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Advice for Young Couples: Rent a House Before You Buy

Updated on June 22, 2019
Jackie Zelko profile image

I have been an English teacher for seven years now and love to share my thoughts with others about literature and teaching strategies.

What Your First Rental Home Will Teach You

Young couples today feel pressured to buy a house immediately after getting married when they may not be financially ready. As first time homeowners though, how do you truly know what you like and what works for you? Renting a house first can teach you a lot about what you want in a house when you are ready to buy.

1. Square Footage

Because of the pressure social media has created, a lot of young couples want to buy the biggest house they can find. These couples often find themselves full of regret. A big house may seem great at first, but there could be aspects of it that you do not like. Renting a house can make you realize that you would not be able to fill up all of that extra space if you had it, or the house cleaning would just be too much to keep up with. Renting can also help you realize the alternative: maybe you do need that extra space to accommodate your lifestyle.

2. Layout of the House

The layout of your rental house can teach you what doors, appliances, and counter spaces are placed in inconvenient places. Is the dishwasher directly below a cabinet you have to get to when emptying it out? When the front door is open, does it block the bottom of a staircase? When you are on the hunt to buy a home, these are easy things to miss. You may become distracted by the whole process and overlook these things, only to become frustrated when you get settled in.

3. Surfaces

Surfaces can always be replaced when you buy a home, but knowing what you are getting into can help in the decision making process. Older white surfaces in the sinks and the bathtubs from the 90’s can be more suseptible to staining compared to recent ones. If the grouts on the surfaces have been poorly added on, it could be the perfect environment for mold to grow underneath it. The unfortunate truth is a lot of rental properties do not care about any of this. The cheaper and quicker it is to install and fix a home, the better it is for them.

4. Storage Space

Closet and storage space can be very important to a person depending on what you own. You move into a house thinking it has the perfect amount of closets, but fail to consider the depth of them or how your growing family will fit their belongings in them. Renting a house for a few years can give you a better understanding of if it has enough storage space for things like clothes, shoes, coats, holiday decorations, and more.

5. Converted Garages

This is the most important lesson you can learn from when renting a house. My husband and I had no idea the negative effects of our living room when we first moved in. The house we are renting has no garage, and the owners had turned the garage of the house into a living room. It is so poorly made though! The insulation is awful, and it will smell like mildew in the corners when it rains. When you look at the floor where the carpet and the wall meet, there is a small space where the air from outside constantly flows in. Our electric bill is through the roof because of this. The power box is in this room as well and had been painted over shut, which is unsafe. The electrician had to take a knife and cut through the paint to get to it when we were having issues with our outlets. We will definitely be keeping an eye out for things like this when finding a house to buy.

6. Heating and Air Conditioning

Renting a house can assist you in deciding if you want to buy a home that is one floor or has multiple floors. A second floor means that there is always going to be a temperature difference. Houses that were built in the early 90’s will have a way to regulate the temperature evenly for both floors; however, they do not always work as they should. You may also realize based on where you live that built in fans or a wood burning fireplace is essential for your home. It could help you save some money on your electric bill.

7. Driveway

This can be important depending on how much snow you get in your area. Renting a house with a long or short driveway can make you realize the time and energy it takes to shovel a driveway. Aside from snow, consider if the overall size is right for the cars you own. You may find after renting that you want a slightly bigger one just to accommodate the cars of guests when they come over.

8. Yard

Yard work can be hard to keep up with, which is something you will find out quickly when renting. Renting a house before you buy can help you make the decision of what commitment you are willing to make to your yard. A lot of land means more mowing in the summer. A lot of trees means more raking in the fall. Your commitment will help you decide if a big or small yard is right for you.

9. Location

Renting a house can help you decide if you want to stay in a similar location when you buy. It is not just about what stores are close by, although that can be a deciding factor. It is also about if you want to have neighbors or not. Being a part of a neighborhood is being a part of a community. Renting a house can help you see if you need that socialization or not. Halloween is huge in the neighborhood our rental house is in. My husband and I spend $150 on candy each year to make sure we have enough for the kids. With that being said, it has made us consider not buying in a big neighborhood like the one we are in now.


Take your time and wait to buy a home when you are truly ready to do so. Ask your friends and family for advice before going on house tours. Between the experience of renting a home and the advice of others, you will find a home that you and your spouse will love for years to come.

© 2019 Jackie Zelko


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