5 Reasons to Rent Instead of Buy

Homeownership is grand, but it's something you want to get into with both eyes open. And besides, there are plenty of compelling reasons to rent instead of buy. I don't regret purchasing my home, but there are little incidentals that will blindside you if you're used to living in an apartment. Aside from that, owning a home is also a big lifestyle change. I love being a homeowner, but here are 5 super compelling reasons to rent instead of buy.

When I worked in NYC, we got ridiculous Christmas bonuses at the hedge fund where I was employed. RIDICULOUS. So large, in fact, that we joked about how everyone started shopping for newer, bigger, apartments in January because of the yearly Christmas cash influx.

My colleague Jen, (who is a now a famous author, mentor and friend) thought the idea of owning a home was ridiculous. I began slowly warming to the idea and she strongly discouraged me against it.

“Lauren, houses have roofs that leak, and heaters that break.” She'd say.

“But renting is so expensive!” I countered.

“Yes, but you pay for the luxury of not having to worry about those things.”

And you know what? It turns out she was right.

 

Here's five big reasons you may want to rent instead of buy.

You Want Flexibility

I think that this is the go-to argument for renters. Even a 12-month lease is more flexible than a 30 years mortgage. If you plan on relocating in the near future (for work, for family, or just ‘cause) renting is the way to go.

Have to move on short notice? Many landlords will allow you to buy out of your lease or sublet if you need to break your lease agreement – which in my experience is much easier than trying to sell your house!

You Aren’t Responsible for Maintenance

If you aren’t that handy with a wrench, you can rest easy knowing that your landlord should take care of any repairs your rental property needs. When you own a home it becomes your responsibility to fix, replace, and pay for those repairs yourself. And you can bet that any DIY mishaps you make will mean calling in a professional.

Does renting cost more? Sure. But as my friend Jen says, “you pay for the luxury of not having to worry about those things.

You Have an Irregular Income

Irregular incomes can be a huge deterrent for homeownership. Although mortgage payments are as consistent as monthly rent, and sometimes more affordable than renting, you don’t have to worry about property taxes or escrow payments as a renter. Apartment complexes also will sometimes bundle utilities for you or have discounts on services such as cable or internet.

Since you’re not responsible for maintenance or other related upkeep, you’re less likely to drain your emergency fund on your home. This makes renting a surprisingly helpful strategy for saving money for other expenses.

You Want to Skip Your Commute

I am super lucky to have the ability to work from home, but I know some of you are still braving traffic every day. If you are spending hours each day trapped in the car commuting to work, you could potentially save big by renting. But how? Consider how much money you spend on gas each month – not to mention the time or strain on your vehicle.

If you work in an area with an apartment complex or rental homes nearby, consider moving closer to your office. The flexibility aspect of renting (see #1) will allow you to do this!

Beyond the savings in gas, it’ll drastically reduce the amount of time from work to your bed at the end of the day. Although you may miss out on the charms of suburban living, renting can also give you the opportunity to live in places you wouldn’t typically consider. You may find that you love city life!

You Aren’t Financially Ready to Buy

If you’re hesitant about buying a home, you probably should rent. Homes are a huge financial responsibility and can end up costing even more if you aren’t prepared or don’t do your research. Think about it this way: the upfront costs alone of buying a home are usually tens of thousands of dollars.

Compare that to the upfront costs of renting, which typically include security deposits, pet deposits, and any move-in fees.

Before you buy a home you typically need to have plenty of savings as well as a stable job and good credit. While you work on achieving these goals, renting can be a great option for you.

Like this post? Get more first time home buying information in my book, The Millennial Homeowner: A Guide to Successfully Navigating Your First Home Purchase, now on Amazon. Click here to get your copy! 

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Owning a home is a big lifestyle change. I love being a homeowner, but here are 5 super compelling reasons to rent instead of buy.

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  • Colin // RebelwithaPlan
    August 16, 2016 at 10:26 am

    The great thing about owning a home is you can paint the walls any color you want and put nails anywhere you want on the wall! No need to worry about a deposit. haha.

    But yeah, renting is usually a better option for many people. I loved Afford Anything’s breakdown of the rent vs. buy debate. I wonder how much it would cost to be a homeowner in NYC…

  • Tahnya Kristina
    December 21, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    I LOVE renting. We just moved Oct 1 and we decided to still rent. I absolutely love the carefree lifestyle that comes with renting. I have no responsibility and there is always someone to fix things. It’s absolutely great. Although I could live without have to clean out dirty sink and bathtub drains from previous tenants! It’s also great for the budget. No variable payments to worry about, just one monthly bill.

