Renting vs. Buying a House

Now that I’ve been in my house over half a year (it’s CRAZY how fast time is going!) I figure I have a good handle on what home ownership is like. I’ve experienced a lot of good days, but also days where things go wrong (oh, the joys of home ownership). But ultimately, I think it was a pretty great decision! Are you torn between renting and buying? Let’s evaluate the differences between the options!

Renting vs. Buying a House

Benefits of Renting

  • “Free” Maintenance On-Call: To me, this is the #1 perk of renting. If something goes wrong, you can call maintenance and they’ll take care of it. Things like pesky chirping smoke detectors, plumbing issues, broken dishwashers, and AC repairs are totally covered in your monthly rent payments.
  • Community Facilities: A lot of rentals (especially if you’re in an apartment complex) offer community facilities you can take advantage of like a dog park, gym, and pool.
  • Less Up-Front Costs: When renting, you might have to hand over first and last month’s rent + a security deposit – and sometimes nothing!

Cons of Renting

  • “Throwing” Money Away: This is a phrase I hear often when it comes to renting. You’re “throwing” your money away because you’re paying each month, but “have nothing to show for it” because you don’t own.
  •  Harder to Personalize: Sure you can put decor up, but when renting, it’s harder to do the things you really want to personalize your space and make it your own. Things like painting, hanging things up (holes in the walls), or any kind of remodeling are usually no-nos when renting. And if you do get a yes, it’s typically with the stipulation that when you move out things need to go back to looking exactly like they did when you first move in!

Benefits of Buying/Owning

  • Freedom to Make Changes: By this I mean you can tear down walls, paint, remodel, etc. and it’s totally fine. Because it’s your place! It’s SO refreshing to not have to worry about nails in the walls, paint, or any other modifications because its yours!
  • Equity to Your Name: This is one of the biggest reasons most people I’ve talked to decided to buy their home. By owning, you have equity (value of the home minus what you still owe on it) to your name. Plus, it’s a great investment! And again, it’s yours!
  • Fixed Monthly Payments: When you own a house, your mortgage payment is the same for the term of your loan each month (unless you refinance). While the same can be said during a 12-month period for an apartment, the monthly rent is typically raised with each lease renewal.

Cons of Buying/Owning

  • No Built-in Maintenance: This is the biggest downside of owning! There’s no built-in maintenance as with renting. So anything that goes wrong (and believe me, things do!) has to come out of your wallet.
  • More Up-Front Costs: To buy a home you need significantly more money upfront. Not only do you need a hefty amount for a down payment, but you also need to pay for things like closing costs, property taxes, the home inspection, and HOA/CDD fees. It adds up quickly!

Renting vs. Owning – Which One’s Better?

I feel like this debate could go on forever. But honesty, there’s no right answer. It all depends on your lifestyle and what works best for you! As you can see, there are absolutely pros and cons to both renting and buying.

Do you own or rent? Which do you prefer?

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  • This is such a great post! My husband was able to purchase a home for himself right after graduating from college. I moved in with him after we got married. It’s so nice to be able to turn our home into what we want it to be. Having a maintenance person would be nice, but it’s been valuable to learn how to fix things ourselves. Luckily all of our major home issues have been things that we’ve been able to handle!

  • Daynna Hartjes

    This is an amazing post for anyone trying to figure out which direction to take! Honestly, as much as I would love to own a home, real estate is so expensive in Toronto area – even renting is expensive. When I do move out, it’ll definitely be renting for a while.

  • I agree– I definitely think it depends on ones lifestyle. Love that you laid out all the pros and cons of each, makes it easier for someone to take in these considerations when trying to figure out which choice to make.

  • I had apartments in college and we rented a very small duplex during the first few months of marriage. I’m from a small town, though. Buying a house is the norm around here. I hated the idea of throwing away money and, while it was nice to have someone else mow, I hated that we couldn’t change a lot of stuff and we were able to have our dog. (She lived with my parents during those 6 months.) We just sold our first house and bought our second. It was a PAIN IN THE ASS, but I still wouldn’t go back to renting :)

  • Amy

    So many great points! I’ love to invest into a house instead of renting an apt but that’s just not realistic for me right now.

  • Prerana, from Broadcloth

    It think it really comes down to cost. As much as I would love to buy a little place of my own, I live in DC where it’s significantly cheaper to rent. Plus, it allows for flexibility if you think you might move in the near future. Usually it takes about 5 years to recover all the costs of buying a house.

    Prerana | Broadcloth

  • I think it depends on where you live. I live in DC, like Prerana, and at times I want to get a condo but the housing market here is absolutely ridiculous (we’re talking $300 thousand for a one bedroom 600 sq ft place) but the monthly payments are potentially cheaper than renting. Some of my colleagues have bought a place and rented it out to other people to cover monthly costs and help pay their own rent. It just depends.
    I love that you list the pros and cons of each – very helpful!

  • We live somewhere it’s much cheaper to buy a home than to rent! Our monthly payment was cut in half when we became homeowners. Of course their have been a few maintenance hickups but overall I’m satisfied that we’ve invested in something.

  • We rented for years and bought our home just over a year ago. It’s nice to know that the money we are spending is going towards building up our net worth.

  • This is such a great informational post! I think you’re right, there is no right answer. lol See what I did there? haha! It so depends on the person and the situation.

  • Brianna

    My husband and I just bought our first house and it has been a big change from renting! I’m not really digging not having access to that maintenance help, but I guess you gotta learn sometime :P

  • We rent right now but I’m so ready to own a house. I hate apartment living haha. I just want a backyard for my pup to run around in.

  • I just started renting an apartment! I will have to get back on this on lol!!! Great post though

  • Elyse George

    Right now we rent but desperately want to buy!

  • I rent an apartment now and honestly, I can’t see me ever wanting to buy a house! I hear a lot that “houses are investments” but… I can make other, less risky investments that don’t require me to learn how to use a lawn mower ;)

  • I love this! It’s scary to think of buying a house but it’s also SO exciting!

  • We are currently renting and you’re right the convenience makes it so easy! When we are ready we will definitely start house hunting :)

  • Adriana

    This is such a great guide! There really is such a huge difference – it’s so important to decide what’s right for you!

  • My hubby and I are currently renting and we have been for years so we are definitely itching to have our own place that we can fully customize but we really do love our current place so we want to take our time and wait for the perfect home.

  • Tori Dunlap

    I completely agree that it depends on your lifestyle. I was going to buy a home at 21 (I was a day from closing), but thank goodness I didn’t — it just wasn’t right for me and my life at that moment.
    Tori || Victori Media

    https://www.victorimedia.com

  • I definitely miss the free maintenance, but you can’t go wrong with owning a home!