Ask the Readers: Do You Rent or Own Your Home?

By Ashley Jacobs on 31 July 2012 (Updated 7 August 2012) 172 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Amanda, Peg, and Raina for winning this week's contest!

There is always a debate on whether or not it is better to rent or own your home. Home ownership gives you the freedom to decorate as you please and gives you the peace of mind of knowing that you have a home but the negatives of property taxes and having to take care of your own maintenance can be a bummer. Renting means you have a landlord to take care of maintenance issues but it doesn't give you the same freedoms to decorate and make the place your own as owning a home does.

Do you rent or own your home? If you rent, what are the pros and cons of renting? If you own, what are the pros and cons of owning your own home?

Tell us if you rent or own your home and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

Mandatory Entry: 

  • Post your answer in the comments below 

For extra entries (1 per action):

  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, and leave a comment on this article telling us you did, or
  • Tweet your answer. You have to be a follower of our @wisebread account. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it. Leave a link to your tweet (click the timestamp for the individual URL) in a separate comment.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, August 6th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after August 6th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Good Luck!

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Guest's picture
Beth

We own our home. We made a large down payment so we only had 5 years of payments. Too many of our friends and family lived in rented single family homes that were either put up for sale or in foreclosure for defaulted mortgages or back taxes and we opted not to live with that uncertainty.

Upside of owning?-You have more choice, stability and equity/net worth. (For us anyway, the previous owners needed to get out from under the home so we got a great deal.)

Downside of owning?-Things can break at any time and your responsible.

Guest's picture
Yuriy B.

Currently, we went and it's awful to the point where I am scrambling to save up anything I can to buy even a co-op apartment. Management companies especially in New York are ruthless, greedy sharks. We've had our rent raised twice already and are expected to pay $30 per month PER air conditioner for hanging out of the window. Power is not included in the rent, so its a $60 fee for just having the air conditioner exist in the spot where it is meant to exist. Did I mention this is year-round? Even in December! Renting is heartbreaking.

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Alex H

I'm about to move into my new place in Boston! I'll be renting. I'm sharing the house with four others, a dog and a goldfish. I'm still trying to work out the details of my monthly rate, but hopefully I can barter a bit - do some chores, keep things tidy, paint, plumb, mow, etc., in return for a little discount. Do I have any hope? Are those agreements ever arranged?

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Guest

We own, and we wish we rented, home maintenance is costly and time consuming, much easier to have someone else maintain it

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Alex H

I've also "liked" on facebook. What's not to like?

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Ginny

Own. My husband is disabled and receives Social Security disability benefits. As his health declined and our children grew up and went off to school and careers, we knew we would need to move to a home without stairs and steps. We were able to purchase a tri-plex in a quiet residential neighborhood but near shopping, transportation, restaurants, and amenities like a library and bike path. Our income-producing property pays the mortgage, taxes, and insurance. My husband is knowledgeable, but no longer able to maintain the property himself so we have to contract for lawn care, cleaning, plumbing, etc. Fortunately, we have a handy son-in-law nearby and capable friends willing to help if they can and if we ask. We are in the process of creating a trust to protect the property should my husband need to move to a long-term care facility and so we can leave it to our daughters as their inheritance.

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NJJ

I rent so the pros for me are: its easy to move once the lease is up versus having to worry about discharging a mortgage to worry about, not having to worry about repairs to the unit or property and being able to live closer to work and shopping compared to living in the suburbs here. The renting cons would rent increasing every year, unruly neighbors, limited decorating abilities and limited parking space which can make it hard to entertain a good number of family and friends

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Rita

I have always owned my own home because that is what I was taught. Once you finally own it no one can take it from you. My mom and dad had experienced renting growing up and did not like being made to leave at times. Renters have more laws on their side now and can almost do whatever they want to within a few limits. I have considered renting when I move especially until I find what area of town is the one I want to stay in. Both have there good qualities. Short term I would rent, long term I would give more thought to owning a home. Rent to own would be a great deal if you can work it out.

