Why Continuing To Rent Isn’t For Suckers

So you’re hitting an age where some of your friends are starting to buy homes. They’re tossing around words “PITI” and “realtor” when you brunch, and may even ask you why you still continue renting. And while you swiftly shirk off their well-meaning questions and put on your best “big fake smile,” deep down you feel a tinge of envy. You might be feeling left out, that you’re lagging in this major part of adulting.

Reality check: you’re not the only one who can’t afford to claim a stake in home ownership. In fact, if you’re still renting, you’re actually the majority. According to a recent report, since 2004, when home ownership in the U.S. was at its peak, home owners among the under 35 set dropped the most. And a recent study reveals that while many millennials want to be homeowners, 62% are either renters or cohabitating with roomies.

As someone who has been renting in Los Angeles, which, arguably, has the least affordable rental market in the freakin’ country, for over a decade, I’ve been perfectly happy not owning a home. Here are some solid reasons why still renting works in your favor:

Home maintenance is a pain in the ass.

Last fall I housesat for some friends while they vacationed in Spain. And while I enjoyed the change of scenery, about a week into it I started to resent the sundry tasks that are part of just living in a house: alarms, taking out the trash, watering the lawn.

And if it were my own abode, I would be super tempted to let the responsibilities of maintaining a home fall by the wayside. While the costs to maintain a home each year can vary, you can expect to pay an average of $3,000 on repairs and maintenance alone. Yup, that ish adds up quickly. That’s enough to go give a big F-U to work and go on a vacation, or treat yourself to a balls-out, fancy laptop, throw a poolside cocktail party replete with giant golden inflatable swans — you get the point.

When you rent, remedying a clogged toilet or dealing with a gross pest problem takes a simple phone call to your landlord. I happy to continue renting because I love not having to deal with the cost and time involved with tending to your own home.

That down payment is no joke.

While you technically can buy a home with only 3.5% down, the recommended amount is 20%. And with the median price of a house in the U.S. hovering at $183,000, if you do the math, a 20% down payment is $36,600. That doesn’t include closing costs, origination fees, and a buffer fund for maintenance and repairs. Yup, you might as well give up your firstborn.

So why bother putting down 20%? A major reason is that if you put down less, you’ll need to pay for private mortgage insurance, or PMI, which usually costs anywhere between .5 % to 1% of your entire loan. That’s bookoo bucks over the long haul.

Plus, money for a down payment on a home could go toward knocking down student debt, a fuck-off fund, retirement, and the litany of things on your list of financial goals. I personally would want to have more moola to play the investment game. Depending on what your money situation is, it might be best to sock away funds toward another big-ticket item on your list.

Job-hopping is the new norm.

When you own a home, uprooting to new stomping grounds is a tricky feat. You’ll have to consider whether you want to rent out your place or sell it altogether. And since the median number of days a house spends on the market is 65 days, you’ll need to stay put until your house gets sold.

And the days of staying at one job for 30 years until you become a complete drone are long gone. Job-hopping is the new norm; if you don’t switch jobs every few years, you’ll be considered a dinosaur. And over the last 20 years, the number of jobs people have in the first five years upon graduating college has doubled.

If you continue renting, you won’t have trouble packing up and being a digital nomad, or moving for a job. Last summer I stayed in Chicago for a good month, and plan on staying there this summer. The simple fact that I don’t have to worry about tending to my own home while I’m away, or have to deal with looking for a property manager, is pretty freakin’ awesome.

That idealized notion of buying a home replete with a white picket fence, 2.5 kids, the whole shebang may have been your folks’ dream, but it may not necessarily be yours.

What really matters is carving a life in step with your values, where you can put your money toward the things you value most. And that vision may or may not include a home of your own. The choice is entirely yours.

 

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