New Zealand has one of the highest rates of home ownership with over 60% of households being owner-occupiers. The millions of dollars spent each year on DIY projects is evidence of the pride we take in our homes and also of the belief most Kiwis have that their home is an investment which can sold later in life to help fund retirement. The high rate of ownership is, however, declining with the rapid rise in property prices and more transient lifestyles. Generations X and Y, who are more concerned with freedom than security, are more likely to want to rent than their baby boomer parents. Most wealth creation experts agree that property is a good investment. Many also argue, however, that the home you live in is not strictly speaking an investment. While your home will increase in value over the long term, the money you have invested in your home can often produce a better return if it is invested elsewhere. For example, if you owned a home that could be sold for $600,000, you could potentially get a better return on your money by buying two houses or a house and flat with the same total value, one of which you live in and one of which you rent. Of course, if you took this approach to the extreme your best strategy would be to live in cheap accommodation which would lower your standard of living. Bear in mind that in general, the more money you have invested in the home you live in so as to enjoy a good lifestyle, the less wealth you will create for later enjoyment. Property ownership helps create wealth and security in the long term, but get the right balance between living comfortably now and creating wealth for the future through investment.
There is a worldwide trend for investors to want to make a positive contribution to the world by investing in companies that are socially and environmentally responsible. If you are passionate about the effects of climate change, the scarcity of food and water, and social or environmental policies in general, then you will no doubt wish to ensure that the companies in which you invest are going about their business in a manner that is consistent with your views.