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Why I Rent My Home, Not Own

Updated on August 27, 2011
The great American dream - or nightmare?
The great American dream - or nightmare?
Traditionally, a white picket fence means "home". But that fence doesn't paint itself...
Traditionally, a white picket fence means "home". But that fence doesn't paint itself...

I rent because I like things simple. I rent because I don't buy into the "Great American Dream" of home ownership. Years ago I figured out being the on-site caretaker for a bank or mortgage company's property was not "the investment opportunity of a lifetime".

Call me un-American, but I don't feel the least bit guilty about this when I pay the rent each month.

Nosireee. Not one bit.

By not being in hock to a bank or mortgage company for tens of thousands of dollars for 30 years, I'm passing up the "opportunity" to go into debt for several thousands more for a new furnace, or a new roof - or several new roofs depending on how long I live there - or having the house re-wired or re-plumbed.

From personal experience and those of home-owner friends, more likely all of the above.

By renting, I also pass up the "opportunity" to be sued by the early morning jogger who slips on a patch of "my" ice, or the parents of the kid who falls out of my tree that he never had permission to be climbing in the first place. Which means I also miss the "opportunity" to further enrich the law firm representing the injured party (or parties), as well as the company carrying my home owner's insurance (the premium for which will go up).

And then there are property taxes, the backbone of many state and local budgets. In our state (and at least one other), PT bills arrive around the middle of December, and the first half must be paid a couple of weeks after that. Merry Christmas!

Are you getting the idea yet that "owning" a home is not all it's cracked up to be?

To me, renting is freedom - freedom from having to rearrange the budget to replace a furnace that breathes its last over a holiday weekend, or using the money set aside for a much-needed vacation for a new roof instead. Plus freedom from being sued and property taxes.

But "home" does not necessarily have to be a house. It can be an apartment (or in the UK, a "flat").

My home is a charming all-electric one-bedroom pied a terre "in the treetops" (on the third floor) overlooking a small creek that runs through the property. Water and trash pick-up are included in the rent. Were I renting a house, they wouldn't be.

Of course things have worn out or had to be repaired in the nearly nine years I've been here:

  • the AC that quit one hot July day and had to be replaced;
  • the kitchen stove was replaced with a brand new one;
  • same for the light fixture and faucet in the kitchen;
  • the bathroom was re-painted;
  • and my building was re-roofed twice.

Cost to me: zero.

And no, the above expenses were not passed on to me in the form of a rent increase. My rent is the same now as it was the day I moved in.

So much for the argument that I really should buy a house so that my monthly payment will remain the same for the life of the (fixed-rate) mortgage. Even if the rent does go up, which I know will happen eventually, over several years the additional amount will not even come close to the out-of-pocket and unexpected expenses of home ownership.

Do I ever buy into the myth that by renting, I'm throwing away my hard-earned money?

Are you kidding? For about the same amount the average home owner pays in property taxes each year, I get the cute and comfy place I call home plus a year-round grounds crew. They mow, they rake, they shovel. If it snows overnight, a snowplow clears the drives while the neighbors and I are still snuggled in our beds.

Do I miss not having my own yard?

N-E-V-E-R.

There's a 160-acre park across the street. That's more than enough "yard" for anybody. And I don't have to mow it either! When I feel like communing with Nature, there's a bench I call "mine" under a tree next to one of several small ponds. In warm weather, I like to take a brown bag lunch over there, or sometimes on the way home from work, I'll stop and sit a spell. Down the street is a large cemetery laid out like a park, with a gazebo next to yet another pond inhabited by a flock of geese and several varieties of ducks (some of whom like to "hide out" in the creek in front of my building).

Granted, not every apartment complex is surrounded by so much green space, but most do have maintenance and ground crews. Mine was built originally to serve downsizing empty-nesters and divorcees from nearby upscale homes who no longer needed a house but wanted to remain in the neighborhood. Meaning it's not a collection of cookie-cutter cracker boxes like some apartment complexes. Finding one that isn't a glorified motel (or worse, party central - unless partyng is your thing) may require a bit more looking around, but they're out there. When you find one that suits you and suits your budget, you'll wonder why any sane person would waste a nice evening mowing the lawn, or an otherwise perfect weekend cleaning gutters or replacing a toilet.

What do I do after work and on weekends?

Absolutely anything I want - or nothing at all!

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  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Thanks, Victoria Lynn! If memory serves, I read your hub on owning a home, but I'll pop over just to make sure. And a big round of applause to you for having the good sense to make extra payments to get your house paid off faster! Many people don't (or don't know to) do this IF the lender allows it. Some won't, so it's always a good idea to make sure yours does BEFORE signing on the dotted line. Why pay them all that extra interest if you don't have to!

    I'm still a champion of renting, though, and when I moved to a different state after I wrote this hub, was lucky enough to find a place with landlords that don't quibble when things need fixing or replacing. It also happens to be half of a duplex that's (so far..knock on wood...) impervious to earthquakes. A little over a year ago, it came through three tremors that had me nailed to the sofa while they lasted, and the only damage I could find was a tiny crack in the tile in front of the front door. Not even worth submitting a work order. Nothing else moved. The entire unit was winterized and weatherized last fall at no expense to me, but dropped my utility bills by about 50%. Now if they'd only install solar panels on the roof.... ;D

  • Victoria Lynn profile image

    Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

    This is a great hub. YOu really point out well the downside of "owning" a home. Still, I like having my own place, not having to deal with a landlord. Plus, I've focused on paying extra, sometime 2 or 3 times the mortgage, so I'll have my house paid off in a few years and will save tons of money as I'm still young. That will be freedom to me with no rent nor house payment. I wrote a hub about my experience with owning a home, too. :-) I like your hub, though, and I think that the choice of buying vs renting depends on the person's lifestyle, goals, etc. I enjoyed reading this. Your writing style is wonderful.

