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The benefits of renting (as told by a former homeowner)
The first thought I had when the housing market was heating up recently was “now is probably a good time to get our house on the market.” My second thought was “Where will we move to?”
After searching all over Zillow and Realtor.com, I came to a conclusion: I’ll have to move back to an apartment.
This thought really didn’t excite me at first. My wife and I had toured several houses in our price range, but couldn’t find anything we liked. Not to mention the reality that houses were vanishing from the MLS listings in days, not weeks or months. As we rushed to complete upgrades on our house before listing it, the reality of transitioning from home ownership to apartment living began to set in.
Let me jump ahead really quick and dispel any misconceptions you might have at this point: I absolutely love our apartment. We have a 3 bed 1.5 bath apartment with our two children and we couldn’t be happier. Our location is great, our neighbors are friendly, and we have more than enough space to live comfortably.
This is not what I had expected when considering going back to renting an apartment.
Home ownership meant freedom to me, but when my wife and I both agreed that we wanted to capitalize on the market and sell our house this year, we knew we’d have to change our notions about ownership and certainly about renting.
The benefits to home ownership are significant, but here are some of the key thoughts that helped me quickly see the beauties of renting.
Year two of home ownership did not kick off well for my family. I was on hour 30 of a 2 day work event and finally wrapping things up. The event was at Grossinger Motor Arena on the skating rink, and I thought “I can’t wait to get home where it is warm and take a few days off”. Literally, a moment later, my phone rang. My wife’s voice sounded worried. “Dear, I just got back home with the kids and the house is 50 degrees. The furnace isn’t working.”
Did I mention that it was January and by far the coldest day we had all winter? Well, it was. I told my wife to start making calls to see who could get right on the repairs while I finished loading up gear. When I arrived at my rather frigid house, HVAC repairmen were there flushing water out of the appliances and filling toilets with antifreeze. My whole family slept in the same room that night, buried under a mountain of blankets with only one small space heater to keep the four of us warm.
$10k later, we had a warm house with a brand new HVAC system… but I didn’t have that $10k in my account any longer. My point here is one of the greatest things about renting. Even if equipment breaks down in your apartment, you’re a phone call away from repairs and the money stays in your pocket. That is a measure of peace that goes a long way, and your bank account doesn’t have to try and weather that unexpected whopping emergency repair cost. Win-win.
I’ll make this point a quicker read as I have no great stories about it. Property tax is just another thing I do not need to worry about now that I rent. No tax bill year after year, no changing assessments of your property, just money saved from not having to pay taxes on home ownership!
In a normal market, it could take weeks or months to get out from under your house if you need or want to move. On the other hand, some rental agreements can be month to month, which grants you a lot more control over your locale. If there’s one thing I have learned in life, it is to never assume you know what the future holds. Being flexible is a big key to rolling with life’s ever-changing nature!
My perspective on “stuff” has shifted over the past few years. I have never been one to keep a lot of things, but it is pretty uncanny how stuff just piles up when you have the space for it. One of the biggest benefits of renting an apartment after living in our house was that it forced my wife and I to pair down on what we owned. This was great for two reasons. For one, we were able to make some pocket change by selling unneeded items on Facebook Marketplace or eBay. Also, I’m a type of person who easily feels encumbered by material things, so pairing down on items that just sit on a shelf and rarely get used was freeing for both of us.
More time (and money):
The faucet is leaking. The toilet is running. The brick needs tuckpointing. The yard needs to be trimmed. The flower patch needs weeding. The gutters need cleaning. The deck needs to be resealed. There’s a leak around the kitchen sink. The closet door fell off the track AGAIN. This is especially the case if you own an older home (like I did). With renting, I don’t have to worry about setting time aside for any of these things. I have so much more spare time, I almost feel guilty. Almost.
Time isn’t the only commodity you’ll lose. Right now, you’ll need quite a bit of cash to engage in home repairs. Especially now in 2021, there has been a squeeze on supply and demand in every sector of commerce. Lumber prices have shot up astronomically, and if you aren’t a skilled tradesperson, finding contractors to do the work for you is almost impossible.
Here’s a great article written by The Motley Fool that will help give some perspective on the costs associated with home ownership.
YA has a spot for you to call home:
While there are other great benefits to renting rather than owning, I can confidently summarize this with a simple fact: Young America has been a part of the Bloomington-Normal community for nearly 50 years and we love providing families, individuals, and couples with the perfect place to call home. Give us a call at (309)-454 2338 or contact us about our current availability.
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