Guest post from Kaly Sullivan
It was 2004 and the housing market was hot. Everyone around us was buying. People were making money buying a home and selling it a few years later. The prices kept going up and up. You couldn’t lose. We jumped on the bandwagon and decided to buy before the prices went any higher.
Couple that with the path our parents and grandparents had paved for us. You get a degree, you get a job with a pension, you get married, buy a house, build equity, have kids, trade up into a bigger house, and retire.
Following that blue print, my husband and I removed ourselves from the urban center we had come to love, and traded in our car-less life for a red shingled house with a two-car garage.
We bought on a five-year ARM because that is what everyone was doing. We bought a small fixer upper with potential because you’re supposed to buy the smallest house in a nice neighborhood (for resale value). We started the process of turning it into a home.
The list of tasks that we undertook is now unimaginable.
Over the next nine years we spent thousands of hours and dollars upgrading systems, putting in new features, shopping for the perfect item to complete a room. Our evenings and weekends were filled with tasks, Home Depot shopping lists, and annual attempts to grow lush grass.
Meanwhile our children were born, and we adapted to life as suburban home owners.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved that house. I loved every creak and every brick in the patio we had installed. But it’s quite possible that the little red house is the only house that we will ever own.
My husband took a job in a different city, and we made the decision to relocate. We sold our house fairly easily (we did not make any money, but we did break even).
Because we were unfamiliar our new area, we thought renting would be a good way to get the lay of the land and settle in before buying a new home.
Now that we are well into the second year of our lease, I’m not convinced that I ever want to own a home again. Although it isn’t always as easy as “Call your landlord and they fix it,” we have thoroughly enjoyed this time off from home ownership.
I can’t imagine walking into Home Depot anymore than I can imagine landing on the moon because as renters we have more…
Weekends are used for adventures, naps, downtime, and new experiences not upkeep and chores.
Our rent is more expensive than our previous mortgage but the money we save in home maintenance and purchases has us saving money every month. And we have zero debt!
3. Brain space:
We don’t worry about systems, resale value, and lists of repairs so we have more room in our heads to pursue our true interests.
My husband feels a little differently about the rent vs. own situation. He worries that as renters were not part of our community because we haven’t put our money where our mouth is and invested in a more substantial way. That maybe if we’re not buying, we’re transients that aren’t going to stick around and are not worth getting to know.
I see his point. People ask me, “Are you going to stick around? Have you started looking at houses?” I still challenge my husband to think about it differently.
If you ask yourself, “What am I going to do with my one life?” Does owning a home make the list? Your top ten?
If you think, “What legacy do we want to leave in this world?” Is the answer, “I was a good homeowner” part of your response?
Since we’ve been renting, we’ve put less of our resources into our home. We’ve used our time and money to start a company, travel more, and explore our new city. We spend more time together as a family and our overall stress level has decreased.
As a family, we will continue to consider what home ownership can offer us. But we are definitely looking at our options through a more critical lens and will not be buying just to buy this time.
In the meantime, we’ll keep renting. And enjoying every second of it and the freedom it brings.
When Kaly doesn’t have her nose in a book, she wrangles and referees two elementary age boys and blogs about her often humorous efforts to lead a mindful, connected life. She’s the co-founder of Harlow Park Media and is the author of Good Move: Strategy and Advice for Your Family’s Relocation.
Hope Kirkland says
I have been on both sides of this issue. We currently rent and will continue to until my husband retires. We move about every 4 years for his job and it does not make sense to own a home. We have been blessed with good landlords and great houses. We are currently stashing money away to buy our home and land without a mortgage, so we won’t have a mortgage during retirement.
We were pressured into buying our first home which we lost money on. Our second home we purchased in a better neighborhood/schools and made quite a bit later. Now we are on our third and even after the housing market collapse, doing okay. Do what is right for you. Who cares if you rent or own? If they do, they aren’t looking our for YOU. We are now thinking about downsizing to a reputable but smaller town. It’s what is right for us! 🙂
My husband and I knew we wanted to stay in the same area, because it is close to all our family. So we bought early in our marriage and paid it off quickly. We have owned our home debt free from the time our oldest child was 5 and we were in our mid twenties. There is work and matenence involved with home ownership, but we have lots of weekends when we aren’t busy, and more money to do fun things with because we pay nothing monthly for a place to live.
In the past nine years my husband and I have owned and rented, twice each. We have three children, a dog, good jobs, decent income, we’re the typical american family. What we aren’t anynore are homeowners. Our current rental is a 1400 sq. ft. townhouse built in the past 3 years w/ 2 bathrooms, 3 large bedrooms, a private basement and a private fenced in yard. In our previous home, which we owned, if the heat went out it would cost us a few hundred dollars for a service call. When the septic backed up, the total bill was over $2,000. We sold at a loss, moved closer to our jobs and rented this townhouse for less money a month than what it was costing us for our mortgage payment, and heat is included. We haven’t had any issues that need attention but if we do, it’s just a phone call to the property management company for someone else to follow up on and fix. If only car ownership was that easy.
K in Philly says
Choosing to stay renters is certainly a valid choice, but if you “broke even” when you sold that’s like if you got five years of rent BACK, plus better income tax rates for those years.
For our family we own not one but two houses. We rented when my older 2 were young but after spending a lot of time in the ER with my daughters asthma attacks (we lived in a building with rugs that were at least 20 yrs. old and smokers that smoked in the halls) we moved into my mom’s house, the attacks stopped. We are also lower income household but a mortgage was cheaper than to rent in our area. We bought our house 7 yrs. ago in NY with a mortgage payment of less than $470 per month which includes taxes and insurance. We rented that house for $900 a month since we relocated to a different state recently to a mom of 5 children. Here we bought our house cash (with tax returns) 2yrs. ago and have been fixing it up, my husband got a job here GA, so we moved with no house payment except the taxes and insurance and the repairs that are left, which is nothing near paying rent for a whole yr. We are still fixing it up but are already looking to buy another property as soon as this one is done and rented.
Different situations calls for different actions. We are a family of 6 living on $20,000 sometimes less or more per yr. thus the trying to increase our income and decrease our bills.
Looking at this from a getting closer to retirement perspective, it’s nice to know that one day we will own our house outright and only owe yearly taxes on it. Yes, there is upkeep and costs associated with that, but, I still think that we save in the long run, get to pick our own colors of paint, and avoid the threat of having to move anytime our landlord doesn’t want to rent anymore. And from what I’ve seen, houses in our area rent for 2x what our mortgage payment is.
