The great American home-ownership hype is just that: hype. Because the facts just don’t line up.
Here’s what shocks me: the number of people I know who go through unbelievable things just to own a house.
They commute four hours a day. Or work two jobs. They forgo vacations and other things that would give them a much higher quality of life.
They add an incredible amount of stress to their lives for the privilege of having…
Sometimes a big one.
Life becomes all about making a mortgage payment. Or not making it.
It shocks me that so many people believe that if they do not own a house, they have failed.
That being unable to afford their mortgage is something to be ashamed of.
That without home ownership, they have lost the American Dream.
What a bunch of bullshit.
Would it surprise you to know that before 1950 less than half of Americans owned their homes? In some states and areas, the number was significantly less than half.
That the “American Dream” was hype originated by the mortgage and realty industries?
Here’s a news flash: you can live very well without owning a home. In fact, in many more circumstances than you might think, renting is the wisest financial decision. By a long shot.
But we don’t think it through– we buy the knee-jerk idea that home ownership is necessary.
Look, for most of us, the days when people bought a house and built substantial equity over 30 years are gone.
So are the days when a couple stayed in a house their entire lifetime. My parents stayed in their second home until they got old, but I’ve had way too many homes to count in that same time span. People are more mobile today.
Tax breaks are not that significant for most of us.
The housing market is not always healthy. For many, the home is not as the investment it once was.
Buying home means obligating yourself to way more than a mortgage. It means taxes (sometimes, substantial), insurance and maintenance. Sometimes, a hefty condo fee. These are not insignificant financial obligations.
We own our current home free and clear, but there have been many periods of my life when I was a happy renter. And I would rent again.
Here’s what I love about renting: the freedom. I can leave without needing to sell a house and possibly (probably) losing money.
I also love the savings. No property taxes. No big insurance policies.
And best of all, renting has fewer repair hassles: when the (A/C, plumbing, fill-in-the-blank) breaks down, someone else pays for the fix.
So let’s stop thinking not owning a home is the end of the world. It’s time for an attitude adjustment. A shift in thinking.
To my friends who are hanging their heads because they have or might lose their homes, start thinking creatively.
What if you didn’t jump through ridiculously complex hoops to “keep the house?” What if you could live within your current means, and pretty well and without encumbering more debt?
What if you found a nice rental home?
What if you didn’t buy into home-ownership hype?
What if you were surprised at how much better your life was without a mortgage?