For people around the world, home is more than the physical place where they reside. It’s a place within their hearts.

The feeling of home is central to who people are; the home itself is a statement about people’s identities. We focused on the meaning of home in our latest study of global adults, spanning 18 countries to reach over 11,000 people aged 25 to 64. This is part of a series of stories that dive into this topic.

Here’s what we learned about why home is so meaningful:

It’s an intrinsic part of people’s identities. For most, home is an essential part of who they are (91%) and a reflection of their values (91%). It’s a connection to the past, with 83% saying their home is filled with memories. Most people (86%) believe their home reflects who they are as individuals.

It’s a source of pride and a form of self-expression. Thep, a 48-year-old in the US, told us, “After I settled down in my career and was finally able to purchase a home, I started focusing on things to make the place my home; whether it be upgrading fixtures or working on the house. There was a sense of pride and I found myself wanting to spend more time there.” Home is an expression of personal style for 86% of adults. For 76%, it’s one of the greatest achievements of their lives. Two-thirds of people (67%) enjoy showing their home off to guests. Most say it’s important to make their home beautiful (91%) as well as neat and organized (88%). For 74%, decorating, renovating, or other types of improvement makes them feel at home.

The feeling of home extends beyond the four walls of a living structure. While home can be just a physical structure, the feeling of home can happen in other spaces.

  • The outdoors. For most people, nature creates an “at-home” feeling (85%). More than half (54%) consider the outdoors to be a home away from home, and 31% feel this way about a body of water, like the ocean or a lake. As Bron, a 45-year-old in South Africa told us, “If ever I feel mad, sad, or just down, I get to work with sea sand, shells, parts of nature. It calms me and reminds me of when I lived by the ocean.”
  • Community. Almost three-quarters of people (72%) believe the community where they live is as important as their home. Many feel at home when taking a walk in their neighborhood (32%), conversing with neighbors (23%), or shopping locally (23%). For 17%, a restaurant or bar is a home away from home. The intimacy of knowing a place is meaningful to 46-year-old Juan in Argentina, who talked about “… that feeling of understanding the people of Buenos Aires, what’s going on in every neighborhood, every corner.” That feeling, that understanding, is belonging for him.

Home is an emotional state. People care about what their home looks like. And for 87% of adults, the feeling of their home matters more than its physical appearance. Without a feeling of home, most people say they would be lost (86%). For 78%, home is more a state of mind than a physical place.