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I 100% agree especially with the urban planning thing. As an American, I'm tired with the fact that I need a damn car for everything. Not only that, but the type of car and age can also be an indicator of wealth or status. So now I have to be conscious of a stupid means of transportation because it has an affect on my status. Also repairs are like 500% more than they are for a bike, which is so simple you could teach a 5 year old to fix.

Also Americans just love to tell you how much they love having a yard and doing yard work. I learned a few years ago that lawns used to be something only aristocrats could afford because it showed your wealth that you could afford to not have land for the use of food production. Now you get fined if your neighbor rats you out to the local government for letting it get to high.

I honestly think the government needs to stop with the homeownership BS. It's a stupid farce that low income types should not have. They can't afford to maintain it timewise and are being preyed upon by lenders who lead them to believe that property equity has value. The purpose of equity is to decrease your liability. People here treat it as a forced savings account and refinance the MOMENT they are strapped for cash.

Also, lawn maintenance was labor intensive and you needed a dedicated staff to keep it trim and watered.

Just like with any other thing, middle class tends to emulate the aristocrats once it becomes cheap enough, and end up rationalizing their choice.

See also, the higher education experience.

Yes absolutely! The funniest part to me is you cannot convince them that this is what it is! It's just a total waste of time that could be used elsewhere in a more productive hobby.

Nope! We all tend the largest private garden that is the urban landscape of Uncle Sam!

Landlords come across more predatory to me. Take up all the land and make people send their money into a black hole their whole lives instead of getting to own.

Owning isn't free either. Instead of paying your landlord rent, you pay rent to the city (property taxes), the bank (mortgage), repairmen, and to opportunity cost (these x00,000$ would yield interest/dividends if invested and not tied up in your house)

In some places, it's also much cheaper to rent that own after factoring all this in.

The opportunity cost of the capital is really important.

However, many jurisdiction give tax advantage to owner occupied property.

Eg you have to pay all kinds of taxes on the return from a million dollars in the stock market, compared to the housing services you consume from your own million dollar house.

(That's in most countries. In eg Singapore we don't have capital gains tax. So it's a bit more even.)

I would like to see those mythical places one day.

Yeah in the sticks or areas nobody wants to live in.

Joking aside, Midwest tends to be cheaper. Chicagoland area is far cheaper than SF or NYC and yet has a lot of good paying jobs.

In Manhattan, it is generally MUCH cheaper to rent than buy (at least in the short to mid term. $3000 in rent would get you the same as a $5k/mo mortgage.

Any place with an overheated real estate market.

Toronto is one, you could rent a condo worth 600-700k for 2k a month when the mortgage alone before local taxes etc would be over 3k.

Renting is cheaper in many places if you factor everything, unless you (a) know you are not going to move for >n years, with n often in the range 5..10, and (b) are betting on real estate appreciation.

Granted, (a) and (b) are true for many people, especially as they get older - but all factored, renting is often superior.

Agreed. I know some family friend land lords who not only do this but prefer cash rent payments so as to avoid(in this case, illegally) taxation.

Sucking the air out of a community and then putting nothing back into it. It's really shameful.

A case for why landlords can be good for community:

They landlords paid for the house they rent out. So they either literally built it, adding a new house to a community, or they bought it from someone who built it (or from someone who bought from someone who built it etc.) - the transaction of buying/selling compensates someone for the effort of building the house in the first place. If there were no landlords, the houses would be bought only by people who intend to live in them (let's ignore speculators for a moment), which would make the market less liquid, discouraging people from buying new houses and hence adding to the community.

Not to mention the obvious fact that, without landlords, there would be no houses for rent, which would decrease worker mobility and hence make the community worse off economically.

>" If there were no landlords, the houses would be bought only by people who intend to live in them"

That would be a good thing. Housing would be cheaper, because people wouldn't be priced out of the market by rent seekers with large capital.

Housing should not be an investment object, it should be for living in.

Most western countries have a large surplus of housing, but a lot of people can't afford to live there. The landlords and speculators would rather have houses stand empty than reduce their profits. All the while, there are homeless people on the streets. Letting perfectly good housing stand empty solely for the sake of profits is morally reprehensible.

Then why not just add a tax for vacant houses and get the best of both? Landlords with access to capital increasing supply, and less speculation on empty houses.

(In Australia) removing negative gearing, mandatory parking minimums and foreign investment would go a long way too! Though I hear Prop 13 and strange taxation in San Fran is one of the issues.

Adding a vacant house tax would be one way of discouraging that rent-seeking behavior. Or in more general terms, a land value tax would be nearly ideal.

