No one’s arguing the fact that Vancouver is a heated housing market. As a result, the decision to rent or own has become something of a rite of passage here in the GVA.
Overall, 70% of B.C. households own, whereas just 48% of households in Vancouver do the same. That means Vancouver already has more renters than owners. While there are many benefits to renting–less responsibility, more access to cash, no property taxes, maintenance or repairs–I’d bet a big part of why that number is so high is the price of real estate, along with the fear of not being able to keep up with a mortgage. And while there are good arguments for renting, there are just as many compelling reasons to own.
If you’re trying to decide between renting and owning, here’s a few simple questions you can ask yourself that may help you make a decision.
Do you have extra money for savings?
When I ask if you have savings, I’m talking about whether or not you would have a cushion after a down payment. You should always have a little extra in case of an emergency; whether that be health or family-related, or directly connected to your home itself, such as an unforeseen renovation. (A friend whose backyard tree fell in on her kitchen during a storm a few years back comes to mind, or myself having to replace my washer/dryer.)
Do you have a significant other?
This is a very important point. If you do have a spouse or live-in partner, what are their future goals? Could they include relocating? Getting a handle on what their financial capabilities and limitations are, as well as how they feel about the responsibility of living in a home that is owned as opposed to a rental unit is imperative in making your decision.
Are YOU ready for extra responsibility?
A surprising number of people shrug off home ownership because they don’t want the responsibility. Personally I’ve never understood this, as I think every bit of responsibility carries its weight in rubies. There is something deeply rewarding about knowing that you put your hard-earned money (and your elbow grease) into your own home. But if the idea of cleaning out gutters, replacing leaky faucets, and paying someone to regrout your tiles sounds like too much for you, chances are you’ll be running from your mortgage payments like they’re a burning bush.
What are your short and long-term goals?
Where do you see yourself in, say, 5 or 10 years? If it’s your deepest heart’s desire to spend years traveling through the Serengeti, maybe buying a house isn’t for you. Or, if your goals are closer to home but still include a move–relocating to the island or up north, for example–you may be better off holding out for a property until you have a better idea of where your plans will take you. We all know life is unpredictable, but having a basic idea of where you want to be will inform your decision without a doubt. And let’s face it, not everyone dreams of owning a home. I have a friend whose parents are in their late 60s and they still rent. Instead, their modest budget is put towards their retirement and social activities. Mind you they benefit from low rent because they have been in their home for years and years.
It’s always been my belief (along with the fact that owning is better than renting) that everyone has a right to live the way they see fit. Only you can decide what is the right thing for you, and only you will know how hard you’ll work towards making that a reality. So whether you lock the door and throw away the key, or keep it placed safely in your back pocket, the choice, ultimately, will be yours.