Stephanie Anderson July 19, 2012
Owning your own home may no longer be the great Australian dream.
Like religion and politics, real estate is fast becoming something you can't bring up over dinner.
It used to be one of my fallback small-talk topics but as more of my friends buy their own places, the differences of opinion between home owners and renters is leading to some heated discussions.
Even my own family members don't share the same views.
My traditional sister sees the impending purchase of her home as the first step to securing the future she wants for herself and her husband, but to my brother, owning property is nothing more than a financial decision.
He realised the cash he could make from tenants was more than potential mortgage repayments and went through the process of loans and contracts with less emotion than MasterChef contestant Julia Taylor.
My friends offer a different view - some are choosing to travel and gather what they call ''life experience'', while others say they don't want to be tied to one location when they are carving out a career path.
It seems the more people I speak to, the more I hear of renters in their late 20s to early 30s who are content to live under someone else's roof.
An analysis of census data found there are 184 towns across the country where more than 50 per cent of the properties are rented. Thirty-three of those areas have a rental rate of more than 90 per cent.
A recent study by University of Adelaide researchers found that purchasing your own patch of earth didn't necessarily equate to buying happiness.
The study, The Mental Health Effects of Housing Tenure, involved more than 10,000 people over a six-year period and found that home ownership and renting had no effect on a resident's mental health.
Lead researcher Emma Baker says her team found that although home ownership is considered the best type of housing for mental health, it attracts people who are already happy and healthy.
''We tend to think in Australia that rental is not good for people,'' she says.
''But rather than renting causing negative effects, it tends to capture people already disadvantaged.''
Baker says getting low-income earners into home ownership could also cause unnecessary stress as people struggled with mortgage repayments and did not receive many of the welfare protections provided in the public housing system.
''Maybe home ownership isn't the only thing that Australians should be aiming for,'' she says.
''Maybe renting is perfectly acceptable, maybe it could be another great Australian dream.''
What is your version of the great Australian dream? Let us know by commenting below.
This reporter is on Twitter: @stephanieando