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Monica

We own. In our area it was cheaper monthly to own rather than to rent.

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OFG

I own two homes. Once since 2001 and the other since 2005! This past month we had crazy maintenance bills, but otherwise I've loved owning our houses.

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Therese

We own our home. I like the freedom to be able to change or decorate it any way we like, but we are not as mobile if we want to move.

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Margaret Davis

Since it is only DH and I, we chose to rent our home. We have moved several time due to work changes and have found that renting makes those moves much easier.

Guest's picture
rm

Home owner for 10 years.
Pros - More privacy, Can be cheaper than renting
Cons - More work (grass, repairs), Can be more expensive than renting

Guest's picture
Tyler

I rent the townhouse that I live in. Renting is great for me as a recent college grad since my rent is incredibly cheap (I split the cost 3 ways). Also, our yard work is done for us (but it isn't the best job). Another great thing is that if something breaks, I don't have to pay for it (like our fridge). There are several cons however: there are neighbors that are sometimes a bit noisy, we can't have pets, I am only investing in something that I get to keep nothing from (like a house).

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Matt

I rent, but I'm nearly ready to buy a house!

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Meggrz

I rent, and I'm not ashamed of it. I'm a single woman living in a city - it just makes sense, I don't want or need roots yet.

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Nancy

We own our home, free and clear, no mortgage. In 1984 we purchased a home in San Jose and watched property values go up and up. Then by 2011, they had come down significantly but we still were able to sell and realize enough profit from the deal to buy an even better house in a cheaper area for cash. If I had to make the rent/buy decision today, I would buy because home sale prices have come down a lot more than rents, and interest rates are low. If I were young, I'd live with relatives and save massively for the hugest down payment possible and I'd make extra payments on the principle. Of course, this is off the top of my head. I'd consult my financial advisor first.

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occhiblu

I own my home.

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Amanda

Own. It's a pain in the neck dealing with maintenance/repair issues, but I can do what I want with the place and it's less expensive than renting (in this area, for comparable space and location).

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Amanda

Always "like" you. :)

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Karen G.

We own our own home.

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Kelly

I own it. Well, really the bank owns it now, but I will in about 10 years!

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John Schmoll

My wife and I own our home. We bought about 5 years ago, within about six months of the market crashing. We love having our own house as we rented for the first seven years of marriage. One of the biggest pro's is not living communally, meaning we don't have to put up with noisy neighbors with the thin walls and we also love having more space. The biggest con is that when something needs fixed, then we can't just call the landlord. Not being very good with our hands means that we've had to teach ourself some things, which takes extra time (but in the long run I imagine the learning to do for ourselves is good).

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May Huang

Rent but in proces of owning. Id rather be house poor and invest than give my $ to someone else.

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Reese

Rent

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Becky

Own.. it is ours to do with as we please... although the bank expects us to pay it off first and the government will take it away if we don't pay the taxes, but that is a different topic. :-)

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JessiO

I rent. I looked into the purchase process and I really couldn't find the advantage.

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Heather Speaks

We currently rent a town home but, are saving up to buy a home next spring..We've been at this rental for over 6 years and want a home of our own to decorate as we wish and to have more privacy.

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Leah Schertz

We've rented for the past 5 years, but were home-owners before that. We are definitely ready to go back to owning our own home!

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Angela

A pro of renting is that you don't have to worry about major repairs; a con these days is that if the owner goes into foreclosure, you have to move out. It happened to us last year.

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Amanda

I rented for years but moved in with my boyfriend last year in a suburb condo. We've come to love condo life; no exterior maintenance and the freedom to modify the inside of the home. We're about to move to a downtown condo now and couldn't be happier. While you really have to do that math to know if HOA fees are affordable and cover the common areas to your standards it's a nice compromise.

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Heather Speaks
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Chuck Boemmel

I own my home and enjoy the freedom it gives me to have a place to call my own as well as somthing I can make uniquely my own.

