There's no arguing there's costs associated with owning a home. But the adverse is also true; there are also definite costs associated with NOT owning a home. The benefits of buying vs. renting has always been a hotly debated topic, with most people believing that — at least in the short term — renting is more cost effective. But most people don't consider the hidden costs of not owning a home and sinking all of your money into your rental. Here are four sneaky ways that not owning a home will cost you:
1. Your pricing is never guaranteed
When you own a home, there are no surprises when it comes to your monthly housing costs. Once you lock in your mortgage, your payment will remain constant throughout the length of your loan (unless you decide to refinance in the future). The stability of having a mortgage gives you the peace of mind of knowing what to expect each month — and not having to worry about unpleasant surprises that completely throw off your budget. When you don't own a home, it's different. You're at the mercy of your landlord; they can (and often will) change the price of your rent often to keep up with market prices. So what does that mean for you? Well, it means the price you agreed to rent the house or apartment for is not necessarily the price if will rent for in the near future, which leaves you with two options: agree to a higher price or find a new place to live (which is an expensive endeavor itself).
2. Investing in home improvement is a lost cause
Everyone wants to feel comfortable in the place they call home — whether they own or rent. And that means different things to different people; maybe it's cosmetic changes (like painting walls or hanging art) or more practical changes (like installing insulated windows to moderate the temperature). When you own a home, making the improvements necessary to make your home feel comfortable makes sense. Whatever you do to improve your home will only increase the value, making it a sound investment choice. But when you don't own your home, making improvements to your home is like throwing money away. If you paint your walls or hang too much art on the walls, you'll likely have the cost of getting the property repainted deducted from your security deposit when you move out. You can spend the money to install the insulated windows, but they're not coming with you (and the only person that investment makes sense for is your landlord). Some landlords might not even allow you to make any improvements or changes at all. Everyone wants to improve the place they live. But if you don't own a home, making those improvements just isn't a sound investment.
3. You can't always get what you want
When you own a home, you get to choose the services and amenities you enjoy. You can choose between satellite and cable television. You can choose which service providers you want to work with. You can install solar panels if you want to save money on energy costs. When you don't own a home? Not so much. When you rent a home, you're locking into the services and amenities that are tied to that property. Your landlord gives you a list of approved vendors you have no choice but to work with - and often times, those vendors aren't the most cost-efficient. If you live in an apartment community, you'll also have to pay for the amenities of that apartment community, like a pool, gym, or resident's lounge - even if you don't want them or don't use them. And all of those costs can quickly add up. When you own a home, you make the choices on what you want to pay for, which can save you a lot of cash.
4. You're not building any wealth
Perhaps the biggest cost of not owning a home is the fact that you're not building any wealth. When you rent a home, you're giving your money to someone else; you're paying for the right to live there for a predetermined period of time. When that predetermined period of time is over, you walk away with nothing; all of that money is gone. When you own your home, every time you make a mortgage payment, you're paying down your loan and building equity in your home. This is one of the fastest and most efficient ways to build wealth — and is a significantly better investment than throwing your money away on rent every month. You already know that buying a home is a better investment. But when you factor in all the hidden costs of not owning a home, it might be the less expensive one as well.