For the past 15 months or so, I’ve been a renter, after being a homeowner for about four years. When my wife and I owned a home, we spent many thousands of dollars on repairs and upgrades, used about half of the available space, and often felt angst about the housing market and stress about what sorts of things we needed to do next to keep our home in good working order. We then sold the house and cleared just enough money to pay the realtor’s commission. We rented a place much more to our liking, in a much more desirable location, pay less rent than we paid in mortgage, and lowered our home maintenance costs to a rounding error. (Contrast that to my home maintenance bills, which in the first year of home ownership added up to more than we paid in rent the previous year.)
Needless to say, I am much happier as a renter, and was gratified to read the following in Philip Greenspun’s guide for early retirees:
If you can rent anything decent, try to avoid buying property. Think about the most interesting people you know. Chances are, most of them are renters. People who rent talk about the books that they’ve read, the trips that they’ve taken, the skills that they are learning, the friends whose company they are enjoying. Property owners complain about the local politicians, the high rate of property tax, the difficulty of finding competent tradespeople, the high value of their own (very likely crummy) house or condo, and what kinds of furniture and kitchen appliances they are contemplating buying. Property owners are boring. The most boring parts of a property owner’s personality is that which relates to his or her ownership of real estate.