In the past few years I have been bouncing around living in "someone else's home." Whether it was an apartment I was renting or a partner's home I was sharing, it has never been "mine." I have rambled on (in this column) about landscaping and remodeling projects, but they honestly never felt like work I was doing on my own home. There really is something to owning your own place. When I built my home in Lincoln, I had never felt a more calming sense of home ownership. Although I knew I was going to sell, it was truly mine and that feeling of "home" was crystal clear. But what exactly does "home" mean?
We have all heard or read about the benefits of home ownership. We have explored both sides of the table in this column and there are countless articles written on the subject. "There are financial, emotional, social and even physiological benefits to owning your own home," notes Badger Realty agent, Nubian Duncan. "While these are all directly tied to the actual ownership of a structure you call home, there are benefits outside that entity that impact your life in a myriad of ways," he continued.
Simply having a place to lay your head is not enough. When I have been in between residences, I have had the option of crashing on a number of couches with friends and family. This is certainly more cost-effective than a motel, but doesn’t really satisfy the need to feel grounded or home. I also tend to feel a bit obtrusive when I’m staying with friends and never really get the sense of being relaxed. I've always liked the saying: having house guests is like fish. After 3 days it starts to stink. My decision to always rent a room for a week or two was based on just that. When I get home from a day out in the woods or in the office I can come back to a place I can call my own, if only for a few days.
Many of my belongings are still in bins in the garage. A nice rainy-day project is to just spend some time sifting through them and reacquainting myself with my stuff. I’m confident the sense of familiarity we get when we walk into our front door lies right there in those plastic bins. The reason we tell sellers to remove pictures and personal items during showings, is the same reason these items are so important to our sense of home. Being surrounded by familiar faces, if only in picture form, provides a sense of warmth and belonging that only the individual can know and appreciate.
Outside of the material benefits of being home, there are physiological benefits as well. I have found, even with having a lovely full kitchen, I still long for the days where everything was in its place and was mine. Not to sound selfish, but I purchase things that I like and I want to enjoy those things in my kitchen. Building or living in what will be your "forever" home, affords you that luxury. I enjoy cooking and appreciate the value of a good kitchen. Knowing where everything is and being able to pull together a healthy meal are two of the things I’m most looking forward to when I finally land "home."
I make an effort to reduce stress where possible and minimize the drama that surrounds me. That is one of the many reasons I don’t watch the news. The benefits of home ownership reach beyond the walls of your house and offer the comfort and security of a stable place to return. When I’m out hiking in The White Mountains or even traveling for business, the knowledge that I have a comfortable place to come home to, as well as the companionship of my partner, eases the stress of being away. I know when I return, all of my belongings and all those things that make this house my/our home will be right there waiting for me, even if that means the dirty dishes in the sink!
We have a large percentage of second homeowners here in the valley and all across the White Mountains. Every one of these homes and condos I have shown over the years has one thing in common. They all contain pieces of the owners’ life. There are family portraits, seasons passes and a myriad of other items that remind the owner of their friends and family as well as the fun they have while on vacation. There is no better way to make your vacation home feel like “home” than by duplicating those techniques that work at your primary house.
I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to have a “home”. Even if it is not my own. It doesn’t matter if you rent or own, having a place to hang your hat and store your stuff has immeasurable value. The next time you walk through your front door, I encourage you to take a moment to look around and appreciate the comfort and stability your home provides.