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Thanks, Doodlehead! I like to try new places, too, so I'm currently in the middle of serious sorting and pitching toward the day I decide to move again. Ah, freedom! Could only be easier if I lived in a decked-out 5th wheel or an RV. ;D

  • Doodlehead profile image

    Doodlehead 5 years ago from Northern California

    Fab hub. Could not agree more. I own, but don't live in my place. Gives me and my pup freedom to try to new places. Thanks for the pic of the cute house!

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Hi, Graham. Thanks for the kudos and insights. A friend who is no longer physically or financially able to keep up with the demands of maintaining a house will become a renter in the not-too-distant future. After the housing market rebounds on this side of the Pond. Which hopefully happens before the place falls down around her and she has to sell at a huge loss.

    As for the Europeans' preference for renting, I have to wonder how much two world wars fought on the soil of many of those countries has to do with that attitude. A topic that would make a great hub, but alas, I'm already swamped with other projects. ;D

  • old albion profile image

    Graham Lee 5 years ago from Lancashire. England.

    Hi Jama. Oh what a wonderful hub. We have done both several times over the years. Now in retirement we are renting. We are not worried by the day to day operations of running real estate. We have chosen just what we wanted, a small garden front and back. I do think you are right.

    We in the UK are the same as you in the USA we put great store by ownership, in Europe renting is the norm, they prefer the freedom of renting and two BMWs instead. The only reason to buy is to sell at a profit (hopefully) and to leave some security for your children when you are gone.

    Overall the freedom of renting is better, you can move much easier if you wish and repairs are only a phone call away. A really good hub.

    Voted up / Interesting.

    Graham.

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Academicviews, apologies for the repetitive strain injury - LOL! When I wrote this hub, of course, I had NO idea it would generate so many comments, but I can't quite make myself reverse the order of comments from oldest first to newest. Doing so IMHO reduces the opportunity for new visitors to read many worthwhile and insightful comments left by earlier visitors. Also to find like-minded hubbers.

    As for nice rich women, perhaps you should be looking in Germany, which is a LOT closer to you than America or China! Wouldn't be the first time a chap from the British Isles married into a German fortune.

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a delightful comment! ;D

  • Academicviews profile image

    Academicviews 5 years ago from Scotland

    Just the one or two comments there. I think I may sue you for my repetitive strain injury scrolling down there for ever... joking of course. Great hub. A few years back I would have said you buy because you can sell at twice the price in 5 years. Well, boom thud crunch, that’s come tumbling down. And now well, those you abused our money, those who got a lot of our money, will now not lend us our money so I rent cause I have to.... that is until I meet a nice rich American woman….lol or is that Chinese now… I forgot

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    gabgirl12, I'm THRILLED to be a renter in the present economy! Even when it was humming along, there was absolutely nothing "lazy" about being SENSIBLE with money...or selfish about your leisure time! It would scare me to death to have the specter of foreclosure looming now! Especially when people who are current on their mortgage payments are being evicted almost as often as those who aren't.

    No, I don't live in the same place as when I wrote the hub, but I am still renting. A cute little duplex surrounded by lots of grass (which I don't have to mow) and a new roof I didn't have to pay for. And when the sewer line backed up last year, I didn't have to pay for the pros to come out and dig up the yard to cut out the tree root that caused the back up. Life in Rentersville is GREAT!

    Would be even better, though, if nearby neighborhoods weren't peppered with "Foreclosure" signs. Not because they're eyesores - which they aren't - but because each one means a family's life is being turned upside down in ways they never imagined when they moved into "their" new home.

    And you're so right about more opportunities to move into a brand new (or a well-maintained older) apartment that's more cost effective than a house. When the housing bubble burst, I was afraid apartments and rentals would become scarce because evicted home "owners" would have no other alternative, but that hasn't been the case (at least where I am).

    Thanks for stopping by! ;D

  • gabgirl12 profile image

    gabgirl12 5 years ago

    I've always rented as well. I would get told I was being lazy, but I'm realistic. And in the last few years because of the tight economy, I have heard of so many people who have had to deal with 'foreclosure'. After I became unemployed for a few months the renters insurance I had purchased took care of much of my rent of which I am thankful.

    Renting is 'sensible' to me. And even with the small maintenance issues you've had over your 9 year tenure (Perhaps more? Are you still residing there?) the bottom line is that it was at no cost to you. Another thing with renting to consider is you will more than likely have a chance at finding an apartment that is 'brand new' and cost effective than a house.

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    moonlake, I've lived in my share of those places! Not only apartments, but rental houses, too. That's why it's important to trust your instincts before you sign a lease or hand over the first month's rent-plus-deposit. If anything about the place or the landlord doesn't feel "right" even then, it probably isn't! ;D

  • moonlake profile image

    moonlake 5 years ago from America

    There is never ending problems with buying a house. I think the reason we never wanted to rent again when we rented in California there were never ending problems in the apartment we lived in. We didn't have problems with the apartment, but with the manager and some people around us.

    Sounds like you have the prefect place. Voted up.

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Sparrowlet, your situation is certainly the exception to the downside of home ownership! No mortgage and a free gardener and handyman definitely balances out the expense of taxes and new water heaters and furnaces, which granted aren't cheap, but at least you aren't having to pay for them on top of a mortgage. In your case, that little piece of the planet IS yours. I can't imagine why you'd want to trade it for a condo. Sounds like you already have the best of both worlds. ;D

  • Sparrowlet profile image

    Katharine L Sparrow 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

    Nice perspective, I really don't blame you. I own my home, but it's mortgage-free, at this point. There are still taxes and home insurance costs, but my ex acts as my free landscaper! He just loves to maintain lawn and shrubs, etc, and he is also a pretty good handyman. Yes, I've had to replace a water heater and a furnace, and those were not cheap! I've often thought I might like to buy a townhouse condo, which would be the best of both worlds... home ownership with grounds maintenance, etc. Personally, I like knowing that this little piece of the planet is mine, but I do see your point.

