Graduated Learning: Life after College

I got my degree, I got a job…now what?

Not All of My Friends are Buying Houses: Sarah and Michael are Happy to be Renting August 4, 2011

Filed under: Personal Finance — Stephanie @ 10:54 pm
Tags: , , ,

Not all of my friends are buying houses.  Some are renting, and plan to rent for a while.  So here’s the next guest post.  Meet Sarah (and her boyfriend Michael).  They’ve come to the conclusion that renting is the right choice for them [for now].  Here’s their story:

Why Renting is Cool

Renting can get a bad rap financially, but it’s still a good option for some people. Like us, for example. We’re Michael and Sarah, DINKs who live in the Space Coast Area of Florida. We’ve been dating for 2.5 years and living together for almost 2 years. We moved in together relatively early in our relationship because I (Sarah) was laid off not long after we started dating. Fortunately I was able to find another job not long after Michael moved in to my two bedroom apartment and we’ve been living together ever since.

Last spring, 5 couples we are friends with were all looking to buy houses (all of whom ended up buying houses). This got Michael and me thinking about what our future plans were. We were all enticed by the $8000 new home buyer credit that was due to expire. Michael asked me how long I wanted to stay in the apartment. To be honest, I hadn’t really through about it. I broached the idea of buying a house, but Michael said that he really didn’t want us to buy a house together until we were married. I agreed, because I figured the process would be slightly trickier in terms of finances. However, we both agreed that we were outgrowing the apartment. We decided the next best thing would be to rent a house.

We started looking at homes to rent in our area to get an idea of what was available and what we could afford. Given that we are both engineers and nerds, we created a Google Docs spreadsheet to keep track of what we found. We listed our “Must Haves”, “Wants”, and “Dealbreakers”. Then we had a separate tab which listed addresses, square footage, rent, distance to work, and links to the listing for each potential house.

As we were building our spreadsheet, but before we had actually gone to look at any of the places we had so meticulously researched, a friend of ours (one of the ones who was looking for a new house) offered to rent us his current house. He and his wife had just brought home a new baby and were looking to move farther out of the city. They didn’t want to sell the house for less than they had bought it for only 2.5 years earlier.  They also didn’t want to rent to strangers. It was a perfect match! It ended up taking a little longer than we had hoped for them to find a house, but it worked out in the end. We moved into the house at the end of September. In hindsight, moving on a Saturday during college football season probably wasn’t the best idea. Oh well. Live and learn!

Our house is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath, with a game room upstairs and an office. It has an open floor plan and a two car garage. We see it as a kind of “practice home”. It’s the first time either of us has ever had to worry about lawn care. We’ve enjoyed having more space to decorate and spread out two apartments worth of stuff. That was a problem when Michael first moved in as we had duplicates of many items. We ended up cramming most of his stuff (TV, dining set, couch, etc) in the second bedroom of my old place because there was nowhere else to put it. We also like having actual guest rooms for guests (STEPHANIE!).
As for our future plans, we’ve talked about signing another year lease with our landlords. We still agree that we don’t want to buy a house until we get married. Some friends have suggested that we should buy a house, but we don’t feel ready, financially or otherwise. We don’t believe this area has hit rock bottom just yet in terms of the housing market. With the space shuttle program ending, a lot of people in this area have lost their jobs. One city in the area is tied for having the 15th worst economic recovery.   Michael and I don’t want to feel rushed into buying a house. We are using the time to save up for a house. We don’t plan on renting forever, but for now, we’re perfectly happy where we are.

I think I’m similar to Sarah and Michael.  In a serious relationship, but not quite ready to buy a house.  Taking the time to save up before making a big purchase!

What about you?  Are you a happy renter?  A reluctant renter?  Or have you taken the housing plunge and bought a place?

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11 Responses to “Not All of My Friends are Buying Houses: Sarah and Michael are Happy to be Renting”

  1. Grace Says:

    I bought a house with my fiance before we were married. The only financial difference was that we had to update the title after we got married, because it offered better protection (tenancy in joint rather than in common). We were already living together and sharing finances. The mortgage people didn’t care. Plus we got to get married in the house, which saved money and made both the wedding and the house more special. Something to consider.

    • Stephanie Says:

      Hi Grace,

      Thanks for the information! I guess it just sounds easier to wait until you’re married since then you’ll be more likely to “officially” combine finances (and be able to deal with taxes more efficiently). That’s really cool that you got married in your house! What an awesome idea!

