Challenging traditional measures of financial success: Homeownership

(This is Part II in a series about challenging traditional measures of financial success. Part I is The “Ivory Tower”: Reconsidering the college investment. Part III is The 9-to-5 job: Challenging how we earn a living.)

Last week, I was having dinner with my neighbor, a magnetic woman with a free spirit and a really youthful soul. She's been renting the apartment above mine for something like 30 years.

“Do you ever think about buying a home?” I asked her.

She laughed. “You know how expensive home prices are here, don't you?” she asked. Touche. In the Los Angeles metro area, the average home price is nearly half a million.

“Well, do you ever think about moving?” I asked. “Prices are a lot lower in other parts of the country.”

“No, I'm not going anywhere,” she said. “I think I'd rather be a renter here than a homeowner anywhere else. Plus, I love my apartment.”

From our conversation, I gathered that she's perfectly happy living as a renter forever. Despite the discouraging prices in my area, it's still a goal of mine to own a home someday. It's always been a goal that I've had in the back of my head. I've always assumed homeownership is a smart financial move, something we should all strive for — become debt free, save money, buy a home, retire. That's the traditional formula.

But lately, I've wondered: Why is homeownership such a measure of financial success?

The Virtue of Homeownership

Owning land has long been a sign of wealth. It's almost a virtue. In an article for the Federalist, one writer stresses why buying a home is something to strive for:

“There is also a powerful social and political aspect to home ownership, one that transcends any particular culture or legal system. There is no more potent symbol of having made it, having achieved even the modest level of economic success and stability, than owning a home — there is a reason we immediately associate it with the phrase ‘the American Dream.' The pride of a new immigrant family in being able to afford land in America is a staple of the immigrant experience.”

In theory, sure, it's better to own something than to rent it. But in practice, it's not always that simple. The pursuit of the “American Dream” led many people astray, as evidenced by the massive housing crisis. So is homeownership truly a symbol of economic success and stability? If you've done it responsibly, maybe it is.

The Cost of Renting

It's long been put to me that renting a property is, simply, throwing your money away. I guess you can see it that way. When you rent as a retiree, your monthly payment is part of your retirement expenses; it's not money you're putting toward an investment. You also have less control over your living situation.

I'm certainly not going to argue that, in theory, owning something makes more sense than renting it. Renting comes at a cost, yes. But I'd argue you're not exactly “throwing money away” by renting. You do get a place to live in exchange for your money, after all. My neighbor, for example, loves her apartment. For her monthly rent payment, she gets a great place to live in her favorite city.

The Cost of Homeownership

Beyond the down payment, there are a handful of other costs associated with buying a home. You have to consider:

  • Your monthly mortgage payment, which might be higher than your current rent

  • Home improvement costs

  • All kinds of insurance, including PMI, if you put down less than 20 percent

  • Property taxes

Those factors are easy enough to fit into an equation. But other factors aren't. For example, what if I want to move in a couple of years? And what if the market is down during that time? What if there are other things I want to do that cost money? It will be tough to afford those options after putting 20 percent down.

Right now I'm lucky enough to afford a pretty enjoyable life with a lot of options, thanks to all the work I've put into getting my finances in order.

But if I bought a home right now, in my city, that would all change. I might have my dream home, but it might be at the cost of my dream life. If homeownership is a symbol of economic success and stability, where does that leave someone who has their finances in order, but continues to rent?

The American Dream, Redesigned

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau has been consistently showing that homeownership in the States is gradually and steadily declining. Young people are simply putting it off. Of course, it's less of a conscious decision and more of a necessity thing (those student loans are no joke) but I think this is sparking a change, either way.

NPR talked about this a while back. They reported:

“In a nation where homeownership is part of the American dream, a generation of renters could alter communities where they live and redefine the idea of middle-class success.”

Psychologist Katherine Newman told them:

“I'm hoping that the Millennial Generation doesn't set its sights on homeownership as a benchmark of economic stability, because it's going to be out of reach for so many of them that it will just be a recipe for frustration,” she says.”

In adapting to the aftermath of the Recession, I think we've had to rethink a lot of things, including owning a home vs. renting. Ownership is a sign of financial stability and freedom, but it seems like a lot of people are questioning the rush into that. Would I feel more financially stable if I bought a home right now? I don't know. But I do wonder if homeownership is the measure of financial success it once was.

Homeownership and the Third Stage of Finance

This is something I've been wondering lately. I recently talked about how I'm in the third stage of finance. At least, it feels like I'm in that stage. I ask myself: For what am I continuing to save? I'm not sure of the answer. It may or not be “… to buy a home.” But I'm comfortable with my lifestyle, my debts are paid, and I'm just saving to save.

But if I'm renting, am I really in the third stage?

I think if we're talking about measures of financial success, we have to consider why we're building wealth in the first place. I want to build wealth so I have options. I have the option, for example, to move somewhere else and buy a home. Or, I can stay in an expensive city that I love and be a renter. If I choose the latter, I'm happier. But if I choose the former, I no longer have as many options. But, according to tradition, I'd be an “economic success.”

“The Face of Getting Rich Slowly is Changing”

It seems like we're adjusting the way we think about the process of building wealth. William Cowie talked about this when he wrote about how employment is changing:

“The face of getting rich slowly is changing right before our eyes, even as the status quo is failing.”

In short, as a society, we're adapting. People are changing how they think about not just homeownership but also employment, retirement, and higher education. I'll continue to challenge these traditional measures of financial success in my next couple posts.

But I'd still like to know your thoughts, as I think I have more questions than answers. If you're like my neighbor and homeownership is just not in the cards for you, does this mean you don't have your finances in order? Is owning land the measure of financial success it once was?

More about...Home & Garden

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Beth
Beth
5 years ago

I keep seeing a commercial from a realtor’s association where a happy couple is looking over paperwork and exclaiming: “The mortgage payment is the same as our rent — we CAN afford this house!” Uh, no… My rent includes property taxes, maintenance, repairs, snow removal, water and heat. My utilities are cheaper because I’m in a large building, my insurance costs less, and I don’t need a huge emergency fund to cover a sudden roof repair or special assessment. For me, the freedom that comes with renting offsets the limitations — it really depends on your situation. I’ll buy when… Read more »

Alix
Alix
5 years ago
Reply to  Beth

Can’t say it any better than this!

