Why I’m Choosing Renting Over Buying

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Torn between renting and buying? There are many reasons to consider renting over buying a house. Find out why there's more to the debate than just price.

It’s home buying season! Just the other day, someone commented that four homes in a row in their community had gone up for sale.

However, I can’t say I’m involved in the house hunting craze. While many of my friends are looking for homes they can settle into, I’m perfectly happy renting.

I don’t believe home ownership is a path everyone has to take. It doesn’t matter if you’re single, married with no kids, married with kids, or a retired empty nester – housing is one of the biggest decisions we’ll make in our lives. It’s important to go about it correctly.

If you’re thinking about renting vs. buying a house, I encourage you to think about the value owning a home brings you. In my case, there’s no value, and I know I’m not alone.

I really value having flexibility, so I’m currently choosing renting over buying for a number of reasons. If you’re torn between renting or buying, I hope this helps!

Why is Flexibility So Important?


I’m self-employed, which means I can move anywhere I want, and I fully intend on taking advantage of that for as long as possible.

The city I currently reside in was chosen because my fiance was able relocate here for his job (we were desperate to leave NY). Other than that, we don’t have any ties here. My parents live 3.5 hours away, which is an nice bonus, but it doesn’t feel like “home” to us.

It’s been a dream of mine for a while to travel around and explore different cities within the U.S. I have very limited travel experience, and I want to change that.

I could still travel around if I bought a house, but when I think about buying vs. renting, renting wins out right now because I want to immerse myself in each city instead of simply passing through. Plus, having a mortgage payment on top of paying for travel wouldn’t be as ideal as renting a place for a few months, living as a local, and then leaving.

Beyond that, mortgages are a huge commitment. You’re typically paying your home off for 15 or 30 years. What if something changes during that time? What if you lose your job?

In that situation, renting offers some breathing room. You might have to break your lease or add a roommate into the mix, but you won’t be struggling to pay a mortgage.

Fun Amenities


When we were first looking at apartments, I noticed how hard complexes tried to sell us on all the amenities they offered.

To be honest, it hadn’t even crossed my mind. I wasn’t looking for a community with the most amazing pool or gym, but it is a nice perk of living in an apartment complex (depending on how nice yours is).

Our place has two pools, a gym, a dog park, a little car wash station, and a nice sized clubhouse with free coffee available.

They even host free events twice a month, and there’s a fairly good chance those events involve free food.

While these amenities usually aren’t state-of-the-art, they could be enough for you to cancel your gym membership. Plus, they’re convenient – you just have to walk to them!

The cost of these amenities is usually rolled into your rent, but if you own a home, you probably have to pay HOA fees for them. Depending on your community, HOA fees can be rather pricey. I know people with HOA fees as high as $650 per month!

Renting Means Less Maintenance


We’re all pretty busy, right? Who has time for yard work or trying to fix broken appliances? While some people might enjoy it, I’m not one of them, and neither is my fiance.

Living in an apartment means maintenance is taken care of. If something goes wrong, I can put in a request for someone to come fix it.

Unfortunately, I quickly learned maintenance personnel are kind of lackluster. The many (too many!) times I’ve had to deal with ours, it’s taken them multiple trips to figure out what’s wrong. Fixing the problem took another trip or two.

If you own a home, you can choose a reputable company and hopefully have everything fixed in one or two trips.

However, I’m glad I don’t have to worry about the expense. There are many more ongoing costs associated with home ownership than there are with renting. This means I can put more of my money toward debt and investing in the stock market, and not worry as much about my emergency fund.

What About the Math?


A lot of people argue renting is more expensive than owning a home, based purely on how much you pay per month.

That’s true in some cases. Houses around here are fairly affordable, and a mortgage payment might be less than what we pay per month in rent.

But as I pointed out above, when you’re considering renting vs. buying there’s more to consider than just your monthly payment.

Maintenance either costs you money to outsource, or it costs you in time. Keeping more money liquid in case of an emergency is recommended. Renter’s insurance is typically cheaper than homeowner’s insurance.

Personally, I also don’t think you can put a price on flexibility. Selling a home isn’t always easy, and it can be a time consuming process. I’d much rather be able to hand over the keys and let someone else deal with finding a tenant.

