19 Sep 2018

Love Where You Live

Love Where You Live on vickiarcher.com

There is one particular question I continually struggle to answer.

It is not that I don’t have an answer; simply that the answer is complex.

Where do you live?

The question asked in passing, on a day-to-day basis, has so much more meaning for me. Why?  I am a transplant; a born and raised Australian, who moved to Europe and couldn’t choose between England and France, so decided to make 3 places her home. For many years Provence and London were a split with a bit of Oz thrown in.

My head is full of this conundrum because we have just spent a few days in Sydney and it is home, it always will be. Sydney is familiar – the memories, the friends and the family – it is as if we never left and I love that.  Today I am in London, after 24 hours whirling through the skies. London is home today and in particular Notting Hill. The thing is one is no less home than the other because you have to love where you live on any given day. Yes, it has challenges and for all the excitement there are moments when I wish life were less complicated.

And then there is France.

France is home too although I am spending fewer days there than I would like for no other reason than our family is all in London. Love where you live – there is nowhere I would rather be than surrounded by my children. I feel lucky we are all in the same city at the same time and I appreciate I am a very lucky woman. Many of our friends have children and grandchildren living the world over; while they are here, I am staying put. France is a deep and long-term love affair – she’s going nowhere.

Does this mean there might be another move in me?

Why not? 

Once an expat, always an expat. That’s what they say; the first move is the hardest. What I didn’t understand until I moved was that we don’t lose anything. Nothing is given up; life expands. Loving where we live doesn’t mean only one choice; home is an enormous concept on the one hand and a very small one on the other. I would not like to think I have experienced my last, “home”. As long as my gang is with me I am braver now than ever for new adventures.

Multiple lives, many moves and different homes are not for everyone. There is nothing wrong with loving the same and celebrating the familiar. I admit to feeling envious of those with constancy and wonder how our lives would have played out had we stayed in Australia. Yet, I am not one to wish for what I don’t have and I am grateful for the exciting “lives” I have.

If you are thinking of making a big move, don’t underestimate the challenges but also be ready for the exhilaration. Staying put? Then revel in the familiarity and joy of family, friends and shared memories.

What do we have in common? Make sure you love where you live. xv

images, Anja Tufina, Eddy Milfort, David Illiff, Carla Coulson

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In This Post:



Susie Martin

Jetlag or no jetlag – another great post! Its way too easy to think the grass is always greener somewhere else…the thing is, it still needs mowing!

Taste of France

I’ve lived in four countries–five if you count New York City, which is like a universe unto itself ;) Three continents.
France is now the second-longest I’ve lived anywhere. It was very hard at first–from NYC to a village of 700. The switch to French culture was easy; the switch to rural from urban was torturous (even though I lived a few years amid coffee fields in very rural Africa, beyond electricity and running water–that was just a temporary adventure). I miss my old friends, but I quickly added very dear new ones, while keeping in touch with the old, like the song says. Silver and gold.
Moving is like having children–you think your heart is full but it expands when a new one comes along.
Will I move again? Probably. Like you, I will follow my child. It’s only now that I realize the intense pain I must have caused my parents by trotting around the world. OTOH, they visited me, and I opened up the world to them.

Nancy Thompson

So very true Vicki! By the way, I wake up to your emails every day and have loved them for years. I was born in Seattle, raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and now have lived in Denver, Colorado for 16 years. Who knew?! I spent a years missing the west coast and waxing eloquent of its charms to anyone who would listen. I had to be away for a family emergency for two months recently and oh my was I homesick for Denver and my life here! I believe Dorothy was correct. “There’s no place like home.” It’s where your heart is.


Thank you. I needed this article today! I am living where I love but feel guilty because my family is where I use to live. But at my age if I do not do this now, I never will.


My home is in Kentucky. While I love the “idea” of living in Europe, the reality is “home is where the heart is”.


Well, it can be a challenge to live in two or more places, but I have always enjoyed the experience.
I’m not living internationally, but have enjoyed living & working in two states.
Santa Fe, NM has been home for over 30 years, but southern Colorado also holds a special place for me. We are outdoor people, so the balance of desert & mountain living works very well!


