If you’ve been following along my journey these past few months, you know I have sold my Jackson NH real estate home and am currently waiting for my new apartment to be finished. Last word I received is that I’ll be moving in on Wednesday. All things considered, I could not be happier. I was fortunate enough to spend a couple lovely weeks in Florida as the 41 year-old living with his parents. I love my mom and dad and we are fortunate to enjoy each other’s company. While this was a welcome taste of home, it still did not satiate my need to feel “home”. But what exactly does that mean?
We have all heard or read 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. 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.
Simply having a place to lay your head is not enough. When I returned to New Hampshire I 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. My decision to rent a room for the week 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.
All of my belongings are in a storage unit. When I first got home from Florida, I went to the unit and just spent some time sifting through a few boxes and reacquainting myself with my stuff. It was incredibly pacifying to be surrounded by my “home” after living out of a suitcase for the better part of a month. I’m confident the sense of familiarity we get when we walk into our front door lies right there in those boxes. 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 my kitchenette, that I tend to eat dinner out most every night. Breakfast and lunch are easily enough taken care of, but the thought of creating (and cleaning) a meal on a single burner stove and a microwave just doesn’t work for me. 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 in that apartment. The variety and quality of the meals I can create will surpass anything I’m getting eating. That’s not to take away from some of the yummy restaurants we enjoy around the valley, but I’m sure my health and diet will immediately benefit, as will my wallet.
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 cat, eases the stress of being away. I know when I return, all of my belongings and all those things that make this house my 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 celebrate 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”. I have an apartment waiting for me to make it my own and have had a nice time visiting with family and even living in the motel. 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.