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Perpetual Renter
Old 03-21-2008, 06:53 AM   #1
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Perpetual Renter

Later down the road, I would like to own a small home out near the edge of nowhere. Now, I'm debating the pros and cons of month-to-month rentals. I'm finding more pros than cons, but I'm always game for a little gamble here and there. This is what I have so far:

PROS:

-The months spent out of the country are months I'm not paying for a roof I'm not under.

-Same for months spent out camping/sailing/etc.

-Nosy/noisy/horrible neighbors? When's the end of the month? (This one's in the top 2 reasons for me to not want to buy a home if it came with crappy neighbors at some point)

-Chance to live in a lot of different places.

-Have to keep possessions to a minimum for easy transportation.

-Travel can be done at a moment's notice without having to worry about preventative maintanence to the home before leaving.

CONS:

-Possibly running out of month-to-month rentals available (this could be considered a pro at some point, to settle down for a while with a 6-12 month lease to get to know a new area well)

-The differences in rental rates between properties can be significant.

-Very difficult to maintain a social life.

-This is money not going into an appreciating asset.

What am I missing? Is there anything so fundamentally wrong with this idea that I should instead consider finding a home now?
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Old 03-21-2008, 07:21 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by RetiredGypsy View Post
Later down the road, I would like to own a small home out near the edge of nowhere. Now, I'm debating the pros and cons of month-to-month rentals. I'm finding more pros than cons, but I'm always game for a little gamble here and there. This is what I have so far:

PROS:

-The months spent out of the country are months I'm not paying for a roof I'm not under.

-Same for months spent out camping/sailing/etc.

-Nosy/noisy/horrible neighbors? When's the end of the month? (This one's in the top 2 reasons for me to not want to buy a home if it came with crappy neighbors at some point)

-Chance to live in a lot of different places.

-Have to keep possessions to a minimum for easy transportation.

-Travel can be done at a moment's notice without having to worry about preventative maintanence to the home before leaving.

CONS:

-Possibly running out of month-to-month rentals available (this could be considered a pro at some point, to settle down for a while with a 6-12 month lease to get to know a new area well)

-The differences in rental rates between properties can be significant.

-Very difficult to maintain a social life.

-This is money not going into an appreciating asset.

What am I missing? Is there anything so fundamentally wrong with this idea that I should instead consider finding a home now?
I think it all depends upon where you are in your life.
Do you want to settle down somewhere, or do you want to jump from place to place?
To avoid nosy/noisy/crappy neighbors, one could buy a large piece of land and have a small house built on it. Our yard is 177 feet wide (and 374' deep), and our neighbors on each side are 160' and 158' wide respectively. The younger couple have had a couple of late night parties in the past. We never heard a thing.
As for the months spent out of the country are months that you don't pay for a roof over your head would be a false idea. Rents can/will increase, especially as property taxes rise (in NJ this is especially noticable, as our property taxes went up $300 or so last year, and I've estimated they'll be going up another $400 or so this coming year ... June/July). Also, month-to-month rentals in our local tri-state area, increase the rates for the shorter term renters (I know this because my sister/brother-in-law had to do this when their house was being built, not to mention old friends who still rent).
What kind of preventative maintenance do you do to a home before you go on vacation? Even an extended vacation let's say. While you're gone, you could simply put the heater on at a very low setting (i.e. 50 degrees or so), and possibly some timers on lights and voila, you're done. I guess one could argue cutting of the grass, but then again you could just get a lawn service for that (we've had one for 3 years ... going on 4 years, and couldn't be happier with it).
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Old 03-21-2008, 09:50 AM   #3
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As long as you have the wanderlust, I'd keep renting. If you are out of the country, or even in the country and spending the winter south, there is a very good chance that your home insurance could be voided if the house is not occupied for that time. We didn't know that, but had our niece check the house once a week, to make sure everything was ok. Even then we were very uncomfortable with the arrangement.
I would like an inexpensive condo or duplex, so someone is close and able to really keep an eye on it. For you, it sounds like renting is a good idea until you feel the need to "put down roots."
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Old 03-21-2008, 12:55 PM   #4
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Given your lifestyle, I'd go for renting.

There are a ton of debate about which is better economically. It really depends on your region, the median rent vs median property sale price. Even all the mobility factors aside, renting is not necessarily worse. Do a google search on the subject. Money Magazine also had an extensive article about rent vs buy last year.

Of course it's harder to find a rental house with a yard for BBQ, and it's not always easy to paint it the color you like. It's a compromise. You have decide what's the most important to you.
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Old 03-21-2008, 01:10 PM   #5
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What mexmeme said. If you're enjoying living the "gypsy" life, owning a house just ties you down. In fact, when/if you tire of moving around all the time, I'd recommend renting for a few years in the same area (similar area to where you'd like to buy, if possible) to make sure the wanderlust is really gone before you commit to buying.

"Very difficult to maintain a social life" confuses me--this is a disadvantage of being a nomad rather than of renting per se, right?

I've moved 26 times. I'm pretty sure I'm done with major moves but not sure enough to buy yet.
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Old 03-21-2008, 03:51 PM   #6
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a vagabond life of renting plays high in my considered options. though i enjoyed most of my 14 years in this house, home ownership is becoming less enjoyment & more of a chore for me.

since i've lost so much to the bubble, the only way i'd be able to keep this house & enjoy long-term travel would be to build a small extension and bring in roommates. the upside would be increasing house value, getting to make more friends & of having people in the house when i am gone but i don't know if i want the bother. i do know that i am not comfortable leaving this house empty for long periods of time, especially during hurricane season which occurs during summers, just when i'd prefer to travel.

i've the option of keeping my homesteaded tax advantage in florida by buying a downsized condo apt unit, maybe a two bedroom, have a roommate to pay all unit costs and then travel six months a year, enjoying florida during winters like a snowbird. but i don't even know if i will want to be here later in life to take advantage of that tax advantage. so i could go either way on that.

i've also the option of moving aboard a sailboat, in which case i'd have to bring on crew for extended voyages. so whether house, apartment or boat, i'm still bringing strangers aboard, which some people might find to be an invasion of privacy but i actually think could be fun (especially if they're cute).

my other option is vagabonding, utilizing not quite month to month but 6-month to yearly rentals which likely would put me back in good financial shape within three to five years, while affording me a fun and adventurous life abroad.

as of this writing i have no idea which option i'm most leaning towards though i know i'm leaning away from keeping this house. i've done all my projections of what each option might cost and tried to work out where each option might have me into the future. financially, it seems whatever road i take i wind up in about the same good shape, give or take a little. so my overriding criteria will be which life provides me the most fun. which will be the most interesting. which will add the most to me.

after considering the practical pros and cons, keep only what will not leave you in dire straits, throw the rest away and then make a decision based upon which path will maximize your happiness.
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Old 03-21-2008, 08:05 PM   #7
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"Very difficult to maintain a social life" confuses me--this is a disadvantage of being a nomad rather than of renting per se, right?
Yes, that would be the reason. Over the past three years of moving every few months, I think I've managed to maintain one lasting friendship. It's one of the compromises I hate to make, but not enough where I want to set down roots.
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Old 03-22-2008, 03:03 AM   #8
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If your user name represents your attitude i would go for the renting idea as it frees you up to live in many differing locals,Like if its getting hard to find a place to rent in California maybe there's something going in North Carolina.
Also nice thing about renting you never have to fix anything like the roof,electrics,plumbing,structural stuff etc.
And with renting you never have to worry about the place if you spend extended amounts of time away from the place.
The paper work (taxes,insurances etc)that goes into home ownership is also up to some one else.
Granted you wont make any money on renting but you also wont be straddled with this multi hundred thousand dollar albatross around your neck.
I chose the life long rental route myself and i find that it frees up a lot of weekends because i dont have to mow anything or fix or paint anything.
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Old 03-25-2008, 06:34 PM   #9
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though i enjoyed most of my 14 years in this house, home ownership is becoming less enjoyment & more of a chore for me.
Amen x 7.31

Downsizing from the bigger house to the townhouse has definitely helped a little, since now I drive past all the people pulling weeds on my old street with a smug grin.

Then I overhear a coworker who rents calling her landlord about a window that sticks and envy the carefree nature of that existence. Call, gets fixed, expenses same at end of month. Oooh.
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I might be naive
Old 03-25-2008, 11:25 PM   #10
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I might be naive

Hi all,
I can't say I've rented my whole life, but rather since I was in my 20's the international school I was at provided the housing for me. I'm 61 now, and since 1970, maybe I've rented on my own two of those years.

