26 Mar What makes a happy home?
An Englishman’s home is his castle… but does that make him truly happy?
A new survey from Telegraph and Channel 5 released in tandem with Channel 5’s new series, Rich House, Poor House, reveals that Britain’s happiest households live in rented properties, dispelling the myth that an Englishman can only be truly happy in his own castle.
In fact, the UK Happiness Survey shows that Britain’s happiest people live in a rented room and that those who own their own homes are no less likely to worry about money than those who rent from a landlord.
The survey, created by the Telegraph and Channel 5, asked 5,800 people across the UK about their happiness and stress levels and how these are connected to their financial situation. Channel 5’s thought-provoking new series Rich House, Poor House will explore these issues in more depth as it asks two families at opposite ends of the wealth scale to swap budgets each week and share with each other what they learn about money and happiness.
For the survey, respondents were asked whether they considered themselves to be a happy person on a scale of one to seven, with “one” being the happiest. Those in rented rooms had the best average score, rating themselves the happiest at 2.82. The least happy among us were those living in rented flats, at 3.07.
Money can’t buy you love.. but can it buy you happiness?
The Telegraph and Channel 5 UK Happiness Survey results destroy the notion that having enough money to own a “desirable” property, such as a semi-detached house, makes you more likely to feel happy and more secure.
These and other surprising truths are explored in each episode of Rich House, Poor House, where our expectations of who is more likely to be happy based on wealth or status are more than likely to be overturned.
For example, homeowners who live in terraced houses find life most stressful, but owners of semi-detached homes are also particularly stressed. Those who rent a detached house are the least stressed, even though those who rent spend a greater proportion of their income on housing.
Figures from the Resolution Foundation thinktank show that private renters spend the largest proportion of their income on housing, at more than 30 per cent, while those who have a mortgage spend 23 per cent. But despite the fact that homeowners generally have more disposable income, they still count the pennies. Indeed, homeowners are no less likely than renters to list money as their biggest concern, with 35 per cent of those who own a semi-detached house admitting to being most worried about money, compared with 31 per cent who rent a similar property.
Richer people do not enjoy their homes more, either. Relaxing at home was the third most popular activity for people earning under £40k a year, but those who earned more preferred to spend time away from home – their third most popular activity was travelling.
Those in the North East and East of the UK were the most likely to list relaxing at home as their most popular activity. However, those in the prosperous South East were the most likely to list travelling away from home as a favourite pastime.
When asked to choose the three things that make them happiest, half of those who lived in rented rooms said that relaxing at home was a key cause of happiness, which is a higher percentage than those who own a detached or terraced house.
Getting the balance right.
As viewers may discover in Channel 5’s Rich House, Poor House, richer households do not enjoy a better work/life balance. In fact, those who live in a rented room or in a rented detached house are more likely to feel as if they have a good work/life balance than those who own their property.
When it comes to the pay packet, those earning between £40,000 and £60,000 are the most likely to feel they have a good work/life balance, while those earning less than £19,000 are the least likely to be happy with their work life.
For Britain’s richer households – those who earn between £60,000 and £100,000 and those who earn more than £100,000 – there was a dip in satisfaction with the work/life balance.
Which age group spends time at home?
The Telegraph and Channel 5’s UK Happiness Survey also busts the myth that older people are the ones who most enjoy spending time at home. While those aged 18-34 are the least likely to list relaxing at home as one of the three things that make them happy, those aged 45-54 are actually the most likely to list home life as an important factor in their happiness, while those aged 55-64 are the most likely to list travel away from home as a big factor in their happiness.
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