Bill Abbate

Is your house a home? Isn’t a house and home the same thing? Not even close!

One is physical — the other psychological.

Each possesses unique characteristics. A physical house is a structure, while a psychological home is a state of mind. A house is something you live in, while a home is what you make it.

Let’s examine the differences and why each is essential to living a good life.

Homes and houses

What kind of life does your home provide? Is it a place of safety and refuge? Is it secure and filled with love and peace? Is it the proverbial place “where the heart is?” A home where peace and solitude reign?

Or is your home filled with problems, struggle, strife, and contention?

A house is a structure in which people live.

A home is where people live, regardless of the structure.

Houses have many descriptions. Some say a house is a man’s castle. Wouldn’t it be a woman’s castle as well? This saying seems to have originated in 1604 with this statement:

“The house of every one is to him as his Castle and Fortress as well for defence against injury and violence, as for his repose.” Sir Edward Coke (1562–1534)

The house is so important that the Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution enshrines its security:

“The right of the people to be secure in their … houses … against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated…” Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution

Let’s look at the house (the physical structure) and the home (where the heart is.)

The house

The physical house is, well, physical. It is a house you may call home, and it may be a lovely or not-so-lovely place.

Some of us have experienced a house that seemed to be the proverbial money pit — one thing after the next needed to be repaired or replaced. The amount of time and money spent on such a place can be overwhelming.

Others have had great experiences and good fortune with houses, building equity over the years, selling, and moving into ever-larger houses.

A house is the largest investment in most people’s lives. Things like cars are terrible investments because they can significantly depreciate over time. Because a house is far more permanent than a car, it is almost a sure bet that its value will rise over time.

The home

Creating a home is one of the wisest investments we can make in life. Love and family make a home. Fortunate are those who have this experience.

From a psychological standpoint, the home has so much more meaning than anything physical could ever have. Home is truly where the heart is, which can extend outside the walls and the roof to include your hometown, home city, home state, and home country.

Some of us have experienced a home filled with hate, bickering, dispute, dread, and horrors. My heart goes out to those who live in such places.

Did you know the saying “home is where the heart is” is 2000 years old? The Roman philosopher known as Pliny the Elder stated this simple truth long ago:

“Home is where the heart is.” Gaius Plinius Secundus (c. 24–79 AD)

Many people have referenced home as being where the heart is since.

Nearly two centuries ago, Emerson wrote:

“A house is made with walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

You can build a home within the walls of the house. Or you can build it outside the walls in your mind. Your home is defined by who you are and who you are becoming. Its foundation is your relationships. Physical walls and a roof over your head do not define your home. Your home is created by how you see and what you think.


Your home can consist of far more than a house. My home state is Virginia, where I was born. Even though I live a hundred miles west, I still consider a community named Great Bridge in the city of Chesapeake as my hometown. But living and traveling the world from early childhood, “home” always seemed so far away. Not a house, mind you, but the place I always called home.

I must admit my home is an incredible blessing. Despite losing my first wife and only daughter, I have a new life now. I finally retired to my home state of Virginia to a beautiful house that is no longer just a structure. Jane, my wife, and I have made it a true home.

I am blessed to have a wife like Jane, who takes such care to ensure our house is a home and not just another residence. It is a warm, inviting place filled with love and peace. I feel so safe and secure in our home. There is no other place in the world I would rather be. For me, home truly is where the heart is, and my heart is here.

We are near family and have so many great friends around us. We have a home church we love and serve in. Jane and I worked hard for more than 40 years to settle down and make this place our own.

Doesn’t it sound far better to live in a home rather than a house? A home is far more personal and has so much more meaning.

“He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832)

Building a home

Making a house into a place you call home and filling it with love is a wonderful accomplishment by any measure.

Some great advice on how to build a home is from the Bible, written nearly 3000 years ago:

“A [home] is built by wisdom and becomes strong through good sense. Through knowledge its rooms are filled with all sorts of precious riches and valuables.” (Proverbs 24:3–4 NLT)

The wisdom referenced in this scripture comes from God and not the world. It is found by reading and studying the Bible while being filled with Him and His Holy Spirit. Faith in God starts you on the path to building a home that will be secure and that will last into eternity.

The strongest homes are those built on faith in God with a Christ-centered life.

Final thoughts

Home is where your roots are or where you put them down. To make your house a home, you only need to add the ingredients of relationships, family, and love.

Remember, home is where the heart is and also what you make it. Why not be intentional and build the best possible home so you can live the best life possible? There is no more satisfying way of being in the world.

To have the best home, make it a home of faith and trust in Jesus Christ, who will fill it with much peace, joy, hope, and love! And don’t forget that ultimate home waiting for believers in eternity.

There is no better time than now to think about where you want your heart and home to be. Why not give it some serious thought to help you live the best life possible?

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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