Debbie B says
As someone who has been on both sides of this I can clearly say that I would rather own a home then pay someone else’s mortgage. You pay a certain a month for a place to live that isn’t entirely yours, you are dictated to about what you can and cannot do in that home. I prefer the thought of owning our own home and yes there are costs but it is worthi it. You have to be smart when buying to make sure that what you are getting is going to work for you. In other words don’t buy a fixer upper if you don’t want to be stuck with the reno costs.
My (now ex) husband and I bought our home when the housing market was at its highest, in 2002. By 2012, when we got divorced, our house value had plummeted by 65%. Neither one of us could afford to keep the house, so we had to let our house go into foreclosure. When we bought our house, we had no way of foreseeing that we would get divorced or the real estate market would nosedive like it did. Now we are both stuck with this huge debt to the mortgage company. So renting isn’t always a bad thing; at least you don’t leave a rental owing $82,000!
I think we need to start looking at rent vs owning differently as a society. Owning a home does not make you a better person or solve all your problems. Not everyone is able to own…me included…that’s ok…we have lived in aparetments, owned a home and now rent. We have always been grateful to have a home. Thanks for posting on this subject.
The ultimate goal of home ownership is to pay off your mortgage, so in your retirement years, you won’t have a house payment (other than taxes). This article is written from a perspective of someone who didn’t live in their first home long enough to turn a profit. We own a home, are now debt free (by God’s grace), we have invested little into our 1979 home, but have seen its value increase in 7 years. It is now more expensive for us to rent in our city, than pay our mortgage. Repairs are costly, yes, but it is wise to purchase a modest home and NEVER base your affordability on how much the bank pre-approves you for (our house costs $80K less than what we were approved for). Always budget for monthly house & yard maintenance and unexpected life expenses such as Dr. Bills. Dont get caught up in owning the perfect HGTV house, you will be discontent and broke. As many have said, when you rent, you are paying off someone else’s mortgage and you are at their mercy. There are times renting is great, but as long as you view home ownership as a marathon rather than a sprint, you won’t be disappointed.
Sarah C says
I can see both sides of this. We currently rent and have been doing so our entire marriage (almost 7 years). I agree with this article about the “perks” of apartment living. We have been blessed with an awesome landlord and repairs get done quickly. However, now that we have 2 kids, I’m really wanting to get into a house. There are definitely some big responsibilities that go along with that, but I’m looking forward to the increase in privacy, not having to justify repairs we need done to a landlord, having a yard my kids can play in (if they want some outdoor time we drive to the park).
We rented for a time, when it made sense to us. sometimes we left a rental by our choice. Sometimes it got sold under us. We moved when DD was less than a week old because were given notice they would not be renewing the lease. You no longer get to decide for yourself when you move when you are renting, but are at the mercy of the owners. And everywhere we rented, we STILL had upkeep around the property to do — lawn watering, mowing, etc.
Amy in Oz says
This is exactly our situation. Our rental was sold and we needed to be out on the day of our 4th child’s due date. Talk about stress!
We ended up moving 3 times in 2.5 years, with only one move being our choice. We last moved a month ago, and are back into the cost process of sorting out window furnishings, doing bits and bobs, maintaining lawns, etc. All these things add up. I’d love to not have to go to Home Depot, but that’s just not the case.
Renting is the season we are in now, but I’d love for us to be able to exit that season at some point.
My Boaz's Ruth says
We, too, moved within a week of DD’s birth — and not by our choice. We would have loved to stay in that house another year. But the landlords did not want to be landlords anymore.
That was when we decided we were ready to own a home again and not just rent.
Oh, yes! That is the dark side of renting. You don’t have control and can be asked to leave at any time. That never happened to us while renting, but, like others mentioned, we were responsible for lawn care and general maintenance to the yard.
On top of that, we had twice a year inspections by a property manager, and once the owner came into town and insisted on being able to walk her through house that day (never mind that we were living there and homechooling there and had about 2 hours notice).
What I disliked most about renting was that the owner would only do the basic maintenance/repairs on the house. The refrigerator stopped working, and yes, she did replace it, but it took her over a week to find a good deal. For about ten days our family was living out of coolers (this was in the summer). There was so much work that needed to be done to keep the house up, and she would not do it or have it done. It was so frustrating- and this was in a very nice neighborhood, and the rent was not cheap!
There is one more thing that is important to mention. After being raised in a (renter) family that moved A LOT about 16 times before I was 18 years old. I resent not having that stability, not being part of a community. My husband and I both grew up in rentals and decided that we wanted to always have that stability for our children. That place that would be a constant, a place to call home.
While renting might suit you at certain points in your life. I think that we need to consider more things than being debt free.
You need to consider stability for your children and think about your retirement years where you income drops significantly and if you don’t have to worry about rent you could live a lot more comfortably.
My husband and I would love to be able to buy and the biggest reason is our kids. We have five children, all from our marriage. It’s so hard to find a place big enough, let alone someone willing to rent to us. I have not met a landlord yet that I haven’t had to convince that we were not going to destroy their house. It’s worse than trying to make a case for having a dog. My kids are not destructive. We do chores on a regular basis. We don’t need Section 8 (not that there’s anything wrong with that; it’s just a common assumption). It’s so frustrating. We are always subject to scrutiny too. Every single landlord I’ve had has only agreed to rent to us if we agreed to regular inspections, with the least frequent being every three months. Inspections are typically monthly. It’s not right and I’m so sick of it. I want my own home so I don’t have to be subject to prejudice and scrutiny.
Christine Rapley says
As a landlord, it is my right to do inspections on my property. It is for the protection of both of us. I may see something that needs repair that you as
a renter would not. If you are following the rules, then you should not have
anything to worry about durning an inspection. I have walked in to my
property to find things that were not supposed to be there, things done to
my house without permission, or things just not kept up with (filters, water softner with no salt in it). It clearly states in my lease that we will do
inspections with notice. I am sure you would not rent out your house to someone without checking on it periodically. It is a huge investment, and when inspections are not done we are left with the mess to fix when the tenant moves out.
As someone who has been both a landlord and a tenant I see her frustration and I don’t think it’s so much that she begrudges a landlord the right to keep up with the property so much as it’s kinda invasive. As clearly puts a you only rent here label on something she would like to call her home.
