Wondering If You Should Buy or Rent? Here Are the Pros and Cons of Both

published Mar 26, 2020
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When I bought my house, I was so excited to leave the life of rentals behind me. I didn’t like paying every month to something that wasn’t mine. I didn’t like relying on someone else to fix things on their own schedule rather than when I wanted it done. I wanted more space; I wanted more flexibility.

Owning vs. renting

And I had it after buying—for a little bit. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I really didn’t enjoy owning a home. It was a lot of work. Anything that went wrong (and believe me, things went wrong), I had to figure out on my own. The house was a renovated 1940s cottage with a lot of problems and a huge yard. It was too difficult for me to handle on my own, and I learned that I actually liked having other people tackle the tough stuff.

But I know others strongly feel different. Whether you decide to rent or own is a personal decision—but that doesn’t mean it’s not a tough one.

What are the pros and cons of renting or buying a home?

Should you buy or should you rent? Use these pros and cons lists to give you a better look at the advantages and disadvantages of both.

The Pros of Renting

  • It’s not a permanent home. You could move every year if you wanted to—or even more frequently if you nab a short-term lease.
  • Someone else does all the hard work for you. Water damage? Call the landlord. Broken stove? Landlord! You aren’t responsible for those kinds of fixes—unless you caused some major damage yourself.
  • Yard maintenance isn’t a problem. Usually, the landlord takes care of it.
  • Depending on the city, you have excellent renter’s rights. That means you can’t be jerked around by a bad landlord for no reason—you have legal options to back you up.

The Cons of Renting

  • It’s not a permanent home. Rentals are transient by nature, and either you or your landlord could decide to terminate your lease.
  • You have to be careful about your decorating choices. Not every apartment will allow you to put nail holes or screws in the wall, nor will many allow you to paint.
  • Pets may be a no-go. Landlords can get really picky about what animals are in your apartment.
  • Bad landlords abound, and you may end up with a really big jerk in control of your living situation.
  • Repairs are on someone else’s timeline. You don’t get to dictate when things are done, or how.
  • Poof! Your money disappears into a rent payment that doesn’t do anything for your credit.

The Pros of Buying

  • It’s a permanent home. You own it. Want to stay in that house for 20 years? Go for it, it’s yours.
  • Make all the changes you want—no one is there to tell you no.
  • Having a mortgage boosts your credit score.
  • You can have an entire house to yourself, rather than just a small apartment within one.
  • Pets! Get all the pets! No one will stop you from living in a zoo.

The Cons of Buying

  • It’s a permanent home. It’s not easy to just pick up and move when you own a house.
  • A mortgage is a massive loan—and if you default on it or go into foreclosure, it could mean serious ramifications.
  • You have to handle everything yourself, from yard work to leaky faucets to broken shingles, and finding a good contractor can be a pain.

Is it better to rent an apartment or buy a house?

It really depends on what you’re looking for in a living space. How much room do you need? Do you want to tackle all the maintenance yourself? What about lawn work? When you rent an apartment, you’ll generally have a smaller space, but you won’t have to worry about most maintenance or lawn care expenses. With a house, though, that’s completely different. Homeowners are responsible for everything, and in some cases, have the added hurdle of dealing with a homeowner’s association and the restrictions that come with one. On the bright side, though, you generally won’t have restrictions on how to decorate and you’ll have more space.

So, what do you prefer? A smaller space with less responsibilities, or a larger space with more responsibility, but also more flexibility? It’s definitely something to weigh the pros and cons of before you decide.