I love Canada (near Quebec), but for only 1/2 of the year (the warmer months). I have some very close friends for life that are almost family to me, and even though I am currently in Amman, Jordan teaching, I'm contributing my share of $300 a month for rent in "our" home. Otherwise, they could have gotten a smaller place and not used my contribution. In a couple months I'll be moving there. I just don't think $300 is a great deal of money for this type of a situation.

I want to buy a little townhouse in San Antonio, Texas, and spend half the year there even working part-time. The other half of the year I'd be in the Montreal area. I figure a townhouse or condo is easy to lock up and leave. I must admit I get a little concerned about the Jambo's reference to the "albatross around my neck" after owning something and now having to pay for all the repairs myself. I'm thinking if it is small, the repairs will be minimal. Maybe I'm being naive. Maybe I should even rent two places and pay for the rent while I am not even there. However, that just doesn't seem right and smart.

Be interesting to hear your feedback on this.

Regards,
Rob
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Old 03-26-2008, 05:02 AM   #11
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That Albatross reference was just my opinion as a life long renter.But most every weekend when i ask home owner friends to go do something there is usually something they have to do to their house that prevents them.The condo idea sounds good as you are basically buying an apartment which can easily be vacated for 6 months a year with a minimum of worry.As for 6 months a year in Montreal? pick the right 6 months as it looked like this
http://forum.miata.net/vb/attachment...chmentid=59542 on March 17.
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Old 03-26-2008, 08:19 AM   #12
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Hi all,
I can't say I've rented my whole life, but rather since I was in my 20's the international school I was at provided the housing for me. I'm 61 now, and since 1970, maybe I've rented on my own two of those years.

I love Canada (near Quebec), but for only 1/2 of the year (the warmer months). I have some very close friends for life that are almost family to me, and even though I am currently in Amman, Jordan teaching, I'm contributing my share of $300 a month for rent in "our" home. Otherwise, they could have gotten a smaller place and not used my contribution. In a couple months I'll be moving there. I just don't think $300 is a great deal of money for this type of a situation.

I want to buy a little townhouse in San Antonio, Texas, and spend half the year there even working part-time. The other half of the year I'd be in the Montreal area. I figure a townhouse or condo is easy to lock up and leave. I must admit I get a little concerned about the Jambo's reference to the "albatross around my neck" after owning something and now having to pay for all the repairs myself. I'm thinking if it is small, the repairs will be minimal. Maybe I'm being naive. Maybe I should even rent two places and pay for the rent while I am not even there. However, that just doesn't seem right and smart.

Be interesting to hear your feedback on this.

Regards,
Rob
My repair expenses for my single family home are about equal to 1% of its value per year, and I imagine it would be the same or less for a condo/townhouse. With the latter you would not have the work of keeping the yard mowed and trimmed.

I can see only three possible disadvantages to renting: (1) lack of appreciation in home value, which has become less of an issue during the housing slump; (2) having sufficient income to pay the ever-increasing rent, as opposed to a presumably paid off house or fixed mortgage payment; and (3) quality of life issues, which may be better or worse with a rental depending on what you prefer.

If we get out of this housing slump, then appreciation could eventually mean that you could not afford to buy. That does not look like an immediate problem, though.

$300/month is pretty low! Maybe you could rent a condo in San Antonio on a six month lease each fall, and just take an inflatable bed, foldable lawn furniture, and a suitcase with you when you drive down there. You could completely vacate in the spring. That would lower your expenses even more.
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Old 03-26-2008, 09:48 AM   #13
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I think a nice tradeoff would be renting a good townhouse.

It seems when we rented an apartment 99% of noise issues came from above or below. Since we've owned this end unit townhouse hearing the neighbors hasn't been a problem.

Talking with some of the residents who do rent in the complex they don't pay much more than a nice apartment would cost.
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Old 03-26-2008, 12:24 PM   #14
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We have begun the process of downsizing in preparation for selling our home at some point over the next year or so. During this time the sheer magnitude of hidden costs of home ownership have become much more obvious. The biggie is taxes at over $4000/year. HOA is $600+. My garage has an impressive collection of gadgets and chemicals that I use to take care of the grass surrounding the house. We have replaced the flooring in three rooms with laminate. The carpets need cleaning on a regular basis (and we have no kids). Heating and cooling 2000+ square feet is rather expensive as well. And the *time* spent on yard work and other such home care projects really adds up.