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Gerg, with all the horror stories of people being "underwater" on their mortgages (and the stress that comes with that) and unemployment causing fewer people to be able to qualify for mortgages, I'm at a loss to explain why developers are still building tracts of new homes like it was 1999!

    Even though you became a renter "unintentionally", glad to know you came to see renting as a blessing and not a step down to second-class citizenship. Unless, as you said, your home is increasing in equity, and unless one can afford the maintenance and repairs *on top of* the mortgage payment, "owning" a home should not be called an "investment". And at the risk of sounding like a snob, renters should no longer be considered "second class citizens" because they can't "afford" to "own" or don't qualify for a mortgage. In today's market, renters are possibly the only segment of the 99% who have money left over each payday for non-necessities. ;D

  • Gerg profile image

    Gerg 5 years ago from California

    Thanks for offering a fresh perspective on this, JamaGenee - I unintentionally became a renter rather than homeowner, but I've had the same thought processes since, especially over the last few years as housing prices have tanked. Unless you're increasing in equity, there's unfortunately little incentive to want to "invest" in housing...

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    KK Gals, thanks! Renting is definitely the best option if it's just you and you hate doing repairs or outdoor work.

    Waiting for the page to finish loading so I could read your comment, I re-read Lynn's from 2 years ago. I'd forgotten the ton of paperwork involved in house-buying, most of which has to be signed or initialed in a dozen places, some in triplicate. That alone should be a red flag to potential buyers.

    Call me weird, but IMHO an event touted as a "wonderful and patriotic thing" shouldn't require killing a good portion of one tree to produce the paper necessary to seal the deal...

  • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

    Susan Haze 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

    You do have a point. Several, in fact. I have never thought of renting instead of buying quite in the manner you presented. I think if I had it to do over again and it was just me I would probably rent. I hate doing repairs and outdoor work. Up and amazing.

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Longevity, Bill. Longevity AND "ever green" hubs. It has NOTHING to do with the number of hubs you've written in the short time you've been here. Don't be alarmed - new hubbers rarely rack up hundreds of followers in the first few months.

    I will say, though, from what I've seen, you're doing everything "right". Your hubs are GREAT, your followers are "pimping" them here and there, and from subject matter and keywords, you're probably getting a lot of traffic from the search engines. So just hand in there, keep doing what you're doing. Being from Iowa you'll understand "Build it and they will come", but even in the movie "they" didn't arrive in droves overnight!

    Patience, my friend! ;D

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    @Daughter of Maat: Great! I see the house NOT selling as an omen. A good one! I'll keep my fingers crossed too! ;D

  • Daughter Of Maat profile image

    Melissa Flagg OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

    @JamaGenee the house didn't sell and they took it off the market. But I'm still afraid they'll put it back up for sale! I love our home, and we hope to one day buy it. We're keeping our fingers crossed, I'm hoping with my writing I can make enough to save for a down payment. :D

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Sheez, I just looked at the number of followers you have and you more than double me and I've written over 100 hubs. What is wrong with this picture I ask myself? Maybe your hubs are better??? Mmmm? As for this hub, I applaud you and by extension applaud me. I haven't owned a home for ten years now after owning twenty before that...that's right, I said twenty! I have zero desire to own at this point and as you said I love the freedom that renting gives me. Loved this hub, love your attitude and jealous about your vast following. :) Take care my friend and enjoy the hell out of life tonight!

  • profile image

    onlooker 5 years ago

    How insightful! You clearly know what you're doing and i most definitely respect that.

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Thanks, MelChi! I'm not *totally* against owning a home IF one has the means to actually own it from the outset, rather than being an on-site caretaker for the financial institution that really owns it until the last mortgage payment is made.

    If you and your husband DO decide to buy, at least you're now aware of the downside of "ownership"! ;D

  • MelChi profile image

    Melanie Chisnall 5 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

    I really enjoyed reading this blog. My husband and I are currently considering buying a house at the end of the year - depending on how things go, but after reading your blog, I think I'll share this with him as well! Thanks - you raised some really good points! :)

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    DOM, sounds like you have the best of both worlds: a house with a large yard, land for the dog, and mowing the lawn is the only maintenance required...and your Hubby does that! I'm guessing the house wasn't sold, right? I once rented a house owned by a couple who declared bankruptcy and I was forced to move. Not a fun time. (The house sat empty for another 6 months before being sold at auction, in much worse shape than it would've been in had I been allowed to remain for most of that time...) Anyway, thanks for dropping by. Glad you enjoyed it! ;D

  • Daughter Of Maat profile image

    Melissa Flagg OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

    This was great, we rent our house which has a rather large grassy yard. Unfortunately, we have to mow it. But I love renting our house. The only problem we had with it, was when the landlord tried to sell it while we were in it. But we have a lake view, lots of land for the dog, and none of the expenses or problems except mowing the yard. Hubby does that... lol

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Thank you, MM! I don't live in that particular complex anymore - I moved to a different state last year - but WAS lucky enough to get into a duplex in a complex that has many of the amenities of my former home. During the first month, the sewer backed up, requiring several trips from a plumbing contractor to pinpoint the blockage (a tree root out by the curb). My cost: ZERO. Same for the new roof this past summer. And just like in my old abode, the maintenance guy comes around every few months to change the heater/AC filter. A lawn crew mows and trims bushes, and my neighbor in the other half takes care of the flower beds on my side.

    Even better, NO lease, just month-to-month, so IF I ever move, it's only a matter of loading a U-Haul (after thoroughly cleaning the unit, of course), and I'm gone. Done. No waiting around for a buyer like a friend is having to do now.

  • Mighty Mom profile image

    Susan Reid 5 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

    JamaGenee,

    Your hub should have been required reading for everyone who bought the American Dream lie. And I don't just mean those who suckered themselves (both sides deserve blame) into sub-prime loans.

