Katherine Heigl opens up about decision to raise children in Utah: ‘The right choice for our family’

Katherine Heigl has reflected on her decision to raise her children away from the spotlight.

The Grey’s Anatomy alum, 44, recently opened up about her newfound life in Utah, where she lives with her husband Josh Kelley and their three children: daughters Naleigh, 13, and Adalaide, 11, and son Joshua, six.

During Thursday’s episode of Today with Hoda & Jenna, Heigl revealed that the idea to settle down outside of Hollywood actually came from her mother, Nancy. “People might see you and think: ‘I bet you live in Hollywood, where most people live in your profession.’ But I love where you lay down your life,” co-host Hoda Kotb told Heigl, before asking: “What made you decide to do that? And what do you get out of it?”

The 27 Dresses star replied: “You know, it’s odd. I think some people are mountain people and I think some people are beach people. I’m sort of a mountain person and have always been that way.”

“My mom realised, because we went out to LA when I was 17 and hustled and hustled for years, right? And I think she realised at a certain point that I needed somewhere to escape to and kind of clear my head and that grounded me,” Heigl recalled. “So we started trying to find, and dreaming about trying to find, that perfect place. And we found Utah and then I started making enough money to be able to afford to do that.”

Heigl, along with her husband, were able to build their dream home on a “beautiful ranch in Utah”. While the couple expected to use the residence as a quick getaway, the actor and musician began to spend so much time there that it turned into their forever home.

“We built these houses in Utah that we expected to be more kind of vacation homes, or when I could get away from the hustle and all the work, and we just started spending more and more time there,” she explained. “It was my husband who finally made it his primary residence on his driver’s license and stuff, and we went: ‘Yeah, I think this is our primary residence. We live here now.’”

Kotb and Bush Hager went on to ask Heigl whether she feels “at peace” in Utah, and if it’s been “the perfect place” to raise her children. While the Knocked Up star admitted that their ranch is ideal for her, her children do sometimes wish they lived a busier life. However, Heigl revealed the piece of advice she gives her kids whenever they wish for something more.

“I said to them: ‘I understand that you are sacrificing that in some ways but I still think it was the right choice for our family, because I am more centered and aware of what’s going on in your life,’” she explained. “It’s a smaller town, I know who your friends are, who you are spending time with, I know what’s up with school. It’s just easier to keep my finger on the pulse.”

The Firefly Lane star went on to share some details about her children, who are growing older right before her eyes. When speaking about her daughter Adalaide, Heigl said: “My 11-year-old is all, can I say this, piss and vinegar. She is spicy.”

As for her oldest daughter, Naleigh, she remarked: “My almost 15-year-old, which is blowing my mind. My freshman in high school - I don’t know how it happened. Everyone says: ‘Oh, it goes so fast, it goes so fast.’”

“It doesn’t just feel that way, it is. It does,” Heigl emphasised. “You can only hold on to it as much as you can and don’t beat yourself up too much, if you feel like you’re not present enough. It really just goes.”

In 2005, the actor met her soon-to-be husband on the set of a music video for Kelley’s song, “Only You”. In a 2016 interview with Billboard, Kelley recalled meeting Heigl for the first time. “I remember the day we met: May 24, 2005,” he said. “I had just bought a house here in Nashville. The day after I signed the papers, I had to fly back to LA to do this music video.”

“I showed up that day, we started doing our scenes together, and we just hit it off. We’ve been together ever since that day,” he continued.

They were engaged the following year in 2006, and tied the knot at a luxury ski resort in Park City, Utah, in December 2007. Heigl and Kelley became parents in 2009 when they adopted daughter Naleigh Mi-Eun from South Korea. In 2012, they adopted daughter Adalaide from Louisiana and welcomed their biological son, Joshua Bishop Kelley Jr, in 2016.