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Should You Rent or Buy a Home?

Having your own home is an exciting milestone in your life. Owning that home is part of the American Dream, yet for some, renting is the best decision. If you’re struggling with the decision to buy a home in California or rent, you’re not alone. Explore the many financial and emotional factors that will help you decide which option is best.

Consider the Finances Behind Buying and Renting

When you consider homeownership, you'll need to have your financial house in order. Typically, a down payment of anywhere between 5% and 20% is needed, depending on the type of mortgage you secure. And after you buy a house, it's important to have enough financial cushion to cover your lifestyle expenses.

There are multiple theories about how much of your gross monthly income should be devoted to your home mortgage. Some say no more than 28%, with overall debt no more than 36%, to maintain your financial strength. But there are homeowners who exceed that threshold because they believe they will earn more money as their career grows and their home’s value will appreciate.

Owning a home means you can build equity if you hold the property long enough and it appreciates in value. You also might receive some tax breaks by owning, and your home could turn out to be a fantastic investment if you sell it after it has appreciated significantly. On the other hand, you might determine that it's better to rent and invest the extra money you would’ve otherwise spent on owning your home.

Personal Preferences Become Factors

Whether to buy or rent also comes down to personal preferences.

When you own a home, you control everything from the color of your home’s exterior to the fixtures you install. You are also fully responsible if something breaks or needs to be replaced. In comparison, renting often comes with restrictions on what you can do with your property, but when it comes to maintenance, you can call the landlord.

Another consideration is amenities. Owning a home allows you to add a patio, swimming pool or outdoor fireplace in your yard when you have financing in place, something you likely won’t be able to do as a renter. Renters can often get immediate access to similar amenities offered by the landlord, and not worry about the upkeep since the cost of a pool, gym or valet parking is factored into the monthly rent.

Homeownership can provide emotional satisfaction that you might not experience when renting. Owning a home means you’re investing in a neighborhood and you can feel a closer connection to your neighbors and community because of your commitment. That said, you’ll likely worry more about local politics that affect property and zoning, and you’ll want neighbors who respect their properties to maintain the neighborhood’s value. As a renter, you can easily leave if you grow dissatisfied with your neighborhood.

Interested in weighing the cost of renting versus buying a home? Use our buying versus renting calculator to crunch the numbers. Ready to take the homeownership plunge? Turn to E-Central Credit Union for financing options that help you get the most value for your money.

Everything, everywhere

E-Central Credit Union is a leading credit union located in Pasadena, California, serving Southern California members throughout Los Angeles County including Pasadena, South Pasadena, Alhambra, San Marino, Arcadia, Sierra Madre, Altadena, Temple City, Monrovia and beyond.