How U.S. Housing Compares Worldwide

August 11, 2014

How happy are Americans with their housing, compared to the rest of the world? According to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), we’re pretty well off in that arena.

The OECD has been collecting responses to its Better Life Index for the last three years, and finds that Americans’ “housing conditions and spending” ranking is 7.8, coming in at the top of the 180-country list. However, Americans rank their own satisfaction with housing at one percent less than the OECD average of 87 percent. Nations where residents ranked themselves more satisfied included Germany, Ireland, Spain, and Belgium.

Apparently, Americans don't know how good they have it. So what makes U.S. dwelling so great on a world scale? Americans spend less of their gross adjusted disposable income on housing; only 19 percent compared with the 21 percent OECD average. The facilities are on average a bit nicer as well, with 99.9 percent of people in the United States living in dwellings with private access to an indoor flushing toilet. Also, the United States came in fifth in terms of overcrowding, with around 2.3 rooms per person.

The report, which tracks a variety of factors that help determine a country’s overall happiness, puts a great deal of importance on housing: “Living in satisfactory housing conditions is one of the most important aspects of people’s lives. Housing is essential to meet basic needs, such as shelter, but it is not just a question of four walls and a roof. Housing should offer a place to sleep and rest where people feel safe and have privacy and personal space; somewhere they can raise a family. All of these elements help make a house a home.”

According to survey respondents, the most important factor for American happiness is “life satisfaction,” with the topic of housing coming in at in position number nine. The group has collected 10,070 responses from people living in the United States, and hopes to continue to collect responses to its survey, accessible online here.

—REALTOR® Magazine Daily News