How Being A Digital Nomad Helps Me Think About The Idea of ‘Home’

We’ve had a great time living in Prague.

Some of the highlights of our time here have included:

 

We are just about to move to our next destination- Budapest! I have written about it here.

 

I wanted to write about a topic that I was thinking about on the way to the airport in Lisbon- what makes a place home and what does home mean for me?

There are many wonderful things about being a digital nomad. One of the ones that can be a little difficult to get used to is constantly saying goodbye to places. I am an outgoing, confident person. I can also be a bit of a homebody.

Like most people, my idea of home has changed and expanded over the years.

 

Growing up I had one home, in Brighton with my family. We always lived in the home I grew up in and my parents and sister are still there. Here’s an article by my dad.

 

Now, I feel I have 3 homes:

  • The home I grew up in.
  • My in-laws house, the home my wife grew up in (I’ve actually been lucky enough to live there for a number of months).
  • Wherever I happen to be living- this has so far included Cambridge, Romania, Japan, all over London, Las Palmas, Berlin, Lisbon and Prague- by the time we move to Budapest that will be 10 cities overall- and maybe nearly 20 different places I’ve lived in those cities that I could call home for a little while. Plus of course I’ve been to a lot of other places for holidays that had a sense of home and security for a short amount of time.

 

For me there are two things that now make a place feel home:

 

  • Home is wherever my wife happens to be- as long as she and I are safe, that place feels like home.

 

  • Home is where something, however small, feels familiar.

 

 

If I had to say which city feels most like my home- I would say I feel most like a Brightonian (person from Brighton). It is the place I have lived longest and most identify with so far. Despite that I have loved things about every place I have ever lived.

 

What makes somewhere home to you?

Here are some of the things that I’ve found matter to me- and I’ve especially noticed as a digital nomad:

 

Having a place to lay your head that doesn’t change every night? Having a familiar bed, familiar lighting or familiar sounds around you can make a difference.

Having some material things that you like around you? While I don’t consider myself a minimalist person or particularly try to live a minimalist lifestyle, living as a digital nomad this happens by necessity. For example, for this trip we left in February. For that, I brought two bags with me. One large rucksack, one laptop bag. I think I have only one ‘luxury’ item that I take with me. Rather randomly, it is a very large plastic ice cube tray- one of the coolest (both figuratively and literally) things I’ve ever been given. The main material thing that I think makes me feel settled is having the means to make coffee where we live. This has ranged from proper coffeemakers in some places to a jar of instant, an electric kettle and a mug right now.

Knowing some people locally? By knowing people I don’t mean that they have to be your best mates. It can be as simple as someone in a local pub or restaurant recognizing you as you go in. Just some small feeling that you aren’t entirely a new person to all the locals around you.

Feeling like an ‘insider’ in some way? It makes me proud for example when a tourist asks me for directions and I can actually be helpful- especially if they mistake me for a local at first!

Knowing a shortcut? I think Lisbon, for example felt a lot more like home when we realised that we could get down the massive hill near us via one lift hidden at the back of the supermarket and another in a hollowed-out building!

Knowing your way around? It is always a nice feeling when you have been in a place long enough that you start moving in autopilot. You are walking along thinking about something and you look up and you have got a lot further than you realised without worrying about where you were going.

Feeling like you would be missed somewhere? I think that this is one of the most difficult ones to achieve. You would probably only be missed in a place once you have put down some roots and I haven’t put down deep roots in many places I have lived, especially not as a digital nomad. As a digital nomad it isn’t a good idea most of the time as you would miss places that you are leaving too much!

 

What does home mean to you? If you are a digital nomad how has it changed your appreciation of home?

 

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