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Is Owning A Home An Outdated Practice?

Updated on August 23, 2015

The American Dream

For generations children were taught that they should go to school, get a good education, get married, start a family and buy a home. It was the American dream. In many of those teachings a house with a white picket fence was advertised as the preferable home of choice. Everyone grew up with the dream of owning their own home......a place they could call their own. And for years without questioning the plan that was laid out before them generation after generation did just that. After all it was the thing to do. At least that's what they were told. Mom and dad did it so why wouldn't I? Who am I to break tradition? If it was good enough for them its certainly good enough for me right? Maybe. Maybe not.

Early 20th Century Construction Workers

Changing Times

There is very little doubt that society and the world have changed dramatically since home ownership was the popular thing to do. In the early agrarian days of America a person would simply acquire a parcel of land, build on it and the house was theirs free and clear unless they took out a loan against the property for building materials or some other expense. When America transitioned to the industrialized nation it is today homes were generally built in advance and then purchased afterward with the purchaser usually having to secure a loan to buy the house which meant they would have to pay off the loan in full before they owned it. In cities this became common practice. In those days families in general were more stable and less mobile. Once they set up house they tended to stay put. When they became employed by a company they usually stayed with that company for the duration of their career. In the last 30 to 50 years all of that has changed. Employees rarely stay with the same employer for the duration of their careers due to various reasons. Mergers, foreclosures, outsourcing and companies moving to different locations have all contributed to displacing workers. Many times workers are faced with the choice of relocating with a company or losing their job. If they are buying a home that decision becomes very difficult and complicated especially if a family is involved. Selling a house is difficult enough if you are remaining in the same city but its even more complex doing it from another state. So in these changing times we have to ask ourselves if home ownership is still practical.

Apartment Building

Owning Versus Renting/Leasing

There are advantages to both owning a home or renting one. Everyone must decide what is best for them but in today's ever-changing, fluid work environment one should make careful consideration before tying themselves into a 20 or 30 year mortgage with interest rates that may change at the drop of a hat. The housing collapse of 2008 demonstrated one of the hazards of home ownership when the bottom fell out of the housing market and home values plummeted in free fall as thousands of home loans were foreclosed on. Much of that had to do with loans being approved for buyers who were not financially qualified for the loans they received but the point is it still points out one of the consequences of home ownership.

Another consequence of home ownership is maintenance costs. All repairs and improvements are the responsibility of the home owner. And in some cases the city where you reside may require the owner to make improvements or repairs if the property is deemed to not be up to the city code. A garage that is in disrepair can be cited as a nuisance requiring you to repair it or face being fined. If you have a cracked sidewalk that is a hazard to the mailman delivering your mail they can refuse to deliver it until you make sufficient repairs. Then there is the routine maintenance of mowing the lawn, shoveling the snow, cleaning the gutters and eaves troughs, plumbing, electrical and so forth. Renters and leasers don't have to worry about these tasks because they are usually covered in the lease by the property owner. Also many lease payments are comparable with mortgage payments minus the hassle of possible maintenance or moving problems.

Dealer's Choice

In the end whether to own or rent is a decision that has to be evaluated carefully. Everyone is not cut out to own a home. Others are built for it. Many things have to be considered before making the decision. What is your job stability? What can you better afford? Do you have the time to devote to a home? One thing to bare in mind is home ownership is a long-term proposition. Its kind of like the stock market in that to get your money's worth you have to stay with it for an extended period of time. Buying a home is not for short-timers and with the way things are today everyone may be a short-timer soon.

Is owning a home still practical in today's fast-paced ever-changing society?

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    • Oscarlites profile image

      Oscar Jones 2 years ago from South Alabama

      good to keep an eye on .... cheers!

    • TonyDan profile image

      Tony Daniels 2 years ago from Toledo, Ohio

      Valid points Oscarlites. Although slowly changing I do feel the great majority of people still prefer home ownership.

    • Oscarlites profile image

      Oscar Jones 2 years ago from South Alabama

      Underneath the facade of corporate america, there is still an older , stable home ownership. I still see many third generation inhabitants, and know by objective observation a large percentage of city residents have lived there, where they are , and never plan to leave. I was moved many times as a child for the reasons you offer, but I was the exception. There is a 30 percent population that is transient by job, choice or whatever reason though. Approximately. Yes its a basic question determined perhaps by culture, economy, and even now by ecology, is, fires, tornados, etc.

    • TonyDan profile image

      Tony Daniels 2 years ago from Toledo, Ohio

      Oscarlites I get where you're coming from. Buying a home and paying it off gives a person a sense of accomplishment and the satisfaction of ownership. We would like to think that all the years of working were not in vain. Owning a home is physical evidence of our labor and its reward. My query is, considering the ever-increasing fluidity of within employment circles is home ownership becoming a fading objective? I haven't researched it to that degree but I might.

    • Oscarlites profile image

      Oscar Jones 2 years ago from South Alabama

      Basically a home to me represents safety and security, ( at least where I eat sleep and live my life when not working). In my case at least, I found that its more peaceful and less stressful all the way around to own. Now if I get to where I can't take care of the maintenance and general upkeep, then I might have to reconsider. But for now this is the place where the world around me doesn't bother me. The cost of a prebuilt home is substantially less than building new.

    • TonyDan profile image

      Tony Daniels 2 years ago from Toledo, Ohio

      I thank everyone for their comments. I know I may have missed some pros and cons of renting vs. owning but in fairness if I tried to list all of them this hub would go on forever. My intention was to show how a changing society has affected the decision to own a home. In the past 30+ years I have rented and owned homes and to be honest personally I enjoyed the advantages both had to offer. Renting today is much different than it was in past years. There are many more freedoms that modern renters have that were unheard of in the past. In some regards today renters have almost as many "perks" of ownership as many home owners do without the added expenses like property tax........which I also failed to mention (**wink**).

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 2 years ago from America

      We rented in the first years of our marriage. Hated every minute of it. Landlords who wouldn't take care of things.

      Apartment living was the worst someone always complaining about something. We were allowed to have pets in the apartments. The landlord complained that our dog left bee bodies all over the pool area. This is a true story. We were so happy to get out of renting.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Excellent topic to discuss and you have stated your position well. This decision really leans heavily on each individual, their lifestyle, family situation, as well as one's career.

      Clearly, at some point in one's life, we have had the experience of both owning or renting our living quarters. In my entire adult life, once leaving my childhood home, I have rented only once for a brief period of time while searching for another home.

      I cannot even begin to imagine renting on a full time basis, long term. Having bought and sold 6 homes in a 48 year period of time (all very lg homes with acreage) I am very serious about my space, peace, privacy and control of my environment. Amongst these & many other reasons for owning, I see it as an investment.

      Paying a monthly rent to someone else for a place to park yourself, may be exactly what appeals to some people for just as many reasons as others see fit to buy.

      Very good hub.

    • CrisSp profile image

      CrisSp 2 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Pretty good argument but I still believe that renting is putting your money down the drain. So, if you have resources, a house is a good investment. two cents.

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 2 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      One thing you didn't mention on the plus side for home ownership is that you are not beholden to a landlord. If you are renting the owner makes the rules. Can you have pets? Can you smoke in your home? Can you have an extra vehicle there, or have a party? I own my home because I don't want someone else telling me how to live.