Many people strive toward home ownership, but I can’t say I’m one of them. While my husband and I may one day decide to buy a home, right now we’ve chosen not to do so — even though our bank tells us we can get a mortgage and that it would be the right choice.
My banker was the first person to tell me that renting wasn’t a good financial decision. Renting is “paying someone else’s mortgage” and why shouldn’t I pay myself instead? I come from a background where home ownership translates into financial stability and the expected Next Step; explaining our decision is a delicate dance.
People ask, “When are you going to settle down and buy a house so you can have kids?” Owning a home isn’t a prerequisite to having children, and the houses we could currently afford aren’t as child-friendly as what we can afford to rent! So we stay put.
I want my kids living downtown where there is free ice skating in the winter, swimming the summer, art galleries, the biggest library, and the farmer’s market all within walking distance… not to mention schools, grocery stores, and public transit at my door!
“Why don’t you move to a different area then?” My husband and I have some very strong values regarding urban sprawl — especially in our city. I don’t want to live on the (affordable) outskirts of the city because then we would have to buy a vehicle and drive to the grocery store, to work, everywhere! I don’t want to live with those values, and I especially want my future minis to be able to avoid them. I want them living downtown where there is free ice skating in the winter, swimming the summer, art galleries, the biggest library, and the farmer’s market all within walking distance… not to mention schools, grocery stores, and public transit at my door!
“Owning a home signifies maturity and financial stability, don’t you want that?” Sure, that may be the case for some. However, we’re cautious about becoming “house-poor” — allotting all our money for utilities, mortgage, and maintenance (plus that car we would have to buy!). It’s possible to save a lot of money renting. In my neighborhood, a 2 bedroom plus den will run you $589,000 – $850,000, which comes to about $4,000, monthly. Then there are condo fees, maintenance costs, and property taxes. To rent the same property? Approximately $2,000 plus power.
“Owning a home is a great long-term investment!” Yes, it can be, but that might not be right for everyone. I cringe when I hear this one, as I hate living in one place long-term. The thought of living in one home for ten years sends me into a panic. I like change! With renting, it will be a lot easier to go on my Around the World trip, as I can just put my things in storage and be free!
And the last reason I love renting? This is one I generally don’t share, as it is not mature nor responsible: I am lazy! I like being able to call someone to grout my bathtub, fix a leaky faucet, put in a screen. I don’t like doing those things! I like to spend my free time reading, playing WoW, walking my dog and hanging out with my husband. I don’t want to be mowing the lawn or shoveling the walks!
Renting isn’t always the best option, and there are things I hate. I hate earning landlords’ trust before being allowed to paint. I hate pet restrictions. I hate it when you live in an apartment with neighbors who don’t have the same values as we do. That said, renting doesn’t mean you haven’t fulfilled the American (or Canadian, in my case) Dream. Renting is a legitimate lifestyle choice, and it works for me.