    Real estate at one point was a growth investment.

    ALL of that changed with the mortgage bubble burst and the economy tanking.

    If the mortgage tax break goes away there will be NO incentive whatsoever to own.

    I just love your description of where and how you live. And how smart are you to keep your options open. You can pick up and relocate on a dime -- instead of hundreds of thousands of dollars!

    Excellent, persuasive hub.

    MM

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Good for you, Ashley, for being smart enough that "owning" a home is like having a huge rock around one's neck. The home of a widowed friend who recently moved into a retirement home has been on the market since last summer. The house and yard are in pristine condition, the price is appropriate, a house that would've been snapped up in only days a few years ago. She's had several serious prospective buyers who really (really!) want the house (and aren't quibbling about the price), but can't make a formal offer until their own homes sell. The "domino effect" in reverse: "I can't buy your house until someone buys mine", meaning everyone down the line is dependent on someone else for a sale.

  • Ashleymckinnon profile image

    Ashleymckinnon 5 years ago from Coleman, WI

    These are my thoughts exactly. I love the freedom to be able to move when I want to (provided the end of a lease) without having to worry about the strength of the economy and whether or not my home will sell at all.

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Thanks, lucylu! In the current economy, unless the mortgage on your home is paid off and your sole income isn't from a job you might very well lose tomorrow, it makes NO sense to be a home "owner". Your happiness as a renter vs. your co-worker's headaches from maintaining the structure she calls "home" is a perfect example of why renting no longer carries the stigma it once did.

    Also, if/when you want to move, you aren't stuck with a house you can't sell...you can just GO! To me, that freedom is far more precious than the "joys" of "owning" a home. ;D

  • profile image

    lucylu 5 years ago

    Absolutely love this hub! My co-worker was just telling me today that she wish she was renting because her home has caused her nothing but headaches with all the repairs that have been done. That just confirmed for me that I will continue to rent and be stress free....and happy!

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Peggy, normally I would say "Tell your friend to sell ASAP!". But if the housing market where she lives is depressed like everywhere else right now, that's probably not a good or even viable option. In that case, she should look into getting a reverse mortgage so she has some money coming IN to defray some of the expenses of upkeep.

    Cheryl, I can't emphasize enough the advantages of renting over ownership. The biggest problem for you, though, will be selling your present home unless you are prepared to become a landlord and rent it out so you won't be paying rent on a condo AND the mortgage (if you have one) on a hard-to-sell home. Good luck! ;D

  • Cheryl J. profile image

    Cheryl J. 5 years ago from Houston, TX

    Great hub and valuable information on renting. I am a homeowner and I am seriously contemplating getting a townhome or a nice loft. Love your suggestions. Thanks again for sharing your nice hub.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

    Funny...a widowed friend just a few days ago was bemoaning the expenses on the upkeep of her home. Wondering what to do... Think I'll send this hub to her mailbox for consideration.

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Peggy, you're correct that there are "pros" to home ownership. Obviously, it worked for your dad and for your mom after died. But you're equally correct that in today's economy home ownership is like rolling the dice, a gamble more people are unwilling to take and those who did now wish they hadn't.

    As for that park bench, when I moved 300 miles south last year I had to find a new one! Actually I have a choice of several, one being right on Main Street under a curbside tree, and another in a pocket park across from the public library. Watching the world go by is not the same as watching ducks frolic in a park pond, but definitely every bit as entertaining! You're welcome to join me any time! ;D

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

    My dad was not only a homebuilder but also had his own Real Estate company the last many years of his life. When he died my mother still had several homes that they sold which were owner financed and it kept her afloat financially. So there are definite pros and cons of home ownership.

    When everything goes right, it can be a tidy investment. However with the financial meltdown of late, many people owe more on their homes than they are worth in this current market. Thus, it is like rolling the dice as to whether one will come out ahead financially when purchasing anything today.

    You have made some excellent points regarding the freedom of renting! Any room on "your" park bench? Sounds lovely! I still have some mulching and weeding to do here at our house...

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Thank you, kims3003! An elderly friend, widowed last year, recently moved to a retirement village 100 miles from her home of 30+ years and is now in the Catch-22 of trying to sell a beautiful 4 BR home in pristine condition but neither of two potential buyers (transferred from out of state) can go forward with the sale until the the house they own sells. Meanwhile, they're renting what they're assuming will be temporary quarters. I wouldn't bet on the temporary part. ;D

  • profile image

    kims3003 6 years ago

    I could not agree with you more - I am right with you on this. Great hub and great topic to write about. very nice work indeed!

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    CASE1WORKER, thanks for sharing your side of this issue too. Hope it works out for you. Really. ;D

  • CASE1WORKER profile image

    CASE1WORKER 6 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

    I guess it depends on your view. Me, I have bought into the home ownership dream- have two mortgages, one on our home and one on a rented property. Yes, it hs been hard- but I can sell the rented one in three years time and cease work, ten years later, if I wish to. To me the sacrifices made have been worthwhile. However I know the problems having just spend a lot of money on my house. A great hub which gives a view that I had not considered.

  • JamaGenee profile image
    Author

    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    And good for you, too, Rosemay. The packing to move to a different part of the country is enough of a hassle without the additional stress of wondering when (or IF) the left-behind house will sell. A widowed empty-nester friend is going through that right now after 30-some years at the same address. I know the area and how well the house has been maintained, but in today's market I wouldn't be in her shoes for all the tea in China. ;D

  • Rosemay50 profile image

    Rosemary Sadler 6 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

    Good for you. We rent too. being semi retired we have nothing to hold us here. If we want to pack up and move to a different part of the country we can, without all the hassle of selling up first.

    A very good hub

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    MU, I think we're closer than ever to r-e-n-t no longer being a four letter word. Mainly because you aren't the only one who found out too late that "ownership" is a myth. Sorry you had to find out the hard way.

