Home should be a sacred place of rejuvenation for all. I am so glad and fortunate to have a home.

    1. “If home is absent for so many is our nation; no place to store silverware, memories, or the comforts of life, what does that say about who we are?” Michael, I couldn’t agree more. As Paul Wellstone used to say, “we all do well when we all do well.”

  2. My house is my home because of my family. I believe that what makes a place a home, or not, is the people. This has been reaffirmed to me in the last 18 months.

    My MIL died in May 2016. My FIL was devastated. They were married for 45+ years and had lived in the same place for the last 15+. You would have called it their “home”. They did.
    Yet, after her death, it became just a house. All the memories and belongings stayed the same, but without my MIL there they went from comforting to foreign to my FIL.
    He just sold the house last week. With the exception of his personal belongings and a few pictures and trinkets, everything in it has been sold or donated to charity.

    Everyone is different and many in a similar situation, I think, would cling to the things and memories and idea of home. I don’t know if I would be one of them. It is a thought I don’t like to dwell on.

  3. A couple of years ago, I rode my bicycle across the country, from Oregon to Massachusetts. The trip was challenging in many different ways, but the most unexpected difficulty for me was the lack of mooring. Every meal was at a different diner or restaurant, every inch of road I traveled on was different, every time I laid my head on the pillow it was in some new place. I missed my home.

    Some people may enjoy or even thrive on a nomadic life style, but I missed sleeping in my own bed, being able to pick a book off my bookshelf any time I wanted, sharing stories of my day with my wife.

    From the trip, I gained an appreciation for routine. There needs to be enough variation in a routine to avoid it becoming a rut, but that ability to establish a routine, to know that whatever adventure I might tackle, I still have a place to go where everything is just the way I want it to be is my idea of home.

  4. My home is comfortable, familiar, and secure. When I walk in the door I am greeted by a roommate at my apartment or a family member at my parents house. On a basic level, I know where my things are, can cook, relax, host, etc. But then over time, a place really becomes home when I know where the creak in the floor is, I know what time that noisy neighbor comes home and that they like to blast Jack Johnson, I know that the sparrows like to sit in those bushes in the winter, I know where to go for the best brunch, I know that intersection is dangerous to walk through, I know that beneath that grey paint is a horrible baby blue. The history and knowledge that give you a sense of place that you can only get by being there for at least a year. All the seasons, all the senses, the community, and beyond the house.

    About two years ago, I rented an apartment for three years and it was my home. I would have my neighbors over for dinner, had my routine, and knew the space. Every summer, I would fall asleep to a solo wood frog and catch/release jumping spiders from inside the house. When moving out, the landlady was over and remarked that friends and neighbors were stopping by to help me move. She said, “Wow you’re leaving your community,” and that hurt, but it was true.

    After moving out, one of my friends bought the apartment, so now I am lucky that I can go visit her and see and stay at my previous home. At first I felt a little sad or protective since I still felt like it was my home even though it kinda wasn’t anymore. But I still know where to get the best brunch, I know which old roommates cat scratched that patch of carpet, and my neighbors are still there, and have greeted me by saying, “welcome home.” When I was there this past summer, we found a jumping spider in the kitchen and it made me very happy to see. It felt like home, familiar. But at some point, those neighbors will move out, those jumping spiders might go to some other kitchen, and I won’t know where the best place is for brunch is. It won’t be my home anymore. What will it be, a memory?

  5. Years ago I read something that Mother Theresa of Calcutta wrote to the effect that home is where the Mother is, even if it’s on the street.

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