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The Irrationality Behind Desiring Home Ownership in Western Countries

April 20, 2012 9 comments

One of the most peculiar features of western, and indeed many other developed, countries is the continuation of behaviors to satisfy needs and wants which have become worthless or counterproductive. The desire for home ownership is one of the many behaviors which is counterproductive in our era, though it might have been rational in a previous one.

So why am I so against home ownership in developed countries today? What is my rationale for calling it counterproductive? Shouldn’t people have a stable place to live and raise kids etc?

My issues with home ownership are linked to what it has become, as opposed to what it used to be. You see, people once owned homes to live in, raise kids, grow old and ultimately die in. They stood for something that cannot be simply measured with money. While homes in previous eras were rather basic compared to what you can get today, they were part of the self of its residents in a way stucco boxes inside a gated community can never be.

Homes today are really about living aspirational lifestyles based on keeping up with the Joneses or one-upping them. They do not mean anything more to its inhabitants, nor do they feel any real connection to it. Even the very reasons for owning homes in the first place such as long-term marriages, long-term jobs, raising kids and actually enjoying being in them are no longer relevant.

Home ownership has become a means to screw people over for money. Everybody who can exploit your desire for owning a home will try to do so. Entities from your local HOA, municipality, state government, school district, utilities, federal government.. well pretty much anyone who can take advantage of your situation will do so without any consideration for the effects of their demands on you. And don’t forget those in occupations connected to building, selling and repairing houses.

Their principal leverage over you is your desire to maintain ownership of your own home. But do you really own something if you are paying a range of mafia-like entities to maintain ‘ownership’ of it?

Then, there is the question whether the reasons you bought your own home for are still relevant. How many marriages last for a lifetime? Won’t you lose the house in a divorce anyway? How many jobs and careers last for more than a couple of years? What about your long-term income prospects? Is it worth having kids anymore? Between long commutes and unpaid overtime, how much of your waking hours will you spend in your home? What about petty tyrants in your HOA stifling your desire to alter your own home?

Are any of the previous reasons for owning your home even relevant? and have they been replaced by equally good newer reasons to still do so?

So why keep on aspiring to play a rigged game that offers none of the old benefits, but comes with a bigger set of negatives? What is in it for you? Is trying to impress people who don’t care for you worth that much effort? Is conformism worth the price of entry?

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