Adam
Adam
5 years ago
Reply to  Beth

I recently purchased my first home. In my particular case, the PITI on my home is $100 LESS per month than my rent was.

I bought a home I consider quite nice, albeit modest (about 1000sqft).

Andy
Andy
5 years ago
Reply to  Beth

“My rent includes property taxes, maintenance, repairs, snow removal, water and heat. My utilities are cheaper because I’m in a large building, my insurance costs less, and I don’t need a huge emergency fund to cover a sudden roof repair or special assessment. For me, the freedom that comes with renting offsets the limitations – it really depends on your situation.” You’re right, your rent also includes, your crappy appliances and outdated kitchen. You want to make “apartment” improvements and redo your kitchen, probably not without getting anything back out of it. I bought a home because of freedom and… Read more »

Barb
Barb
5 years ago
Reply to  Andy

Just a few assumptions there. I stopped owning a home in retirement and chose to rent for a variety of reasons. I have a huge garden and patio, stainless steel appliances and hard wood floors. I can paint, as long as I paint it back when I leave-which by the way I did when I sold my home.

Beth
Beth
5 years ago
Reply to  Andy

@Andy – it depends on the place. I’ve had good experiences and a good one that turned bad after several years. (In which case, I gave my notice and got out.) Still, my friends who own houses and condos have horror stories too. My currently place is clean, modern and well looked after. If I wasn’t happy where I lived or if I was falling behind financially, I would probably buy sooner rather than later. I think an emergency fund is key. If you’ve got the financial wherewithal, you can deal with a move (if you’re a renter) or a… Read more »

Andy
Andy
5 years ago
Reply to  Beth

I am not saying there are not nice apartments, I am saying the freedom to design and play with my house is a part of why I own. Even though you may have to repaint, it’s not like you can remodel or literally tear down walls. There is use value to my home that others may not derive from renting. I look at those renovations as increasing my quality of life and protecting my investment, not just as an investment. Many people are just as happy in a renting situation. I am not knocking renting, just my experience while renting.… Read more »

Carla
Carla
5 years ago
Reply to  Andy

Ha ha! In my case, my rent does include outdated and crappy appliances. Last year my 50 year old stove/oven gave out. I think I used it more in 3 years than most of the former tenants did over the course of a decade. I don’t microwave so a stove/oven is imperative. My landlord replaced it with a really cheap oven and guess what, the oven went out last week after 15 months! I cook on the stove top daily and use the oven at least 4 days a week but that doesn’t equate to “excessive use”, that appliance was… Read more »

Laura
Laura
5 years ago

When we bought our house in 2009, we never thought about whether it was a financially successful thing to do. Our motivation was purely to have a place to live where we would not be forced to move again. We’d had an ideal apartment for 16 years; then one day, our landlady said she’d decided to sell and didn’t want tenants there while she showed, so here was our one month’s notice to vacate (we were tenants at will). One month to find a new home, come up with the money to move, pack and make the move, and emotionally… Read more »

Brandy
Brandy
5 years ago
Reply to  Laura

That was me. my landlady was old, her kids were money hungry and I never knew when I left to go to work if they’d be outside the house “making improvements”. once the son demanded I leave the door open all day while I went to work so the painters (day labors) could paint the door (I called out). Plus she’d call and say don’t have the birdfeeder, it causes mice etc… So I wanted my freedom to just be. And not have to worry. The son who tried to bully me to leave the door open was the type… Read more »

BC
BC
5 years ago

I fall into that category of young professional putting off home ownership. I live in the Boston area and housing prices are just ridiculous right now. However, rent is just as absurd. One reason I would like to eventually buy a place, condo or home, is being able to updgrade and maintain it myself. In Boston, housing is in such high demand that landlords are not maintaining properties and updating them as needed. It is a major issue that college students move 6 people into 3 bedroom apartments, breaking fire code, and putting up with faulty plumbing, electricity and infestation.… Read more »

Short arms long pockets
Short arms long pockets
5 years ago
Reply to  BC

I’m also living in the Boston area and completely agree about the exorbitant cost of renting. When we moved here last year we evaluated both renting and owning – and to have a place where we were happy living it was only marginally more expensive to buy (and that is including all the expenses over and above the monthly mortgage payment).
We are older and not just starting out and I realize that we are fortunate to be in the position to have the choice available to us.

adult student
adult student
5 years ago
Reply to  BC

I’m moving back to the Boston area after commuting in for a while, and I’m shocked by how much rent prices have gone up since I rented there 5 years ago. It really shows just how unstable renting can be. In the neighborhood where I used to live, apartments now cost around 50% more than 5 years ago, and a single room in a shared apartment costs TWICE what it did. People from my old church and workplace are moving out because of rent hikes. I’m hoping to downgrade to a small 1-bed in an area further from the T,… Read more »

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
5 years ago
Reply to  adult student

Unless you live in California, or other areas where property tax increases are limited, property taxes skyrocket with property values, which means that owning is equally unstable. My property taxes went up 2K last year alone, and you can’t even buy a condo in Boston for the cost of my house.

adult student
adult student
5 years ago

Yes, I’ve heard that property values are going up as well, but I’m not sure whether they’ve seen the same rate of increase as rentals.

AZ Joe
AZ Joe
5 years ago

At least in our area, the tax rate is a percentage of the total (city, county, school district, etc.) budget. You pay taxes as a percentage of your home’s valuation vs the total valuation of homes in the taxing entity. If all the houses drop or go up in value, your total tax bill is unchanged. Your taxes only go up if you improve your house and increase it’s value relative to its’ past valuation or if there is an increase in the total budget, which can happen but tends to be relatively modest since you are paying a (small)… Read more »

Ramblin' Ma'am
Ramblin' Ma'am
5 years ago
Reply to  BC

I live in the Boston area too, and my rent is very cheap by Boston standards. I know partly it’s because I’ve lived in the same place for 5 years, but when I look on Craigslist to see what current rents are in my neighborhood, they’re still much lower than other parts of Boston. Often, I think it’s not just about what city you live in, but what neighborhood. Some neighborhoods just stay under the radar and continue to be fairly affordable.

Laura
Laura
5 years ago
Reply to  Ramblin' Ma'am

Looks like we have a Boston-area subset of GRS; maybe we should try a meet-up sometime!

