Renting vs. Buying A Home

This is a photo of apartment in Austin where the first level has a brick facade and the top three floors have vinyl siding

There are many reasons why someone would choose to buy over continuing to rent and vice versa. When making that decision, there are many things to consider.

Renting

When renting, you are pretty much paying to have a roof over your head. You might not be ready to buy. It could be that although you can handle paying for a one-bedroom apartment, it might be hard to manage paying for mortgage plus all the other expenses that come along with owning a home. And even though rent gets higher the closer you get to downtown, being near the downtown area means an Uber would cost you under $10 and you have access to public transportation. This is very important if you plan to frequent trendy restaurants and bars.

If it's only you, you have no need for multiple bedrooms in a house with a yard. If you don't have children yet, you probably don't care about being near good schools. On the other end of the spectrum, you might be an empty-nester with no need for multiple bedrooms since your children have left the house. Maybe all you need is a small one- or two-bedroom apartment.

The smaller living space would mean extra savings too. You don't have to pay property tax or homeowners insurance.

An apartment is less work than a house. A smaller living space is less to clean. By paying assessments, a lot of things are taken care of such as landscape maintenance. You wouldn't have to handle repairs on your own; that's the landlord's responsibility.

One downside of renting, aside from the obvious that the property is not yours, is that your lease might be up in a year or two. After that the rent can go up. But then you also have the choice to move to a different place and/or neighborhood. You might not be ready to settle down to a specific area. Renting allows you to pick a different area of the city to live in, if you don't mind having to move that often.

If you rent a house and have been renewing your lease for years, you could get accustomed to the area/house and appreciate not having to move all your stuff. However, the homeowner might decide to sell, making you find a new house to rent after your current lease is up.

Buying

Paying every month for something that is not yours is not an investment. And with rent so high in Austin, plus the security deposit due along with the first month’s rent, that’s a lot of lost money. Instead, it makes sense to put that money into building equity on a home that’s truly yours.

First of all, since it’s your own home, you’ll have the freedom to make any changes aside from simply changing the paint color on the walls. You might want to install granite in the kitchen, remodel the bathroom, install wood floors instead of having carpet, etc. All those upgrades, although they cost money, are good investments that will increase the value of your home.

When it comes time to sell, you’ll already have equity in the property and can stand to make a profit. That profit can be used to purchase your next home. With a rental property, any rent you pay is gone. That money becomes income for the property owner who is acting as landlord.

And think about this: although rent increases with inflation, mortgage payments stay the same. One bedroom apartments in Austin average $1350 where a house with three bedrooms averages to about $2600 a month. A mortgage is usually less than rent. Think about this: homeowners have to pay the mortgage plus the property taxes. So the rental price has to cover both. In that case, the cost to rent is usually higher than the mortgage. If the house is paid off, then they only need to keep paying the property taxes. Still, owners intend for that property to be a source of income for them.If you do decide that buying a home makes sense for you in your situation right now, just make sure to be realistic about what you can afford.

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