I would move all over the world but only if my “gang” ( kids, grandbabies) could go with me! Ultimately, being with the people I love makes every country we’ve called home a good one. Traveling for buying antiques all over is always fun, but coming home to my darling family is the ultimate thrill.

Bettie pardee

Now that the comments have started down the grassy path, let me use an old gardening parable…bloom where you are planted. Vicky, you set such a beautiful example in Provence and have continued to provide us with enviable living venues. How blessed you are to have enjoyed so many places to “live.”
On another note… Norma T and I were in Ireland over the weekend and reminisced about our special lunch together in Paris. Merci encore! xB


Where is our next one?? Ireland is somewhere I am yet to visit… On the very long list of places to see.. :)


You are very fortunate to have two homes in two countries. Whether you are in England or France, you are going home. It’s very different than just visiting. You are surrounded by your ‘things’, speak the language fluently and have close friends & community in each country. The majority of us fly in for a visit, tour like crazy and return home to what is our normal. I must admit I am suffering from a touch of envy, Vicki.


And I sometimes feel the same about the solidity and comfort of one continued existence.. Promise… each has its good points… :)

Michelle à Détroit

I learned at a very early age to never become too emotionally attached to a house, wherever it may be located. I saw how my mother suffered to sell our house and move when my father died at a young age. My rather clinical detachment from any particular piece of real estate is making our upcoming move from the house my husband and I have shard for the past 20 years much easier.

My situation is much simpler than yours, Vicki. We have a home here in Detroit and a home in Naples, FL. Detroit and Naples might as well be two different planets! Once we sell the Detroit home, we will buy a much easier to maintain townhome somewhere in Metro Detroit. Winters will be spent in Naples. Easy Peasy. Our biggest problem is how to get our adorable adopted stray cat to travel by plane and and live indoors in Naples. He loves the outdoors and knows nothing about alligators. Without our new little family member, it wouldn’t feel like home.

I grew up here in Detroit but spent almost 30 years in New York City, half of it on the Upper West Side and the other half on the Upper East Side. New York will always feel like home, too.

La Contessa

Funny you should mention this NOW as I’m struggleing with your question at this very moment!I belong in Europe!How would I move that Pet Pig Of Mine?!!!!How do I leave family behind?Not going to happen for ME!Need to find a way to make my Life More like This!!!Not an easy solution.xx


lived in different countries and it was always home to us. It was very important to have
yr beloved around and some personal things. It was always a new experience but never
regreted . I could live everywhere, making new experiences good or bad, new friends etc. OK not just everywhere…you know what I mean


Vicki, this is all so true and timely. Having just purchased our little dream home in Provence I have returned to Australia feeling I’ve left a large part of my heart there and the adjustment of returning hasnt been as easy as I thought. It is a great privilege but a tension I feel I will need to balance carefully and look for the best in both and the biggest of all is not comparing the two.


It is a balancing act Sally-Ann and one I feel permanently committed to. It is not always easy, oftentimes very challenging but the flip side.. life is never dull. Time is needed to acclimatise to both sides of the world. Tonight I feel a little discombobulated… tomorrow I will feel completely back to normal… I will delay a Provencal visit for a week or so in order to give myself time to settle back in… :)


“Once an expat, always an expat.” So true, Vicki. I have lived on four continents and made my home equally on every one of them. If my husband were to come home this evening and float the idea of another move, it would take less than 24 hours for me to arrange the packers! As you wrote, “nothing is given up; life expands.”


I have travelled the world, enjoyed the history and beauty of Europe, with France “to die for ” but give me my small seaside village with its exquisite clean empty beaches in Australia
any day. So so lucky.


Yes absolutely, Lynne and knowing where “home” is and is meant to be is the greatest gift of all…


Like Joanna said, I think it’s your family/friends, your treasured house and a sense of belonging to a community that is home for me. I’ve lived in FL my whole life and love it. Ideally, I think having two or three homes would be perfect!!


