6 reasons to rent
As many homeowners find their American dream turned into a nightmare, it may be a good idea to reconsider renting as a worthy lifestyle choice. Here, renters share some of the benefits as they see them.
The attitude toward housing in this country is clear: Buy. We "aspire" to own a home and, if we're good citizens, finally "attain" homeownership, all in proper pursuit of the American dream.
Renters, meanwhile, are relegated to the lingua of Middle Age fiefdom, their tenancy dependant on the (land)lords and (land)ladies of the nation. Even a malicious landlord retains his royal title today, albeit somewhat marred, as in "slumlord" or "ghetto lord."
"There's a culture of homeownership and the presumption is that homeownership is the right or best tenure choice," says Eric Belsky, executive director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. "The language we use underscores that.”
"We don't talk about rentership rates, we talk about homeownership rates," says Belsky, who catches himself referring to owners who "revert back" to renting. "See, I'm doing it myself."
And yet, one-third of Americans, or nearly 37 million families, rent instead of own. (This doesn't include vacation homes.) For some, it's a question of affordability, while for others it's a lifestyle choice.
Here, renters share their rationale for the renting life.
1. To escape the hidden costs of homeownership: In the nation's capital, homeownership is an affordable option only for those families earning more than 120% of the median income of $95,000, says Peter Tatian, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute, a research organization in Washington, D.C., that focuses on social and economic problems and issues.
Those who drive out of the nation's metro areas to find more affordable housing dump those savings right back into transportation costs, with families earning $20,000 to $50,000 spending an average of 57% of their income to cover both, according to research by the Center for Housing Policy. (See this .PDF file for more information.)
Even in more-affordable areas, homeownership can prove too costly. Buck Bannister and his partner bought a two-story carriage house with a big yard in South Carolina for $60,000. Then came needed incidental repairs, along with a roof fix and a new sewer line.
After practically draining the home loans, each suddenly was hospitalized with a serious medical condition.
"At that point if you have a home, as the conventional wisdom plays out, your home is your greatest asset and you can tap into those assets. The problem is if you've had to tap into those assets to make the home livable, they're not there for other things," Bannister says.
Bannister and his partner each recovered, and they sold the home. They could easily have afforded another, but now happily rent a $675-a-month duplex in Tucson, where they landscape the yard and enjoy the neighborhood.
"It's home to us, it's not just a place to crash," Bannister says. "We love it. The only way we would do anything else is if we won the lottery and were independently wealthy.
"I have friends who have bought a house and something happens and they realize: I don't own this house, I rent it from my bank and I have to pay to keep it up," he says.
2. Access to urban amenities: "Everything I need is within a mile or two," says Sam Higgins, 29, who rents with his fiancé in Austin, Texas "I can be downtown in five minutes."
His fiancé’s aunt, a real-estate agent, frequently pitches the idea of buying, which the couple shakes off.
"We could afford something, but it would be more money and a smaller space for us to do that," Higgins says. "And if I'm an hour's drive from what the city has to offer, then it's not really worth it to me."
I live in a great neighborhood, with great amenities, within walking distance of work, restaurants, a walking/biking trail, a college with continuing education classes, and a large park, for about half what I would pay if I had a mortgage. I love my neighborhood, and if I ever choose to buy something I would buy in this area, but why should I? I don't have to pay maintenance, I don't have to pay separate taxes, I can have a dog, I can paint, etc. The only thing I would like to have is a place to garden, and I can walk to the community garden spaces for that!
It makes SO much more sense for me to rent than to buy right now!
My husband and I are retired. We have the American dream with empty nest, house paid off and vacation home. Now our house is worth much less than say 5 years ago so our investment of 25 years has significantly decreased. It's a crap shoot whether to sell our main house and rent or sell and buy another one. No one really knows what is best since our government is throwing us curve balls or wild pitches! They've got us all by the balls so to speak
I moved to Atlanta in '98 thinking I would rent for 6 months to get a feel for things, then buy. When I saw what rents were, I went ahead and bought right away. Rent would have been twice my mortgage. I don't mind yardwork and prefer to fix things myself as much as possible. (It gets done right that way). I'm paying $600 a month piti, rental prices are $1200+ for a similar house.
Also, I plan to stay put for another 15 years until retirement. With a lease, you may have to move each year if the owner wants the property back or jacks up the rent.
I have rented twice in a complex and both times was next to (or under) a smoker that loved loud music at night.
Hmmm.... I'm a renter and have been for several years. I've owned before as well.
