My Experience with Owning vs. Renting

Before buying our current home, my husband and I rented a nice one bedroom apartment not far from where we currently live. Though we had major lack of storage (for us, a normal person with regular hobbies probably would have been just fine), we loved that apartment. We were the youngest tenants by probably 50 years (no joke) and our evenings usually consisted of my husband going next door at least once to turn the television on for our 87 year old neighbour whose son insisted she get a fancy flat screen TV so she could actually see the screen with her aging eyes.

While we were living in the apartment every day we would dream about homeownership. Owning something. Being able to paint the walls. Something to call our own and start our lives in. In hindsight I feel like I was being brainwashed by advertising because though I’m glad we have a home for our family, renting really wasn’t that bad.

renting or buying

I already wrote about why you absolutely need tenants insurance and our experience with dealing with a massive flood in our apartment. I cannot even imagine the headache of dealing with a flood in our house.  Our house. Not a rental unit you don’t care as much about. While dealing with the flood was a headache, I knew everything would get fixed, I mean obviously the landlords wouldn’t not fix it, it was their building! Just like I’d be freaking out if property I owned was damaged. The stress of the ”what if’s” can be overwhelming sometimes when you own a home.

My husband and I recently made a detailed, prioritizing list about what we need to get done around the house. Some things are small like replace a door knob but some are bigger like replace  flooring and new front door. Big bucks. Though I love being able to do basically whatever I want to my home and really personalize it, I miss the days of being able to call the landlord and have them deal with a problem, like a broken door. The peace of mind that comes with living in a rental unit (assuming you have responsible landlords) is a great feeling. I’d gladly replace the feeling of financial stresses related homeownership with it any day!

Finally, though our money is now going into an appreciating asset and we’re gaining equity, I can guarantee if we were as financially responsible as we are today when we were renting, we’d have a lot more money in the bank and likely be debt free. I have no way of guaranteeing this but I’d like to think if we had learned the financial lessons we did just 18 months ago while we were renting, we’d have significantly more money. Our rent was about $500 less than our current mortgage (though if we had a kid while renting would have needed to get a larger place) and our utilities were significantly less with both heat and hot water being included in our rent. Even upgrading to a larger two bedroom unit in our old building would give us over $500 more per month than our current bills.

Some days I wish we were still renting for all the reasons listed above but most of the time I love our home. I love our yard and the fun time we have in it. I love my clothesline and use it almost daily in the warmer months. I love that we can do whatever we want to it and that even though we need to pay for a new front door I will buy what I want 🙂

24 thoughts on “My Experience with Owning vs. Renting

  1. There are definitely distinct advantages to both. The “getting on the ladder” dream is often very much misplaced for people who actually cannot afford to own a home. Each case is different, and the general idea that “rent is wasted money” can be a little dangerous for aspiring home owners.

  2. Making your home really reflect your personality and lifestyle (without asking for permission) is really a great plus of owning. It may not seem financially a big deal, but in a place where you spend so much of your life, being able to really make it “yours” can do more for your state of mind than you can imagine.

  3. My boyfriend and I have talked about our plans, and for now, we are both very happy renting. Many of the people in our little town-house community are long-term tenants, so I anticipate that we will be there for a few years too. So, we’ve decided to spend the money to paint and make the place “ours” a little bit more, knowing that we’re going to have to pay to change it all back before we do leave. But we’re really not in a position to be even be considering buying a house yet anyways (I’ve crunched the numbers, and even with a small house/mortgage, it would be costing us a lot more to own then rent), so we’re going to enjoy the space we’re in 🙂

  4. We’ve been renters for what seems like forever. I dream of owning my own home for the same reasons you mentioned, like doing whatever I want to the walls, etc. and I really, really want a yard! However, I know it will cost more to own something of our own (unless we move somewhere much less expensive – but then my salary would drop!) I guess I should really be focusing on how much I could save as a comparison to if I owned – or look at the “glass is half full” opportunities!