It is funny that you bring this up because while I have traveled quite an awful lot (I just made my 59th visit to Europe, plus a handful of visits to Latin America and a handful of visits to the Antipodes/Asia) I have only lived in my hometown, my college town, and my post-college town. All east coast USA. Currently metro DC, in Arlington. Metro DC over half of my life actually – post college. I have been musing lately about making a big life change before ten more years are up. What has sustained me for so long is that I travel a lot and pieces of my heart are in other places – Paris for instance. My heart sings when I am in Paris, Is that because Paris is like an affair, lots of anticipation and short stolen time, versus the marriage of living in a very nice home and commuting to an intense corporate job that you sometimes think if you just sold the very nice home you could have a different career/life path? Would Paris be different if I married it? I don’t know.

Do I LOVE metro DC? I like it a great great deal and I am very fortunate. Would I greatly miss it if I moved somewhere else appealing? I am not sure. I would miss my friends. I haven’t *lived* in enough variety of places to say “I’ve tried it all and I’ve got the best of my world right here”. Maybe because I am single with no kids (not sure how that happened but here we are).

Where I am is home, but, I haven’t tested the “is my heart here too”. My family isn’t here. They are in either Erie PA (could never move back) or in the winters, Florida. I don’t think I could live in Florida either but I really like being there when my parents are there in winter. I have spent quite a bit of time there, in winter, these past four years.

I had a beach house near Hilton Head Island for ten years. I liked it there too but my heart wasn’t there either – on the other hand, corporate job, didn’t give it the time to get attached – weekends here and there. I sold it and never looked back.

I think I am still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.


Wonderful post! SoCal is far from France. The flight takes forever from LA. However it doesn’t stop us from going!!

Kerrie Roberts

Hi Vicki. We are Australians from Sydney now living in southwest France. While I do miss spending time with my family, I feel more ‘at home’ here in europe. We have made many new friends here and have lots of visitors from Aus. Taking that first step was the most difficult but now all we see is opportunity.


If you belong to a diplomatic family, life is all about living in a variety of different countries. A great – and at times – challenging experience. We learned so much, made friends with such a variety of different people of all walks of life, climbed mountains, taught people how to make pavlova learned to manage a household with servants, some of them live-in. One of the side effects is that you develop a passion for travel, or maybe it’s one of the reasons we choose this life in the first place. However, one of the downsides can be that our children acquire this passion very early and may never recover. So many of our friends have children who live permanently overseas or take to the life of the perpetual, rootless expat. Sad for these parents. When we were on postings I used to write by snailmail (before email existed) to my mother and MiL every week without fail – big newsy letters about our lives, and have our son do the same about himself, though he didn’t need to write more than one page. After my Mum died I found all the carefully preserved letters and cards from us amongst her things and realised how much she had treasured them. Also often wrote to friends. This way they shared things of our lives and we didn’t lose contact. It may be easier now with email but I wonder if they include all the stories and funny things that we did. Best wishes, Pamela


I love where I’ve lived and love where I live now. I think that it’s the people, especially your family that makes a place home. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, but I grew up as an adult, along side my husband, in Boston. We have lived in Minneapolis for 21 years as working professionals in our first and probably “forever home.” I think what has made every one of these three locations for me “home” are the adventures turned memory. Each place has it’s special mark in my life, because wherever you take your heart, that’s home for me.


Oh dear! You and your readers have triggered the wanderlust in me AGAIN. But I now need a booster rocket to get myself moving, daunting and exciting at the same time! Research time. Thank you very much for bringing up this topic and for all the comments from your wonderful readers!!


Vicki, I assume that you had a fleeting visit to your mum. I do hope all is well. Home is as they say where the heart is and I think that you have nailed it. What a wonderful life.


I loved reading this post and all the replies. I grew up in just outside DC, went to college in Manhattan and lived there for a few years after. My husband is from LA, where we raised our 3 children. We have 2 who stayed and one ended up in DC ( old town Alexandria). My husband and I now have a condo in LA, a rented apartment in DC and we just sold out home in Florida. We were thing about possibly going to France or Italy for a year or 2 before purchasing our final/retirement home in Florida (my husband likes the tax situation there). This post has certainly given me food for thought!

Merlin Parde

Well…forty years in Arlington,VA/DC in my beautiful English Tudor and now….log cabin in central VA…true, it is lovely on a lake…but….I am so homesick for, well, many things…it’s been four years and it still is called, “the cabin” to me…franki


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