Ramblin\' Ma\'am
Ramblin\' Ma\'am
5 years ago
Reply to  Laura

Ooh! I would totally do that.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
5 years ago

It also doesn’t necessarily make financial sense to buy a home – home ownership is expensive and if you rent, while investing the money you’re saving, you’ll often end up in a better financial position than if you had bought a home.

Here’s an interesting calculator by the New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/upshot/buy-rent-calculator.html?_r=0&abt=0002&abg=1

Jen
Jen
5 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Yes, absolutely. It makes me panicky and a little sick to think about how much money we sunk into our down payment, 11 years of mortgage payments/property taxes/insurance, appliances, yard stuff, repairs…in a home that we cannot sell for what we owe because the market bottomed out so badly in the area. If we’d kept paying our inexpensive rent (as rent prices haven’t changed here), we could have invested that money and, following job changes, moved closer to our workplaces and saved a ton of money on commuting costs. We can’t stay here for much longer because the market for… Read more »

Dianecy
Dianecy
5 years ago
Reply to  Jen

Hang in there, Jen. In most places, prices are coming back. Time is on your side.

In CA, a lot of people who walked away from their mortgages because their house was underwater (not necessarily due to job loss) are now watching prices zoom past what they once owed. Am I sad that they are rapidly becoming priced out of the market? No.

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
5 years ago

THANK YOU.

This post is brilliant, and yes, wealth is options! Wealth is not stuff.

See, El Nerdo, GRS does not need me.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
5 years ago

You kidding me? Your comments are awesome!

eg:

wealth is options! Wealth is not stuff.

I love that.

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
5 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

That’s in the article.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
5 years ago

Ha ha ha ha. Fine…!

Adam
Adam
5 years ago

I guess I’ve always had a different view of the “American Dream”. It has nothing to do with material things, it’s simply about opportunity. It’s the idea that, no matter the circumstances of your birth or childhood, you can do great things as an adult, if only you’re willing to put in the work: become the president, start a business, become wealthy beyond your wildest dreams, etc.

None of these require acquiring material things, homeownership included.

getagrip
getagrip
5 years ago
Reply to  Adam

I’ll also chime in that I never saw the American Dream as requiring home ownership and I really feel that’s been more a real estate marketing tool. To me the dream is about freedom to pursue goals, freedom to excel despite social class, and basically an opportunity to build your life as you desire. IMHO this country still leads in allowing one to go from poverty to prosperity based on hard, smart, work.

Amy
Amy
5 years ago
Reply to  Adam

Yes! And the idea that if you’ve invested in a home, it means you’re move invested in the community. That’s some classist b.s. right there. Plenty of people buy homes and let them rot, driving down prices around them. Plenty of renters take pride and an active role in improving their community.

getagrip
getagrip
5 years ago

The only reason we purchased a home was because: we were planning to start a family, I was convinced I was going to stay in the local area more than seven years, and anticipated rent increases versus estimated mortgage payments showed a break even in five years for the mortgage amount and break even in eight for mortgage/taxes. So we purchased. I would not be likely to recommend to my kids they should purchase a home until they truly had need for the space or were looking to stay somewhere for a decade or more. At that point I would… Read more »

SavvyFinancialLatina
SavvyFinancialLatina
5 years ago

We bought a house because it made financial sense in the long run. We were tired of living in apartments and the rise of rents in the area would make renting less attractive. So we bought a modest house. Our utilities have stayed about the same. I think we’re paying about $250 more in housing costs. Of course, we spend a $100-$150 on house stuff like furniture or materials to fix things up, but overall I love it. It’s even better to know we will own our home in 14.5 years or less since we got a 15 yr mortgage.… Read more »

Neel V Kumar
Neel V Kumar
5 years ago

Imagine if you could go to your landlady and say “Here is a bunch of money. In lieu of this money, I get to live in my apartment rent free for the rest of my life”

That is what buying is – prepaying for housing. Now if you want to borrow to finance this purchase, that is a different matter.

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
5 years ago
Reply to  Neel V Kumar

Except that’s completely wrong, just as the author spells out in the article. You still have to pay all the things that Kristen Wong mentioned. And those things go up in price every year! And they’re a hassle.

sarah
sarah
5 years ago

Do people really think that buying a home means financial success? I mean, on some level I suppose it means you have it together enough to fill out a mortgage application, come up with a down payment, and prove you have steady income (or a cosigner) – and let’s face it, a lot of people couldn’t make that cutoff. Like others mentioned, I bought a house for a lot of reasons and financial success really didn’t play into it. I felt more financially successful before I bought my house. But I rented 9 different apartments in 3 states over the… Read more »

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
5 years ago
Reply to  sarah

I don’t believe that getting a mortgage is the same as “homeownership.” Homeownership was the American Dream when most people paid for their home in cash or relatively quickly (initially, mortgages were for 5-10 years) so people who owned their own home actually owned it. Things are different now when mortgages can last for decade after decade after decade. But once you truly OWN your house, won’t you feel like you’ve achieved some level of financial success?

Ray
Ray
5 years ago

I am one of these “putting it off” millenials. I’d actually like to buy a condo but in my booming city cash offers have been king lately. People are moving here like crazy and offering cash ABOVE the asking price. So I’ll be renting for a while yet. Do I think I’m a financial failure for it? How ridiculous a notion!

William @ Drop Dead Money
William @ Drop Dead Money
5 years ago
Reply to  Ray

Home prices go up and down. In the next recession, they’ll go down again. Now is the time to save so you can scoop up one of the bargains that will be around. It’s not going to be too much longer…

Big-D
Big-D
5 years ago

I think the problems you are seeing are many fold: 1) People want the latest and greatest houses. They want granite counter tops, huge master closets, etc. but don’t want to pay the luxury price of the houses. This is the classic champagne taste on a beer budget argument. 2) People don’t want to renovate an existing house. They would prefer a newly built house with all those things mentioned above, and not have to “upgrade” to them over time. 3) People change jobs a lot. The time of people working for the same company for 40 years is over.… Read more »

sarah
sarah
5 years ago
Reply to  Big-D

Replying to #4: I found it quite easy to get a mortgage with significant student loan debt and not having 20% down. But I have very good credit.