    • Yes, geographic location obviously plays a huge role too. I work in a downtown city core but grew up in the suburbs and commuting has always been a part of my life. We could not afford to buy if we lived right in the city.

  5. Owning a home is great but isn’t for everyone. I feel sad for those that buy into the “dream” of home ownership but deep down really have no desire to own. You really need to know yourself to know if renting or buying a home is right for you. Many finance people make the argument that home ownership is the right thing to do, but it isn’t for everyone.

  6. If I lived in an area where I could find a nice home for under $300,000, I would buy. But being that we’re in NY and I don’t want to live in Long Island, New Jersey, or Staten Island, my husband and I are left renting. We can at least get rent-stabilized apartments so our rent can only go up by so much every year which helps. Eventually though, if we can get jobs outside the area, we will move on to a place where we can buy a home. It would be nice to be putting equity in something like you all are.

  7. I think it’s always easier to see the benefits of the opposite of whatever you are doing… currently we rent and we love the flexibility, and be able to call them for maintenance, but there are many things we can’t wait to have a house for! The lesson, I think, is appreciating the things we do have!

  8. I can so relate to this post. I wrote a similar one about the growing pains of homeownership. Like you, I love my home but I miss the days of call my landlord when issues came up, not having to worry about home repairs or maintenance costs. Now with all the snow we are getting it is a constant issue of cleaning up and worrying about the next storm. I never worried about this when I was a renter and I miss that.

  9. In our society people place a ton of emphasis on owning their own home. In other cultures it isn’t valued nearly as much. Interesting to see the different ways people live when travelling, especially through Europe. In my opinion renting isn’t nearly as bad as people make it out to be and in some cases makes way more sense (ie. short term job placement, unstable income situation, lack of mobility and unable to care for a yard, desire for more flexibility with their money, etc)

    • I agree. There is nothing wrong with renting but the fact is for us we have no plans of leaving the area we’re in and needed a bigger space. For a decent sized 2+ bedroom apartment (the size we were heading to) we were looking at huge bucks in the area we live…or we had the option of buying a slightly older home, grow some roots and built equity. There are so many factors to consider!

  10. When we lived in an apartment years ago, we were under the impression that renting wasn’t a smart thing to do. We bought our first house and loved personalizing it and didn’t really have any problems with repairs. We moved to our second house and I think we were a bit naive. Nobody really tells you the true cost of owning a home is more than the mortgage. It is a bit stressful to come up with all the money for the home repairs, which seem to come in waves. Our house was built in 1872 and the repairs/upkeep tasks are starting to build up. We are actually considering selling the house and renting a place for a while just to not have a big chunk of our money going to repairs. Renting is starting to look pretty good!

  11. It was definitely nice to be able to call someone and have them fix my problem. But, I love ownership, and being able to take pride and my home, and the repairs, upgrades, and fixes I have done. Plus, I really enjoy building equity. Although in some circumstances, it can make more sense to rent, so ownership isn’t always for everyone. But I much prefer it!

  12. Like most everybody else, I rented for years before buying my first house. It was definitely easier to call the landlord to get things fixed, than having to fix our own house, but I hope to never go back to renting. I love having no shared walls or anyone living above or below me. The only people I hear in our house are the other members of my family. Yes, we could rent a house, but rent payments for a detached house are quite a bit higher than what our mortgage payments used to be. And since we paid our house off a few years ago, we are living here for just the taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs.

  13. Kathy says:

    Too many people who should be renters were convinced that they should own a house. So people who couldn’t afford it went in search of a house to buy. They couldn’t make the payments and this resulted in foreclosure and ruined credit. And then we had the housing meltdown. Just because someone rents doesn’t mean they have no home.

  14. I absolutely LOVE renting my apartment. I’m 33 and I’ve “tried” to buy a condo twice but I just can’t make that commitment. The thought of signing on that dotted lines scares the hell out of me. I like paying one bill every month i.e. my rent. I like living carefree and I like having a landlord who can fix anything at any time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *