Homeowners are fatter than renters … and other downsides of owning a home.

TakeAway: Now that the housing bubble has burst and owned homes have lost their luster as piggybanks, more attention is being placed on the non-financial aspects of owning a home. 

The obvious: more chores mean less time for socializing. 

The shocker: homeowners are, on average, fatter.   Hmmmm.

* * * * *

Excerpted from Knowledge @ Wharton, “You Think Owning a Home Will Make You Happy? Don’t Be Too Sure”, June 10, 2009

For generations, the conventional wisdom  is that owning a home is the cornerstone of the American Dream, the foundation for a happy family life and long-term financial security. “On average people like living in zip codes with a higher median housing value so they can live in reflected glory.”

Now, a new research paper challenges that conventional wisdom …   while homeowners do experience significant joy, they also face more aggravation, spend less time with friends and are even heavier than renters living in comparable homes.

Past research into the mood of homeowners showed that people felt a sense of pride and comfort in having their name on a deed. But, once the data are controlled for a range of variables, owning a home appears to deliver no more happiness than signing a monthly rent check.

“Our perception that homeowners are better off than renters might be fueled only by casual observations. The conventional wisdom might not hold up so well when you look at the data carefully.”

Obviously, the bursting of the housing bubble has led to a good deal of stress — both financial and psychological.

Even in a period of optimism about housing as a financial investment, homeownership does not necessarily represent the fulfillment of a dream. “Overall, there is little evidence that homeowners are happier by any of the following definitions: life satisfaction, overall mood, overall feeling, general moment-to-moment emotions and affect at home. The average homeowner, however, consistently derives more pain (but no more joy) from a house and home.”

The study focused on the intensity of 10 feelings : Impatient, Competent/Confident, Tense/Stressed, Happy, Depressed/Blue, Interested/Focused, Affectionate/Friendly, Calm/Relaxed, Irritated/Angry … and created a created a net measure of mood.  

It is clear that homeowners derive as much pain from their home that is similar in magnitude and significance to the joy they gain from homeownership.

Even after controls are applied for financial insecurity — often cited  as the main negative of homeownership — homeowners report more pain associated with their home … it is simply not true that homeowners are happier because they enjoy greater self-esteem and a greater sense of control in their lives.

The average homeowner tends to spend less time on active leisure or with friends, experiences more negative feelings during time spent with friends, derives less joy from love and relationships and is also less likely to enjoy being with people.  Average homeowners spend 4% to 6% less time interacting with friends and neighbors

Adding insult to injury, the average homeowner tended to be 12 pounds heavier.

Full article:

One Response to “Homeowners are fatter than renters … and other downsides of owning a home.”

  1. Mike Says:

    It would be interesting to do a correlation between level of obesity in a state versus propensity to vote republican.


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