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With my first character, Lydia would hang out in the Jarl of Whiterun's palace until I bought Breezehome, and then she moved in there. With my second character, I don't own Breezehome, but I do own Honeyside. I dismissed Lydia and went to find her later, but she didn't appear in either location.

I assume I simply haven't waited long enough, but I would like to know where to expect her. How does Lydia determine her home?

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If you own Breezehome, she should be there. Otherwise she should be in Dragonreach (the keep in Whiterun), so you might just be dealing with a glitch.

  • So she won't ever appear at another home? – Invader Skoodge Nov 30 '11 at 1:15
  • @StrixVaria — No. Each purchasable home has its own housecarl. Lydia will only hang out in Whiterun when she's off-duty. – Ben Blank Nov 30 '11 at 1:46
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    If you enlisted her in the Blades with Delphine she will appear in the Sky Haven Temple. I forget I had enlisted her and had to use a console command to find her. – Mike Weller Dec 2 '11 at 19:07
  • Note that, with Hearthfire, if you have purchased and built Heljarchen Hall, Lydia will go there instead of Breezehome. – Peter Lillevold Oct 5 '13 at 13:34
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It depends on what you have done with her. If you don't have a house then she's in Dragonreach, if you have bought Breezehome in Whiterun she will be there unless you have made her a Blade then she'll be at Sky Haven Temple.

There's a rumor if you do the Stormcloak quest where you take over Whiterun you lose her and can't get her back. Whether or not this is true though I'm not sure.

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Tarkenfire's answer is correct, except that the Hearthfire DLC adds another possibility: if you've made Lydia the steward of one of your homes, such as Lakeview Manor, then she will be waiting there instead of at Breezehome.

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