Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Renting is the New Normal
For many of us, the idea of owning our own home is hardwired. Despite this, changes in the economy and the seemingly unstoppable rise of housing prices have many people rethinking this deep-seeded assumption. I always marveled at how people in New York or London seemed free from the pull of home ownership—it was just plain too expensive, and so rent became a fact and a cost of life, like food or transportation. As this reality sets in, and increasingly becomes the new normal, there are some real advantages to renting for life that are starting to come into focus.
Flexibility and Mobility:Renting affords the flexibility that owning simply cannot. As a renter you are free to pick up and go as you see fit, whether that means changing apartments, neighborhoods, or cities. You can of course move once you buy home, but renting keeps your mind open to other possibilities—like travel, change of occupation, or a work exchange—without having to worry about property taxes, renovations, or repairs. It is an increasingly mobile world, and renting really helps to facilitate that mobility.
Accessibility and Community:People have been realizing for a while now that community and accessibility are important to them. Sacrificing things like a manageable commute, or a great local coffee shop, market, or library just to be able to own your own home is looking less and less appealing. People have been steadily moving back downtown for exactly this reason, but they’ve also been moving to regional hubs so they can walk or bike to work, remain close to restaurants and bars, and have a sense of neighborhood.
Finances:While interest rates are at historic lows, housing prices are at historic highs—and interest rates will eventually go up. Buying a house is no longer a sure thing. The gains in property value might not match the risk, especially when that investment is offset by the numerous expenses that come along with owning your own home. Renting allows you to stay flexible with your money, and with the property market—moving your investments or yourself as you see fit.
The notion of renting for life does require a shift in perspective for some of us, but once you start thinking a little differently about how you want to live your life renting makes more and more sense. These are strange economic times, but the biggest and most immediate benefit is a newfound sense of freedom in how we work and how we live. The financial gains might not be the same as they once were, but we have gained a lot in self-determination, and renting is the living solution best suited to maintaining that independence.