    We've been brainwashed into becoming slaves to banks and mortgage companies, who until the final payment is made, actually own the homes we think of as "ours". Talk about a sweet deal for the mortgage holder: resident caretakers who make monthly payments for the "privilege" AND pay for maintenance and any repairs for as long as 30 years to keep the MH's investment in good shape AND pay the property taxes and insurance premiums. The mortgage holder, the real owner, doesn't have to do a thing, not even mow the grass!

    At the risk of sounding like I'm gloating, even though I live in a different state from when I wrote the hub, I still rent, still live across the street from a park, still don't have to bother with or pay for yard maintenance, plumbing repairs, or pay property taxes. As I type, a crew of roofers are above me re-roofing my duplex, a roof I don't have to pay for. The unit came with flower beds all around, but since I lost my green thumb years ago, the man in the other half of the duplex was tickled pink to plant and care for flowers on my side too.

  • Mind Unsettled profile image

    Mind Unsettled 6 years ago from In My Head

    Great hub. I have this same argument with people all the time that claim owning a house is the best investment and living the "American dream". I was happier when I rented, but I bought into the BS and bought a condo. I'm now a slave to a mortgage, property taxes, repairs, etc. Plus, the market has gone to hell. So much for building equity! I'm totally upside down, so I can't even sell without taking a huge loss. And, you're right about the yard. I prefer to go to the park anyway. I think we've been brainwashed to buy homes and live the American dream. It's simply a way for the government to enslave us with more taxes, like you mentioned. Thanks for speaking up against the norm. Cheers, MU

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Lita, thanks for the kudos! If your daughters are single and in their twenties, they're definitely better off renting. What happens if one gets married and wants to live elsewhere? Or one (or both) get better jobs in a different city? Circumstances can change quickly at that age. Being tied to a house may seem like a great idea right now, but not so great a few years down the road. These are only two issues I hope they seriously consider before sinking their savings into a house. ;D

  • Lita C. Malicdem profile image

    Lita C. Malicdem 6 years ago from Philippines

    I'm sure to have this hub read by my 2 daughters who are keen on saving for a house of their own in the city where they work. I see more benefits of renting than owning here. Their present apartment is awesome as it is. You got me on! Thank you for the wonderful tips! Beautiful, bookmarked, and voted up!

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Husky, with the housing market still in tatters, owning vs renting is still a major issue. You're no doubt familiar with the term "evergreen hub". This one is a good example, although I didn't write it with that in mind, so I'm as surprised as anyone that it's still being read regularly.

    So you see the Gingerbread Cottage every day? How lucky for you! I DO like it, just not the idea of the upkeep it surely requires. ;D

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    Husky1970 6 years ago

    There certainly are many advantages of renting over owning a home. I enjoyed this hub very much and was taken aback by the number of comments. You should feel gratified by the fact that people are still reading your hub that was written over two years ago. Your hubs are so good and thoroughly entertaining that I have started to read more and more of them.

    Now for the shocker!!!!!!! That white picket fence surrounds a Gingerbread Cottage in the Martha's Vineyard Campground. It is about 150 yards from where I am currently sitting on my front porch and typing this on my laptop. The cottage is owned by the Gerard family from Connecticutt. Unbelievable!!!! What a small world! Did you have any idea it was on Martha's Vineyard?

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Rock_nj, you also make some valid points, but it sounds like you were not only lucky to find a home that was cost efficient as far as taxes and such, but were realistic about the true costs of home ownership and what you could afford. Glad to hear it worked out so well for you!

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    John Coviello 6 years ago from New Jersey

    Interesting Hub. You make some excellent arguments for renting over owning. I think the main argument for renting is the freedom it provides one to move easily. But the other ones are equally valid.

    It does sound like you have an ideal situation though. Your rent has not gone up in 8 years (that is unusual). The home owner fixes things without a hassle (that can be a big problem when renting).

    I think buying a home has a luck component, as far as timing. I brought a townhouse in 1998, and did quite well with the real estate appreciation. I came out well ahead of renting, even with taxes, association fees, and other costs factored in. Some of it depends on where you live. If rents are high, it can be hard to get ahead by renting.

    The main argument for owning a home is that you are master of your own domain. If you want to change things, you can do it without getting permission from a landlord. There is something empowering about owning a home and putting your hard work into it.

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Thanks, Tom! Always love hearing that I've made a good impression! Real estate agents and mortgage bankers, of course, would prefer that hubs (or blogs) in this ilk DON'T make sense so that they can perpetuate the myth of home "ownership". Oh, well - everybody has to make a living somehow. ;D

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    Tom Koecke 6 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

    What a thought provoking hub, Jama! It's so contrary to what I've thought, but it makes so much sense that I've read it several times over the past few days to let it sink in!

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    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    vocalcoach, it's my pleasure to provide you that good laugh! I think the days when renters were considered (at best) second-class citizens and (at worst) "deadbeats" will go the way of 8-track tapes. Since home ownership no longer translates to living in an ATM machine, the **actual** costs of "owning" a home are becoming more apparent.

    I have moved to a different state but still rent, and was ever so glad to be a RENTER a month after I moved in and the shower and sink drains in my unit and the one next door backed up. Took the better part of a week for the complex's maintenance men AND a crew from a plumbing contractor to track the blockage to roots in the main in the yard. I shudder to think what the bill would have been had *I* had to pay for all that labor and special equipment! And, as in my old place, a crew comes around and mows on a regular basis, filters for the AC and furnace are provided and changed by the complex, and on trash day someone comes around and wheels everyone's bins to the curb (and returns them after!). An added bonus is the man who lives in the other half of my duplex LOVES to garden and was ecstatic when I told him to "have at it" in the flower beds on my side of our building! What's not to like about renting? ;D

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    Audrey Hunt 6 years ago from Nashville Tn.