  2. What a great series!

    Right now I am renting and happily renting. I have really cheap rent and am pretty close to work, so this situation has been working well for the last few years.

    I would eventually like to buy a home, but I am in no rush to do it right now.

  3. I’m both a homeowner AND a renter. I own a home (actually, I own a triplex — three homes under one roof!). The rent I collect on any given unit is higher than the rent I pay to live across the street. So I rent. Yes, I rent across the street from my own house. Weird, huh?

    • Stephanie Says:

      Well, I guess living across the street from the place you own makes being a landlord a lot easier! Do you think you’ll ever move into one of the units in the triplex? Or move to yet another place and buy?

  4. Bonnie Says:

    I’m in a LTR but we’re not married (reason #1 I don’t want to buy) yet and I want the freedom/mobility to move to another city if we need to for jobs. I did bregrudgingly sign another lease at my landlord’s insistence; I prefer month-to-month myself. But a lease is a lot easier to get out of than a mortgage if your job or circumstances change quickly.

    • Stephanie Says:

      Yeah, even though it’s doable to buy without being married, it seems complicated to me! And I agree, it’s much easier/cheaper to get out of a lease than a mortgage. You’d have to hope that your house sells for more than you bought it for, and that you can sell it in a timely manner…yep, without job security (which honestly no one has these days), buying just makes things trickier!

  5. Jessye Says:

    As someone smitten with HGTV and DIY, I dream about the day I can be a homeowner. Alas, that day is probably a good five years in the future. Am I jealous of friends who have their own place currently? Yes, yes I am. But I also am aware it’s really just not an option right now.

    I live with my fiance in an awesome apartment in North Buffalo where our rent is cheap – and if it’s cheap for Buffalo, it’s probably heart-attack cheap for anyone else, haha ($700 a month). Utilities are reasonable – the neighborhood is wonderful, our landlords are our downstairs neighbors and the most lovely people I’ve ever met. My only complaint is there is not driveway parking – we’re stuck on the street which isn’t always overflowing with spots. But it’s something you learn to live with.

    Until now I’ve managed to have overflowing debt, but I am starting grad school this fall. Additionally we’re going to be married Sept. 22, 2012. So financially there’s a lot going on in the near future. My thought has always been if you’re going to do something, do it right. So rather than rush into buying a house, we’ll be waiting until school debts are diminished, wedding has come and gone and we can save a proper nest egg. That being said, we don’t live lavishly by any extent of the imagination. Our vacations are usually weekend trips to stay with friends or camping, both inexpensive getaways. Our budget is tight, and I’d like to keep it that way.

    If one of us were to be offered a job elsewhere, there is freedom to move. In the grand scheme of things, I can’t fathom owning a house until there’s a baby or two in the picture and we need to find a school district for their needs. It’s nice having people taking care of any household issues, shoveling our walkway, etc. etc. As much as I would love to be painting my house crazy colors and redecorating, there is something to be said for renting – we may not be building equity, but we’re also not rushing into something we’re not prepared for financially.

    • Stephanie Says:

      Hi Jessye! Yep. I’m hooked on those TV shows, too. They always have such fun ideas!
      I’ve seen the pictures of DubbaDubs 🙂 I’m impressed with your DIY projects.
      Wow, is $700/month each or total ($1400/month)? Yeah, I guess Buffalo rents are pretty low!
      Hmm, September 22, 2012….I’ll have to save the date 🙂
      And you should schedule one of those weekend trips to come to Boston 🙂
      Yeah, I’ll be saving money for now instead of plunking down a huge amount on a house. That’s a good point about waiting until you need to find a good school district. You can wait until you’ve saved up some more money, then buy a house in a nice neighborhood.
      So glad to hear from you! Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  6. Annabelle Says:

    I’m totally happy renting, particularly because I’m still liable to up and move at anytime – and I like to keep that possibility open. Plus, my apartment is great, I don’t have to worry about shoveling, raking, mowing the lawn, or home repairs. I honestly don’t know if home ownership will ever be in the cards for me, and I’m totally happy with that!

  7. […] Not All Of My Friends Are Buying Houses: Sarah And Michael Are Happy To Be Renting – Graduated Learning takes on the age-old question: Rent or Own?    […]


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