This weekend I read an interesting piece in the NYTimes – Homeownership, The Key To Happiness? According to author Michelle Higgins,
“A growing body of research suggests that spending money on real estate doesn’t necessarily mean investing in contentment. Indeed, the conventional advice to cut back on vacations, restaurant meals and other extras in order to save money for a home may actually be detrimental to felicity. Experts in happiness — an increasingly popular field focused on the scientific understanding of emotional well-being — say that people are happier when they spend money on experiences instead of material goods, whether it be a new car or a bigger apartment.”
But I think the conclusions that are being drawn from these “happiness experts” are a bit too general.
A Sample Size of Two
We’ve made no secret of the fact that we like owning real estate. I say this even though (or perhaps because?) we spent a good chunk of this weekend inhaling noxious fumes and performing manual labor at our duplex (more on that later this week). The rent checks from the duplex are pretty awesome, but we also really find that our home is a sanctuary for us and a place we really feel safe.
My best friend on the other hand is hating being a homeowner lately. With her husband doing some extensive traveling for work these days, she’s at the house alone most of the time. As a result, she’s resenting the amount of work she’s having to do around the house by herself (tasks she didn’t mind when she was working on them alongside her husband), and resenting the checks she’s having to shell out when there’s a project that’s too big for her to tackle on her own. Right now, homeownership is the pits for her even though she feels that owning has still been a good financial decision for them.
So from my small sample size of two households, I’m going out on a limb and saying the amount of happiness that you derive from being a homeowner seems to be highly correlated with:
- how financially prepared you are to handle the unexpected (and very lumpy) expenses associated with owning a home, and
- how much satisfaction you get from manual labor and completing tasks around the house.
But that’s just my sample size of two speaking. What do you think, readers?
Do you derive happiness (or unhappiness) from homeownership? What are some of the reasons that you think you are happy or unhappy with your current state as a homeowner or renter?