Home thoughts: Can it be a "home" if only one person lives there?

*Please note: the question is **NOT **whether a single, childless person who has no family and lives alone can invite friends, etc., over to make the place more festive, homey, cozy, and generally a more fun place to be. I believe the obvious answer to that is “yes.” *

My question is: is it really Home when I am here by myself with no one else here and no children, family (siblings, parents, etc.), or Significant Other in my life?

Sometimes it feels like home and sometimes it doesn’t. I can’t put my finger on what makes the difference.

I have a friend who lives alone and never has anyone over. He has two cats and he says he and the cats constitute a family and he feels quite at home there. I do have cats and dogs. But I don’t think of myself and my pets as a real family. It feels like a pretend family.

Suggested discussion questions:
-What makes a home?
-Can you make a home for yourself by yourself?
-When does a place become home?
-When does it STOP being home (for example, you start spending so much time at your SO’s place that their place feels more like home than your place)?
-Can a person be Your Home? (One of my girlfriends says this about her husband, “When I’m with him, I’m home.”)
-Do you sometimes feel more at home in a temporary place (like a camp, or a hotel room) than you do at your primary residence?
-How do you make yourself feel welcome in your own home?
-Does taking care of the home (cleaning, fixing, decorating) make it feel more like your home?

My first thought is that I don’t understand the question. Why would it NOT be home? Once I have moved my stuff in and I am living there, it’s home.

Home is a place where you can sit around in your underpants scratching yourself and talking to the dogs in funny voices, not because you’re so alone and pathetic that it doesn’t matter what you do, but because you’re happy and comfortable and that’s what you happen to feel like doing. It doesn’t matter whether anybody else lives there or not.

What a bizarre question. I don’t understand this whole “I have to be around other people in order to be a valid person” thing. Some of us would even rather be alone, if you can imagine that. Of course a one-person home is a home.

“Home is where the heart is.”

Home is wherever you feel comfortable being yourself. Even though I live with others now, when I was living alone I thought of my apartment as my haven from the world so of course it was home. :slight_smile:

I am confused. When I lived alone, I referred to my apartment as my home. It was where I lived. I can picture it now. I’m over at my friends’ house, but it’s getting late:

“Gosh, I’m tired. I think it’s time to go back to the place where I keep my belongings and sleep.”

I agree, “home” is simply wherever I am living. That’s why I find it odd that many university students equate “home” with where their parents live (ie, “Are you living at home?” “Are you going home for the holidays?”).

Generally my thought is “home is where my stuff is”. If it’s the place you keep all your creature comforts, it’s probably fair to call it a home.

Hmm, yes and no. I feel this way too about my SO. But it’s a more metaphorical use. When I’m with him, I never feel restless and detached, so in a sense that’s like emotionally coming home. So as an extension of that, a home in the sense of a physical place is the place where you come back to at the end of the day to rest.

Yes, making sure that everything is cleaned and in its rightful place helps a lot. Since I live in a dorm, I have about 100 square feet to my name. I have put up a lot of pictures that I like on the walls, and I have curtains that match my bedspread and so on. When I walk into this room which I call home for now, I see lots of things around that I like, and also that I arranged myself, for myself. Everything is familiar. That makes it feel like my place.

**-What makes a home? **

A structure you live in.

**-Can you make a home for yourself by yourself? **


-When does a place become home?

When you move in.

-When does it STOP being home (for example, you start spending so much time at your SO’s place that their place feels more like home than your place)?

When you move out.

-Can a person be Your Home? (One of my girlfriends says this about her husband, “When I’m with him, I’m home.”)

In some metaphysical sense, I suppose. If you’re so comfortable with a person that staying a hotel room feels the same as staying at your apt./house, I could see using that phrase. I suspect in general though any such comment would be at least slightly hyperbolic.

**-Do you sometimes feel more at home in a temporary place (like a camp, or a hotel room) than you do at your primary residence? **


-How do you make yourself feel welcome in your own home?

Comes naturally.

Does taking care of the home (cleaning, fixing, decorating) make it feel more like your home?

