My husband and I are contemplating the possibility of moving. We’re not sure yet how everything will play out (we’re waiting to see if he got a job he recently applied for), but we’ve talked a little bit about what our housing situation might look like.
One of the things we’ve decided is that we might not care all that much about buying another home. We might be good with renting. While we’ve enjoyed living in our home, the thought of trying to sell it is stressful. We wonder if we might have enjoyed living in a nice rental just as much.
Could Renters Be as Happy as Buyers?
In a study titled, “The American Dream or the American Delusion? The Private and External Benefits of Homeownership for Women,” a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania examined the happiness levels of women renting vs. owning.
The results of the study surprised me, but when I really think about it, they make a great deal of sense. The study indicates that those who own their homes aren’t any happier than those who rent. One of the biggest takeaways of the study was that homeowners spend less time on leisure activities than renters.
The Perks of Renting
When you think about some of the realities of homeownership — maintenance, repairs, property taxes, and other costs and tasks that take up time — you can see how homeowners might have less leisure time.
On top of that, homeowners that insist on larger houses might have less disposable income overall. If you’re spending money on costs related to your large house, how much will you have left over for activities that add to your quality of life?
We’ve been fortunate in that our home is relatively inexpensive as it relates to our income. We live in a modest house, with a modest monthly payment. Our utilities, taxes, and other costs are low. We bought a new house, so repairs aren’t an issue yet. Maintenance hasn’t been too bad. As a result, we haven’t experienced a lot of the “pain” mentioned in the study.
However, I can see how selling is going to be a nightmare. If we were in a rental, all we’d have to do is wait for the lease to be up and then move. It’s a lot easier than dealing with the mess of selling.
When considering renting, I’ve been thinking about a nice apartment (we could get something about the size of our home) in a building with a fitness center and pool. I’ve also thought about the experiences that I could enjoy if the building were close to shopping and dining.
In the end, it’s more about your personal preferences and your quality of life. If you have a nice big house that serves as a status symbol, it might provide some satisfaction to you. However, can you really be happy in the long run if you’re house rich but cash poor, with little disposable income?
What do you think? Rent or buy?