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It can be in the city, in the country, by the slopes or by the sea. Wherever your home is, it means so much more than just bricks and mortar. It’s your base for everything. Your home can be your passion or place of work. Your home can be a place to relax, to share family time, and to plan your future. Home is the ultimate dream you’ve made a reality, so it’s worth looking after.

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Exploring Personal Economy: Homes

Home is most profoundly linked to all aspects of a personal economy. We join three very different households to discover how home keeps everything in balance.

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Home lives at the heart of the personal economy

Home is more than an investment, it says everything about who we are now and who we’ll become in the future.

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Home isn’t just a place to live. Wherever it is in the world - a rural retreat or an urban oasis - home is the anchor for everything else. There are many approaches to setting up home, from signing a lease to acquiring the title deeds. Lifestyle values are always on the table when deciding whether to buy or to rent a home, because a vibrant personal economy reflects a bespoke approach to investment.

Currently, 64 per cent of property owned by wealthy North Americans and Europeans is located in cities, 15 per cent in towns and suburbs and a combined 21 per cent in water-side, rural leisure and ski locations.

According to the Financial Times, an increasing number of North Americans are buying rural properties, indicating a desire for open spaces. In Asia, buyers gravitate to the city, with Hong Kong and Mumbai among the top destinations for urbanites who crave the buzz of city life.

But not everyone chooses to become owner-occupiers. In a world where mobility is as simple as a round-the-world ticket and a pay-as-you-go SIM card, home ownership isn’t the only option available. According to figures published by the European Commission’s Eurostat, French homeowners comprise 64% of the population and over half the Swiss population rent their homes - just 46% invest in bricks and mortar. In Germany, the rental market is tightly regulated so there is very little incentive to buy.

Rented or owned, a warehouse studio or a country manor, a home is the imprint of a unique lifestyle. It is the place to nurture the dreams and aspirations for a thriving career or a young family. It is the space to fill with memories in the making - the hopes and dreams for all the destinations still to come.

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In Switzerland and Germany, the proportion of people who lived in rented dwellings outweighed those living in owner-occupied dwellings, as some 56.1% of the population were tenants. Whereas in the UK, only 33.3% of the population lived in rented accommodation.

Source: European Commission Eurostat

Home is true north

Here are four things to keep in mind about the place you call home when navigating your personal economy.

Global Perspectives

Floating the idea of a waterfront home

With sea levels set to rise, the cream of design ingenuity looks to floating houses as an out-of-the-box opportunity.

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Weary of the concrete mazes that make up city centres, many urban dwellers now look to the waterfront as a prospective location to build their dream homes. But according to a recent United Nations report, sea levels are expected to rise bringing a new set of challenges for the engineers and architects who shape the aesthetics of major cities in low-lying areas. The World Bank listed New York, Mumbai and Guangzhou amongst the coastal cities that run a high risk of flood damage in the lead up to 2050.

There could come a time where floating homes are a common sight along the banks of the Thames Estuary.

Stéphane Hallegatte, Senior Economist at The World Bank who led the study, blogged about the research findings. “If no action is taken to reduce flood vulnerability, most coastal cities would become inhospitable and dangerous places to live, with annual losses in excess of $1 trillion dollars,” writes Hallegatte.

London is no stranger to flood defences. The Thames Barrier was completed in 1982 and is one of the largest moveable flood barriers in the world. Despite this great feat of engineering, rising sea levels throw up the possibility that there could come a time where floating homes are a common sight along the banks of the Thames. Award-winning architecture firm dRMM explored this possible future reality in 2012 at the 13th Venice Biennale for Architecture.

The British creatives took their inspiration from the Dutch firm Marlies Rohmer Architects who designed the Floating Houses Ijburg in Amsterdam. The community literally floats on the water and the one-size-fits-all solution was personalised by the residents contributing bespoke architectural elements which they built themselves.

Population explosions and an expanding middle class means that cities like Mumbai and Guangzhou will be considering the future landscapes of their harbours and waterways. The Amsterdam example sets the gold standard in collaborative solutions to a creative engineering and design challenge.

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Thames Barrier
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