I can agree. We owned our first home like we were “suppose” to, right after marriage then over a year later, pregnancy. I liked it, but it was not in our wanted area. For our price range it was the best of what we had seen and we figured this was our first house, not our forever house. Unfortunately we learned life doesn’t happen exactly the way you plan. We couldn’t just move like we thought and my husband didn’t want to put money into the house to remodel or the time. We ended up renting eventually for a number of reasons and had a great experience with it. With that freedom, we decided to move South like we had always dreamed. We are now renting again for the same reason, learn the area. I’m so glad we did that. Our rent has always been cheaper than our mortgage, and while our rentals are not top notch up to date remodeled, they have been nice, decent and functional. We also have been lucky with landlords who do fix the important things quickly.
We are going on 4 years renting and I have been thinking more about owning again. But it will be a lot more thought out this time and we are in a new area at a new job, so we are still taking our time. We don’t want to jump into another house that we can settle for. My husband is working on climbing the ladder at work and we hope to get into an area we love reasonably. The house we are renting isn’t anything to brag about, but there is freedom in that. Its temporary. For now we just wave at our neighbors who spend their weekends fixing whatever up (which if that’s their thing, I mean no disrespect, it’s just not our thing) as we drive by to the beach or whatever adventure we are off to.
I found this post to be a refreshing perspective on the benefits of renting. I think there is a lot of unnecessary expectation and pressure to buy a home once you enter a certain season of life, such as getting married or having a baby. However, renting for the last couple of years created a pathway of financial freedom for my husband and me while we paid off his student loans from medical school and saved a lot of money, Now we have decided to rent a home in a neighborhood where we hope to buy one day. I admit renting was a difficult decision for me at first, but now in hindsight I really do see the peace and wisdom that have resulted from waiting to buy a home at this point.
We rented for 10 yrs, not good landlord wouldn’t fix anything and we were giving the money to them to pay for their home it wasn’t ours, and we were throwing all that money away every month to pay mortgage, we feel very blessed to own again and very happy to have our own home, no landlord looking over our shoulder, and we hope the kids will inherit it or sell it and split the money!!!:)
I love this. I have been telling my husband for some time now that I ‘d rather rent. The list of to-do’s in our home are overwhelming. I’m not handy nor am I inclined to be. He is, thankfully. But honestly, I’d rather be able to call someone to say something is broken and let them stress about it than us. In cities there is no bias against renting since most people rent. Here in the upstate area of NY it isn’t as common among my friends but I envy the few that do. There are a lot of great rentals out there and we could be saving money and time. When we eventually sell our house and move (to warmer climes I pray) we will be renting at first. I am hoping that I can convince my husband then of the benefits especially as we get older. Owning a condo would be my second best option because we have a dog and I am not willing to let him go. Rock on. I love love love this idea!
I share a similar perspective. However our road, was a little different. Purchased in ’06, but bought the nicest house on the block. Hind site is 20/20 🙁 The people that had moved in next door, just before we moved in, turned out to be drug dealers! We tried for 8 years to do everything we could to get them out of our neighborhood. During this time we had two children. The neighborhood just became too dangerous and we sold last year at a loss. People keep asking if we’ve found anything yet, and family cannot understand that we are in no hurry to become homeowners again (as if it is the single defining thing about ones life). We won’t be buying again until it’s everything that we want. No more settling! It was refreshing to read that someone else shares this perspective and doesn’t feel defined by homeownership.
I disagree. I believe you can have it all.
My husband and I bought a townhome well under what we were approved for. We renovated few things with our savings. We still travel, safe money and are debt free (aside from the mortgage of course) our car is paid off and we have free time, personal and social life.
It all depends on how you manage your money.
My dad was a general contractor before he retired and our experience was feast or famine. With that background, I totally prefer renting over owning a home, especially in the area that we live in now. My husband is a pastor so we do move every few years. We live in a rural, economically-depressed area now and buying a home is feasible but there just aren’t a lot of options. Resale is also possible, but much more difficult. Renting has given me a lot of peace of mind since I don’t worry about what happens financially when we have to move next. The rental market here is probably worse than most places but we’ve been blessed so far with affordable rentals that have met our needs.
I love your perspective and although I am a homeowner 3 times over, and it definitely is stressful and I’m not sure it’s all that rewarding at this point. I believe we all need to evaluate what works best for ourselves and our families and it seems you have done just that. Good for you!
Abigail @ipickuppennies says
Homeownership definitely isn’t for everyone. I still think we’re doing the right thing — and not just because we bought a place with a guest house so his parents wouldn’t be homeless. But….
In the past three months, we replaced a dying dishwasher ($750), the hot water heater ($750), we finally fixed the gap in/extended our masonry wall ($1,500), are replacing two gate doors to avoid more people waltzing into our yard ($650) and have to have one bathroom fan installed and another replaced ($765, thanks to bad wiring that needs adjustments).
Not to mention the $3,500 HVAC system we’ll be installing in the guest house this spring. Or the double pane windows we want to get eventually.
Of course, as these things get fixed, it’s more likely that we’ll have financially quieter years. And at some point we won’t be paying “rent” (as I like to think of our mortgage).
But if we had stayed in an apartment, we’d have saved a lot more for the $30,000 oral surgery my husband needs. So renting vs. owning is a very valid debate.
I love this. From a purely financial standpoint, there are just times when we can’t buy a home. It’s just part of living within our means. When we moved into a parsonage (which makes us considered “renters” in the eyes of tax law), we wondered if it could really feel home. But as you pointed out, it has liberated us to focus on things other than updating our home. I just look at it as part of being content with where God has planted us.
Learning to live with what you have…this has been huge for us and a great lesson as renters. An olive green tiled bathroom for example, that used to make me shudder, I don’t even think about it anymore. It’s just a place to shower after all. Learning that not everything has to be “perfect” in our house to make it a home is one my biggest takeaways. We’re together, we’re safe, healthy, and happy – the wall color (plain white) doesn’t really affect the quality of our life.
I’ve rented for more than 20 years, and while I would love to buy a home, I live in an area that’s incredibly expensive. A small studio condominium can go for more than $150,000, not including HOA fees. Even deed-restricted condos go for more than $200,000 for a small 1-2 bedroom.
In order to buy, I’d have to move far away, and this hasn’t been an option because of the many health issues I’ve had, with their corresponding medical bills. I need job security at this time.
My goal is to move to a more affordable area in the next 5 years, and buy a small home. My mom lives with me, but her retirement check is so small that I have to make sure that I can afford the mortgage payments, and maintenance, on my own.