I'm a poor money manager hmm? Is that why I live on about 25% of my income? Is that why I have enough money in the bank to pay for my childrens educations and my retirement, and I'm only 33? Please forgive me, I'm not seeing the correlation between renting and being a poor money manager. I don't pay the landlord whatever he demands, I pay my AGREED upon, lease enforced rent. No more, no less. He loves us. We keep his house in incredible condition. The carpets are cleaned every 6 months, we repair what our children break, and we makes improvements on the property.
Owning a home USED to be the best investment vehicle around. It's not any more. There are more effective ways of investment with higher yields. Actually most landlords did not get into it to make money. A large number of landlords are landlords because they had to move and they either couldn't sell their house for what they paid, or the house would have to sit on the market to get what they needed to get. That's our landlord, all 3 that we have ever had.
The real reason to rent for me is personal preference, mobility, flexibility, and convienence.
"The real reason to rent is that these people are poor money managers, tend to bite off more than they can chew and overspend and basically don't want to be tied down to the lifestyle that they create. You'll all be signing the blues when prices start upward and you're stuck paying the landlord whatever he demands. That is why we became landowners in the first placwe, people."
This dude who talks about common sense must certainly be in the mortgage business.
Hey, let someone else take all the responsability.
People pay all their lives into a home, get old, wind up in a nursing home, and then????????
Like were are going live in the same place for 30 years. Where is this guy living????
Rent, Rent, Rent
CommonSenseIsAllItTakes - Speak for YOURSELF only!!!! Just because I rent does not mean I have a criminal record or bad credit! As to your "list" - you can have a party at your apartment just as well as in a house - IF YOU ARE CONSIDERATE OF OTHER PEOPLE it is no problem. Same with owning animals. There are many landlords willing to let you have pets - they just require you to clean up after them - what a concept! Besides, even if you own a home, you can still get into plenty of hot water and be forced to get rid of a pet if it becomes a nuisance - the city and courts will make sure of that. The other really great advantage to renting is if I decide to move/have to relocate to a different city - I don't have to worry about trying to sell a house. I can merely move and at most it will cost me 3 months rent. That is far less worrisome, especially in this market! You would have to either be lucky enough to get a quick sale or be able to afford two mortgages. Thanks, but no thanks - think I'll keep renting! I have been in my current apartment for going on 8 years, my landlord is fantastic, and very quick to come fix any problem I have. As far as renovations, I have had my bathroom redone, and new floors in my entryway and dining area... not too shabby if I do say so myself. I think you really have to "interview" your prospective landlord as well. You can easily find out if there have been complaints lodged against them and even court records are available to the public. The other harsh reality many of you gung ho homeowners or wanna be owner have not seen, I see on a daily basis - people who could afford their houses when they bought them, but then the economy turned down and they were laid off and in many cases their partners along with them. So now, you have a two income family reduced to no income/unemployment. Try paying a mortgage and living on unemployment.. GOOD LUCK. So now you are in court and losing your home - in the process your credit goes down the toilet - YIPPEE glad to be a homeowner. See if you were renting, you might get evicted, which while still a smudge on your credit does not have as far a reach as a foreclosure. You can still go out and find another rental, which granted may not be with the greatest of landlords, but you can at least find a roof while you recover and get a job. It is far easier to afford rental expenses on unemployment than a mortgage, taxes, homeowner association fees, and the big one insurance. To top off your fall from grace, the mortgage company may even slap you with a judgment for the difference between what you owe and what your home sold for at auction, which is pennies these days... So, as I said... THANKS, but NO THANKS!
I would love to own our own home,but,right now i don't have the funds,so that's why i rent. Right now the home we rent is in foreclosure & falling apart little by little. Wish i could find a place in the country to move into that didn't cost an arm or leg or both!!! I'm still going to be looking.
Bye 4 now
I will say this, once our lease is up in a few months we will NEVER be apartment renters again, we are excited rent an actual home.
People here are still trying to make a profit or break even that didn't use some sort of common sense the last 6 years. Good bargains if you are looking for a house here, or a small house.
You are throwing away your money and never getting anything for it.
In an apartment, you never know who's going to move in above you, under you, or next to you. Next week you could be hearing the bass thump of rap music or the screaming of small children or barking dogs.
The bottom line is, if there is ANY way you can afford a home, buy one when the prices are not likely to go much lower and then within 10-20 years you'll have equity and probably quite a bit of capital gains to play with should you decide to move.
Renting is for suckers. (Or, like me, people who live in California and cannot afford to "buy in" to the ridiculously high real estate market.) (Crackerbox 2 br house for $450k??!!! No thanks!J)