Renters are happier (and thinner) than homeowners

What if home ownership really isn't the American Dream? A research paper released by a real-estate professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School starts the debate. And with these delicious findings: Renters are not only happier than the average homeowner, but they're thinner, too.

Oh, sweet, sweet vindication. I'll take it any way it comes.

During the housing boom, I would often shake my head and wonder aloud how home prices could continue to grow, or why it was that they were taking any kid off the street, slapping him in a suit and calling him a mortgage broker. The orgy of greed and building just didn't seem sustainable. It was painfully obvious common sense: If every house in California sells for half a million and up, where are the millions of non-movie stars going to live?

For this, I was often called a bitter renter.

Now, of course, nobody's calling me anything. I may not own the gorgeous two-story Spanish-style duplex I live in, but I can afford the rent and somebody else is responsible for repairs and maintenance. I can also pack up and move should I need to. It seems a more pleasant arrangement than being on the hook for an inflated mortgage on a dingy fixer-upper I just eked into so I could be part of "The American Dream."

"The average homeowner, however, consistently derives more pain (but no more joy) from their house and home," writes Grace Wong Bucchianeri, an assistant professor at Wharton. The report also says that homeowners, on average, spend less leisure time than those who don't own homes.

Oh, and here's the knife twist: According to this report, the average homeowner is about 12 pounds heavier than those who rent.

Bucchianeri says the report isn't intended to be a warning against home ownership, but rather to start a conversation about the often unquestioned idea that home ownership is for everyone. Clearly, as this housing bust has shown, it isn't. You can see the whole report (PDF) here.
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