Every day that passes without a full housing market recovery is a day that sends the United States further into what some experts are calling a “rentership society.” There are some who think that this transition is terrible. The American Dream, after all, is all about people owning something and being able to call it theirs. There are also some who believe that a rentership society is better for the individual—especially someone with a lower income—than ownership. Why? Because renting is much cheaper than buying, especially in the housing market.
Heating and Cooling
Even when the square footage is the same, heating and cooling a house will almost always cost more than heating and cooling an apartment. Why? Simple put, because the ambient temperatures of the units surrounding an apartment will come into play with how hard it is to keep your own apartment warm or cool. The ambient temperature and structure of the building will also factor in to that cost. In many cases, the building and the apartments surrounding yours will act as a sort of insulation against outside elements and other issues. A house, on the other hand, is a standalone unit, which means air has an easier chance of leeching in/out and affecting the temperature inside.
If something in your house breaks you have to pay to have it fixed. Period. Sure, sometimes things are covered by your homeowner’s insurance but most of the time you’ll be paying out of pocket and simply hoping to be reimbursed. We’ve all heard horror stories about the barely leaking faucet that wound up costing thousands of dollars in repairs. In an apartment, however, the cost of maintenance and repairs is almost always covered by your rent. When things break down or need replacing, you simply call your landlord and make a maintenance request. Then someone comes out and fixes it.
We’ve already talked about the money that can be saved on heating and cooling costs. Other utilities, like water, sewer, gas and trash are usually comparable but still, renting is cheaper. Why? Because most rentals include water, sewer and garbage/trash with the rent. You don’t have to pay those costs out of pocket. Some landlords will even include things like hot water or basic cable.
Homeowner’s insurance is astronomical. Even for small houses in relatively safe neighborhoods, the amount you’ll pay each month for your homeowner’s insurance is going to be expensive. This is because there are a lot of things that your homeowner’s insurance needs to cover, from things breaking to acts of god (like a tree limb crashing through your roof) to covering medical and court costs if someone slips and falls on your front walk and then sues you. With renter’s insurance, though, you won’t have to worry about that because most of those costs are absorbed by your landlord’s insurance. You only have to pay to insure your belongings in the event of a break in or if something terrible happens in the apartment (a burst pipe, for example) and the damage isn’t completely covered by your landlord’s insurance.
These are just a few of the ways in which renting is cheaper than buying. We didn’t even cover things like property taxes, crime rates being lower (which keeps those insurance costs low), etc.
Whether you agree with the shift away from homeownership or not, one thing is for sure: if your budget is tight, you’re better off renting than trying to buy. So instead of jumping through hoops with a mortgage lender, maybe it’s time to start perusing your city’s rental listings.