Here in Canada, people can pull from their retirement accounts to come up with the down payment on a house (if they are first time buyers). They can also withdraw to pay for education.
Personally, I would not want to withdraw to buy a house unless the numbers were really compelling.
Education is a different story. If you need the money for education and that will result in you earning more money and having the career you want, that might be worth it in my opinion. Education is entirely what someone makes of it though.