Is Renting the Right Choice for a Single Baby Boomer?

Not all single Baby Boomers have their house paid off, want to stay where they currently live or want the headaches or expense of maintaining a home.  If you fall into one of these categories, then renting may be for you.

old-apt

Photo credit: jthetzel via Visualhunt / CC BY

 

Here are a few things you may want to consider when making your decision.

Finances

Leslie Pepper wrote on the AARP website at http://www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/info-12-2010/rent_or_own_whats_best_for_empty_nesters.html that a former Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight study showed if you bought a house in 1977 for $50,000 and the value increased to $290,500 in 2007, you would have lost $103,000 when you factor in the cost of mortgage interest, taxes, insurance, maintenance and repairs.  You may want to factor in possible gains if you would have invested the equity in your home in something other than real estate.  These numbers reflect the change in 2007, but you must also consider what happened in the 10 years after the housing bubble burst and home prices plummeted.  If you want to watch a movie on this financial disaster see “The Big Short,” the movie version of Michael Lewis’ book about a bunch of misfits who foresaw the housing and mortgage bubble and how they profited when it burst.  It’s entertaining and frustrating if you bought during that time period and/or tried to sell in the aftermath.

 

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Photo credit: stepnout via VisualHunt.com / CC BY

 

If this makes you want more information then consider this.  The Census Bureau’s 2016 report showed an overall significant decrease in rental availability in the U.S.  The two charts below compare first rental and homeownership vacancies from 1987 to 2015 and then rental availability in the U.S. and its regions from 2015-2016.  Rental availability has decreased steadily since the housing bubble burst in the middle of the last decade.  Lower availability means, rental cost are higher now and will be increasing in the future, so you need to consider how changes in your rent will affect your budget.  In addition, you’ll need to take into account the upfront and reoccurring costs.

renting-vs-owning-comparison-graph

renting-census-bureau

 

  • Security Deposit-This insures against property damage requiring repairs, delinquent rent, broken leases and other incidentals. Many states limit security deposits to 1.5 times monthly rent.

 

  • First Month’s Rent-Most landlords require the first month’s and sometimes the last month’s rent upfront.  If you move in the middle of the month, your landlord may accept a prorated rent payment.

 

  • Nonrefundable Deposits-Depending on the rental property laws in your state and your landlord’s preferences, you may be charged additional nonrefundable deposits like a pet deposit which typically range from $100 to $500, depending on the type of animal and base rent.

 

  • Monthly Rent-This can increase whenever you sign a new lease unless you live in a rent-controlled neighborhood or a city with strict renter protection laws.

 

  • Pet Rent-Instead of a pet deposit, some landlords charge pet rent in order to spread the expected cost of pet-related wear and tear over the entire rental term.  It can amount to $10 to $40 per month, depending on the animal and base rent.

 

  • Renters Insurance-For some rentals renters aren’t required to carry renters insurance for their possessions, but it’s highly recommended in the event of loss due to theft, fire and other perils. This is less expensive than homeowner insurance since costs are based on your personal property and not the structure.

 

  • Utilities-You’ll have this cost anywhere you live, but it can be much lower in some rental properties unless you’re renting a house.  Some landlords include several or all of the utilities in the monthly rent.

 

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Photo credit: Thad Zajdowicz via Visual Hunt / CC BY

 

Other financial issues you may want to consider are the loss of tax benefits you have when you have a mortgage to deduct and the fact you’re not building equity as you do with a home.

 

Peace of Mind

  • Maintenance-Never again will you be faced with a bill for a new roof, flooded basement or new appliances and fixtures.  Your maintenance person will install replacements and you’ll sometimes be able to get an upgrade like a ceiling fan if you renew your lease.  In some places, they’ll even change light bulbs, HVAC filters and help with other reoccurring maintenance.

 

  • Flexibility-If you’re moving to a new locale and want to get acquainted with the area before you buy, you may want to rent. Also, you may be unsure about how long you want to stay in a new place or may find the rental you chose was too noisy, in an inconvenient location, unsafe or not appropriate for your lifestyle in other ways.  If that’s the case, you can pack up and move at any time, but keep in mind if you leave before your lease is up, you’ll have to pay penalties which are sometimes quite steep and other moving expenses.

 

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Photo credit: mattbuck4950 via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA

 

It’s important to remember that since you don’t own the property, your landlord could sell it and you’d be out.  Your state has laws which protect your rights, so research those if your rental is sold.  If you break the terms of your lease and are evicted, you still have rights, but if you’re not a good tenant, your landlord may make the rest of your stay very uncomfortable so you move quickly.

 

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View from my balcony

 

I’ve owned and rented and found that depending on my stage of life each can have its pros and cons.  If you’re not living with someone, as a single you have many options.  You don’t need to compromise, so find what’s best for your needs and wants.  If you rent, you can easily change your mind and buy so renting may a good way to weigh your options and make an educated decision.  Wanting to age in place can factor into your choice.  I want to keep my life as simple as possible, so I now rent.  I had to get used to sharing a thin wall and neighbors who move often.  The last part can be a mixed blessing.  Good neighbors are hard to find no matter where you live.  You want to get rid of the sketchy one and beg the quiet ones to stay.  I miss my yard with its garden, but not the yard work.  I enjoy being close to the beach, stores, restaurants and other conveniences.  The pool is a real plus.  My rent is less than my last house, but I have half the square footage.  My needs include a quiet, top floor location, dishwasher, laundry and a place for my cat box, so my 1 bedroom with a bunkroom, second half bath and washer and dryer fits me to a T.  I’d like more closet space than the yard wide bedroom closet, but I’ve found storage options in my bunkroom and multiuse furniture.  I may not stay here forever but for now, I call it home.

 

Continue the adventure!

Linda Lea

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