When planning your future, housing is one of the most important decisions you will make. This choice will shape your home location, environment, and expenses one year to three decades at a time. You may already know if you prefer single-family or multi-family communities, which amenities matter, and how far you can be from other anchor locations in your life. From there, you’ll decide whether to seek a rented home or start the house hunt to buy your next abode.
The difference between renting and owning factors into your lifestyle and budget, which means it’s a unique choice for every household. Some people need the flexibility to move every year – or even more often – while others are making long-term plans to put down roots and invest. Even the financial equation varies from one housing market to the next – and depends on how long you plan to stay in one home. Budget by the month or by the decade? Concierge repairs or DIY home improvement?
4 Degrees is taking a deep dive into renting vs. owning and the real differences between them.
Why Buy or Rent Your Home?
The reasons to buy your home or rent it are quite personal. Any number of factors in your life, career, or family may influence which is the better choice. The city you live in may financially favor one over the other in the long and short term, or you may have a strong preference for other reasons.
Reasons to Rent Your Home
- You move regularly with your job
- You want to live in many different places
- You don’t have time for repair or maintenance
- Your income is not predictable in the long-term
- Your career may relocate you in the near future
- You may need to move for family or medical reasons
- No DIY or improvements
- Not building equity with rent
- Rent goes up over time
- Subject to landlord quality and decisions
Reasons to Buy a Home
- You are ready to settle down for 5+ years
- You want to DIY and improve your home
- You want your children to have one childhood home
- You want to build your dream home
- You want to become a co-owner in an HOA
- The house will start or join your investment portfolio
- Responsible for all repairs and maintenance
- Less flexibility to move somewhere else
- Periodic major expenses
Considerations When Choosing Buying vs Renting
How Long Are You Staying?
If all other factors were equal, your length of stay should be the deciding factor in whether to buy or rent your home. If you will be staying in the same city and likely in the same job for five or more years, then buying a home is more likely to be a rewarding and financially beneficial option. If you will be leaving or are likely ready to change homes in two years or less, then renting is almost always the superior option.
This simple test can inspire typical homeowners to spend one or two delightful years renting and show long-time renters when it’s time to think about starting their house hunt to purchase.
Compare the Costs of Renting vs Buying a Home
In every housing market and neighborhood, the financial difference between renting and buying will be unique. Home prices tend to be more volatile than rent prices, which are often based on the rent prices of the year before. When home buying prices spike, renting can remain more affordable year-on-year with a steadier rate increase. If housing prices plummet, rent may become more expensive than buying in the area – which creates an incentive for first-time home buyers to make the transition.
Career and Lifestyle Preferences
You may have a few strong preferences or job requirements that will influence your choice to rent or buy. A job that moves you to a different city every few months will inspire renting – perhaps renting furnished apartments to make the transitions easier. If you are rarely at home but need a gym and concierge plumbing repairs while you’re attending to a busy schedule — renting a luxury apartment is going to be your ideal choice.
If you are a DIY enthusiast or if you have always dreamed of having a home renovated into your dream house, naturally you will want to plan for home ownership. If you want your kids to grow up knowing the same front yard tree their entire childhood, you should buy a home and secure that dream.
Flexibility vs Long-Term Commitments
Each of us has a different landscape when it comes to long-term commitments. You might be ready to put down roots but have another obligation that could interrupt those plans. You might need to pick up and go to the aid of a loved one or move for a career opportunity at any moment. Or you might have already committed to staying in one place for several years. You may be looking for a community where you can put down roots and become a voice in the community. Your need for flexibility or long-term stability can and should influence your decision to rent or buy.
Estimate the Potential for Investment
You can buy a home without long-term plans to stay if you plan to invest in the property instead. Turning a house that you own into a rental home can be a good way to buy, enjoy homeownership, and then move away while still building financial benefits from owning the property. If the home is in a good location as a rental or vacation rental, then you may be making your plans based on both your personal future and building a less personal investment portfolio.
Consider the Risks of Buying or Renting
Lastly, always consider the risks of any major decision. The risks of renting a home include bad landlord matches and poorly honored maintenance agreements. You could wind up waiting months for repairs that could have been done quickly on your own. You may have to refute false claims and defend your security deposit with personal records. You also may not be given the option to renew your lease when you’d planned to stay another year.
Buying a home, the risks are in the property itself. Unsound property can become expensive to maintain and you rely profoundly on good insurance in the face of major property damage.
However, if your plans can encompass and mitigate these risks, then you are ready to move forward confidently in buying or renting your home.
Buying vs Renting a Home: Finding the Right Home for You
Which is better for you this year, buying or renting? What about five years from now? This is a unique choice for every person and household. Whether you are looking for the ideal rental home for this year or you are ready to start your house hunt in earnest, 4 Degrees is here to help.
Contact us to find the right rental home or house on the real estate market for your future plans.