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Homeownership, the key to happiness?
Old 07-14-2013, 12:35 PM   #1
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Homeownership, the key to happiness?

An article in today's NYT about happiness and how it is impacted by where you live:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/14/re...8XBVW4PwvagdOQ


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Old 07-14-2013, 12:38 PM   #2
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Are there a few highlights you could mention?
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Old 07-14-2013, 12:52 PM   #3
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Here are a few excerpts:

Quote:
“People still view housing as a central component of happiness and a critical aspect of the American dream,” Dr. Dunn said. “But there is little research to support that.”

Quote:
...the study indicated that by placing so much weight on the physical characteristics of the houses, including location, room size and architectural appeal, the students overlooked what ended up contributing most to their happiness — the quality of their social life.

Quote:
“What matters for our happiness,” Dr. Dunn said, “is what we do in the minutes and hours of our day.” When shopping for a home, she recommends asking yourself, “How will this purchase change the way I spend my time next Tuesday?”

Quote:
Although the participants reported a significant boost in satisfaction with their home for the first five years, they didn’t feel any better about their lives overall after they moved, according to the study, which was published in 2010.

Quote:
Buying a home is still considered an important step on the ladder to personal fulfillment. But Dr. Dunn isn’t convinced ownership is all it’s cracked up to be. “A very robust finding in psychology is people are highly motivated to justify their own choices,” she said. “It’s very hard to get people to admit they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in a way not optimal for their happiness.”
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Old 07-14-2013, 01:05 PM   #4
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Please change the link to start at page 1.

I thought the article wandered a lot. About half the first page is on a woman who bounced around Manhattan apartments, apparently renting though the article isn't totally clear. Friends convinced her to rent in Brooklyn. She found she hated Brooklyn and missed the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. The message was that "even a lovely town house in a sought-after neighborhood can be a letdown." That has nothing to do with whether home ownership makes you happy, and just makes the very obvious point that people are different and like different things.

Page 2 spends a lot of time on a guy who starts off sharing a small apartment with others, and moving up and buying nicer places and he makes money. He likes each new place but each time finds it is lacking something, so as he can afford nicer he moves again. Their message is that maybe the key is to be able keep moving because the joy of buying something wears off. But I'd bet there are just as many people who like stability and making their home theirs through the years and would rather not uproot if they have what they want, or even if it doesn't have quite everything.

The article also suggests that most people are happier spending their money on experiences rather than material goods like cars or nicer apartments. Saving up money to buy a place doesn't get you happiness like using the money for vacations, eating out, and other extras. No mention of actually putting the money aside so you could ER.
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Old 07-14-2013, 01:17 PM   #5
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...the study indicated that by placing so much weight on the physical characteristics of the houses, including location, room size and architectural appeal, the students overlooked what ended up contributing most to their happiness — the quality of their social life.
That was another odd bit. The houses they refer to are dorms or Greek houses. Freshmen students who were randomly assigned to the nicer dorms expected to be happier, but social life had a much bigger role. Again, nothing to do with rent vs. buy, and there's nothing earth-shattering about the point that buying or renting something nice doesn't really make you happy.

I guess maybe the message here is to not make your life's goal to buy a McMansion or rent the nicest penthouse. OK, but I find it hard to believe that the guy they talked about would still be as happy renting a 2 BR apartment with 4 others and sleeping in the dining room with a sheet as the 4th wall/door.
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Old 07-14-2013, 01:23 PM   #6
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ER Eddie mentioned this quote, which to me is a very important one, not just about home ownership but about the process of trying to get information-even sometimes trying to understand one's own feelings about something he has done or committed to.

“A very robust finding in psychology is people are highly motivated to justify their own choices,” she said. “It’s very hard to get people to admit they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in a way not optimal for their happiness.”

Ha
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Old 07-14-2013, 03:09 PM   #7
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[....] Their message is that maybe the key is to be able keep moving because the joy of buying something wears off.
That part bothered me. Moving every few years, just to boost your pleasure temporarily? That may be okay when it comes to TVs or smartphones, but houses? That is a very expensive way to boost your pleasure temporarily. Not to mention, moving is a big hassle.

I think the smarter thing is to recognize the futulity of getting on this "hedonic treadmill" in the first place and not get caught in the trap.

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Originally Posted by haha View Post
ER Eddie mentioned this quote, which to me is a very important one, not just about home ownership but about the process of trying to get information-even sometimes trying to understand one's own feelings about something he has done or committed to.

“A very robust finding in psychology is people are highly motivated to justify their own choices,” she said. “It’s very hard to get people to admit they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in a way not optimal for their happiness.”

Ha
Maybe the upside there is, no matter what we choose, we will figure out a way to convince ourselves we made the right choice.
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Old 07-14-2013, 06:05 PM   #8
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I didn't read the article, but in my case, owning a home is definitely more satisfying than renting one. I've rented many homes over the years, and owned three homes, including the one I live in now (and plan to be in for the rest of my life). I prefer owning because: 1) I don't have to deal with a landlord, and can do whatever I want to do with the house; 2) once the mortgage is paid off (which it is), I only have to deal with taxes and maintenance expenses; and 3) I can do whatever I want with the yard and property to suit my tastes as well. In my case, I planted a bunch of fruit trees, made a big vegetable garden, dug a goldfish pond, put up a greenhouse, etc.. Those things give me (and my wife) countless hours of enjoyment.

I am very content with the home I now own and live in, and wouldn't consider ever going back to renting unless I absolutely had to for some reason.
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Old 07-14-2013, 06:58 PM   #9
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I am very content with the home I now own and live in, and wouldn't consider ever going back to renting unless I absolutely had to for some reason.
+1000

I have had to move frequently during most of my life, and finally managed to settle down here 17 years ago. I bought a smallish house here 11 years ago and it means a lot to me. Recently I began to experience a far deeper joy due to more thoroughly settling in after we decided not to move north. The feeling of not just living here temporarily until I have to move again, is sheer bliss.
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