Many of us grow up thinking of home ownership as a cultural ideal—an indicator that we’ve “made it,” and have become in a sense “real” grown-ups. But the market has changed dramatically in the past 20 years, and it may be time to adjust our expectations. Many millennials are finding satisfaction in long-term renting, relishing the flexibility and low overhead that comes with lease living. These pros and cons may help you decide which option will best suit your circumstances. Print this out and use it as a source of talking points when discussing your housing future with family members.
- Maintenance is handled by a landlord—when something goes wrong in a rental, you can call your landlord to handle the problem. This means that you aren’t spending money on problems that could easily become expensive, and that you are avoiding the many hidden costs of becoming a homeowner (like frozen pipes, mold issues, water damage, and changing property taxes).
- Flexible location—if you aren’t reasonably sure you’ll be working in the same city in five years, renting is probably your best option for now. Why spend a bunch of time and effort (not to mention money!) buying a home when you will have to turn around sell it again?
- When you rent, you don’t have to pay property tax
- No investment return—in many cases, your rent will cost more than a home payment would, and you never build on your money down.
- Permission is required for major changes—if you want to paint or make any structural changes to a rental, you have to get permission from your landlord.
- Vulnerability to shifts in renter’s market—your landlord can raise the rent each year or two, according to your state’s laws, which means you may eventually get priced out of your neighborhood. If you love living there, this can be hard to accept.
Buying a House
- Become part of a community—when you buy a home, you make a commitment to stay for a good long time, and you can become involved in your community in a way that’s harder to do as a renter.
- Better investment—when you make a house payment, you are paying for something that will be yours until you decide to leave, at which time you can sell, possibly at a profit.
- You are not at the mercy of rent hikes from your landlord
- You will have no payment when home is paid off—it may take 30 years to get there, but the possibility of having no monthly payments on your housing is at least dangling there, somewhere in the distance, when you own.
- Decorate and landscape the way you want to—you can make decisions about paint colors and landscape design; you could remodel the whole house if you wanted to. These are choices you can’t make as a renter.
- Usually, you have to put a sizable down payment towards the purchase of a house (usually 3 to 20%)
- When you own a home, it becomes much more difficult to move if you decide you don’t want to live there anymore.
- You are in charge of the maintenance of your home. If the plumbing needs fixing, or the walls need a new coat of paint, that responsibility is all yours.
- You have to pay property taxes on your home
If you plan to stay in the area for a long time, and want to be in charge of landscaping and decorating for your house, buying may be the best choice for you; if all that sounds like a headache you could do without, maybe you’re a renter.