    Jama, you are pricless! I just read your reply to "Homeowner", and I quote "This hub is NOT making excuses for being lazy. Not everyone wants the hassle of homeownership. Maybe you should get rid of that house and take a long vacation! ;}

    I had the best laugh. Well, having been both a homeowner and a renter (currently renting), I have to say I prefer renting for all the reasons you have given. And I am not lazy!

    Thank you for an excellent hub. You've made me even happier than I have been. Does that make sense? It doesn't have to - I am a renter! Rated big on this one.

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Thank you, ahostagesituation! Your screen name sums up my perception of home "ownership" PERFECTLY. I too am glad you were talked out of buying...not once but twice! Good girl! Have a great time living abroad without having to find tenants to keep the mortgage paid. May your brother become as smart as you someday. ;D

  • ahostagesituation profile image

    SJ 6 years ago

    Wonderful hub! I've come close to buying twice now, and I'm so happy I got talked out of it. The flexibility has been great. It also means I get to move out of the country for a while without having to worry about finding tenants for my place like my brother does. More people should probably read your hub :-).

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    susiequeue 6 years ago from Glasgow, UK

    Absolutely, it's a scary thought that entire societies can be convinced into viewing what is essentially a kind of voluntary enslavement as desirable.. P.S. I'm in the UK but things are exactly the same here. However, people do seem to be questioning our financial / economic systems a little more since everything started to fall apart over the past couple of years - so maybe there is hope!

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Yes, susiequeue, other cultures do not place a stigma on renting (and renters) as we do in the U.S. In other countries, it's a given that only the rich will own their primary residence, as well as other residences that they rent to the not-rich. Also, in other cultures, having a mortgage is shameful because it shows one has not been financially prudent. In such cultures, being in debt is to be avoided by any means necessary, whereas in the U.S. being in debt to mortgage and credit card companies is considered a sign of affluence. It makes no sense to me, either.

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    susiequeue 6 years ago from Glasgow, UK

    So great to see this perspective represented, we're all a bit brainwashed into thinking property ownership is something everyone should be aiming for but few people stop to ask why..! It's definitely interesting that it's viewed differently in other cultures..

  • Tammy L profile image

    Tammy L 6 years ago from Jacksonville, Texas

    My sentiments exactly. I've been renting the same apartment for the past 18 years and don't plan to buy a house (or condo) anythime in the near future.

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    MF 7 years ago

    Fantastic hub. I have sent your link to several friends. We are in the "home-free," "childfree" club -- not "homeless," "childless." ;) Cheers and thanks!

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    Car Donations 7 years ago

    Good points. I am not sure if I agree with you. But your case is valid. It depends on if you value having your own land that you can call your own. I just bought my first home. I have to paint, fix and repair things. But I have the satisfaction of doing everything on my own. To each it's own. Renting gets a bad wrap, which it does not deserve.

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Sheila, I'm guessing the looks you get because you choose to rent are similar to childless couple who choose not to have children. What a boring world it would be if we were all the same!

  • Sheila Berger profile image

    Sheila Berger 7 years ago

    I am so glad that others feel the same way my husband and I have for so many years, we have never owned a home, yes, we did get the looks from family and friends, but we have learned to live inexpensively. Don't we say "Til Death Do Us Part" when we get married = not when we sign for a mortgage.

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    Kelly Kline Burnett 7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

    Beautifully done! I am traveling allot but I must admit I miss my yard. I am enjoying this chapter of my life - and that is the point - it is the journey not the possessions. Great Hub!

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Good for you!

  • My Mind, Spoken profile image

    My Mind, Spoken 8 years ago from Saint Petersburg, Florida

    I DID learn the hard way, but I'm walking a better, clearer path today. I traded my house for my freedom.

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Lynn, at least you didn't learn the downside of home "ownership" the hard way (actually signing all those papers)!

    I read somewhere recently that as late as the early 1900s, it was a source of shame to be in debt...and that applied to home owners. Back then, you were either rich enough to buy a home outright, or you'd saved up to buy one outright. If neither scenario fit your situation, you rented, possibly your entire life.

    At some point, it became "okay" to get a loan to purchase a home, but...you had to have a good job and a *substantial* part of the purchase price (50-60%) before a bank would even consider loaning the difference. Also, they were short term mortgages, say 10 years. 30-year mortgages were unheard of.

    Little by little, the requirements were relaxed and "owning a home" became a national mantra. It became a measure of your character that a bank would lend you *most* of the money to buy a home...partly because the banks made millions on the interest on mortgages.

    Now that home "ownership" has become much less attractive - a millstone around one's neck and one's finances - I predict many more people will be like Lynn and say "no thanks" to home-buying.

  • profile image

    Lynn 8 years ago

    I just spent about 45 days searching for a home. Apparently, that is not very much time to invest in looking, but a realtor-acquaintence had me convinced that if I did not take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit from the government that I would be sorry, and the rates are really low now, you better do it now! I never bought a house before and well, I'm over 45...gosh I should really do it now! For one thing I have never been able to afford a down payment. Now that I have been able to save for that, I would wipe out my savings for own ownership. It just so happens my car, just tonight had problems, I had to be towed, and ended up having to rent a car until it can be repaired. I realized that if I signed the contract on the townhouse this week, that I would be stressed to the max right now. I pretty much made up my mind that I would be better off tucking money away each month to save for a "rainy day" and it figuratively and literally rained this week. The wonderful thing about it is that I could handle it, I did not stress out because I did not have the funds to take care of myself during this crisis. I will not be broke and I can do what it takes to take care of my transportation.

    Another reason for deciding to continue to rent is my house-buying experience. Good gravy! I've never seen so much paper, and I had several people tell me I need to hire a lawyer to walk me through the process. It exhausted me to even look at these documents. Then every day, I learned something new that I would need to purchase...home warranty, title insurance, on and on and on.

    I do not like green eggs and ham!

