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Housing tenure in Europe

Yesterday I came across an incredibly fascinating chart from Eurostat, analyzing housing tenure (in 2011) across Europe. Here it is:

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And here’s what I found interesting.

Working from left to right, there seems to be a clear difference between Eastern and Western Europe in terms of the amount of leverage they use to buy homes. If you look at Romania, not only does over 90% of the population own a home, but they also don’t seem to have any outstanding mortgage or housing loan. That means they’re buying their homes in cash.

By the time you get to the United Kingdom, you start to see numbers that are comparable to Canada and the United States. The percentage of owner occupied homes is sitting at or below 70% and the majority of them have a mortgage or loan.

But as a whole, Western Europe seems much more likely to rent than Eastern Europe. And in the case of Switzerland, more people rent than own. Why is that? This seems odd given its economic strength. But the same could be said for Germany and Austria, which also show relatively low ownership rates. Here’s one possible explanation.

Finally, I found it interesting that in Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden, there’s virtually no such thing as subsidized rental housing. If you rent, you’re paying market rate (at least according to this chart). I wonder if this has something to do with there being less income inequality.

If anyone has any insights on some of these points, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.

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