Photography: Janis Nicolay | Story: A Couple Trades Their Suburban Home fora Pretty Condo in the City
The surprising perks of not buying that house
Owning a home is something we’ve all fantasized about (or maybe even a dream we’ve had come true). We save, we scrimp and we endlessly scroll through real estate websites, planning for that day when we can finally take possession of that set of keys (and the mortgage that comes with it). But what if the conventional wisdom about renting V. owning (with the latter being the better choice) doesn’t necessarily hold true for everyone? Whether by choice or, you know, living in a city with a crazy property market, more and more of us are finding ourselves renters—and are discovering that it has some unexpected pluses.
Benefit of Renting No. 1: A landlord
Sure, that picturesque Victorian semi was your dream home...until that pipe burst, and now you have to come up with thousands of dollars to fix it and find the plumber to do it, too. If you were a renter, that whole scenario would be a lot simpler: Call your landlord. Granted, some are better than others (we’ve all been there), but as a renter, your only job is to pay the rent, and that’s it. All of the other costs that come with homeownership, like property tax, routine maintenance and unexpected disasters are, well, not your problem.
Benefit of Renting No. 2: The freedom
One of the biggest complaints people have about renting is the feeling of impermanence, that you’re not really putting down roots until you own a place. But what if you turn that into a positive? As a renter, you have so much more flexibility, for both the good and bad times. Say you get an exciting job opportunity across the country. If you owned a home, you’d have to wait around to sell it (potentially at a loss, depending on the market). As a renter, you give your notice and hey presto, you’re living in a new city the next month. By the same token, if you find yourself in different financial circumstances, it’s a lot easier to pivot and reduce expenses than when you’re a homeowner.
Benefit of Renting No. 3: The financial upside
This one depends on your particular market, but sometimes renting can actually be a better investment than buying. No, you’re not building equity in your home, and yes, you’re technically paying someone else’s mortgage. But in situations where renting a property is cheaper than what the carrying costs of owning that property would be, you’re actually freeing up your money for other things that may be lucrative in the long run, like investments or the stock market. If you’d like to crunch the numbers for your own specific scenario, this Rent Vs Buy tool is very helpful.
Benefit of renting No. 4: The chance to get creative
As a renter, there’s only so much you can do to put your own stamp on a place. Instead of seeing that as a limitation, look at it as a chance to really flex your design innovator muscles. You can’t knock down that wall—but you can create an amazing gallery wall that turns that eyesore into a feature. Plus, all that money you’re saving not paying transfer fees and property taxes can go towards some investment pieces of furniture—and you can take those with wherever you make your home.