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Thanks, D Cortez!  As for renter's insurance, I've never felt the need for it except when I had several antiques that were family heirlooms.  The basic policy was quite inexpensive, but the rider for the antiques wasn't.  They were one-of-a-kind and irreplaceable, but not something a burglar would carry off, so over time I would've paid more in premiums than they were worth at auction. 

    Don't have them anymore, and other than my computer and a tub of old family photos, not much I'd really regret losing if (knock on wood) there were a fire.  Most of my furniture came from yard sales, so it doesn't have insurance when the cost to replace to replace the items would be less than the premiums over several years.

    That said, if your furniture is brand new and/or you have a lot of expensive electronics, then renter's insurance would be a good investment.

  • D Cortez profile image

    D Cortez 8 years ago from California

    That was a great hub Jama. I rent myself and it is a hell of alot easier to deal with. By the way, do you pay renters insurance? I don't, but everybody I know keeps insisting that I do.

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Well thank you, maggs. Glad to hear you'll be back to read the rest of the comments so far!

  • maggs224 profile image

    maggs224 8 years ago from Sunny Spain

    really good hub has given me lots to think about, I will have to come back to read the rest of the comments as there are so many of them but it would be a shame not to come back and finish reading them as they too are interesting.

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Thanks, A.M. "Everywhere is my home". What a wonderful attitude, like Citizen of the World. As for "The Renter" sounding "dirty", I once overheard a well-to-do couple discussing another guest at a cocktail party. The wife said rather haughtily, "But he rents, you know". As if that was the sum total of the man's character and worth. I laughed so hard I had to leave the room. After that, the joke in our group was "But he owns, you know". ;D

  • profile image

    A.M. Gwynn 8 years ago

    Well said! I too am in the ranks of "The Renter"... (it sounds so dirty) Ha! Perhaps it is the nomad in me that keeps me from putting down roots, yet I feel everywhere is my home, if I make it so. I can instantly acclimate to any surrounding, any new city. Maybe one day... I'll plant something? Love this hub!

  • Avare profile image

    Avare 8 years ago

    Both sides has merits and demerits :)

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    OptimistsOnly, you clearly understand 'one size does not fit all'! Good for you for being flexible enough to realize renting is not a 'bad' thing if it enables you to live your dream! (And last time I heard, sand doesn't have to be mowed.) ;D

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    OptimistsOnly 8 years ago from Christchruch, New Zealand

    I'm with you on this one. I owned a home in Las Vegas during the rise & fall of the housing market. I also was a Human Resources Director for a mortgage company & had the displeasure of laying off hundreds of people during my tenure.

    My dream of living at the beach in CA has now come true due to the fact that I am sharing a home with 2 other people.....paying rent. Roomates at 39 is something I never thought I would do until I opened up my heart to new ways of thinking. Now I am living my dream at the beach and have also left the field Human Resources.

    The great American dream isn't limited to "home ownership". Renting is what had helped to enable my dream to come true.

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Time was, B.T., when pioneers could lay claim to several acres near a pristine stream, clear the land, build a cabin, plant crops, get a few chickens and a cow, and be proud it was all theirs.  Fast forward 150 years.  Too many are still under the "Pioneer Spell" to have something to call their own.  But as you said, after awhile it 'just becomes a house'.  A house that right now isn't worth as much as you owe on it.  

    I'm sure the market will go back up - it already has in some places - but if you absolutely *had* to move right now, out of state for instance, you either give your current house away or pay for two homes.  Neither a pleasant outcome. (Be glad I haven't posted a pic of the log cabin-ish house near a road I travel often that has a huge pond 20 feet from the front door, with its own dock to fish from - if the owner doesn't feel like rowing out to the middle.  Even I wouldn't mind living there!)

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    B.T. Evilpants 8 years ago from Hell, MI

    Hi Jama. We found the "American Dream" when we bought our house. We felt such pride of ownership. We finally had a place to call our own, you know? Funny thing, though. That all wore off over time. No major catastrophes, or anything like that. But it eventually just becomes a house. And the way the market is today, it's a house that we owe more on than we could get from selling! I'm sure we will go back to renting at some point. I haven't soured on the ownership thing. I'm just not likely to do it again until it involves 30 acres, and a stocked pond.

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    J Mockridge 8 years ago

    I enjoy the 'perks' of renting, but if I had the money to buy a house outright, I would. As it stands, I obviously don't have the cash, so renting suits my lifestyle. Good hub!

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    John 8 years ago

    Call me romantic, I like knowing I (and the bank for the present) own a piece of the earth. I like fixing things and puttering around in the yard.

    But I see and appreciate your points!

  • pkoson profile image

    pkoson 8 years ago

    Why I Rent Not Own

    I think this hub is the anti-anti-toxin to anxiety! Help, the verbosity of it is making me anxious!

  • DJ Funktual profile image

    DJ Funktual 8 years ago from One Nation Under a Groove

    I am with you on this one for sure. I have always rented. I've beeen to 30 of these United States and the story is the same, "no thanks, I'll rent"!

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    angelica 8 years ago

    I have both owned and rented, and hated both at a point. When we owned we lived in a townhouse and the strata was stupid. On the otherhand with renting you don't have the stability. If the owner goes suddenly into forclosure, you probably will have to move yourself and if you happen to have been there for years, planned to be there for many more and say, have a dog or cat you may have to give up your pet(s). You could be the best tenent but if the owners grown kids need a place, your gone. At least with owning, you don't need to worry about, say, being just a couple weeks away from pregnancy due date and learning you have 30 days to get out because the owners kids need the space. Even with owning, ifyou go into foreclosure it still takes a few months and something could be worked out to stop it. Renting, once your told to leave you have 30 days, no if ands or buts. So pros and cons for sure on both sides. When we owned we had one problem, the fridge died...that was it for repairs/maintanence. I personally am planning to buy again real soon (currently renting) but I do see your point, and it makes a lot of sence.

