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Same Yet Different: What Europe Can Teach North Americans About the Hygge Lifestyle

Part 2: Invest in Living, Not in Resale

Verdun Ivory Chunky Knit Throw Hygge Home

Last week we introduced part 1 of our 3-part blog series titled “Same yet different: What Europe can teach North Americans about the hygge lifestyle”. We focused on one of the key highLIGHTS we took away from the Ambiente trade show: Europeans care more about lighting than North Americans! We covered some of the trends we saw at the show, and talked about how you can change up some lighting in your home, and to make light fixtures an integrated part or style feature of your space.

This week we want to talk about something quite different. While still involving style and the hygge way of living, what we really want to focus on this week is the motivation behind how and why we decorate our homes. During our time in Europe, and conversations with friends and new aquaintances, we learned that Europeans view the home differently than most adult North Americans


1. The age old debate: own or rent?

The North American mentality on renting vs owning your home. Note that “fluffy” can’t be legally excluded from your home in many places!*

In Canada, roughly two thirds of properties are owner occupied**. (67.6%). Several European and Scandinavian countries like Norway (82.8%), Finland (72.7%), Belgium (71.3%) and Sweden (70.6%) sit comfortably above that percentage, while others, notably Austria (55%), Germany (51.9%) and Switzerland (43.4%) have a larger portion of the population renting their homes. In countries like Germany, it seems the pressure to own property is not as big of a priority, and many young adults and adults alike prefer to rent over purchase their property.


Comparatively, in North America, home ownership is treated as the pinnacle of adulthood - if you are not feverishly saving for a down payment on a home or already in possession of one, it’s almost like you haven’t quite made it yet. This is primarily because owning a home is less about having a home, and more about having your first real financial investment. Although the housing market goes up and down in cycles, owning a home is considered the ultimate goal of adulthood after one lands their first “real” job. Rent longer than you need to? “Why are you throwing your money away?” parents often ask. While this attitude persists, there is a changing trend in larger cities, where the rising housing market is pricing out the younger generations of homeowners.


2) North Americans get around - geographically


Despite higher rates of renting apartments and flats, it seems the commitment to geographic mobility isn’t as common among Europeans. In North America, those who live in apartments often do so knowing that they will not be there for long. This affects how one views this space as their home - if you live in a space knowing you will leave in 1 or 2 years, you’re far less likely to really settle in, decorate, and design the space to be exactly as you want it. Why paint a room if you aren’t sticking around? Why change out light fixtures (if you are even allowed to!)?


Work is a common reason for frequent moves in the North American workforce

Further, while North Americans typically sign up for leases a year at a time, in countries like Belgium, that is considered a “short term” lease, with most apartments offering 3 or even 9 year-long leases. Now that is commitment to an apartment! However, if you are agreeing to a space for 3 to 9 years, it may be easier to put the time and effort in to make it personalized and to your liking.


While concept of home ownership is so ingrained in North American culture, if you do own a home, it is also a financial investment. Many adults buy homes with the intent to eventually sell them - either to build equity and move up the housing chain (condo →  small home → large home), or because the likelihood of moving (either by your employer or to take a new opportunity) is high. Often, this leads homeowners to be less inclined to really decorate the home for themselves, but rather, keep everything clean and neutral for the next potential buyer; whenever that may be! So neutral walls, basic fixtures, and boring lighting is the standard. That is what often sells - a clean slate.


3) Committing to your home, any way you can

If neutral walls are a must, use your unique style to bring your personality to your home by hanging art and nostalgic items.

One of the core concepts of hygge is making your home a space that you feel at complete ease in. Using lighting, furniture, textiles, and personal items and artwork, you can create your space to meet your needs. So, do you really think you have committed to your living space, or are you ready to pick up and move at a moment’s (or a month’s) notice? Do you see yourself living there in 5 years? It doesn’t matter! You should put all the energy and efforts into your space as much as you are able to. Regardless of the temporal nature of your living situation it is YOUR HOME, and you should strive to be as happy with it as possible.


Invest in your home to LIVE in it, not to maximize its resale value!

Sources:

* Kamloops property for sale (Image only)

** Wikipedia: List of countries by home ownership rate