The Great Real Estate Debate: Renting Vs. Buying

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Thinking about moving this spring and not sure if you want to buy or rent? We may be able to help weigh-in on the decision.

Real estate and the choice to buy or rent can have a significant impact on your personal finances and your life.

For many, the decision to buy or rent is made with more than just their finances in mind. Right or wrong, this major life decision is usually made with our hearts more than our heads. But if you are just beginning to consider the differences between renting or buying a property, here are some things you should consider in the renting vs. buying debate.

The great real estate debate: renting vs buying!

Pros of Renting

“There are so many pros to renting that outweigh the cons, in my opinion. The biggest pro has got to be flexibility. I love the fact that if I’m not happy in whatever place I decide to live, I can move without worrying about a mortgage. Yes, moving is expensive, but having that freedom is priceless.

Additionally, many apartment complexes have certain amenities (like a pool or a gym) that you can take advantage of, without having to add an extra monthly payment to your budget.

Beyond that, there’s the fact that if maintenance is decent, it’s not as much of a hassle to deal with problems as they arise. You call someone, and they fix it. No having to shell out thousands of dollars for a broken water heater!”

-Erin

“I only rented during college. After that, I made the decision to buy a house because there weren’t any rentals available in my small rural hometown, which is where I moved after college because of the job I landed. The only other option was to move back in with my parents. After living on my own for the past three years, that didn’t sound like a good, viable option for me. I think the biggest pro of renting for me was the flexibility to move. I only rented for two years during college, and I lived in a different apartment each year. I was able to improve my living conditions by moving to a different neighborhood at the end of my first lease.”

-Kayla

“I only have experience with renting, and I’d say it has its’ ups and downs. I like how affordable rent is in our area and how we don’t have to worry about much outside of keeping our home clean and paying for our electricity and water in addition to rent. All the other utilities are covered along with maintenance. If something breaks or stops working, I can just call my landlord so they can have a maintenance person come out to fix it at no additional cost to me. I also like having the freedom to know that we can move whenever our lease is up each year if anything changes or if an opportunity arises.”

-Chonce

“As both a homeowner and a renter, I have to say that I really enjoy some of the perks of renting. You don’t have to pay for home repairs out of pocket, you’re not beholden to a mortgage, and you can pick up and leave as soon as your lease ends. When we recently moved, deciding to rent was a clear choice for us in the renting vs. buying debate. Since we didn’t really know the area we were moving to very well, renting gave us the ability to learn the ropes of our new town and not get stuck in a house or section of town that we weren’t thrilled with.”

-Kristi

Cons of Renting

“One thing I hated about renting was not being able to make a place my own. I’ve always been very mature for my age and so even though I was in college, I really wanted to be able to paint the walls fun colors and hang up lots of decorations in my apartments. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to do either one because of the constraints of my lease.”

-Kayla

“You can’t have pros without cons. The biggest con to me is having to deal with a crappy landlord from time to time. No one is perfect, but even management companies screw up from time to time. The rent on my apartment has been messed up more than once, maintenance has been absolutely horrible, there’s a lack of parking, and generally, if your neighbors suck, you’re kind of stuck with them until either of you move out. If your apartment walls are paper thin, that can get old, fast.

While mortgages can rise due to property tax, rent is increasing at a quicker speed across the nation. It can be a struggle to compete, and sometimes, owning is cheaper than renting, even with repairs taken into consideration.”

-Erin

“I don’t mind having neighbors and at my current apartment, my neighbors have been pretty quiet and respectful, but sometimes I feel like I would enjoy having neighbors not so close to me so I don’t have to worry about being too loud after 10pm or telling my son he can’t jump around because someone lives underneath us. I also don’t like the fact that most apartments don’t allow dogs and charge a fee if you have a cat. I want to get a family pet in the near future, but getting a dog won’t even be an option if we continue to live in an apartment. I also wouldn’t want to rent a townhome or house because the rent would be much more than I’m paying now and could cause a financial strain. When we feel like we are truly ready to have 4-legged pets, the most sensible option will be to buy.”

