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Kathimerini - Greece | Sunday, December 16, 2012

Maria Katsounaki on the Greeks' shattered dreams of home ownership

The Greeks live in bigger houses than most of their European neighbours, the conservative daily Kathimerini notes pointing to a study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Averaging 126 square metres, Greek homes are the fifth-largest in the world and the second-largest in Europe. Now the empty houses stand as a reminder of the futile struggle for material wealth, writes columnist Maria Katsounaki: "The Greeks' relation to their privately-owned homes has deep roots in history and society. By investing in a private dwelling, parents wanted to secure their children's future. For that reason they put their savings, be they big or small, legal or illegal, into real estate. ... People were admired for owning one or more houses, and this was considered a sound investment. ... The luxurious flats and houses were also a substitute for their owners' non-existent identities. Material goods filled empty rooms and empty lives. Now we are faced with uninhabited, silent apartments and houses. They are waiting for the next owners or tenants, who are becoming increasingly hard to find. A desert now stretches before us, calling out for new forms of assets - and life."

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