Worldwide, almost 250 million people live outside their native country. “For more and more of us, home has really less to do with a piece of soil than with a piece of soul,” says Pico Iyer.

Iyer, a well-known travel writer, addressed the question of ‘where is home’ during a captivating TED talk. It resonates with him personally: Iyer’s parents were Indian, but he was born and educated in Britain, pays his taxes in the United States, and lives in Japan on a tourist visa. Therefore, home is not a geographical location to him. The meaning of this really hit him after losing his home in a California wildfire. “My home would have to be whatever I carried around inside me. And in so many ways, I think this is a terrific liberation.”

Become yourself
“Nowadays, at least some of us can choose our sense of home, create our sense of community, fashion our sense of self, and in so doing maybe step a little beyond some of the black and white divisions of our grandparents’ age,” says Iyer. “More and more of us are rooted in the future or the present tense as much as in the past. And home, we know, is not just the place where you happen to be born. It’s the place where you become yourself.”

Find a home
“And yet, there is one great problem with movement,” he argues, “and that is that it’s really hard to get your bearings when you’re in midair.” Therefore, Iyer spends time in a Benedictine hermitage in California every year. “It’s only by stepping out of your life and the world that you can see what you most deeply care about and find a home,” he explains. “Home, in the end, is of course not just the place where you sleep. It’s the place where you stand.”

Karen Glerum
Global Connection
Expat Partner Support


Adapted and edited from an original article, in Global Connection’s media for spouses (B2B subscription) and HR, on the subject of expat life.