The Case for Renting
Written by Jonas Bordo
Or...Why Renting is the Better Choice For Most People
Culture runs broad and deep in this amazing country. It runs through our music, our food, our dancing, in accents, in regional and national treasures. American culture has long been a powerful export, spreading across the whole world - which now eats our hamburgers, drives our cars and watches our movies.
One cultural export that has not been successful? The American preference for homeownership. Around the world, most advanced countries have strong renter cultures where it’s clear and accepted that renting is better for most people. But, for some reason, we haven’t gotten the message here in the U.S. - yet.
Don’t get us wrong, homeownership does have its place. But, unless you have tons of money (look at you, moneybags!), have plenty of time on your hands and love unpredictability and fixing things, it may not be for you.
Here at Dwellsy, we want everyone to hear the gospel of renting, and we’re working to stop the insanity and turn the tide in the U.S. away from homeownership and towards a richer, more fun and more flexible future. A renting future.
So, without further ado, we present the case for renting, in three parts.
#1: Renting Puts Money In Your Pocket.
Do you want to get rich? Renting is for you! There are any number of studies showing how much renting saves you, but our friends at Nerdwallet did a particularly good one showing that at minimum, homeownership is 33% more expensive than renting and in some markets it’s more than 90% more expensive!
The savings from renting come in many ways. Rent is usually cheaper than mortgage payments for starters, Then, layer on all the other costs of homeownership - property taxes, home insurance, unpredictable maintenance expenses and more - and homeownership starts looking really ugly.
But, we hear you asking, “why do people say that a home is a way to build wealth?” Folks, we’re not saying that some people haven’t made money on their homes - some have. The dirty secret that they didn’t tell you is that those homeowners paid more every day for the entire time they owned their home, and at the end, some of them got some of that money back.
They didn’t make money - they just got a partial refund. And, many didn’t even get that! If that poor homeowner needed to sell less than 7 years after buying or because things didn’t go their way and values didn’t go up much or at all in their neighborhood, for example.
Lousy deal, eh? Yeah. Let’s not do that. Let’s be renters and have more money.
#2: Renting Saves You Time.
Feel like you don’t have enough time to do what you want to do? Find yourself way behind on tackling essential fixes around your home? Have no idea how to fix that dripping tap? Want to hire someone to tackle all those for you? Want that person to work for free?!?
Yes, it’s possible - that’s renting! When you rent your home or apartment, the landlord is responsible for most of the chores all those poor homeowners are spending their weekends on. Appliance broken? Call the landlord! Hallway outside your place dirty? Call the landlord! Tree fell on your roof? Wow - that’s a problem for the landlord! Hate mowing the lawn? Sounds like a job for your landlord to handle!
Poor Homeowners. While you’re out with your friends, watching a movie, working on a side hustle, at the lake or spending time with family, save a thought for them. Poor homeowners, stuck at home, trying to figure out how to unclog a toilet or cleaning the leaves out of the gutters. Doesn’t sound like fun to us.
#3: Renting Gives You Flexibility.
Need to move for a better job? To be closer to family? Worried about the direction your neighborhood is going? Not sure if you want to live in the same place forever?
Poor Homeowners. If they decide to move, they’re really screwed. Selling a home or condo is incredibly expensive, (usually about 7% of the entire value of the home!) takes a ton of time, and is really unpredictable. And, sometimes home values go down (anyone remember 2009?) and then they’re really stuck. A homeowner could face bankruptcy if they needed to sell unless they just happened to have a ton of spare cash sitting around to pay the bank (but they don’t - see #1, above).
Good thing you’re a renter! Renters have flexibility to relocate that Homeowners can only dream of. If a Renter wants to move, they need only tell their landlord and in most situations they can walk away from their place within a month or two, for just the cost of the rent for those months. Or, if the lease is about to be up, Renters don’t even have that cost - they can just walk away!
The Bottom Line
Ever hear someone say “I’m just renting”? What about “I’m saving for a downpayment”? Next time you do, ask them why they’d want to be poorer, have less time for the things they love and not have the flexibility to chase an exciting opportunity to a new neighborhood or city. Tell them about the sad state of the poor homeowners, and if they want to know more, send them our way. We’d be happy to show them the way to renting.
We have tons of supportive content for renters and property managers throughout our website. If you are having trouble finding a rental during COVID, check out this blog post for tips. For stories from other renters, give our podcast a listen. Let us help you decide whether to move or renew your rental apartment.