Rent or buy? The challenge of access to housing
Rent or buy? The challenge of access to housing

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Rent or buy? The challenge of access to housing

1 Buy or rent?

Attitudes to buying or renting vary a good deal across countries. A few households in six different countries from around the world were interviewed and asked about their reasons for deciding to buy or rent, and what the usual type of housing tenure is in their country. (‘Tenure’ means the way in which a property is occupied, for example as an owner or as a tenant who is renting.)

Activity 1 Buying or renting preferences for households around the world

Timing: Allow around 30 minutes

The interactive map (link below) presents people from around the world talking about their decisions to buy or rent a home and what seems to be the norm in their country. Select ‘View interactive version’ below the image to expand the map. Open it in a new tab or window so you can view it alongside this activity. You can select each of the red pins on the map to find out more about the households that were talked to. Select each tab below the map to watch a video where some of the households talk about each topic. As you watch, make some notes to help you answer the questions below.

Attitudes to buying and renting
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Based on the videos, answer these questions:

  1. What arguments are given for and against buying a home and for and against renting?
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Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Discussion

These are the main arguments mentioned by the households:

  • Advantages of buying: Maureen in the UK mentions security; Edson and Rosangela in Brazil and Rohith in India suggest the ability to match their homes to their own needs and preferences; Isabel in Berlin mentions housing as an investment.
  • Disadvantages of buying: Aline in Brazil reminds us that not everyone who owns a property has enough money to choose the home they want. Some of the other disadvantages, such as reduced mobility, are the flip side of the advantages of renting.
  • Advantages of renting: It may be more affordable than buying (D. L. Mahesha in India); Pia in Germany likes the flexibility (‘you can quickly pack up and go’); and Jen in the USA points out that renting lets you try out an area before you buy. But some people are reluctant renters, like Yassra in Sweden, who does not have a job.
  • Disadvantages of renting: Money paid as rent is often seen as ‘dead money’, a view expressed by Hector and Sonia in the UK who say renting would be ‘putting money into nothing’. Other disadvantages are the flip side of the advantages of buying, such as being less secure.
  1. Thinking about the typical tenure, can you spot any differences between types of household or countries?
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Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Discussion

Some of the differences mentioned are:

  • Young people are more likely to start out renting rather than buying (mentioned by Jen in the USA and Rohith in India).
  • Possibly people in cities are more likely to rent (mentioned by Pia in Germany), maybe because younger people are more likely to live in cities and only move to the countryside as they get older.
  • There may be some difference between countries – Yassra suggests renting apartments is common in Sweden, while the UK households talk more about homeownership. Rohith says owning is encouraged in India.
  • However, both the UK households highlight that younger people are more likely to be renting these days than in the past because buying has become too expensive.
  • However on average, income levels seems to be the prime drive of whether to rent or buy.
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