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.
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.
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!
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?