For some people I’m sure it does. For others a certain level of slothful disorder probably defines their comfort :D.

Thing is, I understand where the OP is coming from, but as you can see I just don’t have the same frame of reference. Maybe it’s the fact that after a certain age my family never sat down to family meals, but for me home and family are completely disentangled in my mind. Some folks need other people they are close to around them to feel comfortable in their own skin and that’s fine. Others don’t and that’s fine as well.

I suspect that this is because it is temporary. The same thing sometimes happens when people move temporarily or during the week for work.

What counts as a “temporary” move? Living with your parents isn’t expected to be a lifelong arrangement either.

This leads to odd questions when my son comes … Err … home for the weekend. “So are you going home tomorrow or are you staying home another day?” Both his dorm and my house are “home” to him.

My home mortgage obligation suggests that this is my home.

Are you spying on me?

Yep, home is indeed where I live and rest my head at night. It’s where I feel comfortable making breakfast in my underwear. It’s where I kick my feet up and watch TV and play my Playstation and look over and see my dog sleeping on the couch. It’s where I’m glad to finally be when I come home from fighting traffic on the streets. It’s a refuge from the pressures of the world. It’s my castle and it doesn’t matter if someone else lives with me or not.

Living in dorms is somewhat more ‘temporary’ than living with your parents while growing up, not just because of the much shorter time period, but also because most universities won’t let you stay in dorms over school holidays. During those periods of time, you have to go ‘home’ to somewhere, right?

There’s also a bedroom still set up for me at my parents’ so I think it’s not unreasonable to say that both my dorm room here and my parents’ house are “home” to me.

Interesting responses… thanks. I’m not exploring the validity of aloneness v. personhood. Just the ideas and feelings surrounding “home.”

For example… if someone dies, or if a couple breaks up, sometimes home doesn’t feel like home anymore without that person or without that “coupleness,” even if you know it is still your home and you don’t have any other.

After my husband died, I had such a push-pull feeling about home. This had been our home and it WAS a haven, so I wanted to be here, and yet every day I dreaded coming home because it was so empty without him. I stayed out late every night at friends’ homes, and only came home long after dark. I would sit down at the computer and then go straight to bed. I did this for months, never sitting down in the living room or at the dining table where we ate every evening.

Have you been in a relationship that was headed for break-up and you withdrew to one part of the house/apartment that still felt like “home” to you? Maybe you were dying to get your own place… or couldn’t wait for the OP to move out so you could claim the whole space?

If home is “wherever you happen to be” then why do people balk at giving up their homes and moving to assisted living or retirement centers? Shouldn’t matter, eh? There’s more to home than the place where you hang your hat.

To me the idea of home is quite deep, layered, rich, and full of meaning. Possibly having been raised an only child Air Force brat with deeply troubled parents has something to do with it… not really having a home in one geographic place or feeling welcome with my parents. Each place was home for a while. But I never found Home until I married my husband. I DO like living alone- my late H was also an only child, so we gave each other space. The idea of home is very fluid to me- I envy those of you to whom it is rock-solid.

I suppose it depends on the person , but the opposite of “temporary” isn’t “lifelong” . There is a difference between a student going off to college knowing ahead of time that he or she will be living there from Sept to June, will return to the nest over vacations, will return to a different dorm room the next September , and will return to the nest for at least a few months after graduation and one who moves to the same town and rents an apartment with no particular time limit on how long he or she will remain after graduation.

Like I said, it also happens with people who work far from home. I know people who stay in Brooklyn during the workweek and go home to upstate New York on weekends - they talk of waiting to be transferred “home” and the apartment in Brooklyn is like a cut-rate hotel to them.

I’d appreciate hearing the thoughts of people in their 40’s, 50’s, and up, too.

A somewhat related thread I started a few years ago.

Since then, my parents’ house is definitely not feeling much like home anymore. As I got busier and my life more independent I visited less and less, so my old room “deteriorated” into something that wasn’t really mine anymore. They’ve replaced the flooring and repainted the walls and got rid of my old bed so now it feels like a completely different room.

I’ve had to move around a lot, and I agree with the sentiment that home is where my stuff is.