I’ve been praying for God’s help, and doing my part by paying off my debt and setting money aside for the down payment.
It sounds like you are working towards your goals and making progress. I hope that you are able to find a home that works for you and your mom. Best of luck.
karen mulhern says
Times have changed and everyone has become more mobile. Homeownership as a goal is not anywhere near as popular for the new generation and i think they are very wise in this!
It is an interesting evolution. There’s a movement to acquire less and experience more. I think with responsible planning and saving retirement might start to look different. Right now we’re investing our money in other places, but keeping one eye on the market.
Heather c says
This was a great post! I think a lot of this also has to do with where you live too.I live in an area in CA with insanely high housing prices, high demand, high rent and very low supply. So for a lot of people I know you just have to settle with what you can get be it buying something or renting. My husband and I bought our home in the height of the market and settled with something we didn’t really love and held on strong for the last 7 years as our home value fluctuated with the wind. Now that the market here is back and we finally are ready to move we haven’t been able to get a home, and after looking for over a year and making multiple offers on multiple homes which all had multiple offers as well, we’ve decided it’s not worth it to go farther into debt in a bidding war just to get a home. So we’ve decided to rent for the time being so my son can start kindergarten in the town we’d like to be in, until we can get into a home that meets our needs and budget. It was a hard for me at first because I took such pride in being a home owner but bottom line I think if renting fits your season in life there is nothing wrong with that…. So thank you for this great post it made me feel so much better.
The housing market where we are sounds very similar. So for this season, renting it is. I think if you think of it as a little home owner vacation, you’ll be able to enjoy the time while you look for a home that is a good fit for you.
Loan N says
I really appreciate this viewpoint of home ownership v. renting… My view of it changes day by day! My home is paid off and that has been a huge blessing financially. However, as a single woman, the maintenance aspect has been at times an overwhelming burden.
I bought probably my last house 3 years ago. I know I will probably have to sell at some point considering my age. I would rent in a minute if I wasn’t worried about having to move because the owner wants to sell. Worries me!
I am so sick of renting. We have never had a good landlord.
A landlord can totally make or break the rental experience for sure. I can see how dealing with a difficult landlord could significantly reduce your quality of life and increase stress levels.
There’s a time and place for renting or owning, and I am definitely in a place where renting makes more sense. I love renting (have been a renter for 10 years now) and will be a little sad when the time comes to buy. That said, I do look forward to owning a home one day where we have more yard space to grow a BIG garden! I anticipate in the next 5 or less years, we’ll be in a position financially, emotionally and otherwise to buy. It does rankle me to no end when people think it’s *always* a better idea to buy a house than rent. That’s just not true.
Jess – I couldn’t agree more. I have a trouble with any sort of absolute that includes always. Every situation is different. For us making the transition from owning to renting was not what we expected, and so we’re taking this time to mindfully plot our next move.
This is an interesting and surprising (to me) perspective. Like you, I was raised that owning a home is how you live life. I know that there are risks and costs, both financial and time. However, my husband and I paid off our mortgage in the spring of 2013. We are both 44 now, and we are happy to almost debt free. Our final debt is a commercial mortgage, which we plan to pay off by the time we are 50.
I know that nobody can know what works best for someone else, but moving toward retirement is easier for us because we know that we don’t have that payment now.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I like learning how people make their choices!
Thanks for your comment Holly – I could not agree more that it is interesting how people make their choices. I always love hearing a different perspective on something that we accept as “how you live life.” Obviously every situation is different and it sounds like you have the security that works for your family headed toward retirement. Congrats on paying off your mortgage – such a huge accomplishment.
We just bought our first home! We rented 3 different places the first 3 yrs we were married and I’m so happy to be somewhere for the foreseeable future! Of course my husband can fix almost anything so our maintenance and repair budget is low… but we really would have been crazy not to buy. Rentals in our area cost more than our mortgage/insurance/taxes combined! Plus we are building equity and there are income tax benefits too!
We sold our house last year when we retired. For the first couple years, we plan to rent in a few different cities to help us decide where to buy a condo. While I don’t miss the maintenance a bit, I really miss the privacy and peace and quiet. We are hoping to find a concrete high-rise condo so we can avoid the noise problems in condos that are built like small apartment buildings. The noise level in the place we are renting now is awful, and since I am writing at home during the day, I can hardly stand it. Plus it scares our dog. I really liked owning our own place, and I look forward to the end of this experiment so we can have a home base again.
There is definitely something to be said for the mobility that comes with renting, but I just don’t like it as much as I did when I was younger.
I love this article! This includes many of the reasons we are renting! We took a bath on a condo my husband bought before we met and got married. I think we spent about $40,000 just paying off the mortgage when we sold it. We’re building up our down payment fund again, but I’m not sure I want to buy. We can rent for less than a mortgage in the greater Seattle area. We’re easily saving $700-$1,000/month that we’d be putting into a house. And we learned there is no guarantee you’re going to get that money back out. If you do the math, over 30 years, a home really needs to almost triple in value in order to get the money paid for mortgages, interest, taxes, and maintenance. We’re socking the money away in retirement funds and investments that have a historically substantial higher return that house investments.
Sadly, my husband (and many experts) believe home prices are inflated again because of the low downpayment requirements at most financial institutions and predict in the next recession, we’ll see more foreclosures than last time.
So you feel that in order to own your house would have enable you to have zero total cost over a 30 year period except for utilities?
Looking from a purely financial standpoint, yes, we’d have to actually come out ahead and make at least 8-10% to own a house. That’s if we’re looking at a house as an investment, which seems to be the reason people want to buy a home. The conventional wisdom is with buying a money, you’ll get a return when you sell it. We learned that isn’t true the hard way. Then we did the math and realized even after 30 years of mortgage principal and interest, taxes, and maintenance, the profit margin is slim. That also doesn’t take into account the time invested in maintenance which could be used on a side gig like blogging or couponing to make extra income. It simply doesn’t make financial sense to buy when renting is less expensive.
However, we’ll probably buy a house again at some point for the intangibles, like not worrying about having to move with a newborn! But we no longer view home ownership as an investment.
I also need to point out again that we live in a pretty expensive part of the country. If we lived in the midwest or deep south, we’d probably be able to buy a home with cash and it would make perfect sense to buy.
If you are going to think about it that way you should also add in the cost of your rent. That money is gone with zero gain if you look at it from just a financial point of view.
Diane, That’s exactly what we’re doing.