Guest's picture
Heather Speaks

I'm already a Facebook fan
side note: when I tried to comment earlier, it said my captcha was reused..odd.

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Julia Janzen

We "own" although owing twice as much as our house is currently worth I'd say the banks own our house more than we do at this point. :(

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Amanda

I rented for years but moved into my boyfriend's suburban condo last year. We've learned that condo life is what we want; no exterior maintenance but the freedom to modify the inside of the home. Soon we'll be moving to a condo downtown and are very excited. You really have to do the math to make sure the HOA fees are worth it and the common areas you care about are adequately addressed, but condo life is a great compromise.

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Debra K

We own our home. My parents still live in the house I was born in, and I'd like that to be the case for my kids too if at all possible.

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Debra K

I like you on FB too. :)

Guest's picture
Kaye

We own our home. Correction...we are paying to one day own the home we're living in. =) Pros - basically I like that it is ours and we have all of the say about our property. We don't have to check in with anyone to make changes. Cons - all of the problems are ours too. Plus if we needed to up and leave due to a job change or something similar, we have to deal with selling it rather than just getting out of or finishing up a lease.

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Jennifer Iley

rent

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Eric

I rent an apartment in Seattle. Can't afford to buy just yet!

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Eric

I liked you on Facebook.

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Marie

We rent. We don't have the money (or the credit) to buy. The pros for us are: flexibility - we aren't tied to a house that we can't sell if the market is bad or if jobs/schools or other opportunities come along that we have to move for; maintenance and taxes are taken care of - I'm starting a PhD program this fall we can't afford to put a new roof on a house or for a new furnace; the process is shorter and quicker - we don't have the paperwork and timing that buying a house requires. Our current landlord is very flexible so we can (within reason) decorate our rental house however we like and have a garden, ect. But we do miss the stability of having our own home and our rent money isn't going towards an investment. We have had discussions about how great the market is right now to buy so we wish we had the money to invest in a house but for now we have a small one bedroom house that meets our needs.

Guest's picture
Mauren

rent

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Ging

own it . 20 years now

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Zach

I am living at my parents while I save up the money to buy a house in the city for cash. Most of the people I know think I am crazy, they are probably right!

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Mauren

I liked you on facebook

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J Murphy

We own. The fact that we're building equity rather than paying a landlord, and that the interest is deductible are the biggest advantages. Though we're responsible for our own maintenance, at least that means things get fixed in a timely manner because we don't have to wait for a landlord to send someone over. On the "con" side, our equity and ability to sell are tied to the ups and downs of the market.

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Pamela

I own my home. But I love renting. It's so much less work.

I own a home so I can have a dog (and foster dogs). :)

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Anne

I own my home. It's 60 years old, so I guess a con would be that sometimes things break spontaneously, and then I have to fix them. This eats into my leisure time.
There are many more pros than cons for me. I love the amount of space I have. I love the flexibility: if I want to push a wall out, I can. I bought this house for the opportunity to greenify it, so I'm having a lot of fun making green plans. Also, it's great living in a neighborhood where everyone is invested in staying there for a long time. I'm learning a lot from my older neighbors, and it's just nice to live somewhere clean and be surrounded by people who care.

Guest's picture
Jackie Watson

I left my comment on Facebook.

Guest's picture

We now own a home, but were renting a house for about 2 years. I can cover both sides of this fence. We had a great experience with our landlord and haven't had any issues with purchasing, so I only have great things to say about both. We purchased because it financially made sense ($300 savings per month) and we are a growing family (working on our 2nd child). Having a place that we can customize for our own family and have some stability made a lot of sense. Renting was good as well. We were able to travel a bit more and didn't really need to worry about a lot of financial burden. Any repairs were on the landlord and the yard wasn't a huge concern. Now we have to deal with all repairs and HOA rules about how the yard is to look. I love our house and can't imagine going back to Renting unless something horrible happened. Below I've made a quick Pro/Cons list. Hope this helps people. We didn't rent an apartment as a family, so no list for that.

