Renting vs. Buying Your Home

Renting vs. Buying Your Home

After you graduate college it seems like life just blows you along like a tumbleweed and even if you want to slow down, you can’t. You have to keep becoming an adult, ready or not.

Throughout college I lived in rented properties, all apartments except one house that was owned by my friend. Now that I’m an adult and all of my friends are adults, we have bigger questions, like, “Should I rent or should I buy?” I can’t answer that question for you, but I can tell you the differences I’ve experienced since Trevor and I jumped on the buying train.

Maintenance Man vs. No Maintenance Man
It’s extremely important to remember that every little that thing that breaks, doesn’t work or goes wrong, you are responsible for fixing. For example, after being in our house for less than a week, we discovered the dryer didn’t work. So we had to call someone to fix it and shell out $250. Keep this thought tucked in the back of your mind the next time you call your landlord or property maintenance man for your rental and they don’t give you a bill on their way out the door. Trevor is very handy, but even the handiest people will not be able to fix everything, so you can throw convenience and free fixes out the window.

No Lawn vs. Lawn
This also falls under maintenance, but mowing the lawn is the worst and having it taken care of at an apartment or rental house by the landlord is great. Some rentals do require the tenants to mow the lawn, so watch out for that. However, if you buy a home in an area with a Home Owner’s Association, you may be able to get this taken care of, but more than likely you’ll have to pay a pretty steep fee every month for it.

The plus side of owning for this one though, is you can change your landscaping. Trevor and I are so excited to rip out all the over grown shrubs and bushes and make the outside of our house a clean, beautiful gem of the neighborhood. Plus, we’re going to get a great grill and have lots of gatherings in our backyard. Some of that may be possible as a renter, but we can really put more of our touch on everything as owners.

Bills vs. More Bills
Wherever you live, it’s not free (unless you’re super lucky), but owning a home definitely involves a few more expenses. Like my maintenance example above, little things happen all the time and you have to be prepared to pay for those expenses. It also seems like once you own the place in which you live, you feel freer to do what you want. Like get a pet, paint or remodel. Things you would have never considered spending money on in an apartment, all the sudden become your priorities. Maybe it’s because when you own, you feel a larger sense of pride in how your home looks, versus in an apartment you feel very limited on what you can change (especially as a poor college student). I love being able to have a permanent address where I can pour my heart into making a house, a home for Trevor and I. So, maybe more bills might be worth it?

Aside from all the extracurricular expenses you might choose to add to your plate as a homeowner, you also need to consider the cost of a down payment versus the cost of an application fee and a deposit. Which is the most affordable option for you? Do you want to be a landlord to roommates (if you choose to have roommates)? Can you afford to furnish your house? And something very important that I’ve learned recently, if something big goes wrong, like foundation or water damage, or maybe your car breaks down, can you afford to fix those things while strapped with a mortgage payment, utilities and every other bill you have?

Temporary vs. Putting Down Roots
Outside of the financial questions you might be asking yourself, you should also reflect on where you are in your life. Does it even make sense to buy a house right now? Think about whether you want to put down some roots where you are, or consider if you could see yourself moving to a new place in the next few years. If you see yourself moving, but you are tired of paying high rent prices and decide to buy, will you keep the house as a rental when you leave? Or will you make some improvements and hopefully sell it for a profit? I think it’s important to remember that even if you buy a house somewhere, that does not mean you are stuck there for the rest of your life. It can simply be a stepping-stone to where you’re going.

These are all important questions to think about when contemplating whether or not to buy probably the most expensive thing you’ll ever purchase. Do yourself a favor and give yourself the time this decision deserves.

I definitely cannot answer the above questions for you, but the fact that you’re even asking them means you’re probably more of an adult than you thought. Only you (and potentially your partner) can know if it’s a good idea to rent or buy, but talk about it and weigh all the options so when a decision has to be made you can feel confident you’re making the right choice.

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