Here’s an example: Rent is $1,600. The median house price in our area is $300,000. With a 20% down payment, our mortgage (including interest), taxes, insurance, and maintenance on this same house would be $2,400. We’re taking that difference (about $800/month) and investing it. At the end of 30 years, assuming a compounding 6% rate of return, it’ll be worth over $1 million. The stock market has a historic rate of return of 10% over that last 100 years, but we’re being safe and estimating less (which also includes fee).
With a $300,000 house and a 20% down payment, the actual cost of the loan with 4% interest would be $450,000. Once you include maintenance, insurance, taxes (less the tax break), etc, the actual cost of owning the home is close to $1 million. We would have to sell it the house for $2 million in order for it to be the same quality of investment. And that’s if we live in the same house for 30 years, which we probably won’t.
Now after 30 years, we wouldn’t have the expense of rent, but we’d still be paying for insurance, taxes, and maintenance each month.
I’m sure it varies by region of the country, but it simply does not make financial sense for my family to buy a house. There will eventually be logistical reasons to buy when we have more children or maybe when our daughter starts school, but for now we’re waiting.
Thanks for this. We’re now in our almost mid-30s and neither my husband nor I have ever not rented (because home ownership here in CA is much too expensive). I don’t know what it’s like to be a homeowner, and while sometimes I feel myself longing to have control about what I want to do with the place I live, it also makes me nervous. I don’t know a thing about home repair!
But I always feel like we’re supposed to be working toward someday buying a home.
So this article made me feel better, as though maybe long-term renting isn’t really that awful…
Oh and I also feel very blessed that even though rental prices are going up in our area, our landlord has not raised our already affordable-for-the-area rent once in our almost five years of living here. (knock on wood!!)
Coming from Massachusetts and now outside of Philadelphia where home prices can be very high (although not as highs CA!), I totally understand. As others have pointed out here, having a retirement and long term plan is important but I don’t think the only solution is buying a home where you live right now. Best of luck! And don’t feel awful – just make the best of the situation you’re in! I’m also knocking on wood that your rent stays stable.
Heather F. says
Right now we are doing both 🙁 We still own our old home (it’s on the market) and we are renting in our new town/state. I appreciate not having to do any maintenance. The downside for us is that we are in an apartment that is 1/2 the size of our house. I look forward to buying again, after our house sells. It is nice to get a “lay of the land” before we buy and to really have time to look around to see what is out there. Thankfully after 13 (almost 14) years in our house we have some equity that should give us a down payment. The downside is that the equity is stuck in the house until we sell it. Not as easy to pick up and move for a new job. Pros and cons to each side.
That transition is not easy. I think taking the time to get to know your new area is a strategy that can really work in your favor in the long rung even if you have to be a bit cramped in the short term. Good luck!
Janee Ackermann says
I love this!! We too jumped on the bandwagon in 2004. I quickly learned that home ownership may be the “American Dream” but it’s not this American’s dream. We started renting after selling and using the money to get out of debt. So freeing!
Good for you! For us being debt free had brought us a lot of freedom and peace of mind as well.
Jayleen @ How Do The Jones Do It says
I often think back to the simpler days when we were newly married and renting an apartment. We actually had time to go out and throw a football around;0) We were able to save quite a bit too. You bring up some good points!
It’s funny – now that our kids are older and just go out and play without our supervision and we don’t have a house with a list of projects, some Sunday afternoons my husband and I will be sitting on the couch watching football or reading, and we’ll look at each other and laugh! Because we’re not very good at relaxing, we had to retrain ourselves to take that downtime.
We were renters for a while and I loved it. Then the housing market started to boom in our area and people were starting to sell their houses for a lot more than they paid for them. The cost of owning a home in that area was going up and up and up. I started to live in fear that the owners of our house would see that we were paying way less in rent than our neighbors and they would raise our rent. Or I feared that they would decide to sell now that the market was better. Either way would leave us without a home because we could only afford our current rent, not anything more. And since the whole town was experiencing a boom, the rent and home prices were going up all over town. At that point I wished we had bought our home. Yeah I might have had home maintance issues, but my monthly payment would have stayed the same, and I would not have lived in fear that we would be foreced to move out of the school district and school we loved if our landlord didn’t decide to renew our lease. My husband ended up getting an option to move to a different state though, so we moved and bought a home in our new area instead of renting. Now I know that if the economy starts to rise and rent prices go up, we won’t have to worry about finding a new place when the owners decide to sell or raise the rent. I’m actually less stressed now that we own the home. Everyone and every situation is different though. Glad renting is working out for you.
It’s so interesting how every market is different and comes with its own set of complications. I’m glad buying brought you the stability you were looking for.
We own 4 long term rental properties in the Denver metro area. In the past 2 years the rental market has sky rocketed which is great for us but tough for rental families. They went from finding a single family for $1300 to now $1900-2000. Plus most landlords increase rent by 2-5% each year. (Those who owned homes near our rentals saw their home values increase by 50-100k.)
I’m glad there are great families who want to rent but most our families are unable to own right now.
But it would be tough to have been renting then find rental rates soaring up and at the same time realize you are now unable to afford to buy in the same area.
I just want to point out the rate home prices are rising is unsustainable and the housing market will crash again. The major financial journals are predicting it. The only reason the house prices are going up is because the government has encouraged financial institutions to lower the down payment requirements. Plus financial institutions need to originate mortgages to generate revenue. Thus, people are qualifying to borrow more and that’s driving the prices up. In the next recession, a lot of people will lose their homes again.
We heard the same thing when we bought our rentals. Most told us not to buy quoting many expert opinions and reports. You have to be prepared for the housing market ride.
But I wanted to point out the risk of renting, watch the market be prepared for fast and sudden increases. You could find yourself in a tough financial situation and emotional one if kids & schools are involved.
Totally agree – it’s important to be clued into the local market, and know you’re own thresholds financially. We discuss the worst case scenario on a regular basis to make sure we’re comfortable with the risk.
Totally agree – it’s important to be clued into the local market, and know your own thresholds financially. We discuss the worst case scenario on a regular basis to make sure we’re comfortable with the risk.
Fortunately, my husband and I could buy but are choosing not to for a variety of reasons. The main reason is houses in our area are overvalued by 20%. We decided that if we wait to buy cereal when it’s on sale, we’ll wait for a sale on houses, too. 🙂 Also, we have amazing landlords right now. They aren’t professional real estate investors like you – they couldn’t sell their house when they’d already bought another one. They know how lucky they are to have found my husband and me to rent to their home, so it’s doubtful they’d increase our rent significantly and loss us as tenants. Now, they might decide to try and sell again and we’re prepared to move when that happens.