Owning:
Pros: IT'S YOURS, stability, equity, security, customizable, long term, Pets, for us a lower monthly note
Cons: Repairs, general maintenance, insurance (flood, fire, home, wind, etc.), mortgage obligation, don't like your neighbors? can't move immediately

Renting:
Pros: Not Yours, lower risk, short term, cheaper insurance (contents only), sometimes cheaper, don't like neighbors? move,
Cons: Failure of landlord might cause you to lose your dwelling, possible bad landlord, deposits, pet policies (might be allowed, but for fees generally), low growth potential, no equity

Guest's picture

https://twitter.com/edwil/status/230338585100951552

@edwil @wisebread #WBAsk I own my home

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Monica Platz

I just bought a house in January after renting for several years -- I got a great price!

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Andrew

Rent. I've heard its not as cost effective, but would love to see a breakdown of the costs.

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Betty D

I'm a renter and completely happy. I have a great apartment, in a great town, and the management is the best. When I retire, I plan to buy a small home in a retirement community, where prices are much cheaper. I'll also have much more time to take care of a house.

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Betty D

I liked you and your post on Facebook.

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Valerie

I rent because I move around a lot so it doesn't make sense for me to buy.

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Valerie

I liked you on Facebook.

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Betty D

I responded On Twitter. https://mobile.twitter.com/#!/1bets1/status/230347716797034496

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Mer

Own. If anything breaks it's on me & my family, not the landlord.

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Sara N

We own our condo - con is having to take care of maintenance and repairs but the pro is feeling stable.

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Carolyn

I own the home I've lived in for 30 years where I raised 2 my sons. After losing my husband last year and having to pay for many home repairs in my aging home, I'm considering downsizing to a rental.

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Rebecca B. A. R.

My parents bought our single family home for $23,000 a year and a half ago, and we are paying them back the money for it. We had to put a new water heater in it, and had to put a couple thousand dollars worth of work done on it, but otherwise it is in good shape. We feel very blessed that my parents were able and willing to do this for us, and are very grateful to them. We have 2 dogs and 10 cats, so renting is not an option for us.

Guest's picture

we own our house and have for many years.

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Kik PA

I am a home-owner, soon to sell. I am hoping that my sale price will show this to have been a wise decision, compared to renting, however I am not too sure this will be the case. Fingers crossed.

PROs (reasons I chose to purchase): I can decorate as I like. I can keep my furry friends without added monthly costs. In a good market, I am building equity.

CONs : To sell, I must remove my decorations and spackle accordingly. My furry friends also create additional costs when selling. In a bad market, I am losing equity.

Wish me luck!

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Carmen

We own. I would find it very difficult to go back to renting. The cons of owning are that you have to do your own upkeep and maintenance to the residence and land. But for me there are far more benefits: * you can decide how the land/house should look * you can paint rooms whenever and whatever color you want * you still have to deal with neighbors, but they are further away - not just above, below or directly next to you *we can have a garden * we can have a clothesline (as long as covenants allow for it). We even have chickens!

Guest's picture

We own our home in Denver. We paid 30% down and plan on renting it once we move. We did the same with our past home in Los Angeles and we're more than covering the mortgage. We like this model.

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Carol Walker

We own our home. Bought and paid for:its only a trailer, but it sits on almost 3 acres. Its nice not having to put up with neighbors.

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Guest

I own my home!

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Samantha

We own; it's definitely more expensive--we rented while saving so we'd have 20% down-payment for our house. Our quality of life is significantly improved in our house--we have a lot more space, we can entertain friends more easily, we like the freedom to make repairs and changes on our own. Our mortgage (incl taxes) is slightly less than our rent--so how can it be so much more expensive? Everything we disliked in our apartment was ultimately someone elses--there was nothing to do about it! So we put up with cracked vinyl flooring in the kitchen, wood floors that sometimes gave splinters, ancient windows that let in a lot of cold air. Conversely, with everything we don't like in our own house, we can choose to fix it--and a lot of times there are truly optional things where it might make more sense to delay. I do feel like our house is a bit of an indulgence for us; we only own one car, we don't take fancy vacations, etc. Right now we're OK with where we are, but I think that in the long-run, I'd like to be putting less money into the house--particularly since the bank is still the majority owner!