Torn between renting and buying? There are many reasons to consider renting over buying a house. Find out why there's more to the debate than just price.

The Downside to Renting


Of course, renting has its own downsides to consider. Besides unreliable maintenance personnel, you have the obvious issue of neighbors.

There have been a few parties thrown in our building at 1:00 am on a weekday. We’ve heard arguments from the apartment across from us. We can hear dogs barking loudly below us.

This is all par for the course when it comes to apartment living.

The other issue? Parking. People who aren’t handicapped park in the handicapped spot. People also create their own parking spots in inconvenient places. Some people just have difficulty mastering the art of driving and collisions happen (because it totally makes sense to go 40mph through a parking lot).

Lastly, many places won’t let you customize your apartment. There’s no painting allowed, and the wording in our lease has made me scared to even put nails in the walls. As a result, our apartment has little to no personality.

I’m okay with that, though – it means less temptation to spend on home decor items!

Renting is Fine for Now


Overall, renting isn’t glamorous, but if you wanted to resolve most of those issues, you could always rent a home. Just be careful if you’re considering renting a basement (I’m speaking from experience here).

The pros of renting outweigh the cons for me for the time being. If you’ve been torn between renting and buying, I hope this helped give you more insight!


What has been your experience as a renter? If you’re a homeowner, do you think you could go back to renting? What do you think are the pros and cons of each?

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Erin M. is a personal finance freelance writer passionate about helping others take control over their financial situation. She shares her thoughts on money on her blog Journey to Saving.


  • Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life says:

    The monthly maintenance charges alone on NYC apartments are more expensive than my rent.

  • Gwen says:

    I’m renting for now, too. With my company, I’ve been moving every 18 months or so. 1.5 years is not worth all the fees, and I’d barely have any equity in it. I’d love to be able to customize my very own house, but it can wait until I’m ready to stay in one place for longer than 3 years.

    • Erin M says:

      I hear you, Gwen! My fiance purposely chose this company to work with because of the relocation possibilities. We’re perfectly fine moving around, but buying a house would be silly at this point.

  • Shannon @ Financially Blonde says:

    I am actually a big fan of renting vs. buying. People think that home ownership is such a great wealth builder, but it’s also a big wealth drain with all of the responsibilities of home ownership.

    • Erin M says:

      Yep, it can definitely go both ways! I wouldn’t be opposed to eventually buying a house with the intention of renting it out – real estate is a great way to build wealth – but I’d like to be near the rental property just in case!

  • Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way says:

    Wow, I definitely love your place Erin! I love renting especially with lots of amenities like yours, but since I have a kid, I would prefer buying a house.

    • Erin M says:

      What surprised me about living here was there’s actually quite a lot of families! There are 3 bedroom apartments which are pretty spacious, and I’ve seen plenty of families hang out by the pool or just walk around. There’s a section in the back where kids can run around and play without too much worry of cars.

  • Noelle says:

    We currently are renting a condo. In the fall, we are moving into renting a house. Though the catch is my mom is actually the homeowner and therefore our landlord will trust us and allow us to make any sort of home improvements to the property we want! So we get the perks of living in a house that we can customize without the risk of extra costs adding up like needing a new roof or replacing the furnace! Of course this is a unique situation but I feel it is the best of both worlds. We considered buying but the market right now is at its peak and it just doesn’t make sense!

    • Erin M says:

      That’s awesome, Noelle! I’d totally take advantage of that. My fiance’s mom actually had a nice basement apartment we were thinking of renting, but his brother ended up needing it more. I originally wanted to rent a house down here, but we only had 2 weeks to look before our hotel stay was up. Looking for an apartment was easier as there’s less to choose from with house rentals.

  • Fervent Finance says:

    Currently I rent in Manhattan. I’m in the accumulation phase of my financial independence journey and flexibility is BY FAR the most important thing when it comes to living arrangements. I want to be able to move to where the money is and greatest earning potential staying in the East for me though). I’ve already moved from the burbs of New England to NYC for a job to increase my earning potential and would do it again. I will not own a home until I’m sure it’s where I want to plant my roots.

    So many young people buy homes with their significant others, and then break up and get divorced, or lose their job and have to move. And that is one mistake I’ll refrain from.

