Ah, the American Dream. A car in every pot and a chicken in every garage. Or maybe we’ve gotten that part wrong. Quite a bit has changed, after all, but some things remain constant. One of those things is that for nearly as long as there’s been an America, we’ve always been told that the American Dream included home ownership. Let’s see who has the upper hand in an economy that’s uncertain and a housing market that seems to be struggling to find its footing.
Flexibility versus Stability
If you’ve chosen to rent, one substantial advantage you have is a degree of flexibility. You’ve just been offered a transfer to Minnesota? No problem! New baby on the way? Well, just upgrade to something with an extra bedroom. Lost your job? Downsize to a studio. On the other hand, a homeowner usually has a sense of stability that the average renter lacks.
The Sense of Ownership
Renters know they’re just passing through. Some renters don’t take issue with this, and actually prefer not to be tied down. Others may find themselves starting to chafe at someone else’s rules. After all, if you’re renting it’s not as though you can just knock down the wall separating your kitchen from your dining area, or make major changes to the landscape. In fact, many renters have a hard enough time bringing pets into their apartments, or may find their options curtailed when it comes to long-term guests. If you own, your space is yours to do with as you please, whether it’s raising cockatoos in your guest room, or deciding that you’d rather have your aging parents under the same roof (just move the cockatoos out of the guest room first).
The Cost of Renting vs. Buying
For many people, this ends up being a major — or even the largest — consideration. The rent on an apartment can be significantly less than the mortgage on a house. Renters don’t have to worry about property taxes (which are already part of their rent) or major repairs. The roof caved in? That’s someone else’s problem. There’s a flip side here as well, however. We mentioned stability earlier, and for homeowners, part of that certainly stems from the stability that comes with something that builds equity over time. Other costs may seem intimidating at first glance, but with a bit of discipline and planning, they can be addressed easily.
So we end where we began, with a simple question. Is it better to rent a home, or to buy a home? The short answer? That depends. The truth is, there isn’t — and there’s never been — a neat, one size fits all, answer. If you’re still on the fence, call a Realtor. They’ll have the resources to help you make an intelligent and informed decision, and to decide whether home ownership is the right move right now, or something you’re better off leaving for the future.