A while back, I wrote about the sometimes-tricky question of when you can say you’ve visited a place. The thing is, sometimes there’s a blurry line between just passing through the airport and full immersion.

That line gets even blurrier when it comes to saying you’ve “lived” in a place. Sure, most of us probably wouldn’t say we’ve lived in Paris after a couple week visit, but what about after a month? Or six months? Have you lived in a place after a study abroad? Or following a lengthy work trip?

There’s no right or wrong answer here, and it ultimately boils down to a combination of personal preference and the nature of the trip. But here are a few things I consider when I’m deciding if I can say I’ve lived in a place:

1. I visited the dentist at least once there.

2. I had to get my car repaired.

3. I stayed in and binge watched some Netflix shows.

4. I didn’t get lost for a week or more.

5. I visited the same restaurant three or four times.

6. I know the names of some of my neighbors.

7. I bought something at the grocery store because it was on sale.

8. Or I waited to go to the grocery store because I was holding out for a sale.

9. Public transit wasn’t fun any more.

10. Being woken up by street noise also wasn’t fun any more.

11. I knew which was the better of two or more bakeries.

12. I had to wait in some long, government line (eg the DMV here in the states.)

13. I hung something of my own — art, a photo, whatever — on the wall.

14. I made food at home more often than going out.

15. I got a haircut.

This isn’t a hard and fast list (I didn’t get a haircut after moving back to LA for like a year, for example), but it does help me decide how to think and talk about the places I’ve been.

Related reading: 

When can you say you’ve visited a place?

— Jim Dalrymple II


Written by Jim Dalrymple II

Urbanism and travel writer. Also a journalist covering the news.

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