Big-D
Big-D
5 years ago
Reply to  sarah

I don’t know, I guess you are lucky. I have read the Frank-Dodd Act many times, and also tried to apply for several mortgages over the last 3 years since it was approved. I have purchased/sold 9 houses in the last 15 years. Since that act I cannot get approved for a mortgage to save my life. I currently have 3 houses (2 are paid off, 2 are rentals), and over $2m in the bank, make over $150k a year and have a 827 credit rating (as of last month). I cannot get a $150k mortgage (on a $200k rental,… Read more »

Amy
Amy
5 years ago
Reply to  Big-D

Wow. Just… wow. I knew that lending was tight, but that’s truly insane.

3rd Generation
3rd Generation
5 years ago

ALL real estate is local.

ALL real estate is personal.

THINK FOR YOURSELF.

( and refer to post # 1 for any additional questions. IMO Beth hit a grand slam with that response.)

Thus endeth the lesson. You’re Welcome.

Linh
Linh
5 years ago
Reply to  3rd Generation

You must not live in a major city. Real estate is not always local. Not when there are foreign (international and national) investors buying in cash, thus over inflating the cost for people who actually live in those cities.

Marjorie
Marjorie
5 years ago

I have also been re-thinking rent vs own. I bought my home in 1998 and even though it is worth far more than I owe and my mortgage payments are ridiculously low, I am now on the wrong side of 40 and all the DIY tasks and lawn maintenance that were so fun in my 20s and 30s have lost their thrill as a single working woman passing into her middle years. I’ve also passed on opportunities in other cities because I couldn’t deal with the headache of getting a house ready to sell. Renting has started to look very… Read more »

Dennis Frailey
Dennis Frailey
5 years ago
Reply to  Marjorie

Regarding the hassle of owning a house and taking care of all the chores as one gets older, I’ve noticed that those who do best with houses when they are retired are those who “know” their house and have developed a system for all the chores, upkeep and maintenance. For example, I pay someone to do the yard work – it isn’t that much in my area – and I keep an eye on all the parts of the house that need periodic work (just bought a new air conditioner, for example). That’s all part of the cost. In return… Read more »

Beth
Beth
5 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Frailey

I think sometimes we get wrapped up in the idea that renting = apartment and owning = house. You can buy apartments (apartment style condos) and rent houses.

Renting is sometimes a good way to see if you like a neighbourhood or lifestyle. Friends of my parents sold their home and are renting a condo townhouse to see if they like the complex enough to buy in to it. They would still have a house and a yard, but they wouldn’t have to deal with snow removal or lawn mowing.

Barb
Barb
5 years ago
Reply to  Marjorie

I sold my 2600 square foot home and became a renter in retirement. I HATE Yard work and I don’t want to do home improvements in retirement. In a perfect world I’d only have a little patio, but since I have three dogs that doesn’t work. I also did not ant the hassle or the expense of home maintenance. Call me lazy. After some though i sold my home. I now rent the entire first floor of a two level house (the other level is a finished basement). I have a kitchen, a large suburban garden and patio, two large… Read more »

Steve @ Live Smart Not Hard
Steve @ Live Smart Not Hard
5 years ago

Kristin you made a great point when you say you want to build wealth so you have, “options.” It’s the options and the freedom to buy or rent or move or travel, that equals real wealth.

Jenn
Jenn
5 years ago

We bought a house in 2006, so when we needed to move last year due to a job change, we were unable to sell since we were still tends of thousands under water. We figured we’d just rent out our house and rent another in the new city. Renting our house was no problem at all since we have lots of contacts there, and being half a mile from the local university didn’t hurt. The problem we didn’t anticipate was finding a place for ourselves to rent. The Seattle rental market is extremely tight, and we have four kids and… Read more »

PawPrint
PawPrint
5 years ago
Reply to  Jenn

I, too, was stunned by the rental prices in Seattle when we moved a little over a year ago. The apartment we found (2 bedroom, 1.5 bath) cost more per month than the combined PTI on the 3/2 house and 2/2 townhome we owned in another state. We sold the house, but plan on moving back to the townhome that we’ve been renting out since we bought it 4 years ago. The housing prices are high here, too. I don’t think we could afford to buy even with a mid-six figure income.

Joseph Brown
Joseph Brown
5 years ago

Finally, an article about the true cost of home ownership. The American Dream was developed in a time when folks saved up and paid cash for homes, or carried very little mortgage debt. Great article, and thank you for raising a topic that needs a great deal of discussion these days.

Gen
Gen
5 years ago

I love this discussion. I live in California & we almost purchased a home in 2011, but pulled out. We are currently renting and like having “options”. But my question is, would buying a house help us pay the government less taxes? Every tax season we end up paying the government. I would consider buying if it would be beneficial, once market prices went down.

Ray
Ray
5 years ago
Reply to  Gen

Yes, owning a home can reduce your tax bill, but with the following caveats. You are allowed to deduct the interest paid on a mortgage for your primary residence. You are also allowed to deduct the property taxes paid. However, this only the portion of those monies which exceed the standard deduction are actually reducing your tax burden vs not having them (assuming you do not itemize now). Secondly, it is a deduction, not a credit. So the amount they reduce your tax burden is based on your marginal income tax rate. If you are in the 25% bracket, then… Read more »

Janel
Janel
5 years ago
Reply to  Ray

Thank you so much for that explanation. I plan on using this when people try to justify purchasing a home.

Ray
Ray
5 years ago

This hits home with me. I bought a modestly priced house in 2001 and recently just paid off the mortgage. I am in a high tax state for property taxes (NY) although locally I am in a municipality with relatively low property taxes. I recently did a very rudimentary analysis of the purchase from an investment standpoint. As an investment, my house stinks. Adding up all the mortgage payments and the property taxes since purchasing I ended up with just about the same amount as the current market value of the house. And I did not account for money we… Read more »

getagrip
getagrip
5 years ago
Reply to  Ray

IMHO no one should consider their primary residence an investment. It’s a sunk cost that could possibly be sold for money, like a car or piece of furniture, but there should be no expectation that it’s going to make you money down the road unless you specifically design it to do so (e.g. renting out part of it).

Brian @ Debt Discipline
Brian @ Debt Discipline
5 years ago

I never viewed my home purchase in terms of having my finances in order or being a property owner in terms of being successful. I purchased a home because I wanted a stable place for my family. A home where we are free to make change to meet our lifestyle. I’m sure we could find a rental to do they same, but just not our choice.

