In this article, we focus on the many interpretations of “home”. The topic was approached through an online survey conducted on the questia.ro platform. The research study was active between November 6th and November 8th, 2018 and covered 1003 respondents, with a +/- 3% margin of error when reported to the Romanian online population.

Overview

Our starting point was Ikea’s Life At Home 2018 Report that revealed unexpected insights regarding the feelings of belonging, loneliness and the effects of living in an urban area. What was in fact, rather unexpected, was that even though home is the place where people make the first steps in which they develop and relax, 35% of city residents don’t feel at home in the current place they live in.

For the study, they surveyed 22K people from 22 countries about their daily life. The research reveals "what makes a home, home" from four perspectives: Place, Relationships, Things, and Space.

The Space perspective reveals that houses must be flexible and provide us with a space for both intimacy and relationships. Our house extends beyond the four walls, especially for the younger generation. Nowadays, more and more people (42%) are feeling more “at home” in places that aren’t the ones they are living in.

Relationships are believed to be the essence of “what make a home, home”, as 48% of people think of home as the place where most important relationships are born and live. Nearly 1 in 4 people (23%) believe that Wi-Fi is more important than social space in order to maintain home relationships, as virtual connections allow us to feel together, even if we are alone. Moreover, good connections with our neighbors tend to improve our feelings of safety, happiness and satisfaction. However, if they had one extra hour, 25% of respondents would choose to spend it alone.

The Things approach reveals that things that mean a lot to us are the ones that sustain our existence. We have begun to replace the value of the objects themselves with the appreciation of the experiences they can provide. Almost half of the Ikea Study respondents (43%) believe that what really counts are the objects that allow them to do what they like.

Thinking of home as a Place, the conclusion derived from the research is that the senses contribute to feeling better at home, as in the smell of the place, the taste, sound, touch and the sight of it. On this note:

  • 40% of the people believe that their home has a specific smell
  • 18% say they associate home with a certain taste
  • 59% listen to music in order to feel ”at home”
  • 23% would like to change the brightness in their places

The 2016 Bucharest replicated Ikea study, “Explore Life at Home”, reveals insights regarding Romanians’ life at home:

  • "Home" is a place for positive emotions
  • If they have an extra free hour, 55% of people living in Bucharest would choose to spend it with a family member; however, 3 out of 10 people would choose to spend it alone
  • The online environment plays an increasingly important role: 28% of the respondents believe that online interaction is more important than inviting people at home
  • Over half of Bucharest inhabitants keep things that remind them of something important and dear to their lives
  • However, 62% say they have too many things in the house to be able to organize it and 55% consider that a beautiful home means fewer things inside the house
  • 1 in 2 Bucharest citizens associate their home with a specific smell; in addition, 58% believe that all houses have a specific smell
  • When thinking about the ideal home, 47% of the Bucharest people imagine a spacious house and 37% a tidy house
  • To create the feeling of "home", 75% of Bucharest residents are concerned with lighting (compared to the global average of 31%) and moments with loved ones
  • 3 out of 5 Bucharest people think the home means more than the walls of the dwelling, and 49% see the neighborhood as part of "home"
  • Respondents prefers to stay in someone's home when travelling due to hospitality and the presence of a personal fingerprint
  • 52% of young people aged between 18 and 29 feel at home outside their own home

Home is no longer just a physical space as it became a place to which we are attached, which grants us the basic needs of safety and privacy and where we first learn the feelings of love and care through dear ones.

Findings

First, let’s asses the type of housing respondents chose to live in. Over half of them (61.1%) currently live in a block of flats, while the rest live in houses (38.7%). Most of respondents (89.3%) do not live alone, mainly choosing to stay with their partner (59%) or their family (29.3%).

The housing is for more than three-quarters of them (81%) owned property (with 63.6% already owning the place, while 17.4% still pay bank installments). A small percentage of 12.3% of respondents live in a rented place.

A little more than half of the respondents (56.3%) still live in the city where they were born.

Respondents tend to identify the concept of home with family (16.3%), serenity (11.3%) and safety (8.4%), when they were asked to type the first word that comes to their mind when thinking of the term “home”.

Now, digging deeper into what “home” really means, most respondents (93.5%) believe that their current housing is their home. The reason for this is because they are surrounded by family (33.3%), which is the top word they mentioned when thinking about what defines “home” for them. Moreover, the comfort (15.5%), their loved ones (13.5%) and safety (12.5%) add up to considering their current lodging as their home.

The most important room for almost half of the respondents (44.4%) seems to be the bedroom, while for more than a quarter (29.6%) is the living room.

Respondents were given five factors of core emotional needs connected to the home, as identified by the “Ikea Life at Home 2018” study and were asked which ones they are most content with in their actual home. The five factors were: Belonging, Comfort, Ownership, Privacy and Security. The data is quite consistent across each factor, with at least 75% of respondents reporting that they are happy with all the factors in their current home. The most fulfilling factor is the level of safety (92.8%), followed closely by intimacy (88.8%) and comfort (87.5%).

Having as a starting point the “Ikea Life at Home 2018” study where 45% of the American respondents go to their car and outside of their home to have a moment to themselves, while only the same percentage (45%) feel a sense of privacy in the space they live in, we asked the respondents where they feel the most comfortable, intimate and safe. Most of the Romanian respondents (over 85% in all cases) feel the most comfortable, the safest and the most intimate in the space they currently live in, followed by their parents’ homes (over 9% for comfort and safety).

Furthermore, we wanted to find out in what place they feel at “home” the most. It seems that most of the respondents (85%) already found the feeling of home and that happens to be where they currently live.

A house is made of bricks and beams. A home is made of hopes and dreams. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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