Why I Finally Bit the Bullet and Started Renting

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Until February of this year I had been living at home with my mom. Despite having decent savings and enough monthly income to afford rent, I was compelled to stay at home.Why?

If you live in NYC, you know that rent prices are higher than most of the country (#2 actually, behind San Francisco, according to this study in 2020), and in terms of space you’re not getting quite as much bang for your buck. And while getting a roommate can help offset the cost, you end up sacrificing/sharing more space. However, I did mention I was able to afford a modest one bedroom in Brooklyn, (I don’t pay nearly as much for my one bedroom as the Zumper average for NYC) without putting myself out. So why else was I apprehensive to rent?

This ties in with the monetary apprehension. Not only was I apprehensive because of the price/space (to be clear I don’t pay nearly as much for my one bedroom as the Zumper average for a NYC one bedroom) but even after spending that money, I wouldn’t own anything. It’s one thing if you’re paying into something that you can one day re-sell and potentially profit from. But when you rent, you own nada and, therefore, cannot profit…

…ever.

And if that wasn’t enough, there was one more reason I was apprehensive to moving out.

I would be lying if I said my apprehension was purely fiscal. While I am generally someone who welcomes change and loves trying and discovering new places/things, this would be the first time where I would be solely responsible for my environment. Picking furniture, finding an aesthetic, and actually landing on a place that I liked. It’s hard enough for me to pick a souvenir to bring back to my family and friends after traveling, let alone settle on a new place to live.

So why did I finally decide to commit to moving out?

I was not about to live at home forever. I love my mom and she’s as good a roommate as they come, but lockdown meant my physical space at home would become my physical space for a lot more time than it previously had been. I’m 27 years old and at a pivotal point in my life professionally, romantically, socially, and personally.

My focus now is growth.

In order to do that I needed to not only have my own space but also start working on being decisive and taking responsibility for how that space will be shaped. Where it will be, how it will look, what I will put into it to make it truly be mine. There were (and in some ways continue be) growing pains in this regard, but I’ve been able to piece together a part of my identity that was once limited to my bedroom.

I can’t escape the fact that I will likely never own this apartment, and all of the money I’m putting into it will not net me any profit (at least not directly). However, there are things in life that we do and spend money on without expecting a fiscal return on investment. Vacations, going on dates, therapy, all of these pursuits are done so we can live our lives fully, feel good, and continuously grow.

By living on my own, in my own space, I’m building new experiences and learning new lessons everyday. I’ve always cooked, but now that I am the one who chooses the tools with which I make meals I have a new appreciation, understanding and respect for the culinary experience, beyond ingredients. It’s also worth mentioning that not having my work station inches from my bed has made me more productive and motivated to learn and build new things (as well as write more).

Fiscally speaking, home ownership does have a more positive outlook than renting. But what does that outlook actually look like? Assuming your buying your home to resell, unless you’re flipping a house or buying an investment property, you likely won’t see any profit for years. And the amount you profit depends on how long you hold onto it.

“According to the US Census Bureau, only 37 percent of Americans have lived in their homes for more than 10 years. This is unfortunate, because in order to generate real wealth from real estate, you need to own your property for as long as possible.” — Financial Samurai

That’s also operating on a few assumptions.

  1. You can pay off the mortgage (and the interest).
  2. The value of the home appreciates.
  3. You don’t have to spend too much on repairs, upgrades, maintenance and other costs.
  4. You can actually find someone who will buy your home for the price you’re asking for. If you end up putting a lot of money into fixing/maintaining your home and not getting the price you want (or you can’t find a buyer at all), that eats into your net (if any) profit.

Right now, the best incentive for me to own a home (both long term and short term) is because I actually see myself living there for a long time and it makes me happy. The thought of making improvements to it and maintaining it doesn’t feel like investing for a profit, but rather investing for myself and working on something that is a reflection of who I am and who I want to be. The idea of renting no longer strikes me as wasting money, but rather investing in myself.

References

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