    • Erin M says:

      That’s a great point – we’re definitely open to moving around to get an increase in income.

      Yes, that’s also (sadly) very true. I’ve seen it work out for some people, but I some couples don’t fully realize the ramifications of signing on the dotted line before they’re married (or “settled down”). A house is a huge commitment!

  • Tre says:

    One downside of renting is the monthly rent. When you have a mortgage it is fairly consistent unless insurance or taxes increase. You can shop around for insurance and contest tax increases. Rent tends to increase more frequently.

    • Erin M says:

      I think one downside to wanting to move around frequently in general is that it’s more expensive. We were going to move to a cheaper place when our lease was up, but with deposits and security and the cost of a moving truck, it wasn’t worth it. Our rent only increased $20/month which isn’t horrible, but if you’re moving every few years, it does add up. Of course, that only applies to mortgages if you have a fixed rate. 😉 There are certainly ways to lower the cost of being a homeowner, though.

  • Michelle says:

    We are currently in a rental house while our house is on the market. We are enjoying renting though so we will probably do this for the next few years while we try to determine where we want to live full-time.

    • Erin M says:

      Renting is a great in-between option if you’re either trying to save for a house, explore other places, or look for the ideal home. It’s always a good idea to take your time as opposed to rushing into the buying process!

  • Adam says:

    I agree! I just made the move from renting to owning because it was time for it. Renting made more sense for a long time. I didn’t know if I was going to stay around this area and I travel a lot for work. It’s better for me to know that if something happens while I’m gone, my wife can call somebody else because it’s their responsibility and that gives me the peace of mind that I need. Now, with my family growing and I’m more settled into my job, buying makes more sense. Great article!

    • Erin M says:

      Thanks Adam – I’m glad to hear things settled down for you so you could make the transition. Good point about maintenance giving you peace of mind. It’s not fun to deal with repairs or problems on your own.

  • Jason B says:

    I’m also one of those types that have no problem renting. Owning your own home is a big step. I’m honestly not ready for that. I also know that I want to move around a few times before I settle. It wouldn’t make sense for me to buy a home right now.

  • DC @ Young Adult Money says:

    I couldn’t agree with more with the maintenance aspect of owning a home. It’s been a struggle to do home projects & maintenance when I have so much to pack into my “free” time. I think it’ll pay off, but not for years down the road when we have our home projects complete and start looking for our next home. I do not plan on buying another fixer-upper!

    • Erin M says:

      I think one fixer-upper is probably enough for most people! After helping my parents with bathroom upgrades at our old house, I can’t imagine doing a full-scale renovation unless I had a ton of time to dedicate to it.

  • Abigail @ipickuppennies says:

    Hey, even we homeowners have to put up with parties and such. We live right by the park, so people who linger too long (and get unnecessarily loud) are an issue. Also, people who visit local houses have annoying parking tendencies. They park too far into the road or on corners, etc.

    I think flexibility is awesome. We do want a house for security later and will pay down the mortgage faster.

    But we have repairs and upgrades ($7,500 this year). And most renters don’t pay as many utilities. Not that water/sewer/garbage is all that pricey, but it adds up.

    I think a home is a good investment — not to make money but to eventually not have to pay rent. But I think there are some perfectly valid arguments for renting. Knowing what you want is key to figuring out the best situation for you.

    • Erin M says:

      Oh, that stinks about the park! Very true that parking can be tricky even in residential areas. When we rented a basement, the road was so bad, the neighbor actually backed out into my fiance’s car somehow.

      There do seem to be more costs to keep up with as far as home ownership is concerned. Everything but our electric is sent to property management, so there’s not too much to manage on our part (though our internet is awful!).

  • Gary @ Super Saving Tips says:

    Owning a home versus renting is a personal choice and there’s no right answer for everyone (and even for each person, that answer might change over time). I currently own a condo, which gives me the benefits of home ownership with some of the amenities and maintenance of renting (for a cost, of course!). Before the condo, I was a happy renter and I could certainly go back to that if need be. But I plan to stay in my current home for a long time and ownership is working for me at this point in my life.

    • Erin M says:

      Totally agree, Gary! It’s a very personal choice. Condos and town homes are also great alternatives to apartments, especially if you own them. I think my first property will likely be one of those.

