Mr. Monkey and I sat on the couch last night, scrolling through pictures of charming older homes in our dream city (DC for short). We happily noted built-in shelves and original wood trim in pictures of older Craftsman style houses that make me want to write a check for right now. We clicked past houses with only one bathroom (one of our few real deal-breakers) and yards that are too big (we are not so into the whole yard work thing). We wondered how long it will take us to get into one of those houses.
Sigh. The whole real estate thing is a tricky subject for me.
We currently rent a great old house in a basically perfect neighborhood. We’ve been renting for five years now, after the real estate stress that came with our old house in Arizona (see here for a recap of that hot mess). We currently live in a town where it would probably be cheaper to buy a house than rent, at least in terms of the monthly payment, but since we don’t plan to live here forever renting is the clear better choice for us. We’ll rent as long as we stay here and that is fine with me.
Someday though we hope to move to DC and stay there for the long haul. DC is also a real estate market where rent is expensive compared to the cost of a mortgage for a comparable house and so I find myself crunching the numbers and trying to figure out how we can save more for a down payment. We could probably put down about 5% right now and the distance between that and the ideal 20% seems like an exceedingly long distance to cover, even if we try to tighten up the budget and put more money in savings.
I’m aware that the whole buy vs. rent debate has both financial and emotional components. I want to own a house so I can feel like we are done moving (we’ve moved seven times in the last ten years) and that the kids can grow up in one house, one neighborhood. I don’t like some of the uncertainty of renting, like when we had to move out of our last rental house because our landlord put the house up for sale. But I also like not being responsible when something breaks and at having the option of moving if some amazing job comes along or if the house that seems perfect turns out to be filled with random structural and electrical issues that renting gives us.
I know that it is sort of a blogging cliche to end a post with a question, but I am genuinely curious: do you own or rent and how do you feel about that? How would or did you decide to buy?