    • Lauren Bowling
      August 15, 2016 at 12:25 pm

      Thanks for sharing – I know a lot of millennials who prefer the no hassle structure of renting. Sometimes I miss it 😉

  • Alexis
    December 6, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    It’s another learning method about these 5 things you don’t have to think about when you rent an apartment. This article is very helpful and useful. I learned and many great tips here. Thanks for sharing the article. Great post!

  • Lisa
    December 5, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    I own now, too. But I do miss not having to worry about these problems when I was a renter. I had a great landlord who fixed things as soon as we called!

  • Fig @ Figuring Money Out
    December 5, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    I really want to own a house one day but these are definitely all things I’m enjoying about renting an apartment!

  • Greg London
    December 4, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    I totally agree on the grass thing. The lot my bldg is on barely has any grass, but Louisiana grass grows like crazy during the summer time. You literally have to cut the grass 1x a week. I got sick of it and hired someone to do it.

  • Newlyweds on a Budget
    December 3, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    we just moved in to our first house, and I swear there is SO much to do. Granted, right now, it’s mostly setting up house stuff, but we already found a leak under the sink that is going to have to get fixed, or we’ll have to pay the $60 homeowners warranty charge to come out and look at it. Still–we are THRILLED to be homeowners.

  • Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank
    December 3, 2014 at 5:27 am

    I just miss my apartment because I was like taken care of by the landlord. Every broken or if there’s something wrong, she’s there to help. Now that I own a house, I just miss that there’s someone to depend on to take care of almost everything. Now, I am on my own.

  • Mrs. Frugalwoods
    December 2, 2014 at 7:57 am

    So true! We love owning our home, but we do spend a significant amount of time working on it. We’re in the city so we don’t have a yard and I was super bummed about that at first, but honestly, now I’m thankful that it’s one less thing for us to take care of :). I doubt we’ll ever go back to renting, but there sure were aspects of it that were easier!

    • Lauren Bowling
      December 2, 2014 at 5:00 pm

      Yeah, I can’t imagine myself renting again either, but never say never! 🙂

  • Michelle
    December 1, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    I have owned for awhile and it is amazing to me all of the little things that have come up.I’ve replaced: my kitchen faucet (twice) the water heater, the fridge, flipped my cabinet doors, fixed my oven, and then there’s more! But, I have a very healthy net worth because of the place and it’s cheaper in the long run than renting as rents have doubled in Denver.

    • Lauren Bowling
      December 2, 2014 at 4:59 pm

      There are definitely benefits- perhaps that will be a post down the road!

  • Kate @ Cashville Skyline
    December 1, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    The home owner expenses never seem to end. I’ve got a strange crack in the ceiling of my den, among other cosmetic things, that I’ve totally put off. I’m hoping that my new lifestyle (without travel) will make it a lot easier.

    • Lauren Bowling
      December 2, 2014 at 4:59 pm

      I’ve started paying more attention to my baseboards and molding. Could definitely use an upgrade. It is true what they say about work on a home “never ends”

  • Broke Millennial
    December 1, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    5 reasons I’m glad I still rent! Well, I can’t imagine owning property in NYC either. I do still have the dream of being a homeowner, but certainly not here.

    • Lauren Bowling
      December 2, 2014 at 4:58 pm

      There are plenty of people who own in NYC, but I don’t see how they do it!

  • Michelle
    December 1, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    These are all the things that make me hate owning a home haha. I’m hoping it gets easier with time!

  • moneystepper
    December 1, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Are “property taxes” in the US the same as “council tax” in the UK?

    I don’t think they are, but I’ve never really been able to work out our equivalent…

    • Lauren Bowling
      December 2, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      I think so. They’re levied by local governments instead of the federal.

  • Anne @ Money Propeller
    December 1, 2014 at 8:24 am

    Ah yes, the detail bits. Having called repair people, waited for quotes and had to find someone who can do a repair in a timely fashion, it definitely gives you a better appreciation for why it can take landlords awhile to get things repaired eh?

    • Lauren Bowling
      December 2, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      Yes, I do have a new appreciation for landlords. And here I thought they were just a buzz kill.

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