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KelR1

I've been a homeowner for four years now. The cons? Having a big mortgage payment and not having the freedom to walk away as easily as you can when you rent. If the market and my neighborhood were better I would say a pro would be the fact that the house is an asset but, right now, mine isn't worth much, unfortunately.

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KelR1

Like you on FB.

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Carolyn

We rent (and have done so for the past 5 years) and love it. The pros - it allows us to have a nice sized apartment with lots of great perks, such as the pool, gym, and walking trail. It also makes things easy if we need to move for whatever reason, as we did last summer to get closer to my boyfriends new place of work. Any problems are quickly fixed with a phone call, and we are still able to paint and add personal touches to the walls. The cons - not gaining equity in the property. Having spent over $50,000 in the last 5 years on rent with little to show is frustrating to think of, but not enough for me to buy right now. Also, pet fees are ridiculous! A down payment plus $30 per month per pet. We have 2 cats and this has always annoyed me.

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Carrie

We are renting. The first place we had, we didn't have to pay rent on because one of my husband's clients (he's a lawyer) worked out a deal to let us stay there in exchange for legal service. Unfortunately, the house was foreclosed, and we had to move. The place we're renting now is OK. My husband likes that yard care and snow plowing are covered by someone else. I like that it's out in the country. He doesn't like that it's out in the country. The walls are plaster, which means there can't be anything hung on them. The one decoration we have is a plaque of a duck that is plastered onto the wall. Not my favorite. :) We're sacing money to buy a small home free and clear.

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Karen

I own my home. We paid off the mortgage in 2010!

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Guest

We own our home. We bought it 8 1/2 years ago with 20% down and paid off the mortgage aggressively. We paid off the house in full after 6.5 years!

It's an average house in an average neighborhood in an average city. We've also had to put a lot of money in repairs, about 20% of what we paid for it. And the value has dropped by 25% according to the property assessor's office, due to the housing bust.

My philosophy is, we have to live *somewhere*. If we'd been paying rent all these years, we'd have spent over $100k on rent alone.

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Lisa

We're buying our little house so will own it someday.

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lostAnnfound

We own our home, same one for the past 21+ years. It is close to our extended family and is the only home our two teens have ever lived in. That said, now that they are getting older (first one going to college in a few weeks) we are looking to the time when we can sell it. Once they kids are done with school and are on their own, we will be selling and moving on, travel a bit and we don't want the responsibility of a house to hold us back at that time.

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rae

I rent. I live in chicago, and cannot afford the property taxes. :(

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Tracey

My husband and I are renters once again after owning our own home for 7 years. i have to say, we sleep better at night right now knowing that if the water heater blows (which ours did) or the house floods (which ours did, 3 times!) we aren't responsible for the bill anymore. We can focus on savings and retirement without worrying about unexpected housing repairs for the time being. Do I miss being able to decorate and paint to my heart's desire? A little bit, but we now live in a bigger space and we are perfectly happy renting. ;)

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Paul

I own...for now. In fact, I have never rented. I've had fun as I've remodeled, mowed the lawn, wresteled with plumbing and electricity, moved buckets hither and yon to catch raindrops in the living room (while I searched the yellow pages for a roofer who was hungry for work and eager to get started on July 4th). However, I'm looking forward to cashing in my equity in the next few years (yes, there's equity) and getting to know what it's like to rent. I look forward to dialing the landlord when the heat goes on the fritz, when the shower head gets clogged, and when I'm going out of town on vacation (so he can help himself to the newspaper in my absence).

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Jesse

We own our home. In one year from today, it will be COMPLETELY ours!

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Beth M.

Own.

