Once upon a time, it was everyone’s aim, to own their own home. It was what you hoped for, worked for and saved for, your very own roof over your head, your very own walls, your very own front door, somewhere you could call home, somewhere to raise your children. It was where you would land in life, and it was unlikely you would move on, it would be every young couple’s dream. The ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ might be called upon to help with the deposit, or you might be lucky enough to get an inheritance at the right time, or pennies would be scrimped and saved.
Then the anguish of deciding which mortgage to apply for and oh, the joy of getting the money from the bank! The husband would be happy to work in a job for life, knowing in 40 years or whatever, it would all be paid for.
Nowadays, I think things are different. People don’t have a job for life and are much more transient. People travel to different parts of the country - indeed to different parts of the world – for their jobs, and perhaps purchase their home later in life, or maybe don’t buy at all, but rent.
There are pros and cons for both buying and renting. Buying a property is touted as an investment that is likely to build equity, and has historically been something we should all do, for security for the future. Having your own home builds a sense of belonging. At the end of the day, it will be an inheritance for your children.
If you are buying, you are sure to be throwing away money on mortgage interest, and renovation projects may not increase the property value by more than what you spent! If housing prices go up you are laughing when you sell, or maybe not if they go down and you will lose out – it's an unknown factor which way the market will go in the future.
If you don't have a sufficient, stable income, it might not be the right time to buy, and if you are only going to stay less than 3 years, it probably doesn’t make financial sense to buy.
But renting has its benefits too. Renting might be considered dead money, or throwing money away, but you are buying somewhere to stay without being anchored down.
Financially, you know exactly what your outgoing are month on month, no nasty surprises suddenly appear, like the roof needs replacing, and if you travel and change jobs frequently it is easier to move on. Your landlord will (hopefully) take care of the repairs and maintenance (maybe not as quickly as you would do it yourself if it was your own home!). The downside is if you want to rent long-term, and your landlord wants his house or apartment back, so you need to check your lease carefully or there may be some insecurity felt.
A little story – my father came out of the RAF after WW2, and although he had a good stable job, neither he nor my mother had two pennies to spare to buy a home, so they rented a council house. Many years later, the council started selling off council houses and they were offered the house they were renting. After much debate, they decided they would continue to rent, as they put it: ‘if anything major happens, it's not down to us’. They continued to rent until they passed away.
There are two sides to every coin, and ultimately only you can decide which option is best for you.
Of course, there is another alternative – squatting! (But you didn’t hear that from me!)