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    Roselyn Mendoza 8 years ago from Philippines

    owning a house is like owning a car. you have all the worries of various kinds of payments. 2 years ago, we got fed up with owning both so we opted to renting a small space at my parent's house. we sold the vehicle, too, so we have no more major financial worries anymore--except the utilities bills, of course. commuting is fun and walking is exercise. yeah, i definitely agree with you. life is much simpler without owning and carrying heavy baggages. :)

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    Jim Bauer 8 years ago

    As a landlord, of course, it is important to have a customer. I must admit that there are several costs to owning property as opposed to renting it from someone. There are benefits as well, including many tax deductions I can take for interest paid, taxes paid, and on the rental property I can write off a good many other expenses as well, including wear and tear and mileage expenses on my personal vehicle to maintain the property. In any situation, it is better to do the real math. If it works out for you to rent vs. own, then rent. But the opposite could hold true.

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    BardScribe 8 years ago from Iowa

    My parents lived in church-based housing all the while my dad was in active ministry. We never had to really bother with paying rent or upkeep on the house, but every problem we had with a house HAD to be brought before the church board of trustees before things got fixed, and when you're dealing with small-church board members, you have to be prepared to meet up with super-duper control freaks who don't want to do ANYthing with the house even if it's just a tiny little $100 repair and the church budget has way more than enough room for it.

    Plus, when one is in church-based housing, it's pretty much the same as renting. You do NOT get a choice of color scheme when you move in. Any repainting has to be run yet again by the board of trustees, and they have the power to say yay or nay. Most of the time, my parents haven't had much trouble in that arena as we would be the ones buying the paint. However, as I said before, there are always going to be people on that church board who don't want anything changed...they will fight tooth and nail against someone repainting or changing the color scheme all round, just because they think EVERYone just looooves beige, beige and more beige.

    If I want to look at continuous light tan, ambers, olives and pumpkin oranges, I'll move to the Arizona desert. But I do NOT want those colors in my home unless they're very BRIEF accent colors.

    So I would rather go through the hassle of someday buying a home and be able to decorate it as I please with no need of having to ask ANYone's permission.

    Yes, there are property taxes, but those go to help fund the building of new schools which many cities and towns sorely need but don't often get because the people vote no on the propositions--just so they don't have to pay those taxes. Sorry, but if you want your town to be prided on good schools, pay your property taxes and don't fuss when there's a hike to fund newer, better buildings.

    Yes, there are high cost repairs and continual maintenance, but I believe a house is not a comfortable home unless things are running properly. And I would be the one overseeing those repairs, and by Goddess they would get done because my folks and I have had to put up with do-nothing financial control freaks. I'd want my significant other and my kids to live in comfort and health, not discomfort and bad health.

    So that's my perspective on it.

  • JamaGenee profile image
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    Joanna McKenna 8 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    HomeOwner, I have a feeling you won't be back to read this, but I'm curious as to why you think renters are "lazy" and spend their days "sitting on their duff".

    Do I detect a lot of jealousy there?  Jealous because renters don't spend our evenings and weekends doing whatever it is *you* have to do to maintain that house and yard??

    Maybe a little anger, too, because *our* after-bills income is going for FUN things like trips and hobbies instead of to a big box home improvement store and roofers and plumbers? 

    This hub is NOT making excuses for being lazy. Not everyone wants the hassle of homeownership. Maybe you should get rid of that house and take a long vacation! ;}

  • MindField profile image

    MindField 8 years ago from Portland, Oregon

    HomeOwner: We can be happy that the world is full of people who take great pride in their homes like you. But why would you possibly leap to the conclusion that renters are lazy? Many of them may be far busier than you doing work equally or more important. Let's play nice, please, and treat everyone with at least a modicum of respect (if that's all you can muster). Thank you.

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    HomeOwner 8 years ago

    Jama- Sounds like your making excuses for being lazy. It is hard work to care for your own home and I take great pride in it. It is the best financial investment anyone can make - perhaps it is not for those- like yourself- who spend most of the day sitting on their duff.

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    Sun 8 years ago

    Great points. You make me feel like so much less of a loser for not owning a home. Maybe you're right about the so called American Dream. Maybe things have changed so much that its not all its cracked up to be anymore. The home prices are incredibly higher than they were when America was first settled.

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    Lgali 8 years ago

    Very nice hub JamaGenee. Excellent points

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    russellhub 8 years ago

    Hi Jama,

    Nice post.

    For all of us poor home owners out there (and I use the term own loosely) please tell me there is something that is okay about home ownership?

    For me I know I can't sell in the next 12 months but at least I an sure the view from the bedroom window will still be the same.

    No escape is a tenable if you like where you live.

    Maybe in 5 years. my options will be open again. My wife fancies Sarasota, Florida. Netx time I will rent.

    Russell

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    japanese words 8 years ago from Japan

    With the cost of houses compared to wages owning a house is not "the dream" it has been made out to be for sure. Though I think there are certain cases where purchasing a house can make sense (finding an amazing price) etc, but there is a freedom in renting.

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    jazzdrive3 8 years ago

    Sometimes renting makes sense. Sometimes it doesn't. It's never one or the other, but what makes most sense financially at the time. Now, of course, would be the time to rent while housing prices continue to their downward push.

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    chadw1ckwhitfiel 8 years ago

    At this point in time, I think more and more people will understand the importance of what you are saying. Buying a house was often handled like a gamble that "wasn't really a gamble" - because it "can't go wrong", house prices will rise no matter what, right?

    Well, a few months down the line many people have learnt a valuable lesson.. There is no such thing as a constant curve upwards.

    Congrats on a great hub!

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    Lulu1220 8 years ago from Dallas

    It seems everytime we get extra money, something in the house needs to be repaired. We are about to have the air conditioner fixed soon and who knows how much that will cost!

    I would much rather use my extra money to travel to see family and friends or take that trip to Europe.