I hope I didn’t come across as lecturing you or judging your choice as real estate investors. My sister and brother-in-law own 200+ condos in California and 4 apartment complexes across the county. It’s a great business for them as investors. I just feel passionately about warning people – when the market rises this quickly, it’s not always because the home’s values have really increased. I’m afraid many people didn’t learn this lesson with the last bubble and are setting themselves up to lose their homes when/if this bubble bursts.
I think so much of it has to do with your hobbies and how you enjoy spending free time. You mention that you are using your free time to travel more, start a business, and other adventures. If this is what you love to do, that is great and it sounds like you’ve made the right choice. I’m a little bit of a homebody and I actually like yardwork/gardening and figuring out how to fix and maintain things. Besides my own house, I own a duplex as a rental (my version of starting a business 🙂 ). I don’t spend every weekend at Home Depot, but when I am working on a home or rental project I generally enjoy it. I think it’s great that you’ve paid attention to what makes you happy and are following that path instead of just doing what everyone else does. That seems like the biggest lesson here to me! 🙂
I had the same thought. We didn’t enjoy the maintenance but I was thinking for people who do, it’s probably a great hobby to be a home owner!
Yes Becky! I think you nailed it – there is no one size fits all solution even though we are programmed to believe there is. For us it was about taking a step back and realigning our lifestyle with our values. And while I don’t miss the maintenance at all, my husband gets itchy for a “project”!
We lost our shirts on our first house, bought at the height of the market, sold at the bottom of the recession. It’s been 4+ years, and prices in our old neighborhood are still $50,000+ below what we paid. I don’t think it’s ever coming back.
We love renting. Our landlord lets us paint, garden, and we don’t have the risk of owning in a flood plain or fixing the big stuff. It’s just so much easier to rent (and less late hours spent lying awake with worry).
One day, we’ll go back to owning, but it’ll be far, far below our means so that no maintenance or repairs ever cause us the least bit of worry. The worry of owning is just not worth the benefits at this point in time.
We were in a similar position as you; see our story below.
Just save, save, save now and wait for the next recession. That’s what we’re doing because home prices are so inflated in our area. It’s really sad to think about it because it means buying when another family might have had to foreclose, but it’s the only way it will be practical for us.
Yes – we are saving, saving, saving with one eye on the market. Being much, much more critical this time – and renting gives us the opportunity to be a little more picky. We like this position!
Karen Rucker says
My parents own their own home and several small rental properties. At first I thought it was crazy. They have so much maintenance and repair work that they are in charge of! But now that they’re older, I can see all the benefits. They have regular monthly income. Most of their properties don’t need a whole lot of work because they took care of the major things years ago and have made sure that there’s regular maintenance. Where there are problems they aren’t able to handle, they just hire a contractor. And now that the properties are all paid off, they are financially secure.
Renting is always an advisable idea when moving into a new area and the upsides are nice more time, no yard maintenance, no home maintenance, money saved buggy the sheen side is in 20 years or however long your home mortgage is you will no longer have a monthly mortgage!! That’s at least $800 $1200 a month (again differs prison to person) No mortgage payments the rest of you’re life that’s a Huge savings while if renting you will always have that monthly bill, Forever.
PJ Williams says
Here in Houston, all the houses I look at buying, have property taxes that are the same as my rent on a 2/2/1 1,200 sf condo. So, even if I had a house completely paid off, I would not be saving any money. Also, Houston is an enormous city. It takes 2 hours to to drive across the city within the limits, not counting the suburbs. I’d hate to be tied to one area of town and then have my job move and be stuck with an even longer commute.
Commute is HUGE for us. My husband had a horrible car commute at his last job – over an hour and fifteen each way. Now we are on a train line and he is at his desk in 30 minutes. We would do anything to not have to go back to that horrible commuting situation. Plus, we were able to sell a car and reduce our gas bill significantly. I totally get protecting the commute!
I have rented my entire life until exactly a year ago I bought my first home 2 streets from the beach, while it is financially more, before I just had rent now I have a mortgage, property taxes, house insurance and up keep which is a lot for me on disability, but my rental was 650 square feet this one is 1459. The land lord never wanted to fix anything, the windows were old and the cold air shot right through them heat bill was very high, I don’t have to worry about painting or doing anything because it’s mine I can do whatever I want.
My house will be totally paid for in another 4 years so at 51 I will no longer have a mortgage. With a rental I would be paying the rest of my life, I now have something to leave my daughter and grand daughter.
Congratulations! It sounds like you found a place that works great for you. And two streets from the beach? I am jealous!
We owned for 10 years, then moved across the country and rented for about 2 years before buying again a couple months ago. I never felt like I was able to settle down and relax while renting. I knew that whether or not we stayed there was not entirely up to us and that at the end if a lease anything from price hike to landlord wanting to sell could be a possibility. We had rented one house for a year and planned on renewing for another year, but we were not afforded that decision when our landlord informed us that he would be moving into the home himself upon the end of our lease. That’s when I knew we needed to buy again, so my family could have some sense of stability and permanence.
Anna D says
We are going through this situation right now. We are living with family to save a down payment to prevent this from happening again..
I guess I’m the exact opposite. I bought my first place at age 22. I couldn’t imagine paying rent my whole life. I guess it depends where you live, but my mortgage was always a lot cheaper than rent in the area. With the price of rent these days, I actually wish I’d bought some rental properties when I was younger. It would have made a nice flow of income!
Laura at Quiet Country Life says
It used to be that you bought a house and lived there a long time…and if you sold it and bought bigger/nicer house, it was often in the same town. People move a lot more now than they did a couple generations back, so I don’t know if I would think of it as ‘putting your money where your mouth is’ either. I appreciate your thoughts and perspective on this, because it made me think about some of my own perceptions. 🙂
Thanks Laura – I’m glad it got you thinking! You are right, families move more and greater distances. The landscape is changing.
karen b says
we have rented & now we own……….Lord willing we will never go back to renting again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YES their is maintence but we have NOT spent every weekend working on our home & yard. we are enjoying the freedom of owning a home. In our area it is almost cheaper to own than rent. we also own rental property so know the pros & cons of that also 🙂
Thanks for sharing your experience. I also live in the Bay Area, but bought years ago when the housing market was down in the mid 90’s. Our house payment is much less than rent, but that wouldn’t be the case if we had to buy now. A lot of families around here rent to get into better school districts (and even rent out or sell houses they own with just okay schools). It’s wonderful that we live in a country with so many housing options for various times in our lives!
