While buying a home often seems like the mark of adulthood and stability, there are plenty of reasons home ownership is not all it's cracked up to be. So whether you aren't in a position to buy a home at this point or you just aren't sure about taking the plunge, here are some reasons to celebrate your non-homeowner freedom.
1. You're not responsible for home repairs and maintenance.
If you buy a home, get ready to take on the management and expense of every single thing that goes wrong. And it's not just the things that break or fall apart like the leak that springs under the sink or the drain pipe that collapses underground. You're also responsible for replacing things that only have a limited lifespan: water heater, A/C unit, roof. The list goes on, and the repairs aren't cheap.
Maintenance is also a major expense: cleaning the cement and the outside of the house, landscaping, pumping the septic tank (theoretically, you shouldn't have to do this, but it's a possibility), changing outdoor light bulbs, termite bonds, performing other pest control, and repairing fencing, plus all the tools to do these things or the funds to pay for someone else to do them. Overwhelming? Yeah. This list should definitely make a possible future home buyer take pause. In fact, the "hidden" costs of homeownership add up to $9K a year—so be happy that, as a renter, you can invest that money in something else.
2.You aren't tied down to one place.
If you are going to buy a house, you should plan, according to Moneyning, to stay put for at least five years. So much can happen in five years, as we all know—big things and little things. You could simply get tired of your neighborhood; get a new job in another part of town or even across the country; have children and need to put them in school—in a better school district that's not where you live; or you may want to move to be near an elderly or ailing parent or other family member. With the amount of reasons, many beyond our control or even imagining, that could necessitate our need and desire to go somewhere else, it's somewhat perplexing that we choose to be tied down to one place.
3. You aren't throwing money away.
Yes, this a reason not to buy, though it's so often tossed about as a reason not to rent. Though it might feel good to make a monthly mortgage payment to "pay into" something that in 25 years will be yours, buying a house still involves a good amount of money down the drain. Closing costs, property taxes, interest, HOA fees, and tying up the money you're putting down (not to mention all the money you have to pay for repairs and maintenance), is all money that's going out. (Yes, there are write-offs, but check out this math from Forbes.)
4. No pressure to remodel.
Another resounding reason people strive to own is so that they can make a place "their own," whether this is through tearing down walls, having a unique backsplash, or the freedom to paint rooms to their hearts' content. But keep in mind that these things are yet another expense (Americans will spend a projected $337 billion on remodeling this year!) Indeed, if you stay in your purchased home for an extended period of time or you buy an older, outdated home, updating will probably become a compulsory expense when it's time to sell. But it's more than possible to make a place yours even if you're renting. In fact, without the pressure to make a place your own through tearing things down and building them back up, you enjoy freedom in your limitation: all your creativity is funneled to the non-permanent options you have for personalization.
5. You will have more of that most precious commodity: time.
Without all the time-suckers that home ownership entails, you also have so much more freedom with your time. You won't need to do work on the house, research and hire professionals to do work on your house, research appliances, mow the lawn or trim trees, or budget for all of these! And more!
6. You still have capital.
By not buying a home, you retain the capital that would be used for a down payment and can use it to invest in an investment that's not "ugly," as James Altucher describes. Investing in a house, by contrast, he says, is ugly because it's illiquid, has a high leverage, and isn't diverse.
7. You won't be saddled with debt.
If you're debt-free, you no doubt value the freedom in that major fact alone. Why enter into a decades-long commitment to pay off hundreds of thousands of dollars? Cherish your freedom and don't give it away too easily to a construct disguised as the American Dream.
Re-edited from a post originally published 7.21.15-LS