The root problem is that landlordism is exploitative. We don't need landlords to increase the supply of housing, that can be done much better through housing cooperatives and publicly funded housing, where the element of greed is minimized. Landlords are rent seekers, extracting excessive profits from a basic human need.

And there really isn't a need for increasing the housing supply in any western country that I know of. The issue is not one of supply, the issue is that a lot of the people who work in the cities are priced out of being able to live in those cities. That is not a problem you can solve by simply increasing supply, because landlords obviously want the best return on their investments, so they build expensive housing, which attracts only those with enough wealth to buy in at that price level.

As a result, when left to their own devices, landlords will not build housing that is inexpensive to live in (small apartments without parking and so on), unless they are forced to do so though regulations.

And I'll ask the allegedly stupid question. Why is a less liquid market in illiquid good is bad? (Other than not being as easy to make money in.)

It’s bad because if you want to buy or sell something, for “genuine” reason, an illiquid market may mean you are unable to do so.

There are other options than suburban-style home ownership and exploitative landlords. Co-housing, co-op housing, and nonprofit-run housing are all ways people are tackling this problem. I'd love to see more of that.

And personally, "getting to own" is not something that makes sense to me. For me it would be "having to own". I would never want to pay an absurd amount of money (including huge commissions and one-time costs) so that I was tied down in one spot. Let alone wanting to become an unpaid amateur maintenance guy (and unpaid amateur general contractor when it gets harder). It makes as much sense to me as owning a farm so I can get food. I'd rather pay for housing as a service and leave it to experts to manage.

Of course, that does leave me at a bit of a financial advantage, because in the US we subsidize home purchases (with a larger subsidy for more expensive homes!). But then I'm also not vulnerable to things like the surprise $40k cost for foundation repairs some nearby friends of mine got hit with, so I can live with it.

there isn't enough land to not build at least multi-story appartments.

Appartment coops might be the way forward, but "I, by myself, own the piece of land under my feet" will naturally generate the same problems as landlords do in big cities.

At the very least shared ownership should become more common

I wish there were decent coops in the city near me. I looked into three, and they were all places that you couldn't pay me to live; one was nearly condemned the year after I looked into it. The other had hallways with only 1 out of 3 lights actually working, and smelled of urine and ramen.

It's a neat idea, but I'm guessing there is a certain culture that makes apartment coops work, and that definitely doesn't exist near me.

Landlords wouldn't be as predatory if land wasn't overvalued. Remember when the homestead act existed? How do you compete against free land that you can do whatever you want to and live at any kind of lifestyle without having to worry about zoning laws? Nobody to tell you that you can't live in a trailer or a shipping container because your neighbor wants their value of their land to be higher.

The US government has fostered a culture of entitled NIMBY assholes and wont stop until it collapses.

Alas, Warsaw, the capital of Poland, now has more cars per capita than New York. A car is very much a symbol of status in Poland now, and that's in part thanks to American movies. American hype in Poland is still very strong. You have to endure car talk at work, if you're commuting by bike you're the odd one.

I know the story of railroads in America. In Poland, once communism was officially over, they realized rail transport generates big monetary losses. So, over the course of several governments, they insidiously extinguished rail and bus transport. They did it in such a way that it appears citizens don't want it. For example they made the train arrive in a city at 08:10 am instead of 07:55 - a big deal for school kids. Or they broke stopovers - one train would arrive at 11:30 and another would leave at 11:40, so you could catch it. But they made it 11:30 and 11:35 or even 11:30, so you're likely to miss the other train. To give you an idea, the number of passengers transported per year fell 4 times since 1989. There are books popping up describing the process and how most people in villages feel forced to own a car.

> Alas, Warsaw, the capital of Poland, now has more cars per capita than New York. A car is very much a symbol of status in Poland now

This is sadly true, but I believe we are starting to see it change. Slowly. It is a sign of immaturity: as a country matures, people notice that cars aren't all they are cracked up to be, and start switching to bikes, walking and public transportation.

As a US citizen in a partially rural state, this is not the case. Even as a return university student, I still feel like a loser with a 2001 truck when I see kids 6 years my younger with mustangs or 2016 SUV's.

I'd love to increase my prestige in a way by buying something better but fiscally I cannot do it. My degree is more valuable in the long term that I'm not jeopardizing it.

I was pleasantly surprised when I visited Warsaw last year after having last lived there 10 years ago.

The "new" subway line was built by tearing the surface up and digging from the top. The way it was rebuilt is much nicer: you now have wide sidewalks, bike paths, and a few trees. It's still very ugly imo and incredibly car-centric + polluted, but it's not as bad as it used to be.