It is wonderful! I think you nailed it on the head with “various times in our lives!” One thing I’ve learned is that over time our family’s needs have evolved and we’ve been blessed to have access to housing that matches up with our needs.
I enjoyed your perspective on this topic. I think I need to print this out and show it to every person that asks me when I plan to purchase a “real house.”
As a single mom of 4, I find comfort in renting.
I appreciate that I have the option of calling my landlord (and their maintenance workers) when I need help with something. Although I am capable and willing to fix minor repairs on my own, knowing that I don’t have to worry about the cost of a new dryer/toilet/dishwasher is a huge relief.
I also enjoy the freedom that comes with renting. Last summer, when I decided that it was time to move to a different neighborhood (with higher-rated schools), it was no big deal. I simply waited until my lease was up, packed our belongings, and moved to our current location.
I understand that homeownership has its benefits, but at this point in my life, I truly have no desire to own a home.
There does seem to be a lot of peer pressure to own, isn’t there? But you’re the only one that know’s what’s best for your family.
There does seem to be a lot of peer pressure to own, isn’t there? But you’re the only one that knows what’s best for your family.
I’ve been living in a condo for 10 years… I’ve been wanting to move for the last 5 but was unwilling to write a check at closing. So, I’ve sat here.
My place has been on the market for almost 3 months… One ridiculous offer and lots of showings… And we’re still losing money. About 25k. Then if it does sell, finally… Add another 15k to that… That’s the 20% I put down because everyone told me to buy instead of rent after my divorce.
It I would have rented, I would have learned in the first year that the city wasn’t for me and I would have been able to move after my lease was up. Instead, I had the pleasure from people I looked up to to make a purchase that really wasn’t right for me.
Now, I’m so sour on the home ownership. Feeling stuck… Almost like a prison sentence… Waiting for a judge to grant me parole but really just someone to make a decent offer…
So, when everyone talks about renting is just throwing money away… So is 40k.. When you buy a home that isn’t worth what you paid for it 10 years ago. At least with renting, I could say… I was renting… Not making an investment I wasn’t prepared to make but was convinced by my family it was the right thing to do…
If I buy again… It will be my retirement farm in a place where the cost of living is much cheaper… And it will be a cash purchase… But right now… Home ownership feels too much like a prison sentence..
We own our house. We worked very hard to pay for it in 5 years so now we don’t have a mortgage payment. If we rented we would be paying about 1000 a month vs just paying our taxes and upkeep. It is also nice to remember that even if my husband would lose his job, we have a house to live in.
Congrats on your quick pay off – I am impressed! It sounds like you really value that security that home ownership can provide.
My perspective is different from Lana’s.I am retired. I sold my house. I now rent and love it. When snow felled a tree last year, well, I called my landlord.
That said my landlord allows us to paint, decorate and garden and we do so. And love the freedom.
Good for you! My in-laws did not save for retirement and would have really been in trouble if they had needed to pay for the roof over their heads. My FIL worked until well past 80 so that they would have the things they needed and only stopped working 6 months before he died.
We have been renting for 10 years now and I am ready for homeownership. We have not saved a dime by renting but have spent well over $84,000 on someone elses home. Ready settle in a home that we will hopefully have paid off by retirement and we will be able to live modestly as senior citizens. Because my husband works for our state VA center we hear all the stories seniors not having money for their medications or sometimes even food. You don’t think of this in your 30’s but as you hit your 40’s reality sets in.
I see my in-laws in this situation, even if they owned a condo it would more maintenance free and have some owner benefits. We own our home which in retirement will not be paid off. Looking into selling and moving somewhere that equity will cover the cost.
Vickie @ Vickie's Kitchen and Garden says
I understand both of your views. Owning a home can be exhausting both money and time wise but renting is not always easy either. I guess why I say this is because we have rented homes in the past that have been sold and
we have had to move. Kind of made me feel unstable.
We have lived in our current home for 23 years and our now we are retired. A lot of work has went in to this house but we try to keep the remodeling down to a once a year project. to keep within our budget. Last year it was the kitchen but this year it looks like the remodeling might be wallpaper in the bathroom! However repairs do come up and you just have to be ready for those anytime.
It’s something to consider that’s for sure.
Cate R. says
Thanks for the food for thought.
Our family has only ever rented and we’re well acquainted with the downsides of it, and we sometimes feel like losers watching everyone we know buy while we are not in the position to. So it’s good to hear some real life perspective that buying is not always what it’s cracked up to be. It helps when it sometimes seems like there is not much of anything good about renting. And I would agree with others that it matters hugely what kind of rental you’re getting into.
Renters aren’t losers! I think I’ll have that put on a t-shirt for us. Just because you’re renting right now doesn’t mean you’ll never buy or vice versa. Make the most of the time you have in your current situation.
My dad and mom rented their entire married life and my dad still does. However, we went from not thinking of owning to being homeowners in 5 short months. We didnt have much of a choice. We needed to move immediately and there were 0 houses for rent in our price range. We saw a home for sale not far from our home at the time, and after some consideration we made an offer. Even with paying PMI, it was still cheaper than any other rental. Our down payment was less than a security deposit. Our interest rate is fixed and was extremely close to the lowest rate ever. With our growing family it just was time, and with other one coming in the fall, I’m thankful not to be under the restrictions of renting. ( We’d be forced to move again!) All in all, renting can be beneficial, but in some cases, all arrows point to buying.
One other thought on this is that when you are approaching retirement you will want to own your own place free and clear because making a payment or rent could be difficult on a retirement income. It is something that needs to be considered in advance because of the time it takes to pay for a house. I am very happy that our home is paid for and we do not have to worry about a payment in our future since we are only about 8 years from retiring. Also, at this point with a paid for home we can afford to have some help with maintenance and the yard.
Crystal Paine says
Such great words of advice here! Thanks for chiming in.
I thought the same thing – great advice! Where we live (high military area) there are tons of rentals and rent can be more than mortgages for comparable houses! I can’t imagine paying as much as a mortgage and never having any equity when I go to move! Each family, situation and area is different. All those factors need to be taken into consideration in order to make the smartest decision for your family!
I agree! I know owning can be a pain, but I think it’s also good to keep in mind that a house is an investment.
