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Why Homeownership Makes Us Happy: The Emotional Benefits of Owning a Home

June 3, 2022

Suppose you recently did some classic film binging and listened to Dorothy click her ruby red slippers and say “There’s no place like home,” or maybe you inherited your great aunt’s “Home Sweet Home” cross-stitch, or perhaps you have a few pinboards titled things like “Fantasy Remodel” or “Dream Home” at the top of your Pinterest account. If that last one hit a little close to home (pun intended), you’re definitely not alone. There’s no denying homeownership has long been a hallmark of the American Dream. In fact, there’s a whole month dedicated to it! As we enter June and celebrate National Homeownership Month, we can’t help but think about what it is that makes owning a home so special. It turns out, there’s some real science behind the emotional benefits of homeownership.

From the standpoint of chasing the American Dream, owning a home is a marker of financial independence. As homeowners, we may have mortgages to pay, but we’re building equity with each payment we make. This allows for upward socioeconomic mobility. Any quick internet search will consistently show money as one of the top stressors negatively impacting mental health. Mental health is linked to longevity. It’s fair to say that decreasing our financial stress could help us live longer. In fact, one study conducted by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare suggests heavy stress can decrease a person’s life expectancy by 2.8 years.  

It's not just money that stresses us out, though. Our environment plays a huge factor when it comes to regulating our mental, emotional, and even physical wellness. With the right factors in play, we’re able to better access what psychologists often refer to as the happiness hormones: dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins. So, what are those factors? Well, it turns out many of them are things related to our environments and are naturally more accessible to homeowners.

At Highline, we love our pets and are thrilled anytime we get to help our clients make their homes more pet friendly. We know having space for a pet motivates a lot of people to become homeowners in the first place.  Pet friendly homes aren’t just good for dogs and cats; playing with pets is one of the top ways to promote the production of those feel-good happiness hormones.

It’s not just spending time with our furry companions that elevates our moods; some of the other top ways to hack those happiness hormones include: laughing with a friend, cooking and enjoying a favorite meal with a loved one, and listening to music. All that time you spend dreaming up the perfect space for entertaining may be your brain’s way of reminding you we are social creatures and need human connections.

Other happiness hormone triggers include things like access to nature and sunlight. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the latter can be tricky to come by in the winter, but it’s definitely easier for individuals who have built custom homes or who have had their home remodeled. Thoughtfully planned windows and skylights can significantly increase access to natural light, which, in turn, signals our brains to release the hormone serotonin, helping us to feel calm and focused.

What we see through those windows also impacts our health, and not just our mental health. Environmental Psychologist Roger Ulrich performed a study in which he compared patients recovering from gall bladder surgery. One group of patients was assigned to recover in a room with windows facing a brick wall, while the other group of patients recovered in a room looking upon a grove of trees. The patients with the view of the trees consistently healed faster than those staring at bricks.

It's no wonder, then, with all of this extra access to factors that trigger our happiness hormones, that homeownership continues to be a critical building block of the American Dream. The pride of ownership sets homeowners up for even more emotional, mental, and physical wellness. Homeowners are more inclined to maintain the spaces in which they dwell. This may seem inconsequential to overall health, but orderly spaces actually lead to better decision making. The tendency towards unhealthy food choices increases for individuals in chaotic environments. Disorderly environments increase the likelihood that an individual will act impulsively and with impaired judgement.

If you’re ready to not just own a home, but own a home you love, contact us today to discuss a custom build or renovation. It’s absolutely true that there is no place like home, and our team is here to make your home perfectly suited to bring out the best in you.

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