Daily Archives: August 23, 2011

How to Survive and Maybe Even Love… Renting

A lot of people have questioned me lately about my choice to rent vs. purchase a home.

One year ago, I was fresh out of my undergrad, and living back at home with my parents. I wasn’t sure where my life was headed, and I had a gazillion ideas buzzing around my head about what my next step could be. Although I was one of the few people from my graduating class who landed a full-time position within a month of graduating, I had been having doubts about my chosen career since my 3rd year of school, and I didn’t feel like I had found a job I’d settle into for the next 20, 10… Not even 5 years.

I realized I still wanted to go back to school in a couple years, and I wasn’t ready to plant my roots anywhere just yet. Investing in further education was more important to me than buying a “bachelorette pad.”

And that’s fine. Some people come out of university with their dream career, ready to settle down into the next phase of their lives. A lot of people I went to school with ended up finding jobs in exactly the area they wanted to work in, and many of them got engaged or married, and bought homes.

On the other hand, some of us come out thinking, “uhhh… What now?” For me, I knew in my heart I wasn’t finished with my education. Some people just want the freedom to travel after slugging away in classrooms for years. Some people feel the need to grow their roots a little more before they are ready to plant them. And, let’s face it, some of us just can’t afford a down payment after accumulating 4+ years of student loans.

I’m so excited for the day that I can buy my own home (in say, 10 years). But for now, I’m living the renter life. In fact, I’m lovin’ it! Sure, I have moments where I feel like I’m not as “established” as some of my peers, or like I’m throwing my money away. But there are plenty of advantages to renting, and reasons to enjoy living mortgage-free.

One of my favourite things about renting is knowing that if my life suddenly changes, I have the flexibility to up and go. One of the things that scared me off from buying a home was when I got caught-up in some budgetary lay-offs at my previous job. Although the lay-offs were more of a legal move by my employer, it was scary to know that my job could be pulled from out under me at any moment. If I had a mortgage, it would’ve been an even scarier situation since I live on a sole income – my own! Having gone through that experience, I know I would feel much more secure going into a mortgage with someone else. It really makes a difference knowing that if the economy takes a turn for the worse, or if you were to suddenly end up unemployed, that there’s still another income there.

NOTE: This does not mean I don’t support single people buying homes. I think it’s fabulous, and all the power to you! I’m just explaining my level of comfort having gone through a horrible experience of having my job put on the line, and knowing I would’ve been an anxious wreck if I’d gone through it with a mortgage to consider.

Renting has allowed me to get to know the area. Although I grew-up in the community I live in, a lot changed in the 5 years I lived away. In fact, the neighbourhood I reside in didn’t even exist when I graduated from highschool. Now that I’ve had a chance to live there for awhile, I’ve got a feel for how different my current neighbourhood is in comparison to the one I grew-up in. People are way friendlier on my side of town, and the outdoors are even more accessible since I’m in closer proximity to lakes, rivers, and great hiking trails. Neighbourhood is definitely a factor to consider when purchasing a home, and renting in different neighbourhoods can be like “window shopping” for when you’re eventually ready to buy.

Renting allows for room to grow. It gives you time to become more capable, more confident, and more assured in what you eventually want in a home. Renting has forced me to become more capable in negotiating with landlords and building managers, a skill that I’m sure will translate when it comes time to negotiate with banks and realtors. And having lived in a basement suite, a townhouse, and now an apartment, I definitely have a feel for what type of environment I’d be comfortable living in long-term. For example, having someone living below or above you isn’t always the most comfortable situation. From that experience, I now know that I wouldn’t want to purchase a home with a basement suite to rent, and I definitely would have no interest in purchasing a condo. (Unless there is insulation completely boxing my living space in.) As much as I’m happy for the people upstairs that they have a healthy, umm… relationship, it does get old hearing them go at it every other night. These are the kinds of things that I wouldn’t understand that I value as much had I not gone through this whole experience of renting.

Everyone moves at their own pace in life. For myself, renting just happens to be the best option for me at this time. I definitely think buying is the smarter route to go because ultimately your money goes toward an investment that appreciates. Nevertheless, buying is a commitment that you should only do if the timing is right for you. So when people ask me, “why didn’t you just buy a place?” I just tell them, “it’s not the right time for me.”

Are you a renter or a homeowner? Have anything to add regarding renting vs. buying from your own experience? 🙂