(And yes, I know things can go wrong with owning. I get that it can be a risk. 🙂
But while it’s nice to say that you’re paying about the same amount to rent (factoring in maintenance), at the end of fifteen years (or whatever length mortgage you have) of owning, assuming you made wise decisions, you’ll own a substantial piece of property.
At the end of fifteen years of renting you’ll have had a place to live, but besides that you won’t come out with anything. Nada.
It may be nice to not have to mow the lawn, but it just doesn’t seem like a wise financial decision to me.
But each to their own! It’s great to see different points of view on here.
Yes – retirement is a huge piece of the puzzle. We definitely have that on our radar. We are about 20 years out and know that we will need to come up with a solution that works best for us. One of the things we are considering is investing in a property that is not our primary residence, but one we can pay off prior to retirement and live in once we retire.
I used to be in the same mindset that at the end of renting you have nothing to show for. It is this subtle shift in thinking that made me want to write this piece. I think there are some experiences that you can’t put a dollar amount on – they are invaluable. It was a huge turning point for me to realize that renting isn’t necessarily a waste if we are having more of a life together as a family.
Retirement is huge on our list of considerations, because you are right, our savings and retirement plan right now are built around the assumption that we will own our home. We are about 20 years out, but this is definitely something we are considering when deciding our next purchase. One thing we’ve decided is that anything we will buy will be with a 15 year mortgage and 25% down.
I totally used to be in the same mindset that after 15 years we would come out with nada – but I think what we are starting to see is that there are some aspects of quality of life that are invaluable. I can’t put a dollar value on my husband being more available and being able to spend more time with our family because of a shorter commute. I can’t cash out the experience that we’ve had building a company together (although the plan is for that company to provide us with residual income!). Every family has their own priorities in this area. For us it does go deeper than just not wanting to mow the lawn.
Misty Nicole Roberts says
I have had this same idea in the past. Right out of undergrad in 2004, I rented a townhouse. While it was nice to not worry about expenses, repairs, taxes, and lawn maintenance, it was a pain always feeling like you have no real autonomy or privacy. Also, as a pet owner, I am not in favor of landlords in many states having clauses that allow them to demand pet removal, even after you pay a deposit, should they feel they no longer wish your fur-baby to be on the premises. It’s something to think about. For my family, owning is the way to go. Currently, I am working on funding a new account this year to purchase a tax sale property to rent out myself! Hopefully soon I can be on the other side of the coin!
We are pet free, but I can see how that would make renting more problematic. Best of luck with your rental property!
We RENT! We live in the Bay Area. (It is cheaper to rent than to buy in this housing market.) Renting allows us the freedom to enjoy this time in the Bay Area with our kids without the stress of home ownership. Thankfully my husband’s job covers our rent (when it wouldn’t cover a mortgage). This means that renting allows me to stay at home and raise our children. We hope to buy in the future but for now there are many blessings from renting.
Although I haven’t lived in the Bay Area, I am familiar with their infamous housing prices! Living in Massachusetts and outside of Philadelphia, they are not quite as high but you definitely pay a premium. We also went to a one income family when our children were young. I know it’s not easy!
We love renting, though we have been very blessed with incredible rentals. I’m so thankful to have not had the added stress of owning a home. I don’t mind feeling “transient” (we’ve moved 7 times in 5 years of marriage)- but we’re pretty adventurous and our kids are still young . Owning a home is definitely on our “someday” list, but we want to find a place we really want to stay and settle down first.
I think you are thinking about this in such a great way – decide where you want to be first. Renting is a great way to get to know an area without having to go all in. I think you’ll find when you’re kids get a bit older, it becomes emotionally more challenging to move. With that said, we moved when our kids were in elementary school, and thought it would be a huge deal. It was harder on us than them!
Another option is townhouse or condo ownership. Our oldest daughter’s family has chosen that for this time in their lives and they have no maintenance for the outside of the building or the grounds for a monthly fee. This really frees them up for ministry plus our son in law is finishing up his doctorate degree and they have two young children.
I love the idea of a townhouse or condo. My boys that are almost five feet tall – not so much. In the area we wanted to be, we weren’t able to find an apartment or condo spacious enough for us so we ended up prioritizing our location (for a shorter commute) – there is so much give and take when deciding on a place to live!
Lauren @ Funky Monkey Children says
Interesting perspective! Thanks for sharing!
We have a totally opposite perspective – as a military family we’ve moved 5 times in the past 8 years. We owned a house in one of those places and got burned when we rented it/sold it, so we’ve rented everywhere else and we are SO TIRED of renting. We are so tired of things breaking and the landlord not caring to fix it, of having carpets that are worn because the house has been rented for 10 years and they landlord doesn’t want to invest any money in fixing it up, because it is “just a rental.” We’re tired of not wanting to spend the money to planet flowers or a garden because it isn’t our property and we will be moving soon. We are tired of having white walls and not being able to paint because it isn’t our house.
Some of depends on the quality of the rental – we’ve had everything from VERY nice rentals to military housing (not-so-nice). Obviously the nicer ones are easier to deal with, but it still isn’t “mine.”
I can definitely understand wanting a break from home ownership, and after selling ours we were super happy renting…for about two years. Now, we are so over it and ready to have a house of our own again! But I can see why people rent and why it is nice at times to NOT have the stress and financial obligation of home ownership. It does tie down some of your money/headspace, so I think in the end it is just a trade off!
Hmmmm….we are renters and we have made garden boxes, planted flowers, built a patio, and made a fire pit. We have also rented the same house for 9 years. It’s our home. You may feel differently about renting of you also weren’t moving all the time, ya know?
@Lauren, I just want to say thank you for the sacrifice your family has made by serving in the military! God bless!
I can see how the quality of the rental would make a huge difference. We were able to find a rental that is nicer or as nice as a home we could afford in this area. We are enjoying our break for now – it will be interesting to see how we feel in year or two. Maybe the spell will be broken!
when I was 20 local house prices were generally in the $100k range, now 25 years later prices in my local area average close to $1 million. If I wanted to buy now I couldn’t, no I bought 15 years ago for $270,000, I haven’t poured money into my house, I live here and upkeep as I can afford. Most people I know who rent, in this market have double incomes, most of one of those incomes goes on rent. If a house you like is affordable buy it, but don’t pour massive amounts of money in after ( that’s called over capitalising) . Also you have no idea what could happen in the future, renting leaves you vulnerable. One day I will have paid my house off.