Old Guy
Old Guy
5 years ago

Design your life. If staying in the same place appeals to you, design your life accordingly. Country bumpkin? Design your life. Crave the city life? Downtown? Design your life. Want to travel the world? Design your life. Love gardening? Design your life. Hate yard work? Design your life. Dont want to be tossed out on your ear because your landlord died and his widow wants to sell all the rental property? Design your life. Want to be the landlord collecting rent from others? Design your life. Most people dont design their life, but let it unfold according to other’s influences.… Read more »

Scooze
Scooze
5 years ago

I think that home ownership can be a real asset (no pun intended) for many people. But when you buy a home, you are taking a risk. If you get sick, lose your job, get a pay cut, etc. you can be in real trouble. With an apartment, it is far easier to downsize on the fly as needed. Leases can be a hassle to break, but it is much easier to get out of a lease than to sell or rent a home, especially if one doesn’t have much equity yet. I agree with the author that this should… Read more »

Kristen
Kristen
5 years ago
Reply to  Scooze

Whether renting or buying, the risk of losing a job due to being hurt, etc. is an argument for purchasing disability or other insurance, rather than renting vs. buying, in my humble opinion anyway. I HATED apartment living. Hubby and I bought the closest thing to our ‘dream’ house that we’re willing to pay for in late 2012. We own a business in town, so we are stable/not going anywhere. In fact, we bought a one level home and intend to live there until we both expire. Last summer I re-examined our insurance options and found enough savings by changing… Read more »

Valerie
Valerie
5 years ago
Reply to  Kristen

I’m driving a 17 year old car, you can do another 5 years easy!

Andrew Preshovus
Andrew Preshovus
5 years ago

Hi guys,
if you buy bigger home, you can rent few rooms and let the people living there to pay your mortgage and housing costs. If you invest some of your savings, this can be even equation where you are earning money, because you get more from the tenants than your costs are.
The key is the calculation and purchase rules BEFORE you buy. If the house does not meet your criteria do NOT purchase it.

BR
Andrew

M
M
5 years ago

A cautionary tale from up North. The race for home ownership in Canada has gotten unbelievably stupid. Many young adults are risking their financial futures by plowing all their savings into one asset (which is set to devaluate as the housing bubble here bursts.) Yet I see this debate from both sides. My DH and I bought a home (that needed some lovin’) for the land so we could raise our son on a hobby farm. It was a smart move for us particularly because my DH is very handy. And I grow good stuff! We also are landlords in… Read more »

Emily @ evolvingPF
Emily @ evolvingPF
5 years ago

Home ownership is still part of our American Dream, but it might not happen until our early to mid-thirties at the earliest. My husband and I are 29 now and have yet to move to our “forever city.” However, we both want to provide stability to our (future hypothetical) children once they reach school age the way our parents did for us. I suppose we are among the Millennials delaying home ownership, but that is really just because we have been living in various cities for grad school/postdoctoral training that are not where we want to be long-term.

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
5 years ago

I often see the argument that if one rents instead of buys, a person does not have to pay property insurance, maintenance, etc–but that is simply NOT true. A renter simply does not pay for those expenses separately–those expenses are already included in the cost of the rent. Any person or corporation who rents is not out of the goodness of their heart covering those expenses for the renter. The rent already has those factors included. The only possible exception are those who are new to renting. However, what happens too often is that people who consider whether to buy… Read more »

Ramblin\' Ma\'am
Ramblin\' Ma\'am
5 years ago
Reply to  phoenix1920

And when you rent, utilities, maintenance, etc. are factored into the rent and are the same every month. When you own a home, those can be much more variable.

Sebright
Sebright
5 years ago

Well to be fair – the cost is the same every month for at least a year. It could be the rental markets that I’ve lived in (Boston, Baltimore and DC), but I’ve never lived in a place that didn’t raise rent when the lease was up. Most apartments I’ve lived in raise the rent about 50-100 bucks a month. One place wanted to raise the rent $200 a month on a new lease. This generally led to me moving at least once a year from undergrad until my late 20s. When my husband and I knew we were going… Read more »

Ramblin\' Ma\'am
Ramblin\' Ma\'am
5 years ago
Reply to  Sebright

I live right outside Boston and my rent has gone up $25 in 5 years. I lived in my previous place for 2 1/2 years with no rent increases. The apartment before that, 2 years with no rent increases.

I made a similar comment above, but I think this varies a lot by neighborhood.

sarah
sarah
5 years ago

I’ve never rented anywhere that included utilities. And when you move often, it can be a challenge to predict what bills will be. I moved from a radiator heat place in Chicago to a forced air gas heat place and my winter bills went from $50 to $300.

Ramblin\' Ma\'am
Ramblin\' Ma\'am
5 years ago
Reply to  sarah

Yeah, I should have clarified. I’ve had some rentals that included utilities and some that didn’t. IF rent includes utilities, that’s obviously an advantage. But even if you pay your heat, the landlord is likely paying for cold water and sewer.

Mike in NH
Mike in NH
5 years ago

So many thoughts on this one, what a great topic – excellent choice and article Kristin! At this point in my life (I’m 34 and own a townhouse that I bought new in 2006), the idea of perpetuating the home as the American Dream seems about as silly as having to buy a diamond (with 3 months salary) to show your love for someone. My house isn’t my enemy though, interest and the beloved amortization table are. If I had it all to do over again it’s easy to say I wouldn’t have bought in 2006, duh. But more importantly… Read more »

Ely
Ely
5 years ago

Buying only makes sense if you’re stable – steady income, no plans to move, etc. But if you do reach that point, it has some distinct advantages. When you pay off your mortgage you reduce your housing expenses by a lot – yes you still pay maintenance and taxes, but you pay those anyway. My grandmother and my father-in-law both sold their houses to pay for very nice retirement communities where they’ll spend the rest of their lives. Renting offers a lot of flexibility when you’re young, but when you’re older having that paid-off or paid-down asset can be very… Read more »

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
5 years ago

In thinking about the article, to me, I don’t think of being able to get a mortgage as “homeownership” or as having a mortgage to be a dream come true. Having a home paid off is the American dream–one I am still in the process of obtaining. I believe a dream is generally a tangible object–something you can picture vividly. And what other tangible asset do we own that can serve us so well? We can’t live in our stock portfolio; it is not really tangible; and it is subject to dips and spikes. Regardless, I don’t believe we all… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
5 years ago

Renting is equivalent to buying a service. Of course, all the same costs of purchasing a home are all rolled into the rent. I would hope so, and the rental system wouldn’t work. As a young, newlywed couple, we’re certain we don’t want to stay in the same town. We’ve evaluated our priorities, and renting is in line with them. I’m not certain that people who view homeownership as a status symbol or mark of financial success actually evaluate their priorities before the date of sale.

