Renting doesn’t have to be a last resort — or something to settle for. Because while there are advantages to owning your own property, there are also advantages to being a renter.
Let me acknowledge a fact of which I’m fully aware: as a renter, I’m paying someone else’s mortgage rather than my own. I’m helping the owner of that property build equity.
This is not something to argue or to take personally. It’s just a fact. Real estate agents share this not to shame renters but to encourage anyone who might be on the fence to take a closer look at their options.
Now, let me add that, in full knowledge of that fact, I’m choosing to rent right now for the following reasons:
- Parenting Time
- Walking Distance
- No Lawn or Flowerbeds to Maintain
- No Need for Major New Purchases
My credit rating has taken a hit over the past 20+ years and I’m currently working on repairing it (getting back to “Excellent”). Even if I wanted to buy a house, no mortgage lender would take me seriously right now.
With tightening FICO restrictions, it’s near impossible to get a mortgage loan if your rating is under 620. So, I’ll work on that before I think about buying a home.
For the time being, living in an apartment within a ten minute’s drive from my kids’ dad (to make the joint custody/parenting time arrangement easier) makes more sense.
There are no houses around here within my price range that I’d want to commit to for the next several years.
That could change, and I could revisit the idea in the next few years. But right now, the apartment I’m renting is the best option for me. And I don’t see my monthly rent as money going down a hole; I’ll be getting plenty out of it, even if I’m not building equity. I’m aware of the trade-offs.
I love that my new apartment is within walking distance of a the downtown area. I’ve missed being able to walk to places from my apartment (the one I had years ago in Salem, Oregon). I look forward to weekly walks for groceries, coffee, etc.
I’ll admit I have looked into the trailer home park close to downtown as another option. The main draws were the location and the possibility of lower cost per month. I was looking into rentals, though — not houses to buy. I’m not ruling it out, but for now, I’ll be living in an apartment for at least a year, if not longer.
Our new apartment complex has a well-equipped laundry room, a fitness room, and a community room we can use at no charge for social gatherings (by reservation).
It also has secure high-speed internet included in the rent. And while I’ll still be bringing my ethernet cable, that’ll save me a hunk every month. The rent for these apartments is neither low-end or high-end for the area.
Our new apartment complex has a secured entrance, and each tenant uses an app that allows them to see the person at the door who contacts their apartment number to request entry.
Plus, every apartment door has a peephole. It’s a small thing (literally), but it was one of the first things I looked for when I toured the apartment.
No Lawns or Flowerbeds to Maintain
I don’t have time for outdoor landscaping, lawn mowing, etc. A few container plantings on a balcony — plus my interior houseplants — are more my speed.
If I ever do buy a home, I’ll probably nix the lawn in favor of planting beds with some low-maintenance native plants, including some for butterflies and bees. If I’ve got a good rainwater collection system, I’m hoping I won’t need to run a sprinkler to keep them from dying.
I don’t mind having some soft grass in the back near the patio, but having a picture-perfect lawn is not a priority for me.
No Need for Major New Purchases
Here are a few things the apartment already comes with:
- Refrigerator w/ freezer
- Air conditioning
I already mentioned the laundry room (which has a coin machine), and the fitness room — which has new machines and weights. Aside from the new seating options I’ll need to buy for the apartment (bar stools for the bar countertop and a couple new chairs — or a chair and a loveseat — for the living room), I won’t need to make any new major purchases for the apartment. And I appreciate that.
I won’t even need to invest in my own security system, which is a big deal for me. That’s one of the major selling points for this apartment complex, right alongside the fact that the rent makes it affordable.
One day, maybe, we’ll have an in-unit washer and dryer, but that’s not one of my top priorities right now.
Paying down debt and rebuilding my credit will be more important over the coming months than renting an apartment with all the bells and whistles. The lifestyle my kids and I live in that unit doesn’t have to please anyone but us.
To me, renting this apartment will be a meaningful step up from before. And that’s just the start I need.
Would I Consider Home Ownership in the Future?
I definitely would if I believed it was attainable and would improve our lives in a meaningful way.
In other words, I’m not ruling it out. I see the value in building equity in a home. It’ll have to wait until my credit rating is in the good zone and my monthly debt payments take up far less of my income.
As for the kind of home I’d want to invest in, a 3D-printed home is at the top of my list. I would be giddy over a chance to custom-design one myself using virtual reality goggles. The sci-fi nerd in me loves that.
In fact, the more I learn about the technology, the more I love it. Maybe I’ll be the owner of one of the first 3D-printed houses in Minnesota. Could happen. And if the time comes, I’ll probably need some help finding the best location for it.
What do you love about renting?
If you’re renting right now, what do you love about it? And if you don’t mind sharing this in the comments, what made you choose renting over buying — at least for now?
And what would it take for you to decide you were ready to buy a home?