A crucial part of the American dream requires owning a good chunk of dirt and grass to plant a big house on. It’s an expensive and difficult endeavor to pursue, but nothing says “I am the ideal citizen with a soul-crushing amount of debt I will never pay off” like having your own shelter in a designated lot.
That is the most important aspect of owning a house: the never actually owning it part. How can you know that your residence is actually yours unless you’re unsure that it’s actually ever yours? If someone can’t evict you at a moment’s notice, then clearly you’re doing something wrong when it comes to being a home-owner. That’s why you gotta buy big. Sure, in a single year you probably make about a hundredth of the cash required to buy your house, but isn’t knowing you kinda-sorta-but-not-really own something you could absolutely never afford the whole point of purchasing a home?
It’s interesting to consider how much space people need versus how much they will try to get. I don’t have any data or information to back this, but I’m pretty sure most people could survive comfortably in a cardboard box that is roughly twice their height and three times their width. As long that cardboard box also has Wi-Fi and a coffee maker, I don’t see what anyone could complain about. Houses, however, are usually bigger than cardboard boxes (at least three times bigger, I think… don’t quote me on that). That seems like an excess amount of space for people to call a home, but how else can we let our neighbors and poor people know that we’re better than they are?
People live in houses for the same reasons kings live in castles: it lets everyone know how awesome you are, it keeps the aggressive natives at bay, and you get a chance to draw property lines with really nice wooden fences and moats. You may not be able to afford a house in this economy, but that shouldn’t stop you from irrationally purchasing one.