The long-held notion of the American Dream has always included owning a home with the proverbial white picket fence. Today, that dream has become unpractical for many Americans. The unstable job economy paired with the recent bust of the housing market has put home ownership out of reach for many families. Once you look past the dream, however, there are some real benefits to renting a home rather than owning it yourself.

Neighborhoods Improved by Rental Homes

The high rate of foreclosures in recent years has left many neighborhoods full of empty homes. Renting those homes has helped to revitalize those neighborhoods and clean them up as families begin to take care of the houses once more. Everyone wins when a foreclosed home comes up as a rental because the property will have a chance to bring in money once again and the new residents will have an affordable place to live. Research shows that home ownership in the United States is at its lowest level since the 1960s, while renting trends should continue to rise by the millions over the next 10 years.

Renting Provides Flexibility in an Unstable Economy

One of the reasons rentals are more attractive to families right now is because the job market is so unstable. People who are not sure if they will still be working for the same company in two years need the ability to move if a job opportunity arises elsewhere. Owning a home can make it difficult to leave when you need to go to a new city for work. A rental house provides all the comforts of living in a single-family home with the flexibility of leaving any time you need to make a change.

Ownership Requires More Investment

A practical reason for choosing to rent rather than own is that ownership requires far more time and money than renting. The owner is responsible for keeping the property in good working order at all times. When you rent, you have the luxury of calling someone else when the air conditioner stops working or the sink backs up. If you own the house, you are the one who has to deal with the troubles of things breaking. Owners are also responsible for replacing carpeting or painting the walls if the house becomes worn down. If you don’t own the home, you don’t have the financial responsibility for maintaining it.

Buying Is Better than Renting for the Long Term

In a direct cost comparison over several years, the benefits of renting a home lose to the benefits of owning a home after five years. For the first five years, a renter is financially ahead of the game. After five years, a homeowner saves money and has a better investment by owning the property. Renting makes sense in shorter increments, while owning creates more financial stability for the long term. Homeowners save an average of $1,500 more per year than renters do after five years of living in the same house.

By Jessica Bosari