Buy vs. Rent: The American Dream
- posted 3.18.2014
- Chelsea Beebe
- Personal Finance
Growing up with my mom and brother, we always rented our home. I never understood why it was such a source of dissatisfaction for my mom. Regardless of renting or owning, you still had to paid someone for the privilege to have roof over our head, four walls around us, and some doors and windows. When I asked my mom about it, she said she wanted something more substantial because she always viewed home ownership was an investment toward our future. As a child it didn't make sense to me, but as a recent college graduate, the idea of pursuing the ultimate American dream of home ownership make more sense after witnessing my mom finally being able to purchase her first home.
I did research and here are the advantages of home ownership I found:
When I was around thirteen, I remember getting so mad that I couldn't paint my room pink, or really any color at all, since our rental agreement did not allow us to alter the color of the walls. It was my room, I spent a good amount of my time in there, and yet it didn't feel like mine because I wasn't able to decorate it the way I wanted to. I was stuck with boring white walls and I hated it. Even having the ability to hang art or photographs on the wall can breach a rental contract and causes additional stress when you decide to move because you have to fix any damage you have done to the property. It's hard for a home to feel like your own when you have little to no freedom in the choices you are allowed to make in terms of decorating, renovating and personalizing.
I never understood how important privacy was until I had my first landlord who completely invaded mine. The most difficult part of renting is the knowledge from both parties that the place you live in does not belong to you and that there are rules you need to follow if you want to continue living at this address. Regardless of if you are the perfect tenant or not, it is still difficult to be comfortable living in your home knowing that at any time your landlord could invade your space (because it isn't your space, it is his or her space!) Your home is supposed to be the place you go to unwind or spend time with your friends and family. It should not be a place where you feel as though you are either walking on eggshells or constantly needing to discuss any issue that many arise with your landlord.
Paying rent often comes with changes in the amount you pay monthly sometimes with little or no notice. This isn't a problem you face when you own your own home, because when you enter into the mortgage agreement with your lender, you are given a schedule with your payment amounts throughout the life of the loan. This is an advantage because you know what you are getting into up front. At any time you can also choose to refinance and lower your monthly payment.
Put Down Roots
Having the freedom of not being tied down to one set location can sometimes be nice, but it can also be a burden. While my mom made every effort possible of keeping my brother and me in the same school district, it was hard for us to really feel like part of the community because we were never sure how long we would be at one house. Owning a home allows you to place roots in a community or neighborhood you want to call home for potentially the rest of your life. Home ownership becomes a bigger commitment because of this, but it is well worth it for the sense of community you will feel by placing your roots in the right location.
Renting is similar to staying in a hotel; you get a roof, walls, windows and doors. You get exactly what you pay for and when you chose to leave, you get nothing back in return. Home ownership is different though, because as my mom told me, it really is an investment towards your future. While you will see the benefits of joining a community and gaining freedom right away, the financial benefits will pay off in the long run. The longer you live in a home and continue to make your monthly mortgage payment, the better chance you have to gain equity in your home. What you chose to do with the equity is ultimately up to you. Paying off your home is one less bill you will have a month, but if don't ever plan on moving, you could extend the life of your loan and potentially use the money you have invested thus far to assist you with other bills or debt.
My parents have lived in their new home for a while now and still enjoy the perks of home ownership very much. When I asked my mom what it was she loves so much about the house, she said, "I am still happy there and it feels like a place I want to come back to every night because it's my safe place and I make the rules over what I want to do with it." And that's exactly what it should feel like.