- Real Estate
Why I Rent My Home, Not Own
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?
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!