Hi, I saw your article and it was a pleasant read. I just have one question for you. I agree with you completely with renting a house being cheaper (saving more money) than buying. But everybody I speak with thinks I’m nuts. That buying is the only way to go. Do you have any tips or advice. – Eugene
Not only is renting cheaper than buying in terms of rent cost vs mortgage, but I personally have found it great when it comes to curbing that built-in desire to renovate a perfectly good apartment or house. That alone can save you thousands. Or when it comes time to replace faulty appliances or, even more massively, rain screen a building (as often happens in Vancouver), us renters don’t have to pay a dime of that. We don’t even have to pay condo fees!
Never mind the savings from walking everywhere – i.e. if you don’t need a car, not only are you saving, on average $8K/year per car – but you can also rent out the parking spot in your condo for $100-150/month (Vancouver prices). You can also ditch your gym membership (say, $50/month) and use your condo’s gym and pool.
Then factor in all the time you’ll save by not being stuck in traffic, if you’re living in a condo near your work. Or time saved from not mowing your lawn. Icing your sidewalk. Cleaning your gutters. And so forth.
Finally, owning anything valuable has a cognitive and real load on your life. You have to evaluate how worth it it is to carry that. If owning a house is truly worth all the mental and physical overhead it will take for you to maintain it, then go ahead. But I don’t like to worry about maintaining material things, which is why I love just being able to lock the door of our condo and walk away when we go on vacations – I don’t worry about being broken into or about the place being compromised somehow.
I also avoid the psychological tyranny of ownership when it comes to our vehicle – a necessary evil, for now – by owning a 2003 Dodge Grand Caravan. It runs well, but I don’t waste any of my precious time worrying about scratches or dents or tiny noises. If it runs, I’m happy. I know so many people who burn weeks going back and forth with the repair shop over scratches or dents or noises. Add all that time up and ask yourself if it’s worth it.
In cities like New York, the number of 30 year old renters outpace 30 year old owners, 4:1. And while there are affordability issues around renting in that city, it’s clearly a choice that many are willing to make to live the life they want to live in one of the most “alive” cities on earth.
And at the end of my life, will I wish I’d spent more time renovating my ensuite or fixing a dent in my car? Or will I wish I had those days back to spend with my loved ones?
Anyway, that’s enough of my ranting! I hope you get what you want, whatever you decide it is.
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