I’ve lived in a lot of houses. Big houses, little houses, owner, renter. I’ve sort of run the gamut in terms of living situations. Actually, the only thing I haven’t done is live in an apartment. Technically. My first condo was an apartment conversion, and I owned it, so I think it fulfills multiple living situation categories.
We’re currently renting while we get settled back in the area we have decided to live in. I’m actually really grateful we were renting because we wouldn’t have been able to move so easily in order to get the kids in the school we wanted (dangit, there I go talking about the kids).
The reality is, everyone says owning a home is the American Dream. But there are some clear benefits to renting, some that significantly outweigh home ownership in my book. So, I present to you, K’s top five list of why renting is better than buying (at least, until we buy a house).
5. Repairs. Depending on your landlord, we’ve either had someone who is completely responsive to doing repairs or is more than willing to hand over the reins to us and then have cost of the repairs taken off the rent. Either way, at the end of the day the repair bill isn’t our responsibility (provided we didn’t cause the problem).
4. Renters’ Rights. At least in this state, renters’ rights are far more comprehensive than a home buyer’s rights. Once you accept an inspection and buy a house, as a home buyer you’re pretty much on your own for anything that comes up. Air conditioning goes out? Roof is bad? Plumbing is toast? Better hope you’ve planned for that, or it’s going to be a long winter of ramen and Chef Boyardee. As a renter, amenities listed in the rental agreement must be maintained or you have the right to terminate the agreement (as we had to do with a landlord who refused to repair an air conditioning unit in triple digit weather when we had a child with a 104 fever).
3. Being a renter is almost like being a tester for Consumer Reports. One of the best things we’ve learned while renting covers things we will NEVER BUY once we own our own home again. For example, our current rental has consumer grade high end Kitchen Aid appliances. Stove, microwave, and dishwasher. And they all are AWFUL. The microwave is glitchy, the oven constantly shuts itself off, and we routinely have to do a second round with the dishwasher.
2. Learning what you can and can’t live without. When you buy a house you have this long list of “must haves”. When you rent, especially if you have to move quickly (like we did when we had to move from the house with the air conditioning issue), you learn pretty quickly how to manage without things you thought you had to have. I’ve learned I’d give up indoor space for a larger yard. That said, anything we buy must have a playroom space. Bedrooms can be smaller if there is a space for toys and crafts and such.
1. Renting can be completely liberating in ways owning is not. Our current house is way bigger than what we will likely end up buying. As a result, we have a room downstairs that is completely devoid of any furnishings. It’s a formal living room, and we just don’t have furniture for a formal living room. And unless we replace our current couches before we buy a house, we will live here with a completely empty room until we move.
Now, the reality is, home ownership has its own set of benefits. Having owned and rented, I think I prefer owning over renting, but I’ve learned over the past few years that owning isn’t the end all be all that everyone wants it to be. The bottom line is, a safe roof over our heads is something to be thankful for, and having dealt with being a one income family for a long stretch (not by choice) in the past five years, my perspective on what’s important has changed drastically.
Do you rent or own? Have you done both? What do you like about either or both? Was this post totally boring? I’ve been sick, so it’s a stretch but I wanted to get a post in before the weekend was over.