Home is more than where you live
In this month’s Where We Live issue, I wanted to try to answer the question: What is home?
By definition, home is the physical place where you live. It is where we make our meals, spend time with our families, watch Netflix and lay our heads.
But it is also a feeling. Home is a feeling that you are comfortable, secure, and that you belong. Home is more than a house or apartment; it’s loved ones, friends, co-workers, and our neighbors. The people we choose to surround ourselves with strengthen our attachment to where we live, creating a home.
More than 1.3 million people are making a home in New Hampshire. Some were born here, but the majority of those who live in the Granite State moved here.
As the mill economy took hold in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, immigrants came here to work. After the southern portion of Interstate 93 was completed in the early 1960s, even more made their way here. While migration isn’t anywhere near where it was during those periods, high-skilled jobs are still attracting many to New Hampshire.
Families are also relocating for a highly ranked education system, a yearning to live “outside of the city,” good health care, a broad selection of recreational opportunities, the state’s “Live Free or Die” reputation and the absence of an income and sales tax. And yes, even our (theoretical) four seasons.
But no matter how and why you got here, why people stay has a lot to do with the safe communities they live in, the schools their kids go to, and the people with whom they form strong bonds in their communities.
It’s a state where neighbors still help neighbors and people volunteer their time to support local causes — in fact, New Hampshire is known as one of the most charitable states to live in. It’s still possible to live in a town — even a large one -— and have the postal clerk, the librarian, even the Dunkin’ employees, know you by your first name.
As the Southern tier grows, New Hampshire looks a lot different than it did when I was growing up. My hometown, with a population that has expanded by 15,000 since I first moved there in the 1980s, is almost unrecognizable in places. But many of the people I grew up with — and now their families — still make Derry their home.
The landscape may change, but the people stay the same. And they stay.