That said, Poland took a 180 turn after communism... There are ads everywhere for credit cards and unsecured credit, hundreds of banks operate there, people love to spend money and be showy about it, large chains opening left and right... While people are still working under poor conditions (health insurance, job stability, pay, pension)

Cars were status symbols under communism as well. The GAZ Chaika was limited to the party. Even without the internal hypocrisy of the party the initial scarcity and social artifacts would ensure long before marketers got involved to promote the mythologies.

Now living (in the US) where you can walk almost anywhere is a status symbol itself! I lived in downtown Palo Alto for three years, and I loved the fact that I mostly used my car for road trips and groceries. (I filled my trunk at cheaper grocery stores instead of walking to Whole Foods.)

I'm a bit out of the subject, but are you telling that in the US you're not free to grow vegetation on your yard however you like ?

Most cities will enforce fines/issue warnings if you don't mow your lawn and the wild grass on it gets taller than a couple inches.

I don't know if this is done to curb the spreading of ticks (and Lyme disease) in urban areas or to avoid "lowering your neighbour's properties value", but it's terrible for bio-diversity... Insects have it already pretty hard in cities and on top of that they've got nothing to eat in the tiny patch of grasses people call "gardens."

Ticks spread when there are host mammals, nearly regardless of vegetation height.

I'm with you on the dead ecosystem thing. Besides the vegetable patch, my garden is deliberately a happy self-regulated mess of grass and wild strawberries, trees and bushes, planted flowers and all sorts of plants and mushrooms. I only remove the thorns, and walk though with a scythe twice a year (one tough enough to cut the smaller saplings). It's quite rewarding to watch the birds, small mammals and amphibians that thrive there, and a delight for my young daughter. It is quite a surprise to hear that I'd have trouble doing that in the land of the free. Thank you for the insight !

It really depends on the area. The "US" is quite diverse in many ways. As another commenter mentioned, cities are more likely to have problems with that than the suburbs.

Some cities ban it, or you're an idiot for doing so because of the runoff water that soaks up the soil can include chemicals that people dump in the street such as oil from a car rinsed off on a driveway, round up still being used, paints, litter, construction waste runoff, etc.

9/10 you'll be fine, but knowing that, is it honestly worth doing?

It'll vary heavily by state and local law. In most cases they expect you to groom or otherwise manage your outdoor space, but no one will protest if you put several raised beds full of veggies or flowers. Plenty of folks in New Mexico or Arazona who only have cacti and stones in front of their place, etc.

Cars are one thing, but the communist urban planning was something more than just that. Since you had a government build everything, it was built with citizens in mind, not maximalisation of the property value.

Right now, modern buildings happen when a developer buys a piece of land, and tries to squeeze the maximum amount of apartments on that space. In 1980s, the government built a whole neighborhood of 30-80k people from scratch, and the priority was quality of life for people inside.

(Obviously, the times were rough back then, the old buildings are not as good in quality, but the thing most people agree with is that urban-planning was way better)

Home ownership is important in a world where you don't want everyone always strapped down by debt as barely more than a chattel slave. It is the increase of the rentier class of capatalism that is largely to blame for adding millions to the homeless population while millions of homes go uninhabited. Of course I understand in some specific markets this generally doesn't apply (the SV centric nature of HN tends to make this sentiment seem more prevalent than in most of middle America). The small percentage in taxes you would then pay in repairs and taxes per year vastly outweigh paying on a mortgage for the rest of life until you die, and narrowly focusing on people who abuse equity as a line of credit doesn't negate those facts. That same rentier class repacking mortgages in financial derivatives many times over is how we got 07/08, and nothing much has changed other than a slight deleveraging from ~30 to ~11 and the bailouts being automatic next time via Dodd-Frank.

Of course the largest part the problem is that people are trained to think debt is such a good thing. I can't tell you many lawyers I know who make 500k/yr are way in the net negative, while my country/redneck friends are far in the net positive. Their homes and vehicles may not be brand new or as nice, but they own them and have a financial and other type of freedom the rich-but-a-debt-slave can only dream of. Of course they have the means to get themselves out of that position, but they don't think like that for the most part.

tldr - Ownership (on more than just homes) is still very important if you don't want bankers to own the world.

ps: Also, this is one of the reasons why the move more towards a remote-first workforce seems very promising to me. Buy a forever home as young as possible and never have to sell it unless you want to move, as opposed to always having to sell for every new job you take.

When you think about it, capitalist societies were better at forcing people to spend money. Kill the streetcars (trolleys) so everyone has to purchase a car. Sure you earned more, but you also had to spend more, thus driving the economy. That’s why they were really capitalist and consumerist economies. Just look at the Bay Area salaries and cost of living there nowadays. Once Poland became a car manufacturer (low cost labor for European brands), it sounds like the same thing happened there.

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