Alea
Alea
5 years ago

Great article Kristin. I love the line “renting is throwing money away”. OK, what about your cell phone, cable, water, food bill? What about the money spent on restaurants, concerts, movies, travel? Why is renting throwing money away, but the other stuff you spend on is not money thrown away? You get something back for that rent, a roof over your head. I too am in the same boat, living in LA, and unable to buy anything, and rents that are absurd. It just won’t happen, even with a housing crash, I am still locked out of the market. I… Read more »

Zambian Lady
Zambian Lady
5 years ago
Reply to  Alea

I had to laugh at your comment about bars on your windows because that is one thing you need in Zambia for your piece of mind. I now don’t like the burglar bars and grill doors you see everywhere back home because I have realized how more beautiful a house/apartment looks without them 🙂

Dennis Frailey
Dennis Frailey
5 years ago

My reason for buying a house is that I wanted to be able to plant a tree! Other factors later reinforced that this was the right thing for me, but the determining factor was the fact that in an apartment, a condo, or a townhouse, I would not have been permitted to plant a tree outside my window. Here’s the story. About 12 years ago I moved into an apartment in the aftermath of an amicable divorce. At that point I re-thought the whole issue of rental vs ownership. I had found an apartment I liked at a reasonable rent,… Read more »

Tim
Tim
5 years ago

I think many here are missing the point. To me the question raised by Kristin has little to do with home ownership and everything to do with how you define success. Old Guy hit the nail on the head. Design your life. For most people, if you break their goals down to one item, this is the ‘why’ behind everything. Ultimately you will end up with the life you want, as a culmination of your actions. Expanding on this thought, our choices and actions define what we value, and what we value is what we will define success as. Someone… Read more »

Henry
Henry
5 years ago

The American Dream is really not about a definition but is all about freedom and the opportunity to write your own ticket. The Constitution specifically address’s property rights. It did so because historicaly not every one could own property. But in this country it is a given, an inalienable right that is affirmed in our founding. I can see how circumstances or choice may be the deciding factor for some in their decision to rent but I hope I am imagining when I hear socialist ideas touting renting and living in crowded cities as being socialy responsible and home ownership… Read more »

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
5 years ago
Reply to  Henry

Sometimes my fellow liberals irritate me 😛 Living in a city isn’t automatically greener than living in the country. Being green is a matter of how you use your resources. If I lived further out from the city in a single family home with a large yard I could have an outdoor compost bin. Or two. I could also landscape my yard to decrease water usage and encourage pollinators. I could also investigate putting solar panels on my roof. I can’t do any of those things in my condo. Sure, I’m taking up less square footage, but I can’t get… Read more »

William @ Drop Dead Money
William @ Drop Dead Money
5 years ago

A big part of the decision is geography. In our suburb of Denver, rent is actually higher than the combined mortgage, taxes and utilities. So here, buying is a no-brainer. In other parts of the country, big cities in particular, that may not be the case. I have a friend who moved from SoCal to Southern Illinois, where he runs a national business from a home he bought for something like $30,000. Renting there makes no sense at all. (Yes, I am planning to write a book about that, because that’s a way to get ahead fast in the new… Read more »

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
5 years ago

We could retire to Southern Illinois *right now* on the money we’ve saved. But… who would want to? And I’m saying this lovingly as someone who willingly visits the area 2x/year. SoCal, otoh… that’s a fun place to live. There’s a reason the cost of living is so different between the two places, and it’s not just the cost of doing business.

William @ Drop Dead Money
William @ Drop Dead Money
5 years ago

Right, that’s why I said the issue is very geographical.

JDS
JDS
5 years ago

As a native of Southern Illinois, I first say (with a smile) that you are being a bit hard on my home area — I would move back there in a second if I could. On the other hand, kudos for referring to it as Southern Illinois — not Illinois, which as the So. Ill. natives know, is another state altogether. Growing up there, I knew no one personally who rented, except young adults fresh out of school, and they bought a house quickly, because homes were so cheap. The American Dream there usually includes having a house of your… Read more »

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
5 years ago

We know people who rent. And who have been evicted for not paying the rent. And who are behind several years on property taxes who don’t rent (and are underwater on their homes).

Perhaps you live in a less blighted area! The auto industry crash hit the area I’m familiar with really hard and it still hasn’t recovered. And meth is really big. Lots of drug use, teen pregnancy, etc. But no, it doesn’t cost much to live out there.

jds
jds
5 years ago

Where I’m from, it’s farms, farms, farms, coal and small industry. It can be quite poor in some places, but not blighted, even now. Houses are usually small and many are quite old, but most are well-maintained in my hometown. I’m not saying everyone does well there — but home ownership is a much more affordable option than where I live now, compared to renting. Funnily enough, if I could move back home to S.I., I’d probably try to rent.

Dennis Frailey
Dennis Frailey
5 years ago

I think the reason people view a house as an investment is that when you own a house it isn’t easy to sell and thus you end up in a kind of forced savings program as the mortgage is paid off and your equity grows. After 30 years you have an asset that may or may not have increased in value since you bought it, but may be your biggest financial asset. If your house is your biggest asset by age 50, it means you haven’t been saving and investing enough for the future. Note: home equity loans have seriously… Read more »

Vanessa
Vanessa
5 years ago

This all sounds very hypothetical. Where are the stories of millionaire renters, if financial success is possible without home ownership?

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
5 years ago
Reply to  Vanessa

You must not know many tech workers. Or quants. Or people who are mobile for work. The answer is: they’re living in cities.

Vanessa
Vanessa
5 years ago

I guess not. I don’t even know what a quant is, or what that has to do with living in a city.

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
5 years ago
Reply to  Vanessa

A quant is an engineer or physicist or other “hard” scientist who does finance. They mostly live in Manhattan (or London or Hong Kong or Tokyo, etc.). They make more money than many of us could dream of, but many of them still rent.