My wife recently reminded me how we used to drive by neighborhoods where almost every home owner was working in their yard. We were usually on the way to do something fun, and we laughed at those silly home owners and how their houses were a ball and chain. And we were right.
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Old 03-26-2008, 12:59 PM   #15
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We have begun the process of downsizing in preparation for selling our home at some point over the next year or so. During this time the sheer magnitude of hidden costs of home ownership have become much more obvious. The biggie is taxes at over $4000/year. HOA is $600+. My garage has an impressive collection of gadgets and chemicals that I use to take care of the grass surrounding the house. We have replaced the flooring in three rooms with laminate. The carpets need cleaning on a regular basis (and we have no kids). Heating and cooling 2000+ square feet is rather expensive as well. And the *time* spent on yard work and other such home care projects really adds up.

My wife recently reminded me how we used to drive by neighborhoods where almost every home owner was working in their yard. We were usually on the way to do something fun, and we laughed at those silly home owners and how their houses were a ball and chain. And we were right.
This is not to disagree with you. But renters do pay taxes. It's simply included in their monthly rent payment. They sometime (but not always) have some utilities included with their rent payment.
As for replacing flooring with laminate. That's a great idea (as long as you're going to sell it).
I would only put down solid hardwood flooring in our house if/when we decide to change the flooring much. I already replaced the old pain in the butt vinyl flooring in our kitchen/laundry room/bathroom with tile (that is spaced only 1/8" apart). My wife is sooo glad I did that, because she said it's much, much easier to keep clean.
I put down yard fertilizer about 2 times a year. Other than that, we don't have any yard chemicals in the house/shed. And yard care is taken care of by a lawn service (so very worth it to me).
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Old 03-26-2008, 01:28 PM   #16
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I don't have any yard chemicals. The problem in Louisiana is not in getting grass or other vegetation to grow - - it's in keeping it cut back, given our 60" of rain, fertile wetlands, and steamy hot weather much of the year. So, I do have various gadgets to help me with that. I'm pushing 60 and even with a lawn guy, keeping the bushes and plants cut back after working all week and spending time with Frank, is getting to be too much for me.

After not-so-early retirement, I will need to hire someone to do the whole yard, bushes and all, or else try a condo/townhouse.
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Old 03-26-2008, 02:23 PM   #17
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This is not to disagree with you. But renters do pay taxes. It's simply included in their monthly rent payment. They sometime (but not always) have some utilities included with their rent payment.
I should have clarified. It is almost impossible to avoid taxes, especially as a home-owner, but you can minimize it as a renter, especially if you declutter your life and think frugal.
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I put down yard fertilizer about 2 times a year. Other than that, we don't have any yard chemicals in the house/shed. And yard care is taken care of by a lawn service (so very worth it to me).
We fertilize, kill weeds and winterize. If we use a lawn service it is $100 extra per month. Saves time, costs money. You don't have to worry with either as a renter (unless you rent a house). When you run all the numbers it is difficult to justify renting on a mathematical basis, even when you include appreciation.
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Old 03-26-2008, 02:41 PM   #18
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I'm pushing 60 and even with a lawn guy, keeping the bushes and plants cut back after working all week and spending time with Frank, is getting to be too much for me.
Oh-oh Frank, check your parachute! Plane needs to be lightened a bit.

Ha
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Old 03-26-2008, 03:09 PM   #19
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Oh-oh Frank, check your parachute! Plane needs to be lightened a bit.

Ha
Nope! First things first, and Frank comes first these days! I probably need to hire a yard man that will do the bushes, eventually.

Love your sig line! My mother used to sing that song to me and my brothers, when we were little bitty kids.
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Old 03-26-2008, 07:18 PM   #20
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Love your sig line! My mother used to sing that song to me and my brothers, when we were little bitty kids.
Same here, but I wasn't quite so bitty. And a barrel and a heap!

Funny how I can remember songs from almost 60 years ago as if I had just heard them. Only now, actually I wouldn't remember as well!

BTW, just kidding about Frank. I know he is The Man in your life.

Ha
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