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Homeowners Aren’t That Happy

Homeownership is often seen as the ultimate goal of achieving the so-called “American Dream” and it has long been touted as a sign of success, stability, and happiness. However, in the Philippines, where the economy is rapidly growing and more people can afford to buy a home, it is not always the case that homeownership leads to increased happiness.

Picture this: you’re standing in front of your dream home—a beautiful house with a perfectly manicured lawn. This image has been ingrained in our minds as the ultimate symbol of success, stability, and happiness—the American Dream. But what if I told you that owning a home doesn’t always lead to increased happiness?

Why aren’t homeowners always happy?

According to a new property survey, 51% of homeowners in the UK aren’t happy with their homes. That’s right—more than half of homeowners in one of the most developed countries in the world aren’t satisfied with their homes. A CNBC survey also found that the majority of homeowners have regrets about their homes, while a recent study published in Social Science & Medicine found that homeownership does not necessarily lead to improved mental health.

So what gives? Why aren’t they happy?

Owning a home is often touted as the epitome of success and stability, but what many don’t realize is that it comes with a heavy burden. Financial strain is one of the top stressors for homeowners, as the costs of buying and maintaining a home can quickly add up. Between mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, and unexpected expenses like repairs or renovations, homeowners often find themselves feeling financially stretched thin.

But it’s not just funding the dream, but also keeping it alive. Maintaining a home is a huge responsibility that takes up a lot of time and energy. From mundane tasks to unexpected maintenance issues, homeowners are constantly faced with a laundry list of things to fix and improve. And let’s not forget about the time investment—landscaping, renovating, and other home improvements that can take up a lot of time and labor.

The illusion of homeownership

The dream of homeownership is often painted as a picture-perfect scene, with a plethora of Filipino vloggers romanticizing the idea of a “dream house”. But the reality can be far from the truth behind home ownership. 

When we think about owning a home, we often imagine that it will bring us greater happiness and success. However, this illusion can quickly dissipate once we’ve settled into our new homes.

Many people believe that owning a home automatically solves all life problems. A recent study on the correlation between homeownership and life satisfaction shows how volatile this assumption can be. The study’s findings suggest that prospective homeowners actually decide on buying land or property based on what they think they want, rather than their actual preferences. These thoughts can be influenced by upbringing, peers, and even messaging from advertisements.

Especially with the boom of social media, it’s easy to feel inadequate when you find public personalities in their early 20s buying houses and mansions—and even giving you immersive tours of their abodes. So the moment people convince themselves that home ownership was the one-all solution to lifetime satisfaction, they’re suddenly hit with disillusionment.

I don’t doubt that many younger people truly believed that homeownership would bring them financial stability, personal fulfillment, and even a sense of community. But when reality hits, they often find that they’ve overestimated the overall value that their new homes would bring—financially and emotionally.

Building a new foundation

I don’t think people shouldn’t dream of buying their dream houses. Even I hope to have a place to call my own someday. The problem that I do see is the misconception that home ownership is the sole solution to life satisfaction and should be achieved immediately at all costs. This myth speaks to the strong familial culture inherent to Filipinos.

In the Philippines, owning a home is not just a financial goal but a cultural one. It represents stability, security, and the desire to provide a permanent home for the family. Two out of three families owned the house and lot they occupied in 2020, despite the steep increase in today’s Philippine real estate market. If the end goal is starting a family, the milestone just before it is home ownership.

Traditional Filipino culture dictates that renting is seen as a waste of money, as it does not provide long-term investment for the family. This explains why many Filipinos are adamant to move out from their parental homes before marriage—when it’s assumed you’d be financially capable to purchase your own house. 

This mindset has been so ingrained within Filipino culture, that people don’t realize the many ways one can transition into home ownership. Renting and cohousing are more affordable housing options for Gen Z and millennial workers who are looking to live more independently. Countries like Denmark and the Netherlands have proven that incentivizing co-housing can increase the demand for cost-effective and sustainable accommodations.  

You don’t have to dream of a huge house on a hill where the sun sings if that’s not your dream. But if it is, you need to carefully map out your road to home ownership, because it is not an easy road to travel.

M2.0 is a PR agency in the Philippines that specializes in business, technology, and lifestyle communications. We offer a range of PR services including reputation management and PR advisory. Visit our Partners page to learn more about the brands we collaborate with.

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Samantha Wong

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