Renting Versus Buying: A Pro and Con Comparison
When you’re looking for your first home, one of the first decisions you’ll have to make is whether to rent or buy. It’s a big question.
There are a lot of differences to consider, so it’s important to carefully weigh the pros and cons of each to help you decide which is best for your lifestyle.
Read on for a few insights to help you make this important decision.
Thinking about Renting?
- Pro: Very Little Commitment
- Con: Limited Personalization
- Pro: Ready Availability
- Con: You’re Paying Someone Else
- Pro: Low Maintenance
- Con: Unpredictability
- Pro: Equity and Tax Benefits
- Con: Costs of Being an Owner
- Pro: Control Your Space
- Con: Less Mobility
- Pro: You Can Become a Landlord
Thinking About Renting?
Renting is a popular choice, especially for people starting out and looking for their first place. It can fit your lifestyle if you’re looking for something with a little more freedom and flexibility, for example, if you do a lot of travelling.
Here are a few pros and cons to consider when trying to decide whether or not renting is right for you.
Pro: Very Little Commitment
With renting, there is often very little financial commitment involved, especially when compared to taking on the cost of a mortgage. When renting you need to consider damage deposits, post-dated cheques and lease terms, but not much beyond that.
To go along with that, it’s also much easier to move as a renter. You don’t need to take the time and money to sell your home. One month’s notice (depending on the lease) and you’re all set. If your career path means a lot of moving or relocating, this can be a big advantage.
Con: Limited Personalization
A rental property belongs to the landlord, which means in most cases you won’t have the opportunity to change anything. Often, if you want to paint, switch out fixtures or even hang pictures, you need to consult your landlord.
You should also bear in mind that any money and effort you do spend on upgrades will be lost once you move.
Pro: Ready Availability
Sometimes, it’s easier to find a rental property in your community of choice rather than having to worry about lot sizes or home models. If the rental market in your city is good, then you’ll have plenty of options.
This means you may have to sacrifice your preferred home style for a convenient neighbourhood, however.
Con: You’re Paying Someone Else
When it comes to building equity, buying is always the better option. When you rent, you’re helping someone else build their nest egg when you could be building your own! Not to mention, the landlord can decide to raise the rent at any time, and in that case, your options are to pay more or move when your lease is up.
Pro: Low Maintenance
Renting means your landlord takes care of any maintenance involved with your building. If something stops working, they are generally obligated to fix it. This is a huge bonus, especially if you’re not handy.
You also won’t need to worry about covering the cost of those repairs, which will help you stay on track when it comes to your monthly budget.
Because your landlord owns your home, things will be done on their timetable rather than yours. For example, if they want to replace your balcony or do other major repairs, it’ll happen when it’s convenient for them, not for you.
Rent increases can also happen at inopportune times, although there are some limits on how frequently this can happen.
In a worst-case scenario, the landlord could even sell the building. Leases and rental agreements will, of course, offer some protection so it won’t be a disaster, but this unpredictability can make it difficult to plan beyond the next year or two.
Sterling Homes offers multi-family models (duplexes and townhomes) and single-family models (front attached and laned homes) that are comparable or in some cases, better than renting.
Buying a home is the best way to gain security from your home – unlike renting, buying a home can result in large profits down the road.
Here are a few pros and cons to consider when it comes to buying:
Pro: Equity and Tax Benefits
As mentioned above, owning a home builds equity – giving you the chance to financially prosper. As well as this, it’s cheaper! For example, the average Edmonton mortgage costs $1,568 per month. Rent of a higher-end, two-bedroom apartment can cost upwards of $2,500. That’s a savings of more than $10,000 per year you can put in your pocket!
Unlike with renting, every time you make a mortgage payment you’re reducing your debt and owning more and more of your home. Once the mortgage is fully paid and you own it completely, you can use the equity to make other large purchases like a car or even a second home.
If you’re a first-time buyer, there are also a number of financial perks available. For example, the First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit (which we discussed in our post Down Payment Basics for First Time Buyers) gives first-time homebuyers money back on their first home purchase.
Con: Costs of Being an Owner
There are a few miscellaneous fees that can come with buying a home, such as opening and closing costs, taxes, and insurance. You’ll also have to factor in the opportunity cost of your investment – for example, you might find you’ll need to put aside a bigger emergency fund in case something breaks or your employment situation suddenly changes. The investment in a new home is worthwhile overall; just be prepared to factor in these costs.
Pro: Control Your Space
You have complete and total control over the design elements of your space! This means no matter what your personal style, you can customize your home without worry.
Having this type of freedom is a huge perk of owning your own home.
Con: Less Mobility
Which brings us to our next “pro” point.
Pro: You Can Become a Landlord
Generate some additional income by renting a room or purchasing a house with a basement suite. This is the perfect way to save some money, and help pay down your mortgage.
In some cases, renting a space can cover your mortgage completely. Sterling Homes offers plan options that include basement development and In-law suites making your decision easier to buy instead of rent.
When looking at whether to rent or buy, you need to assess your needs closely. Now that you have a better grasp on the benefits of each, you can make an informed choice on which option is best suited to your lifestyle.
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Originally published May 4, 2017, updated Jan 14, 2020.