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HOUSING HAPPINESS HERE

Graphics by Doris Shields / Los Angeles Times

Clearly, housing is not a major source of discontent in Orange County. A large majority of residents, 70%, say they are very happy with where they live, while one-fourth, 26%, are somewhat happy. Very few flatly say they are unhappy.

Although homeownership is not a sine qua non of housing happiness, it helps. Only about half of renters say they are very happy where they are, compared to 81% of owners. South county residents as well as older and more affluent residents are also more likely to be very happy.

Clearly, though, having to make sacrifices to maintain a home erodes content. Those who have had to cut back on necessities (such as food, clothing or medical care) and things they like to do (such as vacations and going out), or who feel financially overextended because of housing payments, are not nearly as likely to be very happy as are those who are not pinched.

This question was asked first: “Taken all together, how happy are you with your current housing?” Those who said they are just “somewhat happy” or “unhappy” were then asked: “Why is that?”

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Here are the results:

Very Somewhat Happy Happy Unhappy All residents 70 % 26 % 4 % AGE 18-34 years old 64 31 5 35-54 69 27 4 55 and older 82 16 2 HOUSEHOLD INCOME $60,000 and more 76 20 4 $40,000-$59,999 67 29 4 Less than $40,000 65 31 4 REGION* North County 66 30 4 South County 75 21 4 HOMEOWNERSHIP Owners 81 17 2 Renters 48 44 8 CUTBACKS FOR HOUSING Have cut necessities 46 % 48 % 6 % Have not 74 23 3 Have cut luxuries 51 42 7 Have not 75 22 3 Financially overextended 51 48 1 Not overextended 72 24 4 INTEREST IN MOVING Yes, interested 37 50 13 No, not interested 83 17 **

WHY JUST SOMEWHAT HAPPY OR UNHAPPY? Location 27% House too small 16% Currently renting 15% Cost of home 10% Condition of house 8% Doesn’t fit needs 6% Other reasons 18% * The north-south dividing line is the Costa Mesa Freeway

** Less than 1%

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Source: Times Orange County Poll by Mark Baldassare


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