  • scott says:

    Owning a home can be way overrated. Renting allows a lot more freedom.
    Figure a way to go do that traveling you want to do.
    Wen I was younger I traveled all over the world. I would not give up those experiences and the things I learned traveling for anything.

    • Erin M says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Scott! It seems like a lot of people that enjoyed traveling in their younger years don’t regret it at all. Not surprising!

  • mike says:

    Is it worth it to sell my house and rent? The mortgage has 450,000 left to it. And it just grows every year. And a rental fee is similar to the mortgage payment.

    • Erin M says:

      Hi Mike – that’s definitely not an ideal situation to be in, sorry to hear that! I unfortunately can’t speak to your specific situation as I’ve never been in it, but I have heard of people selling their homes and renting (or downsizing, at least) if it makes mathematical sense. There are some calculators out there that might help you run the numbers, but of course, there’s a lot to take into consideration other than the money.

      However, if you’re struggling to keep up with your mortgage payments, it might be a good idea to look into finding ways to make housing payments more manageable. That could mean selling, downsizing, renting, renting a room in your house out (if that works for your situation), refinancing, etc. There’s lots of choices, so hopefully you find one that helps!

  • Daniel @ says:

    Here in Canada there is a hidden society rule that says “you cannot live if you do not own a house”. Not an apartment, not a condo. I’ve even read in a forum that “it’s impossible to raise a family in an apartment or in a condo”. It’s nice to read some opinions on renting. Here in Montreal, rent is way less expensive than a mortgage, and even then I see people coming from abroad and thinking about buying a home in their first year.

    • Erin M says:

      It seems like Canada’s housing market is a bit less affordable than most places here. I feel like a lot of people have the misconception that they need to own a house to raise a family. Sure, the bigger space is nice, but it’s definitely possible to raise kids in an apartment or condo setting. Our 2 bedroom is a little over 1,000 sq. ft. and it could probably accommodate 4 people comfortably!

      • Daniel @ says:

        Sure, the extra space is nice, but the extra costs are not, like you said.
        Of course, if you could choose between renting and owning the same house, the rent would be more expensive, but what people do not seem to realize is that for the same price of the mortgage you can rent a really nice apartment. But, anyway, this is just me and I am fine living in an apartment. I’d rather spend the extra money travelling 😉
        Nice post, thanks for sharing!

        • mike says:

          The difference is, that there is 9 ppl in my family. And renting is hard. But its probably smarter to sell the home, and use the money to invest in our future and pay off all our debt. What do you guys think?

          • Daniel @ says:

            Hey, Mike. What do you mean by “renting is hard”?

          • Erin M says:

            Ah, I see! 9 people would make it difficult in most apartments. There’s always the option of renting a house – around where I live, there are plenty of 3,000 sq. ft. houses with 4-5 bedrooms for rent.

            Investing in your future and paying off your debt isn’t a bad thing, but the decision to sell your home is a big one, and I would advise you to make sure it makes sense from all angles before moving forward with it. Talk it over with your family, and if you have a financial advisor, I would recommend speaking with them about it as well. There are a lot of factors at play, and most of us aren’t professionals here, so I’d hate to give you wrong information.

  • Chev says:

    I know this article is fairly old but I would love your thoughts.I live in Northern NJ and I teach so my salary and cost of living are both fairly high. I live four blocks from the school I teach at and my children attend there as well. I have three sons 9,7 and 16. The property taxes where I live are about 9k-10k. I wanted own at one point but I know If i want to stay local I would need to get a two family.I pay 1250 a month for a 3 bedroom and utilities are about 150 a month. But I believe that if I buy my kids are beyond enjoying the backyard age and I ´ll have money tied up.Iḿ an experience type of mom and I love to travel and show them the world outside of NJ. I know if I buy I will have a very limited income.Am I crazy? average rents where I live are alot higher than I pay and I want to capitalize off paying so much less by using money to travel and save a lil. Thanks for your response.

  • Stuart says:

    I have rented for 10 years now. The reason would be flexibility – I could afford to buy, but so far I have yet to finally settle into a job or area. So I have held onto my savings. Over here people are incredulous when I say this, but a house purchase will use all my money, so it has to be right.

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