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Maura

I have owned a condo for 10 years, and I'm just about to buy a house with my fiance. I rented in the same condo development for 6 years before buying -- stupidly, I thought as a single woman that I didn't want to tie myself down to owning a place. I also didn't know much about home maintenance and liked the idea that a landlord would fix everything.

I totally regret throwing away rent all those years and paying down my landlord's mortgage rather than building my own equity. Turns out, over 10 years, I've only had to make a few minor repairs, nothing that would be worth all the years of equity I've built here. Plus, I've saved thousands in taxes every year by being able to make a mortgage deduction.

If the monthly cost of renting is just about the same as mortgage + insurance, you've also got to factor in how much you save in taxes by deducting your mortgage interest. But the biggest factor for me is that every month, you are building equity, building wealth. With renting, you're just building someone else's wealth over time.

My parents never owned a home - we rented the same apartment for 44 years, and they retired and had nothing in life that they owned. They were pretty poor, though, and couldn't come up with a down payment (or at least told themselves they couldn't). My fiance's parents, on the other hand, had good middle class jobs but chose to rent single family homes for his whole childhood not because they couldn't afford to buy but because they didn't want to deal with having to repair a leaking roof or clean gutters. Now they're in their early 70's and still renting. If they had bought the house they rented in the 1970's, not only would they have it entirely paid off by now, but they could have sold it for $600,000 more than they paid for it, as property values have gone up that much, and they'd be sitting on a nest egg of more than a half million dollars. Instead, they are still just living month to month.

That's why we opt to own a home.

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Ingrid Holmberg

I own a townhome. The upside? I can do anything I want to it. The downside? Things break, and taxes!

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Eileen

I currently rent. Pros: easy to move out quickly if a new job opportunity comes up in a different location, easy to call someone to fix things. Cons: the carpet color, and I wish I could implement all of those fun Pinterest decorating projects but it seems silly to spend money improving a space that I don't own!

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PurlGurl

I 'liked' you on FB and I own my home. I spent a year living with my mother, saving every single penny I could, until I qualified for my first, tiny little bachelor apt. It's been 5 years and I've been able to upgrade to a 3 bed apt.
I love knowing that the space I live in is mine and I don't have to ask permission before I paint or redecorate. I also like knowing that the rent isn't going to increase, and that in 10 years, I'll have a nice chunk of money in equity. It's the best 'savings plan' I can think of.

Guest's picture

rent apartment

Guest's picture

I rent and I happily outsource all problems to my landlord. I am limited on the level of personalization I'm allowed, but I wouldn't trade it right now!

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Liz

We own. My husband bought our condo years before he met me (and before the real estate crash). We love it because we have the option to do what we want here (like have our cats) and our association dues pay for common upkeep. I don't have to shovel, garden, or deal with other exterior upkeep. The only real negatives we have are (1) having to pay for repairs and (2) not being able to move any time soon. Luckily, we like where we live (and the area is ideal for our dual commutes), but there are times when it'd be nice to have a little more flexibility.

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Lisa

I've always rented, but get the comment frequently from my dad to "buy a house". Owning a home is different now that when he first bought/built a house. The starting costs are higher, taxes are higher, and the equity is lower. I find it difficult to save money for a downpayment right now because I am single and trying to tackle other expenses, such as car payment, student loans, rent, and credit card debt.

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MELISSA HANSSON

We are currently renting, but we are in the market to buy - just waiting for the right house to come along. I can see the benefits to both renting and owning.

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MELISSA HANSSON

Liked on Facebook. Thanks!

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Rebekah

rent!

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Carole Truesdale

I own my home, really own it - no motgage, no home loans, etc. I paid off a 15-year mortgage by living frugally. I still follow that lifestyle. Last week I got a leather shoulder bag, 1 top, 2 blouses, and a T-shirt for about $20 at Goodwill.
CaroleInMN

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Bethany

We rent from my in-laws. We have invested a lot in their property as well, so kind of a mixture of both, I suppose.