Purchasing a home is a huge milestone, one that brings joy and pride. However, it’s important to be financially ready and know your credit score before you make the leap to homeownership. Sure, a homeowner warranty coverage or home insurance provides peace of mind on unexpected repairs or damages. But what really makes homeowners happy?
Research has shown that homeowners have higher levels of life satisfaction and a sense of security compared to renters across all income levels.
1. A sense of belonging
Studies show that homeownership improves health, reduces stress and increases overall life satisfaction. This is attributed to the feeling of stability and connection with your community that homeownership provides.
People have an evolutionary need for stability, and owning a home can provide that. It can also provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. But like most material purchases, the joy can diminish over time.
There is a need to bring together disparate perspectives on belonging to better understand the construct, assess it and enhance it. A framework is proposed that outlines four interrelated components of belonging (competences, opportunities, motivations and perceptions) that dynamically interact and shift as an individual traverses different social and environmental contexts and experiences. This research can inform the development of strategies aimed at increasing belonging.
2. A sense of pride
A big part of the homeowner experience is pride in your home. Whether it’s walking the neighborhood and admiring your neighbors’ houses, or spending time decorating and making repairs, owning your home is a source of joy for many people.
This sense of pride may also help you stay afloat during hard times. Research shows that feeling proud can make you more resilient to stress and adversity, such as job loss or illness.
Despite the positive feelings that can come with owning your home, it doesn’t always lead to happiness. A recent study showed that, when controlling for financial insecurity and other factors, homeowners actually derive more pain from their homes than renters do. That’s because they spend more time on their homes and are less satisfied with other aspects of life.
3. A sense of security
Homeownership is a major life milestone that provides many people with a sense of security. It can also make people feel like they’re more rooted in their community and neighborhood.
However, Bucchianeri says her research shows that when control for a range of variables is taken into account, owning a home doesn’t appear to deliver any more
happiness than simply signing a rent check. She warns people to take a step back and reconsider what makes them happy.
Kovacs recommends a mantra that homeowners can repeat to themselves: “Control the goals you can, and don’t chase after the ones you can’t.” In other words, focus on what is truly important for you and your family, rather than chasing the dream of homeownership. For example, a comfortable retirement or spending time with your children can bring you happiness and peace of mind regardless of whether you own a home or not.
4. A sense of freedom
Freedom is often associated with being able to do what one wants, but it’s more complicated than that. Freedom also involves how one feels about what they’re doing and whether their choices are infringing on the rights of others.
Bucchianeri’s research delved into how people feel during time periods, or episodes, of their day, and compared that to subjective measures like whether they were a homeowner or not. She used this information to control for a number of variables, such as age, income and education.
The study found that the way people think about their freedom has an impact on their pro-environmental attitudes and behavior. Understanding their freedom as intrinsic and not extrinsic — the type of feeling that comes from being self-governing — is linked to more pro-environmental behaviors. The moderating effect of identification with all humanity strengthens this relationship.
5. A sense of responsibility
A sense of responsibility is a feeling that one has an obligation to perform duties and tasks. This may include obligations to friends and family, but it also extends to professional duties.
Despite previous research that shows homeowners tend to be happier than renters, Bucchianeri’s study reveals that owning a home doesn’t necessarily lead to happiness. In fact, her study found that on an unadjusted basis, homeowners experience more pain associated with their home than joy.
In other words, owning a home is like many material goods in that it isn’t always what people expect it to be when they buy it. Kovacs advises future homebuyers to define what makes them happy and then focus on achieving those goals. She says this is better than chasing an ideal that can never be fulfilled, such as owning a house.