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Home Ownership — 3 Comments

  1. As a homeowner who just checked on the posibilities of selling or renting my house out, I want to sell. After a job change to a much lower salary 4 years ago, it has taken all of my income to make the payments, regular maintenance, and unexpected repairs. I doubt I will make any profit if I sell now. All in all, it has not been worth it. But I must admit, keeping it has been tied to my self-esteem. You are right, people assume responsibility on the owner’s part (I guess because it is some sign of your credit worthiness?) if you own your home – but really, the bank owns most of it for a long, long time. Even though I have a fixed 5% rate, in the last 6 yrs, 85% of my payments have gone to interest alone. No wonder home ownership is encouraged – keeps the rich rich. Or it did.

  2. It’s home ownership as a “have to” definition of oneself that is questionable. Anything we feel we need to give us value is problematic as the value we “feel” is quite fleeting and requires more satiation. I recently read an article by (http://foodforthesoul.us/2010/08/13/simpler-living-happier-living/) Stephanie Rosenblum about simplifying as a source of happiness. When the things we obtain begin to dictate our choices (e.g., jobs, relationships, actions, need for approval/love, etc.) then the happiness or freedom we imagined we would experience by our acquisitions becomes a new prison.

  3. Society does indeed look down on those who don’t own property. Often this is done as part of an economic argument about the value of owning real estate. Recently I’ve begun to hear voices questioning this particular argument; I remember hearing Felix Salmon of the Financial Times argue on NPR that home ownership isn’t that great an investment, given how leveraged it is, and that investment in the stock market usually gives one a better return.

    And the emphasis on home ownership also tells you about what people value. I probably could have owned a property, but I chose to get an expensive degree instead, and am paying hundreds of dollars a month in loans instead of on a mortgage. But that’s because I greatly value education, both in its own right and as a means to achieve other things in life. If I have to rent that’s no big deal.

    But I do have to point out that home ownership doesn’t always mean isolation and sprawl. Owning a condo in the city certainly doesn’t promote sprawl. And living in an apartment doesn’t necessarily mean no isolation: I’ve typically not gotten to know my neighbors in the multiple apartments I’ve lived in.

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