Vanessa
Vanessa
5 years ago
Reply to  Vanessa

With such high incomes, sounds like they can afford to waste money on rent.

Beth
Beth
5 years ago
Reply to  Vanessa

@Vanessa for the first five years of your mortgage, you’re paying more in interest than principle. Isn’t that wasting money too? I would be curious to see GRS do a “ask the readers” on how much they spend on housing. I mean, all in costs. (Maybe this has been done?) In case, housing = rent + coin laundry + hydro + renter’s insurance + decorating. The different between owning a comparable condo and renting gets invested. For some people, housing = mortgage payment + closing costs + home owner’s insurance + mortgage insurance + property taxes + maintenance and repairs… Read more »

Mike in NH
Mike in NH
5 years ago
Reply to  Vanessa

Not sure if this is the right way to look at this but maybe my example can explain. With the extra I pay on my mortgage and my condo fees I have paid about $2200/month;$26400/year; and a grand total of about $211,200 over the past 8 years of owning my home. When I was renting I paid between $300-500/month;$6000/year; and would have paid about $48,000 over that same timeframe. To me that difference is staggering, about $160K. In two more years I basically would have been able to pay cash for my place that I “own” now. So much of… Read more »

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
5 years ago
Reply to  Mike in NH

Even when I was renting in college WITH a roommate in the early 90s, my rent was $500 a month. What town today rents a full apartment for $500? As for the house you bought, if it has more square footage or land than your apartment, you are not comparing apples to apples. You need to look to see what a house like yours would rent for to determine whether you would have been better off. You can’t upgrade and then wonder why your expenses for your home are more. You could have purchases a smaller, cheaper house or condo.… Read more »

Sarah
Sarah
5 years ago

I’m a married 26 year old living in the greater Toronto area with my husband and 2 year old son. I can honestly say that I relate well with the writer… When we first got married in 2011 we had a choice between renting/sharing an apartment with a friend for $500 all in or buying a home (we were pre-approved for $350k). We decided to go with renting and we couldn’t have been happier with that decision. Graduating from University in 2010 with a combined student loan of about $60,000.00 we knew we simply couldn’t mix debt with home ownership… Read more »

Don
Don
5 years ago

A paid off home is a great benefit to retirees. At a time when income may be relatively fixed and lower than during the working years, it is great to know that you don’t have to worry about yearly rent increases.

Sarah
Sarah
5 years ago
Reply to  Don

I agree with the “paid off” part being a benefit to retirees. More often than not though, homeowners use their home as a line of credit (seen this way too often when working for the bank during my uni days)

Jen From Boston
Jen From Boston
5 years ago
Reply to  Don

Paying off my mortgage before retirement is a major goal for me. I consider it part of my retirement plan. I will likely sell my townhouse and move into a flat – old ladies and stairs can lead to broken hips! But, at I should be able to sell my home for a good sum in 30 years and use that money to either buy a smaller place outright. And, if I make a decent profit, I could use the leftover as principal to generate interest for extra income. And if I can’t sell? Then I can stay put, and… Read more »

Aldo @ MDN
Aldo @ MDN
5 years ago

Owning a house doesn’t make sense for us right now because our rent is way cheaper than the mortgage we would get. We would also have to pay for utilities and maintenance, which are included in our rent. Maybe when we feel the need to get something bigger we would buy, but for now I’ll keep renting and saving.

William @ Drop Dead Money
William @ Drop Dead Money
5 years ago
Reply to  Aldo @ MDN

And those last two words hold the key to making rent a successful strategy.

Thomas
Thomas
5 years ago

My wife and I have a perspective that confuses our friends and family.

Buying a house is not an investment as much as a living expense reduction. looking at PITI, if it is roughly equal to rent; when you sell your home, hopefully you will only lose ITI, and maybe just TI. with rent, ALL of that expense is gone forever.

If your housing value goes up you lose less, if the house becomes worthless, you are no worse off than had you rented. To me it sounds like a no lose situation.

Thomas
Thomas
5 years ago
Reply to  Thomas

reading some of the other comments that popped up while I was writing, looks like my wife and I are not that strange to look at home ownership as a reduction in expense.

tw
tw
5 years ago

I paid $25,000 for a fixer-upper, spent another $10,000 for roof, pump house, heat pump, hot water heater, etc… took me about two months to get it livable – and now my costs are $780 a year in taxes, and about $800 a year in insurance (haven’t done an insurance update yet – I think I am WAY over-insured for the situation). And I do believe I could sell the place for $20,000 over what I have in it. Having just sold another house, I don’t think that is unrealistic for this area. It is small, comfortable, and mine –… Read more »

Beth
Beth
5 years ago
Reply to  tw

Sounds great 🙂

$100K buys a trailer where I live!

tw
tw
5 years ago
Reply to  Beth

I have such a huge disconnect when it comes to housing prices in other areas. The numbers that get kicked around for housing – $100,000? For a trailer? Wow! Owning a home as a status symbol? To others? I don’t think my house would qualify. It’s not much to see – a plain white basic house with a porch and a big yard. But for me it was a huge step forward on my road to financial independence, which I am still on and have a long way to go. For the first time since I was 21 and signed… Read more »

Seth at Ectopistes
Seth at Ectopistes
5 years ago

Remember, there are two types of people in the world; homeowners and renters.

If you still have a mortgage you’re in the second camp – you’re just renting money instead.

I’m a renter, and proud.

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
5 years ago

Perhaps true, but it still feels like you need a third group to describe those in the renter camp who will suddenly one day become homeowners. And renters who chose to rent need to save more money to stay in the financial equivalent to homeowners because after 15 years of a mortgage, that third group doesn’t pay for the house itself.

Ramblin\' Ma\'am
Ramblin\' Ma\'am
5 years ago

Right now, ownership does not make sense for me. I am not at all “handy,” plus I am not super confident my job will be around in 5-7 years (the usual advice is not to buy unless you’ll be there at least 5-7 years). I do not want to be laid off and stuck with a mortgage. I would rather save my cash now and then have the freedom and flexibility to quickly move somewhere cheaper if needed. It all comes down to what makes you feel secure. Some people feel more secure when they have more flexibility and are… Read more »

Liz
Liz
5 years ago

I live in L.A., and the other day I found myself thinking that if someone flat out gave me a house, then home ownership – with all the taxes and maintenance and management – would be worth it. Which is absurd, I know, but it’s seriously the truth for me.

