The Happy Home

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The Happy Home

Prepared by SIRC for Halifax

Summary

The most popular definitions of a happy home are:
  1. a place where you feel safe and secure (69%)
  2. a place where you can relax (64%)
  3. a place where you can be yourself (57%)

The happiest types of home in Britain are bungalows, which are rated by their occupants as an average' of 8.15 out of 10 on a 'happiness' scale.

Happiness increases linearly with the number of bedrooms. The happiest homes have a ratio of more than 1.5 bedrooms per occupant.

The majority of respondents rate their homes as happy – 80% of the sample awarded their home a score of 7 or more out of 10 on the 'happiness' scale.

Home-owners without a mortgage have significantly happier homes than those with a mortgage. Home happiness is directly linked to the age of the occupants. The over 50s have significantly happier homes than their younger counterparts.

The happiness of a home is independent of socio-economic group.

Residents of Scotland and London are the most likely to rate their home perfectly happy, but in terms of average scores, Londoners are the least happy.

The amount of space is the single most important physical factor influencing happiness, followed closely by how safe and secure the property is.

The presentation of the home is more likely to influence the happiness of the youngest age group, the 18-29yr olds.

In the context of happiness, 'sense of community' and 'relationships with immediate neighbours' become more important with age.

Different socio-economic groups have different priorities. The most important contributors to happiness are 'the amount of space' and the 'garden' to the ABC1s compared to 'security and safety' and 'relationship with immediate neighbours' favoured by the C2DEs.

The three most important amenities that influence happiness are shops, health services and parks / countryside.

Introduction

We all have special relationships with the homes in which we live – they are far more than just the sum total of bricks, timber, glass and wood from which they are constructed. They provide not only shelter but a sense of place and identity – essential elements of what we take to be 'human'.

It is little wonder, then, that buying a first home, or moving from one home to another, are among the most important events in our lives – as full of emotional charge, excitement and trepidation as marriage or the birth of our children. This is why we all have strong views about the places in which we live – the things we love and perhaps the things we hate – the extent to which our homes are happy places that we are so glad to return to each night.

When the Social Issues Research Centre was asked by Halifax plc to look more closely at what makes a 'happy home' we naturally started with our own personal perceptions of the places in which we live – the location, the number and size of the rooms, the style and décor, the garden, the ability to relax, etc. – all of the things that we ordinarily take for granted. But to what extent would our own, perhaps idiosyncratic, views be shared by others around the country? What would be the most common defining elements of happy home for a representative cross section of the UK population? What questions should we be asking?

The research started with tried-and-tested focus groups involving a wide cross-section of home-owners – different types of people, different types of dwelling. Some of the insightful comments made by the participants are included in this report.

On the basis of careful study of transcripts of the focus groups, questions for a national poll were designed and administered by YouGov to a representative sample of 2,004 people across the country. Of these, 1,307 were home-owners and it is their responses that have been analysed in this report. With their help and with the detailed contributions of our focus group participants we now know, probably for the first time, what really makes a happy home.