The Question of Home

Is home where you are from or where you are going? Some say it can be a person or simply is within you. In our short film, Sarah Jane Adams gives us her own take on it. Her response, perhaps, covers it all. 

In a disconnected world where many feel isolated and alone with their particular problems, the need to lay down roots and have a feeling of belonging becomes apparent. In the past, people often lived in tight communities with several generations of family around them, with a real sense of security but possibly with little opportunity for individual development and travel.

Home was clearly defined back then and maybe never questioned. This has changed in many parts of the world. Today, with the advancement of technology and travel being easily accessible for many, there are options. However, having a home and feeling at home is still a basic human need, so many either stay close to where they are from or return after some time away.

But what about those of us who never truly felt at home where we were born and raised? How come that some find that true sense of belonging and the end to all restlessness on the other side of the planet? Research suggests* that certain cities and areas have a core ‘personality’ that either syncs or conflicts with our own. Some cities are open and welcoming, some very extrovert, some conscientious, and a few are neurotic (take a wild guess which). If you’re looking for your ‘place to be’ and have the luxury of being able to move, then reflecting on your life so far and doing a little self-analysis will help.

Living in the wrong place for who we are and what we want out of life will always leave us with an underlying sense of discontent or restlessness, often temporarily alleviated by frequent travel.

How does one go about finding one’s tribe or forever home? Some find it by accident while travelling, others make it a strategic mission to find it. Sometimes it’s a combination of both. Naturally, it does not happen while sitting on the couch doing nothing.

*Further reading: Richard Florida, “Who’s Your City?”

Here are a few suggestions:

Make a list of your personal non-negotiables.

In my case, it was being near the ocean and having easy access to an international airport. Add to this list as you go and note places that could fit this criteria. For a bit of fun, get friends and family to make a ranking – but beware, they will be selfish and rate a place by how close they are to it and how much they would like to visit.

Visualise your ideal week and routine in all its details and from that break it down into what you need.

Do you want to be near nature to go hiking or camping for the weekend? Need a creative community to be inspired and motivated? Love spending time in coffee shops or would you rather sit by a beach or lake? How is your health? Are you willing to learn a new language? Are you in it for the long haul? Are you willing to make the necessary sacrifices and give up your place, your things and a measure of comfort (for a while) to realise your dream? How are you going to support yourself? Finding the home that is right for us does not automatically mean that it is going to be easy there. But since we will be at our best and functioning at optimal levels, we will be able to cope better with any challenges.

Pro tip: whatever you do, do not fall in love with a place until you have checked if visa regulations allow you to stay long term.

Be proactive in finding your tribe. A feeling of belonging comes from having the right people in our lives.

So meeting people is crucial. Whether you need a tribe or just one or two friends – often people from a certain area or culture we seem to easily connect with will point us to where we need to be.

Explore more. It does not always have to be the big trip around the world.

Discover new areas in your own city, go on road trips on the weekend, meet more people from other places, watch documentaries. Get a feel for what makes you truly happy. It’s the unexpected little bursts of excitement and joy that point to a potential life of contentment.

What happens to the lucky ones who find the home of their heart? They will either begin an exhausting and expensive relationship with their immigration office or end up with an altogether different problem to varying degrees: Heimweh. (The Online Etymology Dictionary defines Heimweh as: The yearning for home in the heart of the one who has been kept away too long.)

But that’s another topic for another day.