-Chonce

“Even you luck out with your landlord and find a place that allows you to paint whatever colors you like, hang whatever you like on the walls, and essentially turn their house into your home; it’s still not your property to make the ultimate decisions on. For example, there are a some enormous (and hazardous) old trees on the property that we would love to cut down. One limb the size of a large tree already fell on the house, so those big branches terrify me. It’s not our property, though, and the landlord doesn’t want to see the trees cut down. When you rent, you don’t get to make those kinds of decisions.”

-Kristi

Pros of Buying

“For the most part, owning gives you stability (or at least, the illusion of it). Most people buy because they want to settle down and provide a homebase for their family. Others view their home as an investment (though that’s up for debate). From a renter’s perspective, I’d say the biggest pro to buying is that you can do whatever you want with your place of residence, as long as you don’t live in an HOA community.

I really wish I could paint my apartment walls different colors. I’m even too scared to put holes in the walls! It’s pretty lame. While I live on the third floor, I try to be cognizant of the fact people are living underneath me, so I can’t run the dishwasher or laundry at weird times during the night. If I owned a home, that likely wouldn’t be an issue. I also wouldn’t have to walk up three flights of stairs to avoid having noisy people above me…”

-Erin

“Owning a home is more of an investment than renting. With every check to the mortgage company, you’re one step closer to owning your property outright. If you’re able to pay off your mortgage quickly, that becomes a huge expense that you no longer to need to worry about every month.”

-Kristi 

“Basically on the flip side of the con of renting, the thing I love most about owning my home is the ability to make it my own. I have painted my home fun colors that I love, and hung up my favorite decorations on the walls. I know this is really an emotional pro to buying a house, but it really makes me happy to be able to put my own spin on my property.”

-Kayla

“If you’re looking for stability and to stay in your current area for a long time, buying may be a great option. Homeownership can give you the freedom to customize your living space any way that you want and in some cases, buying may be cheaper than renting. If you have really high rent, and some savings lined up to contribute a large down payment on a home, you can save money by securing a mortgage at a cheaper rate and having equity in your property from the start. Of course, maintenance and repairs will be added expenses, but you can always prepare for that.

Another benefit to owning a home, is that you can rent out an extra room, your garage, or additional space to bring in some additional passive income if you please. With renting, that may be hard because everyone who lives in your home needs to be on the lease.”

-Chonce

Cons of Buying

“The biggest con of buying is being stuck with your home. If the market takes a bad turn, you can be left belly up on a house where the mortgage is more than the home is worth. Homeownership is also a huge financial responsibility. You and you alone are responsible for making all of the necessary repairs and pay all of the property taxes.”

-Kristi 

“This goes along with the biggest pro to renting – the lack of freedom to move around. A mortgage ties you down for a while. Common advice says to live in your house for at least five years before you think about selling it, otherwise, you might get the short end of the deal.

However, I think the biggest turnoff for me is how much it costs. I’m a worrier by nature, and I know that if I owned a home, I would want to increase my emergency fund. Depending on the age of your house, so many things can go wrong in quick succession, costing you tons of money. I like not having to worry about that with renting!”

-Erin

“Now that I’m a freelancer, and I have more flexibility in my life as far as being able to work from anywhere that has an internet connection, I have to agree with Erin on this one. Once in a while, I get a hankering to move, but I think it would be a much more difficult process since I own a home. I’d have to make the choice to rent it out to someone else and find a property manager to make sure my home is maintained and the renters follow the rules, or I’d have to put it on the market and get it sold.”

-Kayla

“One of the biggest cons of owning a home, in my opinion, is the unexpected expenses for maintenance and repairs. I’ve heard stories from homeowners who had to pay thousands to fix things in their home or paid smaller amounts of money toward things that added up over time. Since I rent, I currently don’t budget for repairs and maintenance for my home, but as a homeowner, I can imagine that it’s an additional burden that has to be carried.”

-Chonce

Where do you stand in the renting vs. buying debate? When you weigh the pros and the cons, which decision is best for you and your current situation? 

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2 thoughts on “The Great Real Estate Debate: Renting Vs. Buying

  1. As always, the best decision when it comes to renting or buying depends on your situation and purpose. My wife and I decided to go for renting because we don’t know if we will stay in the area we are now for a very long time. When we calculated the money that we would need to shell out plus all the fees like HOA and property taxes, we realized that we were going to need at least 5 years before we can recoup our initial investment. Plus, our area is not a seller’s market right now and in the foreseeable future.

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