Kasia
Kasia
5 years ago

I don’t think homeownership should or does measure your level of financial success. Renting or buying is a personal choice and some people are more comfortable renting permanently and ensuring landlords stay in business. My biggest worry with permanent renting would be having to fork out monthly rent when I’m retired and wanting to avoid that monthly outflow of cash. While I plan on having a passive income come retirement time I wouldn’t want that to be going on rent each month especially when I could have my own house paid off by then. On the other hand you can… Read more »

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
5 years ago
Reply to  Kasia

Like the author says, there’s still a monthly (or annual) outflow of cash when you own the house. You still have to pay taxes, insurance, maintenance, HOA fees (if applicable) etc. Whether or not that is more or less than rent entirely depends on the market you’re living in.

Kasia
Kasia
5 years ago

I don’t disagree that there’s still an annual cash outflow however generally this is significantly lower than the rent one might pay, at least this is the case where I live. Renting an average home sets us back $1800 per month but if we were to own a similar home outright the monthly costs of insurance, taxes, etc would only amount to about $400 per month once the mortgage had been paid off which is a significant difference when you reach retirement age. The other benefit is having an asset to sell should the need arise to raise cash.

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
5 years ago
Reply to  Kasia

The NYTimes has a rent vs. buy calculator that will tell you for your individual market when/if the break-even point for buying vs. renting is across several markets. Not all markets have a break-even point that happens in a person’s lifetime. So what may be true in *your* market isn’t blanket truth for everybody.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/upshot/buy-rent-calculator.html

Dianecy
Dianecy
5 years ago

Yeah, I had a great rent-controlled apartment in LA for ten years or so. Loved the weather, loved the beach. But… Had I not figured out how to get into the real estate game, I wouldn’t be FIRE now. I have greatly benefitted from real estate appreciation over the years, despite the recent-ish roller coaster ride. I think the primary advantage of ownership it that it is a way to force savings. As in I MUST make my mortgage payment. With renting and saving the difference, it’s very easy to give yourself a break on the savings portion of that… Read more »

Ann
Ann
5 years ago

Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian, but I never thought of home ownership as a sign of financial success. For me, home ownership is about security and freedom. As a child, my family were constantly being chased out of one rental unit after another because landlords didn’t want families with four young kids. So my immigrant parents scrimped and saved for a meager downpayment, signed up for a 13% mortgage, which was the going rate at the time, and bought a small house. Although they were stretched financially, owning their home meant no more landlords trying to evict our family and… Read more »

Prudence Debtfree
Prudence Debtfree
5 years ago
Reply to  Ann

OK Ann. I am impressed! Either your parents taught you well, or you figured it out at an incredibly young age. What a bonus to have clear-sighted goals right from the start!

Ann
Ann
5 years ago

It was those freedom 55 commercials that were always on the TV when I was in high school. I, being the know-it-all teenager, decided I could do better and make it freedom 45.

imelda
imelda
5 years ago

Sorry, not buying it. The recent trend of decrying home ownership is nothing but reactionism to the recent bubble bursting. That is the same kind of reactionism that leads people to buying high and selling low. Home ownership is not always immediately cheaper than renting. But after 30 years you will no longer have a house payment. (taxes excepted) Home ownership allows you to lock in a monthly payment for years, rather than rent rising to match inflation. Home ownership gives you a guaranteed rate of return as you pay down your mortgage. Do you really think the US economy… Read more »

Undertrader
Undertrader
5 years ago
Reply to  imelda

Yes, you lock in your monthly rate, however you are paying about 80% in interest monthly, so your $500,000 house, (where I live in the Los Angeles area, and that’s a low cost home) will eventually cost you a lot more. Let’s say you put $50,000 cash down on the house, got a 4.25% interest, which is very low for most people, 30 years and you pay 1.25% taxes. Your monthly payment would be $2,734, your payoff for your home would be $984,442! So, you would have to assume that the value of your house would double in 30 years,… Read more »

imelda
imelda
5 years ago
Reply to  Undertrader

You still pay mortgage plus interest on rent. But you’re paying it for the landlord. And after 30 years, you keep paying both, because they’re not going to lower the rent once their mortgage is up. And, obviously I acknowledge that in some areas (such as where I live, in NYC), home ownership is cost prohibitive. And that everyone’s situation is different, and that rent vs buy is a very individual decision. But I get frustrated seeing so many people discouraging others from buying a home. For those who can afford it, and want it, I think it is a… Read more »

Fred
Fred
5 years ago
Reply to  Undertrader

You leave out the fact that the interest on the loan is tax deductible. Rent is not.

You said “So, in 30 years we’ll say you will spend $1,000,000 on your $500,000 house.” If you rented for about the same amount over 30 years, you would still pay $1,000,000 yet you would end up with nothing.

gforce
gforce
5 years ago

i rent – less than $1200/month. great schools (one had a 900+ api score when i checked few years ago), clean, very safe (i’ll go for runs after midnight), and i can walk downtown in less than 15 minutes. i love living here (SF bay area). the lowest priced single family residence for sale in my city is $1M. total cost of ownership is south of $5000/month (too lazy to run the correct numbers). prices range from $1M to $1.7M. it’s very expensive to own, but oddly can be very cheap to rent. i’ve got another 30 years before retirement,… Read more »

DiverGal
DiverGal
5 years ago
Reply to  gforce

Are you in the south bay? If I ever buy, it’ll be a condo. I was shocked at rent prices when I was apartment hunting a few months ago.

gforce
gforce
5 years ago
Reply to  DiverGal

north of south bay, on the peninsula.

Amy
Amy
5 years ago
Reply to  gforce

I’m on the peninsula, too. The prices are insane. My MIL asked us the other day “why don’t you just buy a condo?” Um, because even those start around here at $600K and that’s for the junky ones! We love the Bay Area, so we’ve just decided that if we want to own a home, we’ll have to go elsewhere, it’s just not a reasonable goal here. We have zero consumer debt, are putting away for retirement, and are generally in great financial shape. In any other market we would be home-owners, but in this neighborhood, we’re the the poor… Read more »

Carla
Carla
5 years ago
Reply to  DiverGal

That’s why I left the Bay Area – not so much for home ownership, but the cost of living is insane.

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